Posts Tagged ‘Obituary’

Remembering TV Producer (and Archive Interviewer) Henry Colman

Friday, November 9th, 2012

The Archive is very saddened to hear of the death of noted television producer Henry Colman, who passed away on Wednesday, November 7th at the age of 89. Not only was Henry an Archive interviewee, but he was also one of the Archive’s main interviewers — having completed over 33 oral history interviews for the Archive of American Television’s collection. We will miss his warmth and enthusiasm.

Henry began his career in television just as it was beginning — as a production coordinator on a local musical show, Easy Does It. In 1951, he became an assistant to the director on Kraft Television Theatre and then worked on other programs including Robert Montgomery Presents and Colgate Comedy Hour. He then became a television executive, overseeing the pilot of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and working on programs such as Green Acres and Hawaii Five-0. He later worked on the development of The Love Boat, where he became line producer, and went on to produce the series Hotel. Beginning in 1987, he produced a number of TV movies including Body of Evidence, Parent Trap III and The Rape of Dr. Willis.

Below are some selections from his 2001 Archive interview:

On the genesis of The Love Boat:

On his advice to aspiring producers:

On being an interviewer for the Archive of American Television:

On how he’d like to be remembered:

I’d like to be remembered as being generous and kind and with enough talent that I got the job done, and did it well.

Henry himself was interviewed for the Archive on March 16, 2001.

As a tribute to his work and love for the Archive of American Television, donations in his memory are being accepted. (Email archive@emmys.org for more information.)

Remembering Andy Williams

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

The Archive is sad to report the death of singer/performer/host Andy Williams, who died yesterday at the age of 84. Williams had been battling bladder cancer and passed away at his home in Branson, Missouri. Williams was already a successful singer by the time he began hosting The Andy Williams Show, which celebrates its 50th anniversary tomorrow, September 27th.

Below are some selections from Williams’ 2005 Archive interview:

On starting his show business career



On The Andy Williams Show theme song (“Moon River”)

On his many Christmas specials

On his advice to aspiring performers

On how he would like to be remembered

I’ve been asked that before and I don’t really have a good answer but,  I would like to be remembered as a great singer. That’s about it.

The entire interview is online at http://emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/andy-williams

About the interview:

In his one-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Andy Williams discusses his early career working in his brothers’ singing group on stage and in radio, before embarking on a solo career. He speaks about his early appearances on television, including being cast as a regular singer on Steve Allen’s Tonight Show. He then details hosting his own series, The Andy Williams Show, and talks about the production schedule, some of his favorite guest stars (including the Osmond Brothers, whom he is credited with discovering), and the show’s segue into a series of Christmas specials. In conclusion, he discusses establishing his own theater in Branson, Missouri. Karen Herman conducted the interview on September 19, 2005 in Branson, MO.

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 Sherman Hemsley

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

The Archive is sad to report the death of actor Sherman Hemsely, who passed away at the age of 74. Hemsley was best known for playing “George Jefferson” on the All in the Family spin-off The Jeffersons, and “Deacon Earnest Frye” on Amen. He also voiced “B.P. Richfield” on Dinosaurs, had recurring roles on The Love Boat and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and enjoyed an active career on Broadway.

Below are some selections from Hemsley’s 2003 Archive interview:

On his screen test for The Jeffersons’ executive producer, Norman Lear:

On “George Jefferson”:

On playing “Deacon Earnest Frye” on Amen:

On following his own path:

On advice to aspiring actors:

You got something steady telling you everyday, “go, go, go.” So rather than fight the voice, you just got to say ,”whew” and just start. That’s my advice to people – you want to do it? Start … Just go for it. Go for it; it’s fun.

Watch Sherman Hemsley’s full Archive interview

Read his obituary in The Huffington Post

Remembering Producer Norman Felton

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Noted producer Norman Felton died Monday, July 2nd, at the age of 99 in Woodland Hills, CA. Best known for producing the hit series Dr. Kildare and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Felton began his television career in Chicago — during the medium’s first commercial years and worked on such groundbreaking series as Garroway at Large, and These are My Children. He then went to Hollywood where he worked on Robert Montgomery Presents, Playhouse 90, and Studio One and others, before starting his own Arena Productions company. He was interviewed for 4-1/2 hours by Lee Goldberg for the Archive of American Television in 1997. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

On being executive producer of the landmark dramatic anthology series Playhouse 90 in 1959, when the sponsor censored the word “gas” in “Judgement at Nuremberg”

The producer was Martin Manulis, Herb Brodkin, a couple of others. The network [CBS] did want me to have somebody overall in charge, and so I’d make comments to the producer and I would follow through with it. On the “Judgement at Nuremberg” teleplay,  the gas company was a principle sponsor and they said they said they would pull out if we used the word “gas” on the show. Because  how you told the story of Judgment at Nuremberg and Holocaust without using the word seems– Herb Brodkin, who was the producer — ridiculous, and I felt the same way.  The network tried to get me to do something about it.  I said, “there’s nothing that can be done about it.” They said, when they got close to air time,  “we can’t give up the gas company. We promised them that we will take out the word.” It was all live. Herb Brodkin believed that we were going to do it, and I said, “Herb, I’ve got to tell you that that’s what they’re going to do  and I can’t do anything about it. If it’s going through where we are, I might be able to get to the guys who are supposed to bleep that word out, but they tricked me, II don’t know if I could have done anything and they’re sending an engineer over here with someone and if the word is used we’ll bleep it.” And that’s what happened. And he was furious.  I said, “I warned you that that was going to happen.” There was nothing that I could possibly do.  It was the worse thing for the gas company.  It got the worse publicity it could possibly have when it came out that the word was bleeped out…. We didn’t have people telling us what to do until the advertisers came along.

On the creation of television’s Dr. Kildare

I wanted to do a medical show.  I hadn’t been able to do it because at CBS they said, as the other networks did, who wants to go to a hospital?  That’s the last place –  a person comes home from their job and they’re going to turn on television and see sick people?  But in radio, I did plenty of them. I did a series of a medical nature, and I did in Chicago, while I was in radio  for the AMA. I didn’t latch onto any property. [Another company had done a failed pilot featuring Dr. Kildare.] The reason it was called Dr. Kildare was after-the-fact they turned me down.  They didn’t want to do another one. They didn’t want to do anything medical.  I said, “well, I want to do one, and I did.  It was a very successful pilot. E. Jack Neuman was a fine writer. I said I want to do a medical show, and we had two or three discussions and one, he said, “I got a good idea, this is the story. I know it has to be set in a hospital. There are two gangsters who had a fight between them, and but one is on one floor and another is another floor of the hospital and they still are enemies.” I said, “Jack, before we do anything, why don’t you take a week off, go to a hospital, go around there.  That’s what I want you to do for the next week. I don’t want to see you around here.  Don’t come on the lot.  Go to a hospital.”  So he did.  And when he came back, I never heard about those gangsters again. He said, “it’s terrific! I followed an intern and what they go through, and how they operate is just terrific with patients, and themselves and– so I said  go ahead, and write it. It was a half hour script.  Because that’s what my contract at that time, was, we expected a half hour. I went over to NBC with it and they liked it to much they said, “we’ll make you a deal.”  When the word got out that I sold this, then I think somebody in the board in New York said,” is it going to be Dr. Kildare?”  Bob [Whiteman] said, “no, it’s not like those old movies at all.  It’s the story of an intern.” And they said, “can’t he be called Dr. Kildare?” He pointed out, as did the network, that it was a valuable title to get started with, the people would opt to tune it in.  So, that’s how it got its name, is after-the-fact.

Video: On the genesis of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

On the appeal of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

In the sixties, there were a lot of  just unrest in the family. It was an escape.  It was good against evil.  And also, the thing that they liked was it was different nationalities.  At I cast two men in the leads who were short and not big husky men because, on business on Dr. Kildare, I was in London for a meeting, and when I was leaving, a lady, who was a comptroller, came to me and said, “why is it in America that you always have leading men who are big tall, sexy– so called– looking fellow, and why are they always American?”  I said, “I don’t know. I guess because that’s what people seem to like when they see them.”  But the more I thought about it, as time went on, when it came to do the Man From U.N.C.L.E, I’m not going to do it.  And that’s what made me like David McCallum and Robert Vaughn. They were slim and they were not big, as they used to say, ballsy men. That’s the expression that was used.  So it worked. I think today, some of the kids say that’s something that they really can identify more with, because they’re younger than most of the heroes were in the western shows.

SEE THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE: HTTP://EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG/INTERVIEWS/PEOPLE/NORMAN-FELTON

Remembering Andy Griffith

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The Archive is sad to report that actor Andy Griffith passed away this morning at the age of 86. Griffith was best known for his role as “Sheriff Andy Taylor” in The Andy Griffith Show, and also enjoyed success playing the title role in Matlock from 1986-1995. Griffith was also a Grammy winner and talented comedian and singer.

Here are some selections from his 1998 Archive interview:

On his early comedy routines:

On the play “No Time For Sergeants”:

On how The Andy Griffith Show got started:

On the genesis of Matlock:

On the legacy of The Andy Griffith Show:

Watch Andy Griffith’s full Archive interview

Read his obituary in the Huffington Post

Remembering Pioneering Television Executive Julian Goodman

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The Archive of American Television is sad to report that former NBC executive Julian Goodman, died Monday, July 2nd, at the age of 90. In 1998, the Archive interviewed him for nearly three-and-a-half hours at his home in Jupiter, FL. During that interview Goodman discussed his years as president of NBC. In addition, he talked about his start at NBC News, when he was a news writer for David Brinkley in 1945.  Mr. Goodman also detailed the network’s coverage of important news events including President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

On producing the second of the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debates

We had always sought to get the presidential candidates to debate.  And the Convention of 1960, as soon as the candidates had been selected, Bob Sarnoff and Bob Kintner and Bill McAndrew and I sat in a hotel room in Chicago and composed a telegram to the two candidates, urging them to do this.  I guess the other networks were doing the same thing at the same time.  I know that the candidates themselves had probably been thinking about it long before we were, probably. So, reluctantly, they agreed upon the debates.  And they certainly were historic and they certainly were influential in the outcome of the election.  The debates have changed a great deal since then, if indeed they have been debates.  But the ones we had then  were the real thing.  They may have changed the course of history because they were on television.  People got a chance to see the candidates and a chance to choose for themselves which man they wanted to lead them.  Yet it’s difficult that the mechanics and the cosmetics of the situation have blurred over the years who was the best man for the job. Because the final vote was less than half a million.  Television did play a very important part in making the decision, or allowing the American people to make the decision for themselves.

On covering the President John F. Kennedy’s Assassination and Funeral (including the capturing of John-John’s famous salute)

Someone leaned over to me and whispered, “I’ve heard on WNEW Kennedy has been shot.”   I got up without excusing myself and went to the headquarters, BOC, Broadcast Operations Center, of NBC.  It was on the 5th floor, one floor down. And that’s where everything took place when we had an emergency.  It was a room about the size of a current sports utility vehicle.  We crowded at least 6 or 8 people into it.  We were separated by a glass partition.  And William Ryan, a correspondent, very good one, for NBC News, walked in about that time and I said, “Go and get on-camera.” And he said, “What’ll I say?”  I had a UP flash in my hand that said,” Flash, Dallas – President Kennedy has been shot.”  And he said, “what’ll I say?  I can’t go on with that.”   I said read it forwards.  And then read it backwards.  And then read it halfway and then read the other half.  And by that time you’ll have more to say.  And he read it.  He did a really very good job.  And a young man in the front part of this Broadcast Operations Center turned around and said to me rather petulantly, “When are we going back to local programming?”  And I said, “son, why don’t you go home?  We’re not ever going back to local programming.”

While we didn’t have a correspondent on the air from Dallas at that time, we followed the story from that moment on, until the following Monday night, after the Kennedy funeral.  Without ever leaving the air. Without commercials. There were many people afterward were asking me, quite a number of times, how long did it take you to decide not to do any commercials?  How big was the fight about not doing commercials?  There was never even any discussion of it.  Kintner just said, we’ll drop the commercials.  That’s all there was to it. But,  to the best of my knowledge, I didn’t sleep during those days, from that time Friday until the following Monday.   I flew to Washington at one point, when Kennedy was in-State at the Rotunda, It was midnight. There was some discussion, somebody said, “there’s nothing going on.  Shall we go off the air?”   Edwin Newman was at the Capital Rotunda.  I said, “No. Stay on the air all night, but don’t have anybody talk.  Just show the people passing the casket.”  It was a very effective way of doing it.

The coverage was a voluntary instantaneous work of art by everybody involved in it at NBC.  From the time it started until the time it finished.  In the course other coverage, particularly of the funeral cortege, and in Washington, there was a moment when there occurred a shot that I’ve always regarded as the greatest shot I’ve ever seen on television.  It was caused by, directed by, set up by Charles Jones, who was one of our directors in Washington, he was working for the pool, and he set up a camera at a low point, so he could get the upward shot of the people coming out of the church, when Mrs. Kennedy came out. When young John-John came out and saluted, I still think it’s the best single, most impressive, most dramatic television shot in the history of television.

On the infamous 1968 NBC “Heidi” incident where a Jets v. Raiders game was pre-empted

It was November 17th, 1968.   I was at my house in Larchmont, New York.  The NBC Press Department was at a meeting with the press in Miami.  At a cocktail party. I was watching the television and there was a football game on.  The football game went off and Heidi came on and I said, “What?”  But I thought no more of that. Until the phone began to ring. And until neighbors began to appear at our door.  What had happened was, that Heidi, a children’s program sponsored by Hallmark, was scheduled to go on the air at I believe 6 p.m.  Somebody who later admitted it to me, but whom I won’t name, had left a memorandum with Broadcast Operations Control.  A man name Dick Cline, touched the fatal button and when 6 o’clock came – the memo said ‘Under no circumstances will the football game run past 6 o’clock.  Heidi must go on at 6.  We have committed to the advertiser.” Well, I didn’t know that it had happened.  I don’t know any other people who knew it had happened.  But at 6 o’clock, certainly, the game seemed to be under control at that time.  But two more touchdowns were scored, the whole outcome of the game was reversed. We had bomb threats the next day.  And people still remember it to this day.

On his most important achievements at NBC

The coupling of David Brinkley with Chet Huntley was the most important decision that I made. If that’s the only one I have to make. Something we haven’t mentioned: When I was at  NBC News, Kintner and McAndrew and I were coming out of the White House after a meeting with Pierre Salinger.  We had just lost the NCAA Finals.  The NCAA contract, the yearly contract for football, college football on television to ABC.  And instead of talking about what Pierre Salinger wanted us to talk about, when we got back to the hotel room at the Mayflower Kintner said, what are we going to do about football?  And I gave him a plan.  Which eventually we developed and which is working pretty well even today.  That plan was to take the American Football League, which was then at ABC, getting $150,000 per game for what they did, and let us offer them a 10-year contract. Give them more money than they were worth to allow them to pay their football players so they could become competitive with the NFL.  We got a 5-year contract.  We paid them $800,000 per game per week as against ABC’s $150,000.  Sonny Werblin, owner of the New York Jets, hired Joe Namath to be the quarterback, with the money we gave him.  Some of the owners put the money in their pocket.  Others made their teams competitive.  As a result, Pete Rozelle created the Super Bowl.  The American Football League is now competitive with the NFL.  That was probably the most important decision.  Aside from picking David Brinkley.

On the public’s perception of news integrity

The public’s acceptance of news integrity since I started, has gone up and down like a chart of the Dow Jones Industrials.  Namely though, it has, like the Dow Jones Industrials, ended “up”. I think the public, although it hates some things it hears and sees on television, likes having it there and would be very sorry not to have it.  That’s what I tried to fight all the time I was an executive in television.  And that is, the eagerness that politicians have to hamstring us, to harass us, to keep us from doing what we would like to do. And that is to be fair.  To be equitable.  To be even-handed.  To be thorough with all the news that we cover.  I’ve made in speeches,  a reference to the fact that as each new day begins, the pages of a newspaper are totally blank.  The screen on television is blank.  And all day long, there are people fighting to change and shape and arrange in order, to their benefit, what goes on there.  It is the purpose and the challenge of the newsperson responsible to make sure that what goes on is fair and not just what others want us to say.

On how he would like to be remembered

As everybody would like to be remembered.  Well and favorably.  He did a good job.  He did the best he could.

The entire interview can be viewed at http://emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/julian-goodman

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 http://emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/doris-singleton.

Remembering Nolan Miller

Friday, June 8th, 2012

The Archive is sad to report the death of costume designer Nolan Miller, who passed away on June 6th, 2012 from lung cancer at the age of 79. Miller designed the costumes for many Aaron Spelling/Douglas Cramer shows, including Dynasty, Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Vega$.

Below are some selections from Miller’s 2003 Archive interview:

On how he became interested in fashion:

What turned me on to fashion? Movies. I loved movies. I lived from Saturday to Saturday, and of course I particularly like Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Betty Grable … I knew when I watched Betty Grable movies that that was what I wanted to do.  All those costumes … it’s so strange that in movies there was always a fashion show or something or a girl was picked up by some guy who told her she needed clothes to be presentable and would take her to the store. Of course there was always a designer in a dark suit – note dark suit – and there was usually a staircase that the models came down. I just thought, “this is what I want.” I didn’t realize, though, the 18-hour-day of hard work sometimes. But it sounded glamorous and I loved the whole thing of movies. Anything to do with the movies. I just wanted to work at the studio.

On his start in costuming, on Matinee Theater:

It was an hour show, every day at noon, and it was live. There were usually three groups of people in the wardrobe department preparing shows, because one day it would be a modern show, one day it would be a biblical thing, another day might be a comedy. I think that there were probably 3 or 4 people in my group, and I think we did two shows a week, one if we were on a show that aired on Monday, and we would prep the rest of the week. Maybe we’d have a show for Thursday or something that week. We were always prepping the next show. It was quite an amazing show, particularly in that it was live every day.

On working in a flower shop and meeting Aaron Spelling:

He and his then wife Carolyn Jones were shopping in Beverly Hills and they stopped in the flower shop to say hello. At that point Aaron Spelling wasn’t anyone, you know. He was married to Carolyn Jones, who I was thrilled to meet. We decided to go and have a drink; it was late in the afternoon. So we went and had a drink and Carolyn was under contract to Hal Wallis at Paramount. She had just finished a film and she said the studio was sending her on a PR junket. She said the studio told her to get some clothes for personal appearances. She said, “do you want to design them?” I said, “of course.” She said, “okay, well, why don’t you bring me some sketches.” She told me what she needed and so I did sketches for her.  And that was the beginning, because I did those clothes for her. I found a dressmaker who was highly recommended who had quite a good star clientele, so I knew that she was capable, and I made the clothes for Carolyn.

On Aaron Spelling:

First of all, he’s very unassuming. He’s always been very, very thin, looks like he’s undernourished. He’s very warm, very friendly; he immediately puts everyone at ease that’s around him. After all of these years he still hasn’t run out of ideas and instantly knows what to do. He has a sixth sense about what’s wrong with the show or what he should do or something. He’s great to work with because he sees what the show is going to look like. When he says, “she’s running down the road; she should be in a white sweater,” he has a reason why she should be in a white sweater.  Over the years I would argue with him over certain things, but he usually proved himself right.

On working on Gilligan’s Island:

I was starting to be sort of known for glamour clothes and beaded gowns and that kind of thing. I had my shop at that time. I had a call from the producer, saying they were doing the show and they had a girl who was like a showgirl and they were all stranded. She must have had a very large trunk with her that day that they went for a cruise, because every season we’d do a couple of new gowns. They’d call me, “we need a couple more gowns,” so I did Tina’s clothes. I didn’t do the rest of the show. I just did Tina Louise’s gowns.

On the bra-lessness on Charlie’s Angels:

All of the Paris collections and everything were showing chiffon blouses with nothing under it. Everyone was just aghast. Everyone was so shocked, but they were showing the same blouses on Rodeo Drive. They weren’t so see-through, but you could tell there was no bra on. Before that we couldn’t even show the imprint of a nipple. I had to put a band-aid over the nipple or something. All of the sudden Farrah was in a crepe de chine blouse or a double white chiffon blouse with no bra under it. Everyone said, “ah, this is going to be shocking. They won’t allow this. You won’t get by with this.” But we did.

On Dynasty, TV fashion, and Joan Collins:

Read Nolan Miller’s New York Times obituary.

Watch his full Archive interview.

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 emmys.com obituary here.