That’s me with Chris Hewitt (Belvedere), Rob Stone (Kevin) and Brice Beckham (Wesley). The premise of the show was about a butler from England that takes care of an American family in Pittsburgh. I was cast on “Mr. Belvedere” when I was 12 years old, and when the show wrapped its sixth season I was 18. In that time span, I literally grew up into an adult. I stopped going to school with my friends in seventh grade and graduated high school in the basement of ABC Prospect Studios with Gladys, my studio teacher. Brice, who was I think 8 when he started the show, and I were in school together in a tiny room for six years. It wasn’t the best education, that is for sure. There is NO WAY you can get a good education in the studio system. My teachers would send us our school work, but to expect Gladys to know and understand everything in every grade level for Brice and me was not possible. We did the best we could, and every day we had to “bank” a certain amount of hours to meet the school system criteria to graduate.
One of my great memories from sweet Gladys was when I was 14. I went to the restroom and lo and behold, I’d started my period. My first one ever. I called Gladys out of the room and she hugged me, congratulated me, was smiling from ear to ear as if this great thing had just happened to me. She was so excited for me. God, I remember that day as if it were yesterday. She called my guardian, Angie, downstairs. (I had a guardian at the time because I was too young to drive, and my mom was in and out of the hospital struggling with cancer). Angie came down, and again with the hugs and congrats and just plain weirdness. From this point forward, it got even weirder. In the basement next to our classroom, I learned about maxi pads, tampons and becoming a woman. Gladys and Angie really helped me when my mom couldn’t be there for me.
I know it sounds cliche, but our cast was really, really close. Bob Uecker, who played my father was like a dad to me and very, very protective of me. For my 16th birthday, they called me on the set to rehearse a scene with Bob, and I was to enter through the front door of the “house” into the living room. When I walked in, Bob had decorated the set with balloons everywhere, except they weren’t balloons. I made a comment like, “What’s wrong with these balloons, why are they shaped funny?” and the crew roared with laughter. Of course, they weren’t balloons, they were condoms. Yep, Bob loved me and loved to make me laugh, and embarrass me. I’m kinda an easy target.
My fist on-screen kiss was on “Mr. Belvedere.” The actor still works today _ he is actually now in the Fruit of the Loom commercials, I think he is the apple. I swear to God, it felt like EVERYONE on the set couldn’t wait to see me kiss a boy in rehearsal. As I mentioned, I grew up in front of all these people. I remember asking the actor before we rehearsed the first kiss, “You are not going to stick your tongue in my mouth, are you?” He just smiled, and gave me a side hug, like a kid-sister hug. Sure enough, his tongue was touching my tonsil within 15 minutes. During the kiss the Wesley character was supposed to enter and see us kissing, but once again, the director thought it would be funny to hold Wesley back and see how long this actor and I would go at it. Being actors, it is in your blood to “keep going.” Until you hear “cut!”Once I realized I was the target of the joke (again) I pushed the actor away and wiped the saliva from my mouth. Our director, Noam, was just standing there laughing. Fond and cherished memories from those years.