Posts Tagged ‘actress’

Remembering Jeanne Cooper

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

The Archive is sad to learn of the passing of actress Jeanne Cooper, who died this morning at the age of 84. Cooper was best known for playing “Katherine Chancellor” on the hit soap opera The Young and the Restless. She also had guest roles on The Twilight Zone, M Squad, and Perry Mason, and appeared opposite her son, Corbin Bernsen, on L.A. Law.

Below are some excerpts from her 2009 Archive interview:

On the set of her character’s house on The Young and the Restless:

My set, “Katherine Chancellor’s,” was the most expensive set ever built for daytime at that time. Which, in 1973, at $175,000 plus, was a lot of money because that was the budget for some shows. What it did was change all of the other shows and bring them out of the dark into a more updated presentation and it elevated daytime. That’s when they took on serious scripts and what have you. But we had sets. We had places, we had towns. People could identify. It was no longer, “My Girl Sunday,” Marion Lord, and old mining towns in West Virginia.

On whether she feels there’s a stigma associated with daytime television:

You’re not really looked down upon by, let’s say, prime time or motion pictures, because they’ve all been watching daytime. But you’re just not considered in their league.  And that is the sadness, for anyone who thinks like that. Because we have people that could get out there and probably outdo so many of them, more talented. Again, do you want to be an actress or do you want to be a movie star?  You have a chance to be an actress on daytime. I’ve proved that as the only media that allows you to get older. My character started 36 years ago. So there’s a big difference between me 36 years ago and today. I sort of helped say, “it’s okay to be over 50.” I helped, saying, “it’s okay to have a nip and a tuck here and there, if you need, what have you.” I’ve made it okay and strange enough, there’s a commercial that says, “I want to grow up to be an old woman.” I think back, then maybe the creators of women [characters] will be able to be older, allow the girls, after the cosmetic surgery and what have you, after the admission of age, come out and say, “hey, I’m not dead at 50. I’m just starting to live at 50.”

On having the first facelift on television in 1984 as “Katherine Chancellor:”

Well, I personally was going to have a facelift and I knew if I looked any better, “Katherine” was bound to have a few changes in her life.  So I talked to Bill Bell about, “can I have some time off, if I needed it?” – my vacation was coming up.  But if I needed another week, so he said, “well yeah, I’m sure.”  But he came down to the dressing room one day and he said, “Jeanne, how would you feel about if we sort of put ‘Katherine’ through this?” I said, well, “it’s a very good idea, since I’m going through it and I am ‘Katherine.’” … They filmed the surgery.  Most amazing thing. The next day I was to go to Dr. Glassman’s office to remove the bandages. He said, “if it’s too messy, if she bleeds a little bit too much, I want to be able to clean her up and we will rewrap it. I said, “I promise you, I won’t bleed.” So it was filmed.  And Jack Wellman, who was my doctor, was doing the voice, but you would see Harry Glassman’s hands doing all the work. We had 52% of the viewing audience of television that day; one of the highest ratings that CBS has ever had. Fifty-two percent of the people watching television were watching The Young and the Restless and this operation. It was so successful that it broke cosmetic surgery wide open.

On playing the mother of real-life son, Corbin Bernsen, on L.A. Law:

On winning a Daytime Emmy:

On how she’d like to be remembered:

Oh gosh, how would one like to be remembered?  I think possibly to be remembered, that… I made things possible. I made things happen. So that’s an impact on life. That I’ve impacted life somehow. Whether it’s better or worse is not for me or anyone else to say, I don’t think. But I think I’d like to be remembered as someone who loved doing what she did.

Watch Jeanne Cooper’s full Archive interview.

Comedienne Phyllis Diller dies at 95

Monday, August 20th, 2012

The Archive is truly sad to report that legendary comedienne Phyllis Diller has died at the age of 95. She was the first female comedian to headline a Vegas Club, the first woman to sneak into the all-male Friar’s Club (in drag!), and one of the first successful female stand-up comics. She also appeared on more Bob Hope Specials than anyone except Bob Hope. Phyllis Diller was not only a television pioneer, but a pioneering force for women in entertainment, as well.

Born Phyllis Aida Driver On July 17, 1917 in Lima, Ohio, Diller wanted to be a pianist as a young girl. She attended college at the Sherwood Music Conservatory in Chicago for three years, but left to finish her studies at Bluffton College back in Ohio. She eloped in 1939 with Sherwood Diller, the brother of a classmate, and moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan and then to Alameda, California, where her husband worked at the Naval Air Station. Diller first got a job writing gossip and shopping columns for a local San Leandro newspaper, then as a fashion writer for Conn’s department store, moved on to writing for KROW radio in Oakland, and then to KSFO San Francisco as head of merchandising and press relations.

Her husband encouraged Diller to move to the talent side of the business, which she did by creating her “Phyllis Dillis, the Homely Friendmaker” persona:

Diller and a few friends put together an act, and she soon became the breadwinner of the family. She began a five-year run performing at the Purple Onion night club, toured the country, and in 1958 made her TV debut on You Bet Your Life with host Groucho Marx. She had just begun to comprehend the importance of theatricality and slowly started crafting her signature look: bleach-blonde hair, colorful costumes, and exposed “chicken-legs”:

Two additional items became part of Diller’s persona – her laugh:

And her ever-present cigarette holder:

One of Diller’s most memorable creations was “Fang”, the mythical husband-figure she often complained about in her act, who wasn’t actually based on her real-life husband:

In 1962 Diller made her first hugely successful appearance on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar. She soon secured her first movie role, as nightclub hostess “Texas Guinan” in Splendor in the Grass, and appeared in several regional theater plays including “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs” with co-star Blythe Danner. In 1961 Diller became the first female comic to headline in Vegas, at the Flamingo. Of her Vegas act she told us, “I wrote my own material, and no one had ever heard it from a woman’s angle. Now the mother-in-law is his mother… I did a lot of housewife stuff. My first bit was stuffing a turkey. Now you think, well, this isn’t going to interest men, but it did because they’re interested in women. It became funny. If it’s funny, it’ll sell.”

