Deborah Walley, who appeared in a series of beach movies during the 1960s, died May 10 of esophageal cancer at her home in Sedona, Ariz. She was 57.
Literally born into show business while her figure-skating parents were on the road, Walley spent her first years traveling with the Ice Capades. She made her first public appearance at age 3.
While attending school in New York, Walley began modeling and acting for stage and television. It was during her run as Irina in Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” that Columbia Pictures’ Joyce Selznick discovered her and brought her to Hollywood.
In 1961, she starred in “Gidget Goes Hawaiian,” which resulted in a split contract with Columbia and Disney Studios. She became closely identified with beach party movies after starring in “Beach Blanket Bingo” (1965), “The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini” (1966) and “It’s a Bikini World” (1967).
Walley acted alongside Elvis Presley in “Spinout” (1966) and was later featured in “Benji” (1974).
Walley also played Eve Arden’s daughter on sitcom “The Mothers-in-Law.” She had television guest appearances on “Wagon Train” (1957), “The Virginian” (1962), and “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries” (1977), among others.
While taking a sabbatical during the 1980s to raise her family and focus on writing and producing, she co-founded Pied Piper Prods., a nonprofit theater company for children, particularly those living in inner-city environments.
As a writer, Walley worked for Disney Animation, Animation Camera, Rick Kear Prods., Sea World, Lasting Endearments, the Aesop Co. and her own company, Swiftwind Prods.
In 1991, she moved to Sedona, where she turned to writing books. She published her first, “Grandfather’s Good Medicine,” in 1993.
Walley returned to Hollywood in 1999 to pursue acting as a “hobby.” She appeared on “Baywatch” and the daytime soap “Passions.”
She continued her work with children through her “Imagination Playshops,” acting workshops for children in the U.S. and Australia. She also worked with the Educational Theater Co., a multiethnic company based in Los Angeles.
Walley is survived by two sons.