Posts Tagged ‘Obituary’

Remembering Jean Stapleton

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

We’re sad to hear of the passing of actress Jean Stapleton, who died yesterday, Friday May 31, 2013, at the age of 90. Stapleton died of natural causes in her home in New York City. She’s best know for portraying the lovable “Edith Bunker” on All in the Family, but also enjoyed success on the Broadway stage with “Damn Yankees” and “The Bells Are Ringing,” and with several television movies.

Below are some selections from her 2000 Archive interview:

Her thoughts on how All in the Family dealt with bigotry:

Her description of “Edith Bunker”:

She was a very compassionate individual, had a peculiar way of arriving at things and thoughts. Not very bright, not well educated, but a great sense of wisdom and heart.  I guess I would describe it that way.  And also fun, a sense of joy about her and great, just great love for everyone, and a perception about people that was instinctive, intuitive, but certainly not intellectual.

And how she’d like to be remembered:

To be remembered?  I don’t think about that uh very much, frankly.  I don’t think anybody’s remembered too well, after awhile… I really don’t think it’s one of my goals or projects to decide that.  I hope that my work stands up, if it’s ever seen in the future.

Watch her full Archive interview and read her obituary in the Chicago Tribune.

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.

Remembering Jack Shea

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

We’re sad to hear of the passing of director Jack Shea, who died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease on Sunday, April 28th, 2013 at the age of 84. Shea directed many of Bob Hope’s television specials, as well as several series, including The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, The Waltons, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, Good Times, The Ropers, Silver Spoons, and Designing Women. Shea also served as a three-time president of the Directors Guild of America and was active with The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences when it split ties with The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1977.

Below are some excerpts from his 2002 Archive interview:

On directing Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis in their respective television shows:

Somebody on the Hope Show – they were changing directors – remembered my work and said, :we ought to hire Shea.” It was a tremendous thrill. I had this chance to direct one of the big live shows in those days. I got that opportunity and I did it. Everything worked. It was a wonderful time, but I remember doing that and then I suddenly got a bid from Jerry Lewis to work on one of his shows. He called me in and he said, “You’re doing the Hope show, huh?” And I said, “Yeah.” He said, “I also want you to do my show.” And I said, “okay.” Then I realized that Jerry was watching anybody that did the Hope show – that was the leading show at that point. So I had the great opportunity of doing the Bob Hope shows and also the Jerry Lewis shows. That was all live, you know, and it was wild times. I mean they both were very interesting characters, totally different personalities, because Bob was very in control and he had the writers that did his material for him and he was always the same character that you see you now.  Rarely, rarely got terribly upset.  And Jerry, of course, was frenetic. I liked both of them and enjoyed working with both of them.

On Bob Hope’s legacy:

I mean he’s just one of the most outstanding characters. I think he will be thought of for many, many, many years, because I think he was just such a dynamic character. When he walked in a room, you know, he did that little walk that was so very specifically Bob Hope. I think he will be remembered for a long time. He’s so identified with helping the troops by being there and supporting them.  And the troops knew that, too. The marvelous receptions that he got when he’d be going out for the troops… He’s quite extraordinary.

On how he began directing Sanford and Son:

I had been doing something else for Normal Lear at that time. That was one of Norman’s shows, he and Bud Yorkin. I was doing some other shows for them at that point and when they got that show, they had a few problems when they were getting started. Redd Foxx and the directors were having problems, and I think that in the first four or five shows they had four or five directors. I came in with great trepidation, and I got along fine. I think I had one fight the whole long time on the show.  When I say fight, one disagreement. It was a tough one to do, because you had a lot of people who had specific ideas about how they wanted their material, but as I remember, it worked out pretty well. It was a funny show. Redd was really something else. Every rehearsal was hysterical. It took a long time to get work done, but we had a lot of laughs and laughs are important.