Diller published her first book in 1963 and in 1964 made the first of many appearances on Bob Hope Specials. Diller felt she instantly clicked with Hope:

Throughout the 1960s Diller appeared on numerous talk and game shows, including: The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, I’ve Got a Secret, and Match Game. She traveled to Vietnam to entertain the troops with Bob Hope, and in 1966 starred in The Pruitts of Southampton, later retitled The Phyllis Diller Show – a half-hour sitcom about a wealthy family who suddenly becomes poor (“the opposite of The Beverly Hillbillies” as Diller described it.) She also appeared in a series of films including That Spy, Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number (with Bob Hope), and The Mad Monster Party.

1968’s The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show started out as a 90-minute special that blossomed into a season-long variety show (one of the writers of which was a young Lorne Michaels), and in 1970 became the sixth Dolly in Broadway’s “Hello, Dolly.” In the late ’60s and early ’70s she enjoyed a semi-regular role on Love, American Style, and debuted her “Dame Illya Dillya” concert pianist persona in 1971, which kicked-off a series of symphony shows around the country and allowed her to utilize her piano skills. She very publicly underwent a face-lift in 1972, appeared as judge on the premiere episode of The Gong Show in 1976, and in 1983 became the first woman to dress in drag to sneak into the all-male Friar’s Club (for Sid Caesar’s roast):

Diller suffered a heart attack in 1999, and hadn’t done stand-up since being fitted for a pacemaker. However, she played “Gladys Pope” on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful from 1999-2004, and continued to make talk show appearances. She was also active in voiceover work, voicing the Queen in A Bug’s Life, and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nuttiest Nutcracker.

Phyllis Diller on her legacy:

Watch Phyllis Diller’s full Archive interview.

Remembering Doris Singleton

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

The Archive is sad to report the death of actress Doris Singleton. Singleton passed away on June 26th at the age of 92. The multi-talented performer began her career as a ballet dancer in New York and transitioned to work as a singer and actress in network radio, where she appeared on many of the medium’s now-classic shows. She is probably best known in television for her recurring roles as “Carolyn Appleby,” one of Lucy’s friends on I Love Lucy; and as “Magda” on Hogan’s Heroes. She was married to writer Charlie Isaacs, who passed away in 2002.

The Archive interviewed her in 2005. Here are some selections from the interview:

On working on I Love Lucy

The camera over here was Lucy’s, over there was Desi’s, and there was one in the middle that got the whole thing.  You had to be very, very careful in your scenes with them that you did not put a hand in her camera. You had to be sure that you were back far enough.  It was quite different.  We didn’t have any teleprompters — we had notes all over a sweaty palm, which didn’t do us any good at all. And then there were many funny things that happened. Lucy and Vivian Vance were in a scene, and they were having a hard time because we had changes up to the very last minute.  And they were having a hard time with this particular scene and remembering the changes, so they wrote them all out on the coffee table, and that was fine.  And then we always had a break between acts.  The prop man would come and spray you if you had any jewelry on, anything that glittered was sprayed.  And then he sprayed their whole coffee table, and they had all of their notes on the table, so that was obliterated completely.  But they did it just fine.

On her recurring character on I Love Lucy, “Carolyn Appleby”

On the legacy of I Love Lucy

Every woman thinks that she sees herself in Lucy, wanting to do something more.  This was before women’s liberation and everything, and women were still housewives and they took care of the children and that was it, and they didn’t have big careers and so forth.  So she represented  what a lot of women would like to have in their lives.  And the show was funny.  It was clean.  It could be seen by anyone of the family, from the little child to the grandmother, and it wasn’t going to offend anyone. Of course, at that time, there was a lot of censorship.  I mean, they couldn’t be in the same bed together, ever.  And they couldn’t say when she was pregnant.  It had to be, “we’re having a baby.” and they did.

On her advice to aspiring actors

On a photo with her husband, writer Charlie Isaacs

That is my husband, Charlie Isaacs.  Best, best writer in television, bar none.  And that’s Doris Singleton, his loving wife.  Married for 60 years.  And loving every minute.

The entire 3-1/2 hour Archive of American Television interview is available at

Remembering Kathryn Joosten

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Today the Archive remembers actress Kathryn Joosten, who passed away on Friday, June 1st, 2012 from lung cancer. Joosten was 72 and best known for her roles as “Mrs. Landingham” on The West Wing and “Karen McCluskey” on Desperate Housewives. She began her acting career late in life, at age 42, yet still managed to win two Emmy awards (for her role on Desperate Housewives). In addition to her career as a performer, Joosten was active in the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, where she served multiple terms as a governor of the Performers Peer Group and served on various committees.

The Archive interviewed Joosten on May 9th of this year. Below are some excerpts from the interview:

On playing “Mrs. Landingham” on The West Wing:

On Desperate Housewives and how her character’s death would mirror her own:

On acting:

On her advice to aspiring actors:

On how she’d like to be remembered:

Watch Kathryn Joosten’s full Archive interview here.

Read her obituary here.