‘Dead to Me’ Star Christina Applegate Was an Original Pussycat Doll

When people think of The Pussycat Dolls, they often think of hit songs such as “Buttons,” “When I Grow Up,” and “Don’t Cha.” While their music is their claim to fame, The Pussycat Dolls actually didn’t start out as a singing group at all.

Pussycat Dolls
The Pussycat Dolls pose to camera at Sport Relief 2020, in the studio, on 13 March 2020 in Manchester | Nicky Johnston/Comic Relief/Getty Images

The Pussycat Dolls were a burlesque troupe before they were a singing group

Actor and choreographer Robin Antin first conceptualized The Pussycat Dolls as a dance troupe in the early 1990s. The idea was to have them perform a modern take on the classic burlesque style.

The Pussycat Dolls began giving burlesque performances in 1995 that mainly consisted of classic songs from the 1950s and ’60s with the Dolls dressed up in lingerie or old-fashioned pin-up costumes.

They appeared briefly in the films Matters of Consequence, The Treat, and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. The group attracted widespread attention in June 1999 when Playboy magazine had a Pussycat Dolls pictorial featuring many of the members posing semi-nude.

Pussycat Dolls
The Pussycat Dolls (L-R) Carmit Bachar, Kimberly Wyatt, Nicole Scherzinger, Jessica Sutta and Ashley Roberts from the Pussycat Dolls seen at Global Radio Studios for an interview on Heart Radio on January 31, 2020 in London, England | Neil Mockford/GC Images

Christina Applegate performed with The Pussycat Dolls

In these early years, several celebrities joined the group as a guest performer, including Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, and frequent lead performer Carmen Electra. (Interestingly enough, Aguilera starred in the 2010 film Burlesque directed by Antin’s brother.)

One of the women who performed with The Pussycat Dolls during that time was Christina Applegate. At the time, Married… with Children was at the height of its popularity, and Applegate’s star was rising as an actor.

According to a 2009 article in the Las Vegas Sun, the idea for a modern burlesque group came about in Applegate’s basement when she was living with Antin in Los Angeles in 1995.

Christina Applegate
Dead to Me star Christina Applegate attends the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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The Pussycat Dolls became successful as a music group

In 2003, Antin secured a contract with Interscope Records to create a new singing group with the same name and build out their brand. They began auditioning non-celebrity singers for the group; not long after, Nicole Scherzinger, Melody Thorton, and Kaya Jones joined the ranks of The Pussycat Dolls.

While the Pussycat Dolls burlesque troupe faded into oblivion, the Pussycat Dolls found widespread mainstream success as a music group. Their 2005 debut album PCD sold millions of copies as a result of smash singles including “Don’t Cha,” “Stickwitu,” and “Buttons.”

The Pussycat Dolls extended their reign as pop’s biggest girl group in the 2000s with their 2008 album Doll Domination, fronted by singles including “When I Grow Up” and “Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny).”

The group dissolved in the following years but reunited in 2019 and released the single “React” in 2020.