CATEGORIES Features, Coming Soon

'Burlesque' hits theaters today, and boy, are we pumped up. Christina Aguilera, Cher and Kristen Bell belting out showtunes as part of an intense showbiz melodrama? Honey, that movie has been playing for years inside our mind; it's just finally hit the big screen for the rest of you to see.

So that's cool. But honestly, we're almost more excited just to see what Xtina can do as an actress. Sure, we already know she has a bigger range than Montana when it comes to singing, but the real question in 'Burlesque' is, how well can she act? We're betting she knocks it out of the park, but it's no guarantee; over the years dozens of singers have taken a stab at acting and while some of them have gone on to become stars of the screen, others have crashed and burned in epic style.
In preparation for 'Burlesque,' then, and Aguilera's debut, we thought this would be a perfect time to take a look back at some of the other high profile singers who have provided Hollywood with some of its biggest hits -- and misses -- over the past century and see how their careers in film began. So here it is, our review of the best and worst movie debuts in diva history:

CherCher And what better person to start with than Aguilera's co-star in 'Burlesque,' the legendary Cher? Cher, of course, won the Best Actress Oscar back in 1988 for 'Moonstruck,' but she began her film career in a slightly more humble project -- 1967's 'Good Times,' a comedy co-starring then-husband Sonny Bono where the two spoofed famous movie scenes. Cher was kind of a second banana to Sonny in her feature debut, but hey, at least she went on to bigger and better things.

Barbra StreisandBarbra Streisand Starting off as a lounge singer, Streisand worked the off-Broadway and talk show circuits for several years before finally making one of the most auspicious film debuts in movie history: the 1968 classic 'Funny Girl' not only won five Oscars, it also landed Barbra the Best Actress statue for her first role. Now that's the way to start a movie career.

MadonnaMadonna Madonna was already a worldwide pop sensation when she signed on to co-star in 1985's 'Desperately Seeking Susan.' Critics were left suddenly seeking alternate ways to say "don't quit your day job," but that hasn't stopped Madonna from appearing in more than 20 other films since. Of course, most of those movies were flops. In fact, in 2000, Madonna was named "Worst Actress of the Century" by the Razzies, and that was before 'The Next Best Thing' and 'Swept Away' came about. But, hey, she'll always have 'Evita.' And with 'W.E.' just around the corner, in which she directs, perhaps she'll have better luck behind the camera?

Whitney HoustonWhitney Houston Prior to co-starring opposite a hunky Kevin Costner in the wildly popular 1992 smash 'The Bodyguard,' Houston's only previous acting experience had been a guest appearance on the TV sitcom 'Gimme a Break!'. Houston absolutely crushed it, though, portraying a singer (hey, range is overrated, guys) in a film that also featured Houston's epic version of the ballad "I Will Always Love You,' making this one of the most memorable film debuts for any singer.

Dolly PartonDolly Parton Speaking of 'I Will Always Love You,' that tune was, of course, originally written and performed by Dolly Parton. The country singer is probably best known in movie circles, though, for her first feature role -- the 1980 workplace revenge fantasy '9 to 5,' for which she also composed the memorable theme song of the same name.

Jessica SimpsonJessica Simpson Not every film debut by a singing sensation turns out to be auspicious, however, but at least Jessica's Simpson's movie premiere was memorable. Unfortunately, though, it was memorable for all the wrong reasons, as 2005's 'The Dukes of Hazzard' was a critical and box office bomb. Even worse were her follow-up performances. 'Employee of the Month' earned Simpson her second Razzie nomination, while 'Blonde Ambition' grossed just over $6,000 at the box office. And if that wasn't bad enough, her last movie to date, 'Major Movie Star,' went straight to DVD. We guess she wasn't meant to be a major movie star after all.

Queen LatifahQueen Latifah The reigning monarch of hip hop may have been nominated for an Oscar for her turn in the hit 2002 musical 'Chicago,' but it was far from her first film role; indeed, Queen Latifah has been a staple of cinema for almost as long as she has been turning out tunes, beginning with Spike Lee's 1991 film 'Jungle Fever.' Since then, Latifah has appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows. Is there nothing she can't do?

AaliyahAaliyah When pop star Aaliyah died in a tragic plane crash back in 2001, the movie world lost one of its brightest young up and coming stars, as evidenced by her debut role in the 2000 Jet Li action hit 'Romeo Must Die.' She filmed just one more movie, 2002's 'Queen of the Damned,' before her all too premature departure, but her legacy as a superstar was already cemented.

BeyonceBeyonce Beyonce Knowles rose to superstardom as part of the girl group Destiny's Child, but her rising star didn't peak there; besides her multi-platinum recording career, Beyonce also hit it big at the box office right from the get go, as her first movie, 2002's 'Austin Powers in Goldmember' was a worldwide smash. Since then she has gone on to star in everything from acclaimed films like 'Dreamgirls' to Razzie targets like 'Obsessed' (for which she received a Worst Actress nomination), but her busy music career has limited the number of roles she has been able to take on. Music's gain is Hollywood's loss -- well, 'Obsessed' aside, anyway.

Jennifer HudsonJennifer Hudson And finally, speaking of 'Dreamgirls,' no list of singers-turned-actresses could be complete without a mention of Jennifer Hudson, who was famously axed from the televised musical competition 'American Idol' only to go on to much bigger and brighter things by winning an Academy Award for her feature debut as Effie in 'Dreamgirls.' It just goes to show that living well truly is the best revenge.