On directing The Jeffersons:

I honestly can’t remember exactly how I became involved with it, but I just know that it was a great experience and I think I had done so much work with Norman Lear and the other people there, that when it came up I was the guy they felt would be comfortable with it. And I certainly was. We just had a wonderful association. We worked together for a long time and had a great time. When you start a show and you’re not sure how it’s going to go, you always feel sort of uncomfortable… And then suddenly when you hit, boy you really hit it. The way I know a show was really making it – when my kids would come home and tell me that the kids in class were doing “The Jeffersons” and walking like George. Then I knew we had a hit. And we did have a hit. Boy it was just great. Such a great combination of people.

On his approach to directing actors:

I like to use the instincts that actors have. Now when I lay out my work, I know that sometimes an actor has to be at a certain spot at a certain time in order to make something work that has to be there. And I have to find justification for getting that actor to that place without just saying, “get up and move, Charlie.”  I just find I just try to talk to actors same way I like them to talk to me. I tell them what I’m looking for and what I think they ought to do in a particular case. If they disagree and have another opinion I listen to it. Then I make up my mind as to which way it’s gotta be, and I just try to make the case going and will listen to anything they have to say. But it’s going to be my decision, because it’s my responsibility.

On his involvement with what would become the Directors Guild of America:

When I started my career, for some reason I always felt that good union representation is important, in our business especially, because I think it protects the actor, the director, the writer and I think we all need that protection. I think the director needs that protection. When I started in the business, I got interested in trying to be part of that protection, because I saw directors being misused or abused in some cases, and for the sake of not only the individuals but for the sake of the whole craft, I think we need to be able to protect people so that they can do their jobs as well as they can do them. In some cases that wasn’t occurring. And I think I was anxious to see if I could help in allowing people to direct who wanted to direct. That’s why I got involved.

On how he’d like to be remembered:

As being a good or capable, honest director. That’s about all I can ask for.

Watch his full Archive interview and read his obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

Remembering Jonathan Winters

Friday, April 12th, 2013

We’re sad to hear of the passing of comedian Jonathan Winters, who died last night at the age of 87 of natural causes in Montecito, California. Winters had a prolific career in television and film, and was known for many of the memorable characters he created, including “Maude Frickert”, “Elwood P. Suggins”, and “King Kwasi.” He made several appearances on The Tonight Show over the years, had his own program, The Jonathan Winters Show, and won an Emmy for his role on Davis Rules.

Below are some selections from Winters’ 2002 Archive interview:

On appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson:

On “Maude Frickert”:

On Robin Williams and appearing on Mork & Mindy:

On advice for aspiring comedians:

Watch Jonathan Winters’ full Archive interview and read his obituary in The New York Times.

Remembering Roger Ebert

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

The Archive is sad to report the passing of film critic Roger Ebert, who died today at the age of 70. Ebert announced yesterday that his cancer had returned and he would be scaling back from reviewing films. He’s best known for not only his newspaper (and later online) reviews, but also for TV shows Siskel & Ebert (alongside fellow critic Gene Siskel, who passed away in 1999), and Ebert & Roeper (with critic Richard Roeper). Ebert won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1975, penned an entertaining and often inspirational blog, and also authored several books including his 2011 autobiography “Life Itself.”

We were honored to interview Roger Ebert in 2005. Here are some selections from his ninety-minute interview:

On “Two Thumbs Up”:

On film criticism:

On Gene Siskel’s legacy:

I think that Gene and I created a format on television that had an influence on people that watched the show. The show has been on the air in one form or another for 30 years. I have talked to directors who are 40 years old who were watching the show when they were kids. What people got from the show, especially young viewers, were two ideas: movies are deserving to being taken seriously and it’s okay to disagree about them. Which is to say, “it’s okay to have an opinion about them.” And Gene always was very proud of the fact that he took his girls to see a movie once and they came out and he said,”well, girls how did you like it? And one of them said, “Daddy I didn’t like it.” And he said, “you just made me the proudest papa in the world.” Because you see, kids always say that everything is fine. How did you like it, “oh it was fine.” For at least some kids, watching our show, suddenly you would hear that in grade schools, they were doing Siskel and Ebert, where Jones and Smith would debate the new movies. The idea of having an opinion and disagreeing with somebody was interesting.

