My passion for make-believe, my crude theatrical talent, and my friends (imaginary and otherwise) were what started me in productions from Coast to Coast. My father moved us from Manchester, CT to the San Fernando Valley in California, and my living room productions led to award-winning high school and college productions.
I was fortunate to be accepted as a Theater Arts major at UCLA. There, under the tutelage of Michael Gordon, I learned the craft and the business of theater. I was further blessed with other mentors like Stella Adler, Michael Shurtleff, and Ken McMillan. They transitioned me from a shy, gawky teenager to one of the million or so would-be-actors looking for a job—ALL of whom are talented, but only SOME of whom are lucky enough to work.
I was one of the lucky ones—while still at UCLA I received the starring role in an original play, Endangered Species, which I performed at The Kennedy Center in D.C.
Not liking snow, I looked for television work in Los Angeles and within 6 months received my “and introducing Jeanna Michaels” credit on Eight Is Enough. A week later I was a regular for the first 3 years of DALLAS, playing Bobby Ewing’s secretary, Connie—one of the ones with the big hair. I even have my own Trivial Pursuit question.
The questionable ethics of Ewing Oil led me to look for other work (LOL). I landed a starring role in the mini-series, The Last Convertible, starring Perry King, Deborah Raffin, Michael Nouri , Kim Darby, Bruce Boxleitner and Sharon Gless.
Then, after I was typecast as a psychotic, suicidal nymphomaniac on The Young and the Restless for a year, I moved on to General Hospital, playing the role of Constance Townley, an undercover spy who was under the covers with Luke Spencer (Tony Geary) while reporting to Robert Scorpio (Tristan Rogers).
For a number of years, I did guest spots on Who’s the Boss, Matlock, Hunter, Jake and the Fatman, CHIPS, Knightrider and Scene of the Crime with Orson Welles.
But my big break, and I mean big, came when I was offered the female lead in a sitcom—keep in mind that 66 episodes of a sitcom means a syndication deal and millions of dollars for everyone involved—and we did 103 episodes.
So what could possibly be wrong with this picture—the answer is that this was the second sitcom ever produced for exhibition on satellite television. You remember TBS, Ted Turner’s Superstation—well he received billions and Jane Fonda and I received scale and no residuals!
So I returned to my roots—building The Night Flight Theater in Hollywood and Burbank for Michael Shurtleff, and then helping to build The Road Theater in North Hollywood—and I mean build—hammer and nails, stages and lighting—I performed, I produced, and I sat on the Boards of Directors for a while.
My husband and I moved to Arizona. Here I wanted to connect back to directing. I directed Our Town and The Mousetrap for the Sun City Grand Drama & Comedy Club before deciding to form our own theater company with the goal of bringing honest and compelling works of comedy and drama to the West Valley of Phoenix.
I love theater. While I was not doing it, I missed it. Over the years I worked with a lot of actors and directors …some you would recognize… some you would not. But the one thing we all have in common, is that once you know you are an actor… you are always an actor. And you always want to tell a really good story.
Man, do we have some really good stories to tell you.
I was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, but grew up in San Francisco, California. I joined the United States Army after High School. After the Army I found employment with the ILWU Checkers Union in San Francisco. I was married in 1965 and have three children. I transferred to Seattle in 1976 with my family and worked as a Supercargo until retirement in 2007. I was divorced in 1993 and met my wife Brenda in 1996. We were married in 1998. We moved to Sun City Grand in Surprise, Arizona, in 2007.
After moving to Arizona I found my creative side. I became an award winning gourd artist and carver of wood and stone. I have recently dabbled with painting on canvas. The actor in me did not show itself until 2011 when I was asked by a friend to audition for a small part in the play You Can’t Take It With You, performed by the Sun City Grand Drama & Comedy Club. I received a much larger part than I expected and that is when I caught the acting bug. While with the Sun City Grand Drama & Comedy Club I appeared in Run For Your Wife, Lone Star, The Gazebo, Little Shop of Horrors, Pajama Game, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, and Mary Mary.
