Interviews: Here’s the Story of The Brady Bunch, Plus 4 Female Stars

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CHICAGO – Wrapping up’s summary of the Hollywood Collector Show in Chicago, many more television and movie stars sat down for interviews with us. Rolling through several show biz decades, it begins with four members of the Brady Bunch – Peter, Bobby, Cindy and the infamous Cousin Oliver.

Also sitting down with were Baywatch pin-up girl Erika Eleniak, Fonzie’s girlfriend Linda Purl, Shirley Eaton – the girl in gold – from James Bond’s “Goldfinger” and 1940s movie actress/Howard Hughes companion Terry Moore.

StarThe Brady Bunch

The Brady’s They Were: Clockwise from upper left, Robbie Rist (Cousin Oliver), Mike Lookinland (Bobby), Susan Olsen (Cindy) and Christopher Knight (Peter)
The Brady’s They Were: Clockwise from upper left, Robbie Rist (Cousin Oliver), Mike Lookinland (Bobby), Susan Olsen (Cindy) and Christopher Knight (Peter)
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TV’s first family, the Brady’s, still hangs on in the hearts and minds of both 1970s-era kids and their children (in rerun and DVD land). Four of them had a mini-reunion: Christopher Knight (Peter), Mike Lookinland (Bobby), Susan Olsen (Cindy) and the jump-the-shark Brady, Robbie Rist (Cousin Oliver). What is it like to see yourselves as a children over and over again in reruns? Does it help you remember your childhood better or do you seem separated from that image you see on the screen?

Christopher Knight (Peter): Definitely seem separated. I can’t watch myself on screen in general, but now watching it, it’s sort of like watching someone else.

Susan Olsen (Cindy): It’s a separation thing for me, simply because I’m not being me, I’m being Cindy. I have home movies at the time where I am being me, so I’m kind of used to seeing myself as a child.

Robbie Rist (Cousin Oliver): It helps me realize how much I don’t remember as a child. There are certain things you remember vividly and the other 90% that you don’t remember at all.

For me it was just being blown away that I had a job. I was the kid on every sitcom, including Ted Baxter’s adopted son [on the 1970s Mary Tyler Moore Show].

HC to Mike Lookinland (Bobby): With Paul Newman’s recent death, I remembered that you had a significant role with him in The Towering Inferno. What do you remember about that epic disaster movie?

ML: Paul Newman was one of the friendliest, gregarious, most outgoing cast mates I’ve ever had. Fabulous guy. He mentored me through the process of this monstrous super epic disaster film. It went on and on and on, we were blowing things up and burning things every day.

Also everyday after lunch, Paul Newman would bring a six pack of Coors tall boys, set them down next to his chair and drink every one of them.

HC: What is the weirdest part of maintaining the representation of the Brady Bunch to people like me, who grew up watching the show?

SO (Cindy): That is what would be weird, if we actually did maintain it. We don’t maintain it, we shatter the image whenever we can (laughing).

CK (Peter): You can’t be beholden to it, you have to be who you are. The frank fact is though that all these characters are an aspect of us, so we aren’t that far from what they were.

HC: You respect them as American icons, don’t you?

ML (Bobby): The show is self perpetuating, we as individuals don’t really need to maintain it. I do feel a responsibility to not damage it terribly.

RR (Cousin Oliver): (Sarcastically) Yes, not a single Brady kid has ever been arrested (laughing), or have they?

ML: Just go to Google and look up Mike Lookinland.

RR: Oh snap!

Star Erika Eleniak

Erika Eleniak as Shauni McClain in ‘Baywatch’
Erika Eleniak as Shauni McClain in ‘Baywatch’
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This captivating blonde, best known as Shauni in the iconic “Baywatch,” began her career as a child actress with a bit part in “E.T.” and went on to do a Playboy pictorial and play Elly May Clampett in 1993’s “The Beverly Hillbillies.

HC: What is the decision making process in doing a Playboy centerfold?

Erika Eleniak: I was 18 years old at the time, it was fun and exciting, and that is how I viewed it.

HC: How does it make you feel now, several years later?

EE: I’ve always viewed Playboy as just another job. It was great experience, I’ve got other experiences now and everything adds to who you are.

HC: What was the atmosphere like when you took on The Beverly Hillbillies? Was there any apprehensions in re-doing that famous TV show on screen?

EE: It was really carefully thought out. The director, Penelope Spheeris, wanted to stay true to the character’s tone from the TV, but we didn’t want to emulate or imitate the original cast.