On winning the Pulitzer Prize for criticism:

I guess I was the first film critic to win for criticism.  Two years earlier, Ron Powers, the television critic of the “Sun-Times” had won.  Then there wasn’t another film critic who won for criticism for ages until about 2002, when Stephen Hunter of “The Washington Post” won.  And then last year, Joe Morgenstern of “The Wall Street Journal” won.

On how he’d like to be remembered:

Watch Roger Ebert’s full Archive interview and read his obituary in “The Chicago Sun-Times.”

Remembering Television Engineer John Silva

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The Archive is sad to report the death of early TV engineer John Silva, who passed away on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at the age of 92. Silva started his television career at local Los Angeles station KTLA when it was still experimental station W6XYZ, pioneering technology for mobile units. He is best known for inventing the Telecopter, a helicopter mobile unit used for television reporting, which is still used today for capturing bird’s-eye views of stories down below.

Below are some selections from Silva’s 2002 Archive interview:

On his early fascination with television:

Somewhere in between the ninth or the tenth grade, I suddenly learned that television had been discovered.  And even though it was embryonic, the devices they were using at that time, it was transmitting pictures over the air and I just fell in love with it. I thought about it. I read on it and I saw pictures. And I decided right then and there that that’s what I was going to do with my life after I graduated.

On inventing the Telecopter:

I got that idea, as I mentioned before, one day driving in on the Hollywood freeway and then it came to me all of a sudden. ‘How can we beat the competition? Why, of course. If we could build a news mobile unit in a helicopter we could get over it all, get there first, avoid the traffic, and get to all the stories, before anybody in the competition and it’d be a wonderful thing.’ So then I drove back, and that was exciting. I got back to my office there and I sat down and I spent about an hour and a half or so writing things that might have to be done. I made a list of I think it was like 14 questions. I kept them. I logged them and I kept them for posterity.  And I needed them for reference. But we had all kinds of things to think about.  I spent actually two days developing that list and I still didn’t mention it to anybody because I knew it would have to be something that would have to be kept secret or the competition would probably think about it, too and try to beat us to the punch.

On the highlights of his career:

On the legacy of KTLA:

Watch John Silva’s full Archive interview and watch KTLA’s tribute to Silva.

Remembering Publicist Esme Chandlee

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

The Archive is sad to report the death of publicist Esme Chandlee, who passed away on November 24, 2012 at the age of 94. Chandlee started her career at MGM in 1942, where she represented, among others, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, and Grace Kelly. She also served as associate producer of the celebrity-interview show Here’s Hollywood, joined PR firm Cleary, Strauss & Irvin in 1958, and started her own PR firm in 1961. She’s credited with discovering Tom Selleck, whom she also represented.

Below are some selections from her 2001 Archive interview:

On how she got hired at MGM:

When the war was coming to a close and we could see the writing on the wall, my mother said to me, “you better start thinking about what you’re going to do next.” So she said, “I’ll call the studios and see what they have open.” She called, among others, Edith Farrell at MGM who was head of the script department. And Miss Farrell said, “Send her over.”  So I went over on an interview and she said to me, “I need somebody to take over the fan mail department.” She said, “Now Esme, if you take the fan mail department for me for six or nine months, I will see that you get a good job on the lot.”

