Michele Lee is an American singer, dancer, actress, producer, director and frequent game show panelist of the 1970s. She is best-known for her role as Karen Cooper Fairgate MacKenzie on the 1980s prime-time soap opera, Knots Landing. She also co-starred with Dean Jones in the 1968 Disney film, The Love Bug.
Lee was born Michelle Lee Dusick in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Sylvia Helen and Jack Dusick, a make-up artist. She is of Russian and Polish descent. Lee began her career on television in an episode of the late 1950s sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. She attended Alexander Hamilton High School where she became popular with her class, she in turn also attended the same high school as did Joel Siegel, Al Michaels and Michelle Phillips did. When she was 18, after graduation from high school, she auditioned for the Broadway play Vintage ’60. She soon began appearing in musicals, becoming a star on Broadway at the age of 19 in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in the role of “Rosemary”, opposite Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee, a role she reprised in the film version. She also appeared in more plays, such as the Los Angeles production of Jerry Herman’s Parade and the Broadway productions of Bravo Giovanni and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife.
After she sang and starred in the film version of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, she became known for her roles in the films The Comic and The Love Bug, the latter becoming the biggest blockbuster movie of 1969. That same year, she starred in a special television production of the Jerome Kern?Otto Harbach musical, Roberta, in which she sang “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”. After the birth of her son, she worked infrequently until accepting a role on Broadway in Seesaw, which netted her a Tony Award nomination in 1974. After her mother’s death, she stopped working, wanting to spend time with her only son.
In 1974, Lee starred in the pilot episode for proposed CBS sitcom The Michele Lee Show. She would play Michele Burton, a clerk in a hotel newsstand, with support from Stephen Collins. Only the pilot episode was aired and the series did not eventuate.