|Sunday, 01 June 2008|
This warm-hearted and wise Obie and Emmy-winning icon of stage and screen knows what she’s talking about when it comes to living, loving, and lanais
I always knew the show was going to be a hit, but I never dreamed it was going to go on and on in this kind of afterlife because of the reruns. I mean, they’re everywhere! Just the other night at dinner, our waitress said, “I loved you in Wicked and I never miss The Golden Girls.” And I thought, That’s lovely. That’s refreshing. Because that’s 180 degrees. Blanche was not a mean woman and Madame Morrible was evil through and through, hateful, didn’t like animals—and you know animals are one of my great causes.
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I found out as I progressed along in my career that I preferred comedy. I discovered that when I campaigned to get a role that was in a heavy drama about a woman who was dying of a brain tumor. And I realized that going through that agony, well, I didn’t want to do that! I wanted to find the character funny, the show funny and make people laugh. Comedy is much harder to play.
You also want to tackle hard subjects with comedy. I had to do that with my memoir My First Five Husbands…And The Ones Who Got Away. I came up with the title first, then I had to write a book around it! It wasn’t that painful, except in the chapter about my second husband who is the one I betrayed. When I was writing about all the putzes I married who betrayed me, that’s easy and easy to be funny about. But when you’re telling a story about someone you have hurt, it can be very painful. But it was a catharsis for me all the way through writing it.
My first love will always be live theater. Mother didn’t think I had made it until I was on Another World. She had a beauty parlor back home in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and she turned the show on every day. All her customers would watch it with her, and suddenly I’m an actress. It was the first time I had ever gotten a regular, steady paycheck.
My most recent venture is the TV series Sordid Lives. I went out and bought the original movie and watched it. Del Shores is a brilliant writer, so funny, so terribly outrageous. My character Peggy is a good, churchgoing woman. Very conservative and timid, but she’s a firecracker inside. We just don’t know that and neither does she…yet.
It’ll be quite hilarious, but I don’t think that Peggy is going to turn into Blanche. The only thing they have in common is maybe when Peggy turns into a sex fiend—but lots of women have that in common!
Most of all, I’m pleased that my celebrity allows me to make a difference, and I am always extremely proud to work on animal rights projects, especially with PETA—I was the former Pam Anderson!