Vanity: 5 Things To Know About Prince’s Protege Who Died Tragically At 57

Eighties pop superstar Vanity has tragically died at 57 after battling kidney issues and more recently abdominal illness. We took a look back at the life of the talented singer and actress. Vanity, also known as Denise Katrina Matthews, sadly passed away at the age of 57 after battling kidney problems. The beautiful singer, model and actress had a full life and we thought we'd look back on her amazing career in the spotlight and the events leading up to her untimely passing.

Who Is Vanity
Image Credit: Image Courtesy of Rolling Stone Magazine


1. Vanity got her start in beauty pageants and modeling.

Vanity got her first taste of the spotlight entering beauty pageants in Canada and north east NY. She won the Miss Niagara Hospitality title in 1977 and also competed for Miss Canada in 1978. After that, she moved to New York City to really get her career going. Unfortunately, her lack of height hindered her modeling career, and she only did a few commercials and photo shoots. The best was yet to come though after music icon Prince, 57, found her.

2. Prince renamed her Vanity.

Prince at the 1980 American Music Awards and he soon took her under his wing, renaming her Vanity because he saw his female reflection when he looked at her. Interesting! After the “Purple Rain” singer learned that Vanity could sing, he asked her to become the lead singer of the group Vanity 6. The group went on to make a name for their sexually explicit lyrics, performances, and costumes.

3. Vanity had a great acting career. 

Vanity also had a pretty successful acting career! She starred in films like The Last Dragon, 52 Pick-Up, Action Jackson and the 1986 movie Never Too Young To Die with John Stamos and Gene Simmons. In the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, the gorgeous also guest-starred on numerous TV shows. 

4. She battled with kidney issues after she overdosed.

In 1994, Vanity sadly overdosed on crack cocaine and suffered from near-fatal renal failure. She recalled that after being rushed to the hospital, doctors said she had three days to live while on life support. Vanity then battled with kidney issues following the overdose.

5. Vanity converted to Christianity after her overdose.

After the singer overdosed, she became a born-again Christian. She said that Jesus spoke to her during that time and promised to save her if she gave up her Vanity persona. In 1995, Vanity said, “When I came to the Lord Jesus Christ, I threw out about 1,000 tapes of mine — every interview, every tape, every video. Everything.” She cut off all ties with Hollywood and her former life in show business. No one really saw her since.

Tell us your thoughts HollywoodLifers. What was your favorite memory of this amazingly talented singer and actress.

More From Our Partners