We had a dialog coach for 8 weeks, and the production team wanted certain things very specific. They wanted to dive into the Clampett’s Arkansas origins but at the same time make it more modern.

Star Linda Purl

Linda Purl and Henry Winkler (Fonzie) in ‘Happy Days’
Linda Purl and Henry Winkler (Fonzie) in ‘Happy Days’
Photo credit: TV Guide

Linda Purl is a working actress who began as a teenager in the 1970s, doing parts on several TV shows including “The Waltons”, “Hawaii 5-0” and “Medical Center”. She is probably best remembered as Fonzie’s girlfriend on “Happy Days” from 1982-83 and as a regular on the Andy Griffith series “Matlock”.

HC: You lived in Japan as a child, how did that inform your life as you went along in your career?

Linda Purl: That’s a big question. Japan has a reverence for the arts, so it rooted culturally me in appreciation for the arts. Because I had constant exposure to global performance during my time there, in the last few years I’ve organized and run a couple of international theater festivals.

HC: You began as an actress primarily in the 1970s. As feminism made strides and equal rights for women became more common, did you find your roles following that lead or staying pretty much the same for women?

LP: I would say it was like a double edged sword. The roles were more traditional but the net result was that me and my female colleagues got to work.

Aaron Spelling was very influential in my career and he gave so many actresses huge careers. And yes, we wore the shoulder pads, the flippy hairdos and too much make-up, but Spelling empowered more women during that era than any other Hollywood producer.

Star Shirley Eaton

Shirley Eaton Gets the Gold Treatment in ‘Goldfinger’
Shirley Eaton Gets the Gold Treatment in ‘Goldfinger’
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Cutting one of the most unforgettable images of the “Swinging 1960s”, Eaton played Jill Masterson in the James Bond epic Goldfinger. Masterson was the Bond girl who was covered head to toe with gold in that memorable scene.

She also made her way up and through the British entertainment scene in the early 1960s, working with Peter Sellers and performing in two of the famous British movie series, “Carry On”.

HC: What career path led you to your role in Goldfinger?

Shirley Eaton: I made 29 films all together, including two big British film series, ‘Doctor in the House’ and ‘Carry On’. Goldfinger was my 21st film, but it was the first time on a world stage, and made me internationally known.

HC: What are your memories of the “Swinging ‘60s”?

SE: I’m so glad I was ‘famous’ in that era, because it was more special. For example, the love scene in Goldfinger was sexy, but more innocent.

HC: Can you tell me something about Peter Sellers that no one in the world knows?

SE: (laughs) He was a mummy’s boy. I loved Peter, but he was a very complicated man.

Star Terry Moore

The Starlet Days: Terry Moore in an Early Publicity Shot
The Starlet Days: Terry Moore in an Early Publicity Shot
Photo credit: Terry Moore

Performing in most of the mediums in the mid-twentieth century – radio, films and television, the vivacious Moore is best remembered in movies for 1949’s “Mighty Joe Young” and 1952’s “Come Back, Little Sheba” (for which she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar).

As a second act, she lived briefly with The Aviator, Howard Hughes, even claiming later that they secretly married in 1949. Also to prove a point about women “of a certain age” she posed nude for Playboy for her 55th birthday in 1984.

HC: Your biography states you were the first woman jet pilot in the United States. Was that through your associated with Mr. Hughes?

Terry Moore: That was strictly Howard Hughes. He taught me to fly jets at the Glendale, Arizona, Air Force base during a time when women couldn’t even purchase a jet. I can still get behind an instrument panel and feel comfortable.

HC: Was the film ‘The Aviator’ accurate about Howard Hughes as you knew him?

TM: I did work with Leonardo DiCaprio on his characterization, but the film ended before the time I met Howard. The craziness wasn’t as intense as portrayed and the reason he was a little off was because of five airplane crashes and the medication he needed for that pain.

HC: What were your feelings, the night of the 1952 Oscar ceremony, when you were nominated for Best Supporting Actress?

TM: I was scared to death that I might win. I was so young and so naive at the time I was actually relieved that I didn’t win. Robert Wagner was my date.

HC: The term ‘sex symbol’ as realized in the 1950s, did that put you more in control of your career or less in control as a person?

TM: I would say it put me more in control of my career, because as Howard Hughes told me, ‘the two things that sell is sex and action’. He had a great sense of humor and at the same time was a little boy.

You’ve seen them all “then”, so how about “now”? Click here for the slideshow of the Hollywood Collector Show. staff writer Patrick McDonald

Staff Writer

© 2009 Patrick McDonald,

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