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Music

When Debbie Harry starred in ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’

When discussing the most impactful women in rock, attention normally turns to Debbie Harry, and for good reason. The frontwoman of new wave heroes, Blondie, alongside the likes of Patti Smith, Poly Styrene, and Chrissie Hynde, off the back of the first wave of feminism showed that the age of the male-dominated rock scene was over, and that women were not to be messed with. This set the scene for the advent of more experimental female artists such as Kate Bush and Björk.

An iconoclast in every sense of the word, for a long time she was the walking embodiment of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, and the minutiae of being such a lauded figure came with ease to her. She is most at home on stage and her effortless cool is a sight to behold, even at the age of 77. 

Interestingly though, Harry had already lived a life of Odyssean proportions before she finally made the jump into stardom. She had strived for musical success long before Blondie, with her career starting in the ’60s in the folk act The Wind in the Willows, who even released an album on Capitol, but as the interest in folk petered out, and consumer’s attention turned elsewhere, she knew that this wasn’t the key to her ultimate goal. 

When the group split, she became a member of The Stilettoes, but again, it wasn’t to be. Alongside guitarist Chris Stein she left to form Angel and the Snake, and before too long, they had changed their name to Blondie, in reference to the regular catcall men directed at her.

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The band spent years on the New York circuit, honing their skills. Creating a striking aesthetic, as well as a unique reggae-infused sound, the band were in the right place at the right time when the CBGBs scene started to change the world, and after the release of their self-titled debut in 1976, Harry never looked back. By the end of the decade, she had become a bonafide icon and had many hits to her name.

She had once watched the world of music develop from the outside, but now she was at the crest of the wave and changing it herself. She once famously said, “I’m a culture vulture, and I just want to experience it all.” And that is just what she did. From doing her bit to help the proliferation of hip-hop, to having a successful solo career that was helped by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic, to starring in classic films such as David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, Harry never gave up her fascination with culture, and it produced many memorable moments. 

For all the many unforgettable points in Harry‘s career, there are also a myriad of more niche ones, that only those of us with the best of memories can recall. One of the most surprising is that she starred in the 1996 pilot episode of the American sitcom, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, as the affable Cassandra. 

Fans of the show will remember that Cassandra is the witch who presides over ‘The Other Realm’, a member of the original Witches Council. A voice of reason, she is the foil to the angry Drell, and is one of the Council members who listen to Sabrina when she asks them to turn back time following her disastrous first day at high school. The intrigue doesn’t end there either; on the Witches Council she appears alongside a certain Penn and Teller. 

Interestingly, her story was never wrapped up, and it has long since been posited that she retired from the Council when the younger witches stepped in, but we’ll leave her fate up to your imagination. 

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