In 2015, I together with Jeanna Michaels, Steve and Frances Murphy, became the founding members of the Compass Players.
I grew up in southeastern Idaho, the daughter of one of the first woman attorneys in the State of Idaho and an entrepreneurial father who owned the only bowling alley in town. My parents encouraged my musical and creative side, and I studied piano and organ for 12 years, played the clarinet in the junior high and high school bands, and performed in two stage plays while in high school—as Grandma in Grandma Comes To Dinner and as Adriana in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors.
I attended the University of Utah, majoring in Anthropology and receiving an Associate Degree in business. After several years working as a legal assistant and paralegal, I experienced what could be called a mid-life crisis. I left my job, sold my house, said goodbye to family and friends, loaded up my car, moved to Tucson, and enrolled at the University of Arizona where I graduated with distinction receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art with an emphasis on Photography. My experience in art at the University of Arizona solidified my belief that challenge, motivation, and creativity are the components of a long and happy life. I wanted to be sure I always had a reason to jump out of bed each morning and I found that reason with my art.
After graduation, I worked as a paralegal specializing in commercial real estate lending in Seattle and in 1989 I married my childhood friend and schoolmate, Steve Murphy. My desire to create art was never far from my heart, and I soon opened my own fiber art and weaving studio. My fiber art is based on the use of the elements of design and color to create depth and define space. After years of hard work and experimentation, I am now an award-winning art quilter and I have shown my art quilts throughout the United States and in Europe.
Steve and I moved to Surprise, Arizona, in 2007, and I finally returned to the stage as a member of the Sun City Grand Drama & Comedy Club, appearing in several productions including Our Town, Neil Simon's Rumors, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Run For Your Wife, Blithe Spirit, and Agatha Christie’s The Moustrap. I realized then that I really enjoyed performing on stage and I was fortunate to work with inspiring directors, including Jeanna Michaels, Sharon Kollar, Joy Bingham Strimple, Gail Lebowitz and Fred Bornhoeft, each of whom encouraged me to use my creative mind to experiment and find the lighthearted spirit within each of my characters. A sense of humor and fun have always inspired my art and my acting. If it is not fun, I do not want to do it!
In 2015, Jeanna Michaels, Dave Golden, my husband Steve, and I became the founding members of the Compass Players, an opportunity for which I am grateful and humbled. I look forward to this new direction in my acting career and believe that it will inspire my artistic career as well.
My first onstage experience came playing “Reynaldo” in a student production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet at Idaho State University in 1974. I performed in several productions with Maui Community Theater in the 1980s, in the Seattle Fringe Theater Festival in the ‘90s, and from 2007 - 2014 I appeared in eleven productions with the Sun City Grand Drama & Comedy Club.
Over the years I have been fortunate to study and train with some wonderful acting coaches, including Douglas Dirkson at The Lee Strasberg Acting Workshop in Seattle, and Brandy Hotchner at Arizona Actors Academy. I have also had the pleasure of working with many talented directors in the Phoenix Valley, including Compass Players' own Jeanna Michaels.
I am very excited to be joining with my lovely wife Frances, Dave Golden, and Jeanna Michaels, as a founding member of Compass Players.
Meryl Streep has said: “Acting is not about being someone different. It is finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.”
As a writer, I not only draw upon my past, on my personal experience, I also take images and feelings and situations from my dreams. What I love most about creating a story is watching my characters react to the challenges thrust upon them—by me, the writer.
As an actor, I am asked to live truthfully in the imaginary world of the play, facing the challenges thrust upon me by circumstances created by the playwright. I must do as Ms. Streep advises to the best of my talent and ability: Search for, and find, those similarities in what is apparently different.
I have been taught, and I believe, this is the work I must do if I am to call myself an actor: To take the world of the play, the given circumstances, and find ways to add me to it. To quote Johnny Depp,“With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. Otherwise, it’s just not acting. It’s a lie.”
To do my job well, as either a writer or an actor, however, I also believe I must leave something to the imagination of my audience. I feel that this is where audience and artist find common ground, where the mystery and magic of creation comes alive—in our own human imagination.