Name at birth: Paula Ann Hiers
Paula Deen is a restaurateur from Savannah, Georgia who hosts the cable TV cooking shows Paula's Home Cooking and Paula's Party. Hers is a rags-to-riches kind of story -- right out of high school she married and had two kids. After her husband left her, she started a business in Savannah that sold sack-lunches to office workers. That led to a restaurant in early 1990, and by the end of the decade her home-style southern cooking had gained national attention. With an assist from Food Network's Gordon Elliot, she landed her own show on the cable network in 2003, followed by a more relaxed (and flirtatious) addition, Paula's Party in 2006. She's the anti-chef of the Food Network, a self-taught cook and advocate of the butter-n-bacon approach, with an empire that includes her Savannah restaurant (The Lady & Sons), a magazine (Cooking With Paula Deen), several cookbooks and a memoir (It Ain't All About the Cookin'). Paula Deen announced in January of 2012 that she had type 2 diabetes, saying she had gotten the diagnosis three years earlier. She said she would be a paid spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company that makes the diabetes medication Victoza. Things got worse for Deen in 2013, when she admitted in a legal deposition on May 17th that she had used racial epithets in the past. The story hit the news in June, and within a week the Food Network announced that it would not renew Deen's contract, and Wal-Mart and Caesar's Entertainment casinos both said they were cutting ties with her. Deen made a public apology and begged her fans for forgiveness in a tearful YouTube video.
Paula Deen’s sons, Jamie and Bobby Deen, run the family’s Savannah restaurant and have their own line of cookbooks, as well as a Food Network show, Road Tasted… Before she got into the food business, Paula Deen suffered from anxiety attacks that kept her housebound for years… Her younger brother runs Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House in Savannah, Georgia… Paula Deen appeared in the feature film Elizabethtown (2005, starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst).