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30 years ago, Tiffany got her start with Ed McMahon and Star Search

Before Tiffany became the teen pop princess and darling of the mall concert circuit, she was in 1985 a contestant on Star Search, hosted by Ed McMahon. And believe it or not, she didn't win. Instead, the teen then known as "Tiffany Renee" came in second to Melissa Moultrie. But she took the disappointment like champ and learned from it.

"I learned I had to branch out," Tiffany told me last month in an email chat. "I couldn't just use my voice — I had to be a performer. I think my competitor had that in the bag. She was great at acknowledging the audience and really performing, so I grew after that."

I asked Tiffany, who will be one of the featured performers on The '80s Cruise in early 2016, how Star Search differs from all the reality TV shows today (many of which she has appeared on).

"Star Search is a different TV program because it doesn't show anything but the competition factor," she said. "I think with a lot of reality TV, you get to know people behind the scenes and see them work on the songs. You really kind of get a chance to root for them more because you've seen how hard they work or you see their personality. Maybe you even agree with something that they say or you can kind of see their growth as artists. I enjoy seeing that process."

Read the rest of my interview in this article from The '80s Cruise newsletter, including her take on acting with once-rival Debbie Gibson in a SyFy classic cult film.