Dr. Danielle Spencer is an American actress who is most noted for playing the character "Dee" (the personification of a typical annoying and bratty little sister) on ABC's hit show "What's Happening" (1976 - 79). Centered on teenagers during the 1970s and their daily antics while growing up in the inner city of Los Angeles, California, the role of "Dee Thomas" became an American household name. Her character endeared her to audiences because of her wisecracking yet mature banter. Her trademark phrase from the show: "Ooohh, I'm tellin' Mama!" garnered her a TV Land award for the character "Most Desperately in Need of a Timeout", an achievement she relishes and credits with highlighting her career as an actor.
She has lent her talent to television and film projects galore, including; USA network's "TV Land Confidential: The Untold Stories" (2007), "Peter Rabbit and the Crucifix" (2001), NBC's "Days of Our Lives" (2001), "As Good As It Gets" (1997), "Soul Train" (1987), "The Family Feud" (1979), "Christmas at Walt Disneyworld' (1978), "The Tap Dance Kid" (1978) and "The Brady Bunch Special" (1977).
Dr. Spencer may be remembered as the brattiest kid on television, but since her days on the famous sitcom, she has not had an easy life by any paradigmatic definition. In 1977, Danielle was critically injured in a near fatal car crash (her step father and manager Tim Pelt was killed) which left her in a coma for 3 weeks, along with broken bones in her leg, arm and pelvis. 28 years later, those same injuries, ultimately impaired her ability to walk, confining her to a wheelchair until she underwent intensive physical therapy at The Kessler Physical Rehabilitation Center in West Orange, New Jersey. While there, she learned to walk again with crutches.
In 1993, Danielle fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, earning her degree from Tuskegee University Veterinary School of Medicine in Alabama.
In light of all she has been through, Danielle gives readers a glimpse into her life with "Through the Fire.... Journal of a Child Star", released in 2011. This autobiography gives raw insight into the spirit of determination that Danielle has had from an early age in pursuit of her goals.
Unfortunately in 2014, Danielle was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully, after a grueling 4 months of chemotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy , Danielle is now cancer-free! This young lady has overcome many challenges; emotional, physical and personal, none of which have prevented her from pursuing her aspirations. Enduring adversity, her strength as a survivor is apparent. In pursuit of victory and ever optimistic, she continues to push forward. She has recently debuted a new line of scented candles called "Aromatics By Danielle". In addition to that a new doll has been created in her image highlighting her calling as a veterinarian. Danielle hopes to inspire girls to pursue careers as doctors when they grow up.
In September 2016, Danielle was inducted into the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., acknowledged as the youngest African American female child star on a television sitcom. For this, she will have a permanent exhibit in the new African American Cultural Museum in Washington, DC.. She is also starring in a new play by Cheryl Pelt called "The Journey". It is a story about two women; one an icon of the civil rights movement, the other a Northern hot shot reporter and how their lives changed as a result of their meeting.
In her spare time, Danielle developed a love of photographing butterflies, beautiful blooms and small animals. Excited about the first professional viewing of her photographs in February 2017 at the VCU medical center in Richmond, Virginia, she hopes to inspire the children to unceasingly chase their dreams. Spencer is in talks for a new reality show that will feature her experiences as an actor and veterinarian. With a natural skin care line, a children's book and tour on the horizon, Dr. Danielle Spencer is showing no signs of slowing down. This young Hollywood "star" is now shining brighter than ever!