On getting transferred to MGM’s publicity department:

WhenMiss Farrell, she had promised, and I had stayed longer than I said I would, so she said to me, “now if you want to be a producer’s secretary, I’ll be sure you can be. And I can call O’ Selznick right now,” who was not, of course, at MGM, but had his own studio. But she had known him when he was at MGM and she said he’s looking for a secretary. She said, I’ll tell you something; he’ll call you up at two o’clock in the morning and go into a long thing and then he’ll expect you to be on the job at nine o’clock in the morning.” So I wasn’t particularly thrilled with that. She said, “anyway, you belong in publicity.” She called Howard Strickland and I went over and Mr. Strickland said to me, “well at the moment I don’t need a publicist but I need someone who will do uh the billings.” I looked at him and I said, “what’s a billing?” He said, “The billings are the credits that you see on a film before you see the film and on all of the advertising.” And he said, “You will work closely with the producers and with the legal department.” So, what could I do? I wanted to get into publicity eventually so I said, “Fine, Mr. Strickland, I’ll be glad to do it.”  Actually it was fascinating. It turns out that my knowledge of billings and advertising to this day holds for my clients because I learned an immense amount.

On the studio’s influence over stars:

Well we didn’t tell them who to date, but if they came and said, “Gee I’m dying to go to that premiere, isn’t there somebody you could fix me up with?” We would always fix ‘em up. We never said, “now Janet” (to Janet Leigh) “Now Janet, you’re going with so and so.” That wasn’t the way it went. But if it was her picture and, for instance, if Janet wasn’t married at the time, if she didn’t know anyone, she would come to publicity and say, “Who can I go with?” And we would always suggest. Aometimes it wasn’t our star. Sometimes we’d suggest somebody from another studio.

On Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons:

I was very fond of Hedda. She was very fond of me. The point was with both those ladies, if you knew your job, that’s all they asked. They were both very fair that way.  Of course as far as Hedda and Louella were concerned, we had the problem that all the big stories went to Hearst. I used to have to go seeking around on the lot to get news of something that I could, without doing any harm to any picture, that I could give to Hedda without it first being given to Louella. Of course, Hedda used to write in her column, “You haven’t heard it, unless you read it in my column.” There was a big rivalry there and there is no doubt of the fact that the feelings were deep. But Hedda always said to me a number of times she said, “You know Louella is a writer. She’s a reporter and I’m not.” Hedda was basically in the beginning an actress and she was always an actress. So she wrote her column but she never thought of herself as being a writer per se.

On what makes a great publicity still:

The star has to, as they say, relate to the camera. In the beginning when you would get a young player in, they would be so stiff. They would know how to do it and you’d say smile and they’d “ha-ha” like that and finally the photographers would say, “okay, don’t smile, just do it.” Then they would try to make them laugh or to make something like that go and then after a while when they’d done it a few times, they got at ease. That camera wasn’t like the camera on the set and so they weren’t moving, they weren’t doing lines. It was very difficult. It still is for an awful lot of the stars today. They hate it. But when you learn how to do it, it makes an immense amount of difference.

On working for PR firm Cleary, Strauss & Irvin:

It was a shock in the beginning and they were a very nice group of men. I was an associate of the firm. I had my own clients and it was of course very different because at MGM everything was at hand. Uou could find out anything and so on and when you were by yourself, you had to do all the work and it was a whole different picture. I must say, they were very nice and very understanding while I learned my way around.

On being a publicist:

On the projects of which she’s proudest:

I’ve had a number, all connected with different people, because I’ve handled a lot of people in my career. I handled a lot of people after I opened my own office. At the time when you’re successful in doing something, it seems like a lot. But as my husband used to say to me every once in a while when I’d get carried away, he worked at Douglas, and a number of times, he was out to look at airplane accidents with people’s flesh all over everything. And at one time he’d wanted to be a writer and he used to say to me, “You know, Esme, the one thing you have to remember is you are in the entertainment business. Period.”  And I always remembered it.

Watch Esme Chandlee’s full Archive interview and read her obituary in The Hollywood Reporter.

Remembering “I Love Lucy” Editor Dann Cahn

Monday, November 26th, 2012

The Archive is sad to hear of the death of editor Dann Cahn, who passed away on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at the age of 89. Cahn edited I Love Lucy and several other Desilu productions, including Our Miss Brooks, The Untouchables, and The Loretta Young Show Cahn also edited The Beverly Hillbillies, Police Woman, and Remington Steele and served as head of Post Production at Glen Larson Productions.

