CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Interviews: TV Stars Paul Michael Glaser, Tracey Gold, Pat Priest
CHICAGO – It is always a thrill to revisit the classic TV stars from the past, and there is no better place to do so than at the “Hollywood Celebrities and Memorabilia Show” in Chicago. Paul Michael Glaser (”Starsky and Hutch”), Tracey Gold (”Growing Pains’) and Pat Priest (”The Munsters”) were at the most recent show.
HollywoodChicago.com got the opportunity to interview these TV icons, and photographer Joe Arce captured their images with Exclusive Portraits.
The “Hollywood Celebrities & Memorabilia Show” is being retooled as “The Hollywood Show,” coming to Chicago in March of 2012. This biannual event is where attendees can meet TV and movie stars, plus get pictures and collect autographs. Click here for details about the show.
Paul Michael Glaser, Detective Dave Starsky on “Starsky and Hutch”
Being in one of the most famous cop partnerships in TV history is only one aspect of Paul Michael Glaser. He has authored and published a new fantasy novel, “Chrystallia and the Source of Light,” which is described as about “compassion, kindness, courage, fear, forgiveness…Love!” Glaser began on the Broadway stage, which got him cast as Perchik in the film version of “Fiddler on the Roof’ (1971). After doing TV guest roles and soap operas, he starred opposite David Soul in the popular 1970s TV show “Starsky and Hutch.” He is a film director of note, having helmed “The Running Man” (1987) and “The Cutting Edge” (1992). He continues to do stage work and TV appearances.
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com
HollywoodChicago.com: What was the inspiration for your new book, ‘Chrytallia and the Source of Light,’ and is there any difference between P.M. Glaser the writer, and Paul Michael Glaser the actor?
Paul Michael Glaser: P.M. is just another way to put my name out there as a writer, maybe it sounds like a writer, I don’t know. [laughs] My inspiration for writing the book is basically I was looking for a way to communicate what I’ve learned in the course of my life and what I’ve experienced. The book on a metaphorical level is very much about my journey. It’s also about all of us.
On Christmas Eve, a brother and sister find themselves on a magical journey underground in a medieval kingdom, where everybody and everything are made of crystals, in search of the source of light. On another level, it asks about the purpose of fear in our lives.
HollywoodChicago.com: You write on your website about fortune and misfortune. You’ve had extreme tragedy in your life [Glaser’s wife and daughter died of HIV blood transfusion-related illnesses], and you speak of a journey to consciousness. What was the breakthrough for you in this realm and how did it allow you to live your life again after the low point?
Glaser: I was very fortunate, because I found myself exposed to different people and teachers. I reached a point where someone said to me that I had a choice, I could either be the victim or see it as an opportunity to open my heart more and learn to love myself, to have compassion for myself and my powerlessness to help my wife and daughter.
HollywoodChicago.com: Let’s go to the beginning of your career. What Broadway shows were you doing that got you noticed and led you to the audition for the film version of ‘Fiddler on the Roof?’
Glaser: I think I was noticed for Fiddler by the casting director, Lynn Stalmaster, off of a soap opera I was doing. I was doing a soap opera by day and a Broadway show by night. On stage, I was doing ‘Man in the Glass Booth’ and ‘Butterflies Are Free.’
HollywoodChicago.com: What do you remember about director Norman Jewison on the Fiddler set?
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Glaser: Norman is a dear, wonderful man, I love Norman. He was a lot of fun. He used to talk about the fact that one of the reasons he got the job, is because people thought he was Jewish due to his name.
HollywoodChicago.com: Which role or TV connection got you noticed and into the audition for your legendary Dave Starsky?
Glaser: After I did Fiddler, [Aaron] Spelling wanted me to do a series for the longest time, and I kept saying I didn’t want to do a television series. The pilot for ‘Starsky and Hutch’ came around, and I was interested to see how quiet and still I could be around a camera. I read it, and thought, this will never be a series, so I’ll do it.
HollywoodChicago.com: Technically, which film was more difficult to direct, ‘The Running Man’ or ‘The Cutting Edge’ and why?
Glaser: ‘The Cutting Edge’ was a labor of love, and Alan Ladd Jr. – who was the head of MGM – asked me if I would be interested in directing a romantic comedy. I had never done that before, and in doing ‘The Running Man’ I was known as an action movie director.
‘The Running Man’ was a film that I was offered, but turned down initially, because I didn’t have enough time to prepare it. But they fired the director that came aboard, and came back to me to ask if I’d finish it. That was more an exercise about making a film healthy and making it work.
HollywoodChicago.com: Can you tell us something about David Soul that the rest of the world doesn’t know?
Glaser: No. [laughs]
Tracey Gold, Carol Seaver in “Growing Pains”
Tracey Gold was on one of the most popular family sitcoms of the 1980s, portraying teenager Carol Seaver on “Growing Pains,” which co-starred Alan Thicke and Kirk Cameron. Before that she had been a working actress from the age of four, and had made several TV and film appearances. Before and during her time at “Growing Pains,” Gold struggled with anorexia, a condition she wrote about in her 2003 book, “Room to Grow: An Appetite for Life.” She keeps busy as an actress and TV host.
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com
HollywoodChicago.com: Was your mother a stage mom or did you naturally like being a child actor in your early career?
Tracey Gold: I really liked it, I had a really good time. My mother hated the term ‘stage mom,’ and she mentored me when I was younger. And if at any point I would have said I didn’t want to do it, she would have pulled me out.
HollywoodChicago.com: You played young Norma Jeane Baker in the TV movie ‘Marilyn: The Untold Story.’ In what you know about Marilyn Monroe, what do you think her greatest pain was about, and how do you think fame destroyed her, since you went through a similar circumstance?
Photo credit: New Millennium Press
Gold: I think probably she was a person who would benefit from today’s better understanding of mental illness. She was a tortured soul and she had a bad childhood, and I portrayed that part of her life. Just acting it was traumatic, and I think it scarred her.
HollywoodChicago.com: You had you own struggles with a type of illness. What was the breakthrough in your anorexia therapy that finally put you on the path to normalcy and self-esteem?
Gold: I would say it was that I wanted to get married. It was the idea of having a life, and the things that I wanted and loved were going to slip away from me if I didn’t snap out of it. It took a long time, but that was enough to start to try.
HollywoodChicago.com: Did you ever get angry about the way that Carol Seaver was written and did you ever refuse to do something that the script called for, as was rumored with your co-star Kirk Cameron?
Gold: The only thing that upset me was there was a period of time where they wrote fat jokes about me. I definitely asked them to take those out. One was okay, but five in one script was too much.
HollywoodChicago.com: In preparing your book that came out in 2003, what were you hoping to release personally by putting your story on paper?
Gold: When I had anorexia, I found it to be a lonely and isolating disease. For me to be able to help other girls not feel so alone, that they could pick up the book and feel like someone else knows what they’re going through, was what my goal was for the book.
HollywoodChicago.com: Finally, if you could go back in time and talk to young Tracey while she was going through her struggles, what would you say to her that you think would make her feel better?
Gold: That you are okay just the way you are.