Who was Debra McCurdy? Everything About Jennette McCurdy’s Mother

Jennette McCurdy is a former child artist who became renowned for her unparalleled acting skills as Sam Puckett of the Nickelodeon series, iCarly. The show was released in 2000, and during that time, Jennette was only eight years old. 

Last year, the actress released her memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died. The title raised many eyebrows, with everyone turning curious about the actress’s rapport with her late mother. The former star struggled to hold her tears back when she was asked about her mum and their fraught relationship. 

Currently 30, Jennette shared details about her mum’s passing away and stated in her tome that her mother, Debra McCurdy died of cancer in 2013. The book contains many details, including about Jennette’s mother. 

So, who was Debra McCurdy? Read this article till the end to find out. 

Who was Debra McCurdy? 

Debra McCurdy was Jennette McCurdy’s mother, who also had a noticeable hand in her daughter’s journey to fame. It was her mother who pushed Jennette into acting. As a young actress, Debra handles a lot of affairs in terms of her career. 

While promoting her book, Jennette recalled her professional relationship with her mother:

“It was important for me to explore the emotional and psychological abuse I endured during my time as a young performer. I feel I didn’t have the tools, language, or support necessary to speak up for myself back then. So, this book is a way for me to not only honor that experience and give voice to my former self but hopefully to encourage young people to speak up for themselves in environments where they may be conditioned to just ‘play ball’ and ‘be a good sport.’” 

Jennette added some inside details about her relationship with Debra:

“My earliest memories of childhood were of heaviness and chaos. My mom’s emotions were so erratic that it was like walking a tightrope every day. The mood fluctuations were daily. My mom had always dreamt of being a famous actor, and she became obsessed with making me a star. I felt like my job was to keep the peace, and I wanted to make my mom happy.” 

At one point in her public interview, Jennette spoke the last words she shared with her mother, prompting the screen star to respond:

“She was in a hospice bed that was set up in our living room and was really just detached behind the eyes. My brothers had each kind of given the good news of their lives. One of them was getting married, and one of them was moving back to California. And then I said, ‘Mommy, I am so skinny right now.’” 


She continued: 

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“Like, the thing that I felt like was the most that I had to offer was my thinness. And I really, really, in my core at that time, I believed that that would get my mother to wake up. I believed that she cared more about my body and my weight than she did about anything else that could possibly be uttered by my brothers’ mouth. I really felt that mattered more to her.” 

What was Debra’s Cause of Death? 

Debra McCurdy took her last breath on the 20th of September, 2013, after succumbing to breast cancer. 

Debra was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 but was in remission for 15 years before the disease returned and worsened in 2010. Eventually, it spread to the rest of her body, including her brain. 

The daughter had been empathetic to her mother’s severe health condition and was vocal about Debra’s deteriorating health. In one of her interviews, she shared: 

“I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for my mother to tolerate all she has gone through and continues to go through. The pain, the worry, and the battle. She wakes up every day hurting and goes to sleep hurting even more. My mother, the constant optimist and effervescent, sprightly woman I know her to be, is caged along with this hideous beast they call cancer. There are people who believe that young actors on a TV series have it easy and they never have a tough moment in their lives.” 

The Actor’s Bittersweet Feelings about her Mother’s Passing 

Jennette’s memoir, I’m Glad my Mother Died, is full of intricate details. She shared that she has found a sense of liberation since her mother’s passing. But she also felt pain and missed her mum. Discovering her identity without her mother’s presence had been a complicated process, but she eventually arrived at a place in her life that she never thought she could. 

In one of her book’s chapters, she recalls a story where she turned to her partner and said, “Oh my God, I miss my mom so much.” But at the same time, she knew she would struggle with an eating disorder if her mother was alive. The distance from her mother allowed the actor to get in good health. 

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When was Jennette’s Book Released? 

Jennette McCurdy’s memoir is a juxtaposition of emotional and hilarious moments. The book was unveiled on the 9th of August, 2022. The listing price of the memoir is $27.99. However, it may vary by retailer. 

The synopsis of the book reads: 

A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor – including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother – and how she retook control of her life. 

So far, the readers’ response to the book has been positive. It also found its place amongst the national and international best-sellers of the year. 

What is Jennette McCurdy’s Net Worth? 

Jennette McCurdy’s net worth is a whopping $6 million (approx.). 

Quick Highlights from I’m Glad my Mom Died

  • The book, which is out now, narrates McCurdy’s early career as a background actor. It also chronicles her rise to fame from portraying Sam Puckett on several Nickelodeon shows and her retirement from acting following her mother’s death. 
  • Debra McCurdy was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer when Jennette was only two years old. Although the actor said she was too young to remember the details of her mother’s illness, her mother would bring it up at any chance she got.
     “Even though the facts of it are so sad, I can tell that the story itself gives Mom a deep sense of pride, of purpose. Like she, Debra McCurdy was put on this earth to be a cancer survivor and live to tell the tale to any and everyone…at least five to ten times.”
  • The book reveals how Debra would take pride in her daughter being young for her age, for it could be meant she could play roles meant for younger children. When Jennette’s breasts started to grow, she was horrified because she knew she would be alienated from the younger roles. Debra made it a point to restrict Jennette of calories to halt her puberty. They create a plan where the actor ate a maximum of 1,000 calories a day. Despite such a poor diet, Jennette started eating only half her meals to impress her mother. Debra would measure her thighs and body and encourage her to drink more coffee to suppress her appetite. No wonder the actor suffered from several eating disorders. 
  • When Jennette got her period at the age of 16, she was horrified and lapsed into her restrictive eating patterns, for she was terrified of growing up. While she was pursuing her career at Nickelodeon, she had to deal with many physical disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. 
  • In a shocking series of revelations, Jennette’s father, Mark, started dating Debra’s best friend, Karen, after her passing. Karen encouraged Mark to divulge a life-changing secret to her daughter – He is not Jennette’s biological father. This revelation shocked the actor, who later learned that Andrew, a local jazz musician was his biological father. 
  • Following the big reveal, Jennette, with a group of friends, went to one of his concerts, where he told her that he knew she existed, but never reached out because he was unsure if her mother had ever told her that Mark wasn’t her biological father. Jennette stated that although she is glad she met him, she doesn’t know if she is ever going to see him again. 
  • By 18, Jennette was done and dusted with the drama her mother would bring every other day and decided to move out of her family’s home. She bought her own apartment. At this point, her mum was in a wheelchair and could not drive Jennette to the set. But she refused to get her license because she said Jennette’s time should be better spent learning lines or planning tweets. 
  • Even though Jennette moved into her personal space, she struggled with experiencing total freedom in the first few days. Upon moving out, her mother stayed with her for three consecutive nights. 
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What is Jennette McCurdy up to These Days? 

As of October 2022, Jennette has signed a two-book, seven-figure deal with Penguin Random House’s Ballantine Books. The former actor is excited to get started on writing more books. She even stated that being a novelist was her dream job. Her acting career includes many Comedy shows, short films, and series on Netflix. 

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