Below are some selections from Cann’s 1999 Archive interview:

On acting when he was a child:

I went out on another set around nineteen-thirty-seven. These Dead End Kids were the rage, and we were in for a long series of tough kid pictures. They went from being the little tough guys to the Bowery Boys at Monogram. They went on and on and on making these tough kid movies. Well, I was out on the set and the producer had quite a close relationship with my dad. He’d cut several pictures for him.  nd he took a look at me – and I was the same age as the kids, or maybe a couple of years younger – and he said, “gee, Danny, you ought to be in the picture.” I looked at my dad and he said, “okay.”  So I went and joined the Screen Actors Guild. I still have my card.

On watching his father edit:

I’d watch my dad work in the cutting room and I’d learn how to, well actually, by the time I was in my teens I knew how to splice film. At that point the machine to put film together was what they called a foot pedestal hot splicer. It had two pedals like your brake and clutch on an old car, and you took these blades up and you put the film in and you brought it down with film cement, which splashed all over you. It was a mess. Smelled kind of like fingernail polish, but it was much more potent. Then you had to use acetone, which is a very strong chemical, to keep the machine clean because the cement would clog it up. It was a kind of dirty job.

On how he got hired on I Love Lucy:

A young fellow stuck his head in the cutting room door from his cutting room down the hall, and his name was Bill Asher. I had known Bill from before the war – when I was an apprentice he was an assistant editor – he’s a couple of years older than me. He showed me the initial ropes of how to splice and number film. The war had come and ten years had gone by. So he said, “Danny,” he said, “I just got offered a job to cut a thing with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz called I Love Lucy. It’s going to be for CBS. I’m directing and cutting some very short films that I’m trying to get going, and I wrote them too, and I don’t want to take an editing job; I want to make it as a director. So I’m going to pass but I can get you an interview with the producer, who I know, uh, if you’re interested.” I said, “well, yeah, I’m looking for new connections.  I’ll go if I can get the interview.” It was arranged and I went and I met Jess Oppenheimer.

On editing I Love Lucy:

Mark (Daniels) was so involved, he just said, “I’ll see you at the dailies.” I came to the show that Saturday night, the film went to the lab, came out Monday morning, and I said to Bud, “they’ve got this thing here, this multiple moviola, but I’ve never run it. I’m going to have to mark each moviola and take a guess when I make cuts, and it’s going to take time.” Al Simon, who had hired George Fox said, “well, you should try this multiple-headed moviola, and it’s going to save you time. George swears by it.” So they bring this thing over on a truck and it’s like three moviolas in a line with a sound head, and it’s in a big base.  And I said, “what are we going to do with this three-headed monster?”  Bud Molin, who at the time was my assistant, started to laugh, and he says, “yeah, it really is a monster.” We didn’t know where to put it. It wouldn’t fit in our tiny cutting room, where I had one moviola. So they put it in the prop room, where all the props for the show were kept, and the corner of the prop room was part of our sound stage, and that’s where we put the monster.” I had a little mini bleachers made for about four people so they could see the dailies.

On the reaction to his cut of the first episode of I Love Lucy:

The silence seemed an eternity to me. And then Lucy was sitting directly behind me. Desi didn’t open his mouth himself. And Lucy put her hands on my shoulders and she says, “Danny, it’s a good cutting job.” That broke the tension and everybody started talking. “Oh yeah, it’s going to be a hit. It’s going to be wonderful. It’s going to be fine.” They were all congratulating each other and themselves for coming up with this I Love Lucy.

