Paul Petersen

Photo: Gazebo

I don’t know about you but every Christmas season one of the movies I have to watch is it’s a Wonderful Life.

The story of George Bailey, the small town building and loan manager who’s given the chance to see what the world would be like without him is a Christmas classic.

Almost 30 years ago now two guys came out with a book of trivia about the movie. One of them was Jimmy Hawkins, who played Tommy in the movie. The other was actor. Paul Petersen.

Now you may wonder what Paul Petersen has to do with. It’s a Wonderful LLfe. Well. Paul Petersen was one of the stars of the ’60s sitcom The Donna Reed show — and of course Donna Reed was Jimmy Stewart’s co-star in. It’s a Wonderful Life.

And unless you have a master’s degree in, it’s a Wonderful Life. I can promise you will learn something about that movie in the next few minutes.

So here now from 1992. Paul Petersen

Jill St. John

On this Thanksgiving Eve, we’ll be talking a little turkey. And gravy, and mashed potatoes, and lots of other delicious stuff from the cookbook written by actress and cookbook author Jill St. John.

In a long and successful acting career St. John was popular in movies and on television.

She was in Diamonds Are Forever as Tiffany Case, the first American Bond girl.

Later. though, she established herself as a chef and food writer in print and on TV.

I met her a few days before Thanksgiving in 1987, when we had a nice conversation about all kinds of food, and how she came to write a cookbook. And her acting career.

So here now, from 1987, Jill St. John.

Jill st. John is 81 now.

Danica McKellar

If you know Danica McKellar only as Winnie Cooper on TV’s The Wonder Years, from the 1980s, what she has done since the show ended may surprise you.

After The Wonder Years ended in the early 90s, Danica McKellar went to UCLA and got a degree in math.

She now writes books about mathematics, and advocates for education.

In 2007 she wrote a book for Middle school-age girls, called Math Doesn’t Suck.

I had a few minutes with her after an event at a bookstore outside Washington DC.

So here now, from 2007, Danica McKellar.

Danica McKellar will be 47 in January. In addition to her work in math, she still does some acting, and as a producer, as well.

Audrey Meadows

It was on this date 66 years ago that one of the most popular, most durable, and most iconic situation comedies in television history was born.

Taking place mostly in a tiny two room apartment in Brooklyn, The Honeymooners set new standards for television comedy.

Captained by the comic genius of Jackie Gleason, the show also featured the versatile Art Carney, Joyce Randolph, and, of course, as Ralph Kramden long-suffering wife Alice, Audrey Meadows.

A classically beautiful actress who purposely downplayed her looks for the role, Meadows also proved to be a formidable counterpoint to the Ralph Kramden character.

In 1994, Audrey Meadows wrote a book called Love, Alice. And there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to meet her and talk with her. After all, I had grown up with The Honeymooners, and I confessed, I was more than a little starstruck.

So here now, from 1994, Audrey Meadows.

Audrey Meadows died in 1998, just five days before her 74th birthday.

Ralph Cooper

In 1935, a young actor, screenwriter, and dancer had an idea.

He started a weekly amateur night competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, in New York City. And before long, Ralph Cooper and his amateur night at the Apollo became a major influence in Black Entertainment.

Over the next five decades, Cooper’s amateur night made hundreds of previously unknown performers into Stars.

I met Ralph Cooper in 1991, when he wrote A Memoir of his many years at the Apollo.

So here now, from 1991, Ralph Cooper.

Ralph Cooper died in 1992, at the age of 84.

Penn Jillette

Remember those ads in the back of magazines and comic books back in the day, promising to show you how to do tricks that will Amaze your family and friends?

Well, fast forward to the 1990s, when magicians Penn & Teller start revealing a few of the old magician’s tricks. And then, in 1992, they actually wrote a book of their own, called Penn & teller’s how to play with your food.

And that’s when I had the chance to meet the talking half of the duo, Penn Jillette.

And something happened during this interview that has never happened before, and has never happened since. Was it something Penn Jillette put together, as a practical joke?

So here now, from 1992, Penn Jillette

Penn Jillette is 66 now. Penn and Teller remain one of the most popular acts in Las Vegas.

Bill and Susan Hayes

If you were a regular viewer of NBC’s popular soap opera Days of Our Lives in the 1970s and 80s, you know instantly who I’m talking about when I simply say Doug and Julie.

Actress Susan Seaforth joined the cast in 1968, followed by Bill Hayes two years later. And 4 years after that, their on-screen romance turned into reality, when they married in real life.

And while Bill and Susan Hayes have lived happily ever after, unfortunately the same was not true for Doug and Julie. Oh yes, they suffered the usual soap opera tribulations, but then in the mid-1980s, MBC decided to take it soap operas – including Days of Our Lives – in a new, much younger Direction.

Doug and Julie – I mean, Bill and Susan Hayes – were fired.

I met them in 2006, when they wrote a dual autobiography called like Sands Through The Hourglass.

So here now, from 2006, Bill and Susan Hayes.

Bill Hayes is 96 now. Susan Seaforth Hayes is 78. And both still appear from time to time on Days of Our Lives.

Goldie Hawn

Photo: Erik Charlton

One of the most bankable female movie stars of the last 50 years is also one of the most influential figures in Hollywood.

And she got her big break when she was barely old enough to have a legal drink, 1 quickly becoming one of the most popular stars of the Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In show.

It seems like everything she has touched has turned to Gold – or, should we say, Goldie. By age 25 she already had an Academy Award, for her role in “Cactus Flower.”

Then came a long and reliable series of hit movies.

In 2005, Goldie Hawn took some time out from her acting to right a book about her life, although she’s careful not to call it an autobiography.

Unfortunately, the day I was to interview were in studio, traffic in our area was horrible. She and her media escort realize she was not going to make it to my studio in time, so we found it in.

So here now, from 2005, Goldie Hawn.

Goldie Hawn will be 76 in November.

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Ginger Rogers

Ginger Rogers is one of those Hollywood figures who transcended mere stardom, and became a cultural icon.

In the 1930s she and her dance partner Fred Astaire dominated American film.

Her talent was apparent early on. At age 14, she wanted Charleston dance contest.

And before long she was in vaudeville, then Broadway, and finally the movies.

And then RKO Pictures paired her with Fred Astaire, and the rest, as they say, is history.

And it was famously said of her that she could do everything Fred Astaire could do, but backwards and in high heels. You’ll hear more about that in this interview…

Finally, in 1991 at age 80 Ginger Rogers wrote her autobiography. And that’s when I met her.

Wheelchair-bound, and looking a bit frail, Rogers nevertheless melted my heart.

So here now, from 1991, Ginger Rogers.

Ginger Rogers died in 1995, at the age of 84. But had she lived, she would have marked her 110th birthday today, July 16th.

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R. Lee Ermey

It takes a certain kind of man to be a successful u.s. Marine drill instructor. It seems to come naturally to some men.

And one of them turned it into a successful acting career.

R. Lee Ermey was nominated for a Golden Globe for his work in the 1987 film “Full Metal Jacket.”

He went on to play tough, rugged authority figures in a number of other movies — even “Toy Story.”

In 2002 the History Channel came calling, and made Ermey the star of the show “Mail Call, which quickly became the network’s most popular show.”

It was in the middle of that show’s seven-year run that I met R. Lee Ermey, when he came out with a book based on the series.

And no need to cover your ears. This interview is G-rated.

So here now, from 2005, R. Lee Ermey.

R. Lee Ermey died in 2018. He was 74.

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