Who is Debra Jo Rupp?
She’s an actress with over 90 credits to her name, however, Debra Jo Rupp is probably still known best for her portrayal of Kitty Forman in the popular comedy series “That ‘70s Show”, which aired from 1998 through 2006. Today, those who loved Debra’s character can enjoy watching her reprising this role in the sequel entitled “That ’90 Show”, which premiered in January 2023.
More about one of the TV’s favorite moms, her life, and her career, you’ll find in this article. So, keep on scrolling.
Early life, family, and education
Born under the zodiac sign of Pisces on 24 February 1951, Debra Jo Rupp recently celebrated her 72nd birthday. She’s a native of Boxford, Massachusetts USA, holds American nationality, and comes from a family of Caucasian descent. Most of her childhood Debra spent in her hometown, raised by her Christian parents alongside her two sisters, Rebecca Louise and Robin Lee.
Debra dreamed of becoming an actress, although her parents didn’t like the idea of her future occupation, and were firmly opposed to it. Upon matriculating from high school in 1969, they sent her to the University of Rochester, mostly because this college didn’t offer theater classes. Luckily for Debra (and her fans), while she was in her freshman year, the university added a drama department. Debra graduated with a BA degree in 1974, and almost immediately moved to New York City to launch her acting career.
She played at New York’s Nat Horne Theater, and had numerous notable stage performances. Debra garnered praise for her role as June Yeager in the off-Broadway play “The Time of the Cuckoo”, then on Broadway, Debra was seen in “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune”, “A Girl’s Guide to Chaos”, and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, among many others.
Roles in series
Debra made her television debut as Helen in an episode of the 1987 series “Spenser: For Hire”, followed by guest roles in “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd” (1988), “Grand” (1990), and “Davis Rules” (1991), among many others.
In the early ’90s, Debra was mostly cast in an episode or two of various popular TV series, such as “Seinfeld” and “The Office” but her first major role came in 1995, when she was seen as Gayle in nine episodes of “The Jeff Foxworthy Show”, a family comedy also starring Haley Joel Osment and Ann Cusack.
During 1997 and 1998, Debra had a recurring role as Alice Knight Buffay in the world-popular sitcom “Friends” before she was cast to play her most notable role as Katherine Ann ‘Kitty’ Forman in “That ‘70s Show”. She starred opposite Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Laura Prepon, Danny Masterson and Kurtwood Smith.
Kitty, Debra’s character, was an overprotective, kind mother who looked after not only her children but also others in the neighborhood. A usually lovely lady (unless when she’s upset or stressed out), who loves to pretend to be everyone’s favorite mom, which she truly became not just for the children in the show, but also for the viewers.
The series had 82 award nominations and won 15, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Costume Design for a Series. Debra was nominated for the Online Film & Television Association Award for Best Actress in a New Comedy Series in 1999.
As mentioned, the show aired until 2006, and Debra appeared in 200 episodes, concurrently voicing the character of Mary Lou/Mrs Helperman in the animated series “Teacher’s Pet”, from 2000 through 2002.
We’ll describe just some of Debra’s most important roles because the list is too long to enumerate. After her role in “That ‘70s Show”, she portrayed Vicky Putney in “Better with You” (2010-2011), followed by her guest roles in “Hart of Dixie” (2013), “He’s with Me” (2015), which brought her an Indie Series award nomination for Best Guest Actress-Comedy, and “NCIS: Los Angeles” (2017).
From 2017 through 2020, Debra was seen as Janice in 12 episodes of the series “The Ranch”, also starring Ashton Kutcher, which followed the story of a semi-pro football player who returns to his Colorado hometown to become a rancher, and to run the family business. The show won three Primetime Emmys.
Most recently, Debra was seen as Mrs Hart in “WandaVision”, an action comedy mini-series, also starring Elizabeth Olsen, Kathryn Hahn and Paul Bettany, which had 104 award nominations and won 32, including three Primetime Emmys. Debra shares the Pena de Prata nomination for Best Ensemble in a Limited Series or Anthology Series or TV Special, with the rest of the crew.
Debra and Kitty’s fans, as mentioned, can enjoy her performance in the newest sitcom, “That ‘90s Show”, which airs on Netflix. Debra also works on the new series “Agatha: Coven of Chaos”, which is currently in post-production.
Roles in movies
Debra made her first big-screen appearance as Miss Patterson in the 1988 comedy “Big”, starring Tom Hanks, which was nominated for two Oscars, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, and Tom was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Debra followed with her role as a Psychiatric Patient in the 1992 movie “Death Becomes Her”.
In the following years, she was seen in numerous TV movies before she returned to the big screen as Mrs Hall in the 1996 comedy “Sgt. Bilko”, starring Steve Martin, which won The Stinkers Bad Movie Award for Worst Resurrection of a TV Show. Debra was next cast to play Barbara in the 1997 comedy-drama “Clockwatchers”, followed by her roles in “Senseless” (1998), “Spymate” (2003), “Lucky 13” (2005), and “Kickin’ It Old Skool” in 2007.
Three years later, she was seen as Mrs Kettner in “She’s Out of My League”, a comedy that was nominated for the Teen Choice Award, starring Jay Baruchel, T.J. Miller, and Alice Eve. It seems that 2012 was a good year for Debra, since she was seen for the first time in a lead role, playing Nancy Riley in “Congratulations”. This family comedy-drama followed the story of Jim, whose life changes very quickly for the worse after he proposes to his girlfriend. The movie was well-rated by the audience (7.3/10) and won the Oxford Film Festival, Mississippi USA award for Best Narrative Feature.
In the late 2000s, Debra was seen co-starring in “The Opposite Sex” (2014), while her most recent movie roles were in 2019 in “The Social Ones” and “Fair Market Value”.
Love life and relationships
Debra is quite secretive when it comes to her personal matters, and she hasn’t spoken about her love life. This perhaps might be the reason for her being the subject of various rumors, some of which claim that she’s lesbian or bisexual.
There is no record of her dating history, and although she’s been romantically linked to some celebrities, she hasn’t commented on these assumptions.
As of May 2023, it seems that Debra is single; she hasn’t been married or engaged, and doesn’t have children.
How rich is Debra Jo Rupp?
Debra’s journey from stage actress to adored TV mom was rocky, but because of her talent and hard work, she’s amassed modest fortune for herself.
According to sources, as of May 2023, she has a net worth estimated at over $5 million.