On the transition of I Love Lucy to The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour:

On editing The Beverly Hillbillies:

I did the whole year of The Beverly Hillbillies. I did what two editors had done the year before. I did it all myself, except for the Christmas show. And they promised me certain things that for reasons I won’t go into, they didn’t deliver it. They wanted me to pick it up for the third season, just the way I did.  And I recommended a pal of mine, who, from the Republic days we had been assistant editors together, and his name was Bob Leeds, and I recommended him as the editor, and he signed up and took my job, which I gave to him. Some of us weren’t through cutting our competition. We were friends with it.  Paul liked Bob, and the guy he picked as third year director collapsed, and Bob Leeds became the director of The Beverly Hillbillies. If I just stayed I would have been the director of The Beverly Hillbillies. That’s timing, and I missed it again.

On editing:

Watch Dann Cahn’s full Archive interview and read his obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

Remembering Larry Hagman

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

The Archive is sad to hear of the passing of actor Larry Hagman, who died on Friday, November 23rd, 2012 at the age of 81. Hagman died of complications from cancer. He’s best remembered for playing two of the most iconic roles in television history, those of “Major Tony Nelson” on I Dream of Jeannie, and “J.R. Ewing” on Dallas.

Below are some selections from Hagman’s 2004 Archive interview:

On getting cast in I Dream of Jeannie:

On the special effects on I Dream of Jeannie:

On the infamous Dallas storyline, “Who Shot J.R.?”

On the final episode of Dallas:

Watch Larry Hagman’s full Archive interview and read his LA Times obituary.

Remembering Lucille Bliss

Monday, November 12th, 2012

The Archive is sad to report the death of Lucille Bilss, who passed away on Thursday, November 8th at the age of 96. Bliss was a voiceover artist, best known for voicing “Smurfette” on the animated hit, The Smurfs. Bliss was also the voice of one of the wicked stepsisters, “Anastasia” in the Disney movie Cinderella, the voice of early television’s Crusader Rabbit, and of “Ms. Bitters” on the Nickelodeon series, Invader Zim.

Below are some selections from Lucille Bliss’ 2005 Archive Interview:

On recording Cinderella:

I played the part of “Anastasia,” the redhead. “Oh your Grace, I’d love to dance. Cinderella!” She was a raucous Brooklyn-ese gal. I was the stepsister part. It was more of a comedy part. Every morning Walt Disney himself would come in and talk to us. And we were working on records. Walt Disney was the last producer to go to tape. Everybody else was on tape, but Walt always said, “the quality of acetate is far superior to the quality of tape and I care about the quality.” He said, “you have to be very careful. Rehearse and know your parts because if you make a mistake, everybody has to do the part over again.” You cannot edit an acetate record. You can clip tape but not that. Winston Hibler coached us and we rehearsed and then we did it. We did very well. We had very few take overs. Very well. Walt Disney also came back and said, “every evening I take all the records down to my suite and I listen to you. I listen to your voices every night in your parts and if there’s any suggestions or anything, your director Winston Hibler will tell you the next day. And they were very careful about our diet. We had a dietician and we ate only certain foods, like vegetables and fruit. Nothing greasy and nothing that would upset the vocal chords. One wonderful thing that Mr. Disney did say was, “Lucille has a gift for ad libs, and if she comes up with some funny little sounds, I want them recorded because we can use them. So you have to stay after, Lucille. When the session is over when everybody goes you stay and we rehearse.”

On auditioning for Crusader Rabbit:

They told me about the rabbit and they told me what kind of voice we had. They didn’t tell me what kind, they asked me what kind of a voice was I going to use for it. I said, “okay” and he said, “let’s do it.”  So we did it. I didn’t hear anything, but then a few, I don’t know, weeks later or something they said I had the Rabbit.

