I was born outside of Pittsburgh PA and grew up in Butler, PA. Dad was an executive in a paper box company and mom was a hausfrau. From an early age I wanted to be an actress. I pursued that dream and majored in drama when I got my degree from what was to be become Carnegie Mellon University.
Before I got my real break in TV I studied hard for 3 months and legitimately answered the $64,000.Question! I got a modeling job with a fashion designer and plugged a men’s hair cream on TV. Later on I did voice-over commercials and readings at poetry slams. My early TV exposure led to a co-starring role in a TV comedy series working alongside an inept secret agent who used the latest in high-tech spyware. For my role I was twice nominated for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series”. You probably best remember me from that particular series. As the sidekick I added glamour to the series because I was tall, dressed fashionably and I often had to bail out my shorter my co-star. I stand over 5’9” so I had to be careful not to develop a permanent slouch for the duration of our long-running show. I also appeared in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, “Laugh-In” and “Cheers”. For awhile I hosted my own TV interview show on “Hearst’s/ABC’s Daytime Cable Channel.”
Along my journey in life I married a well-known Belgian photographer but the marriage didn’t last. I later wrote a self-help book that was published.
My debut feature film co-starred someone who starred in a TV series of his own where he played the fictional “Rob Petrie.” In my later years I was a sought after speaker on behalf of girls and women.
You might have bumped into me at the Chiller Theatre Expo which is often held at the Hilton in Parsippany, N.J. The promoters of the Expo invite me there as one of the celebrities who attract fans and paying customers who remember them kindly.
That’s me in the photo below. (1)Who Am I? What was my moniker in my best known TV role? (2)What was my field of expertise on the quiz show mentioned above that enabled me to win the big prize? (3)What designer did I model for and what men’s hair cream did I promote? (4)What was the name of my Belgian husband? What self-help book did I write? (5)What full length movie did I debut in with “Rob” and on what novel was it based? (6)Finally, what is my anti-aging secret?
I was born to German Jews in the Hungarian part (Tolcsva) of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but was brought to the NYC when I was 9 months old. I came from a family of 12 brothers and sisters; so, as you can imagine, money was tight in our lower east side flat. I dropped out of school at age 10 because I was obliged to go out and work to help support the family. I worked in the fur and garment business pressing pants and other odd jobs.
I think I was a born entrepreneur because as soon as I was able to, I bought a “nickelodeon” in Brooklyn. It was one of those 5 cent theaters which showed short “flickers” accompanied by a tinny piano. I used barkers to herd the crowds inside. Little by little I began to invest in more nickelodeons and arcades until I could afford to buy more lavish movie theaters. Eventually, I was able to move into Manhattan and install better film projectors to show my one-reelers. I won a lawsuit against Thomas Edison which shattered his monopoly on the motion picture camera and then I was off and running!
I leased a movie studio at the corner of Main Street and Linwood Avenue in Fort Lee and made movies there. Fort Lee was an ideal location because it had both the Palisades and wooded areas nearby. I began producing my own films because I was dissatisfied with the quality of the films that I was able to purchase and exhibit. Also, I needed a reliable stream of products for my theaters. Those early films were often sentimental tales featuring villains and vamps. There was one very famous western star under contract to me and I believe I created what could arguably be called the first movie femme fatale. I introduced organ accompaniment to my silent films to bring in the patrons.
I moved operations out to CA in 1916. I converted nickelodeons to theaters; and, at the height of my success I built or bought over 1100 screens! I knew sound would be the up and coming trend so I engaged engineers to develop the ‘sound on celluloid process’ rather than the ‘sound on disc system’ which was used by my competitors over at Warner’s. My ‘sound system’ became the industry standard. The royalties and licensing fees from this process kept me afloat during the hard times which were to come.
A car accident and the stock market crash left me in a financial pickle. I had no cash and the stock in my company became worthless. I was the subject of a federal anti-trust investigation and I eventually had to file bankruptcy. I made the big mistake of trying to bribe a federal judge which earned me a stay at the Lewisburg federal pen. My name survives today in multiple media outlets. That’s me holding the stogie in the picture below.
(1)Who am I? And how was I addressed around the studio? (2)What was my personal motto? (3)What do Upton Sinclair and I have in common? (4)Who were the aforementioned western star and vamp? (5)Who is the media mogul of today that has perpetuated my name?