On how she lost the role of “Elroy” on The Jetsons:

The Jetsons came along and everything was going wonderful. They loved me.  But… who was the director on that?  Oh God. He was the son of this movie actor.  I can’t think… it may come to me before the end of the show. I never thought of bringing it up so I didn’t think of it. But he said to me, “they think you’re a little boy, Lucy. Madison Avenue wanted a real little boy and we sent your tape in and we called you Little Lou Bliss.  L-O-U, Little Lou Bliss. You should see the letters. They’re all crazy about this apple-cheeked little 6 year old boy, little Lou Bliss. But you must never, ever, ever divulge your name. You’ll lose your job.”  “My God,” I said. “I’ll never divulge. I’ll never go to New York anyway for the show, but I won’t divulge. Not to my best friend.” So, what happened is Myles (my agent) said, “what the hell is this Little Lou Bliss crap?” He says, “you’ve made your name as Lucille Bliss. What are they doing to you calling you Little Lou Bliss? He’s going to get big and famous and who the hell is he? It’s you. That can’t go on.” I said, “Myles, please, Myles, just leave it alone. I’ll lose my job.” “Ah, you won’t lose your job.” “Yes,” I said, “I will. I heard it from the director himself. He said it must be a secret and Hanna-Barbera’s keeping it a secret. Don’t tell them, please.” He said, “no, that’s ridiculous.” I said, “Myles, I want to work. I don’t want to lose the series. I got a lead in it, for God sakes, leave it alone.” He didn’t. He went to Hanna-Barbera and said, “first of all she gets more money. Secondly, I want to see Lucille Bliss on there.” I got the pink slip two weeks later. It broke my heart.

On getting the role of “Smurfette” on The Smurfs:

The agent said you can go on an audition at Hanna-Barbera. They’re looking for a new character. So when I went there, they didn’t have a picture, nothing. They described her a little bit, and they said, “how do you think she’d be?” And you had to answer questions.  What kind of a person she’d be and so forth. I did what I could and then I got a callback and I said to my agent, “I got a callback.” I remember the agent said, “yeah but there’s only one female character in it so don’t hold your breath.”  Well I said, “I’m going to do the same thing again. I don’t care. I did it once and they liked it; I’m going to do it twice.” Cause I believed in her. This time they had moods. They wondered how she was happy. How she’d be scared. No pictures yet. How she would be angry and so forth and so on. Then came the third audition. This time they had a little picture, kind of. “What do you think she’d sound like? Tell us what she’d say or what she’d do under different conditions.” So we did that and that’s how I got it.

On “Smurfette”:

She felt so real to me. ‘Cause I created her voice so I could feel her emotions. It may sound strange, but it’s true. If you do something for a long time and you created it, you begin to feel the emotion. We have to think like the character and talk like the character, and it takes over. That’s what I tell my students, too. You must lose yourself if you want to be successful in animation and be the character. Then if they don’t like what you’re doing, it’s the character and you can change it. But if it’s you, you go home brokenhearted, “oh my God, why did I goof up?”

On Invader Zim:

Johnen Vasquez created this series of an alien character who tries to get into Earth and destroy Earth. It’s Invader Zim and the people up there don’t like him either so they say, “yeah, you can go down to Earth. Try to do things, because they say it’s a rotten place, you can’t do anything else, send him down there.” It’s crazy, it’s funny, very modernistic drawings; the drawings are fantastic. I play “Ms. Bitters”, the mean schoolteacher and she’s mean and talks to kids like this, “What’s the matter with you? You’re late again.” You know what I mean? Ooh, horrible person. But a far cry for me. I don’t usually do it with parts, but I enjoyed it.

On her proudest achievement:

It’s hard to say. I must say because it’s my favorite character, the two, “Smurfette” and “Crusader Rabbit.” Because after all, Crusader was the first national animated cartoon. He was the crusader in more ways than one. He was the first one to crack the national animation field. That was way back in 1949 or ’50, and the first one. And “Smurfette” because I love the character, I do. She was on for 10 years. But I love her.

On how she’d like to be remembered:

God, I never thought of that. How would I like to be remembered? As a nice and also as a famous person. Because I have never done any mean… I’m not the best Pollyanna, please. But I’ve never knifed anybody, taken false credits, or done something to hurt someone. Never. Because somehow I have that feeling that when you go upstairs, if you go upstairs, something that goes around comes around.

Watch Lucille Bliss’ full Archive interview.