Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest actress and singer Charlotte Rae who was born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky in Milwaukee, WI. Charlotte is a two time EMMY nominated actress who is loved by generations of television fans.
She initially began her career as a nightclub performer and theatrical actress. Eventually, Charlotte fine-tuned her skills at the prestigious Northwestern University before becoming a regular in summer stock productions.
Charlotte found work on television and radio programs showcasing her voice and comedic chops, until she tackled New York City.
She made her Broadway debut in the musical comedy Three Wishes for Jamie, then appeared with Bea Arthur and John Astin in a revival of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera.
She went on to originate the role of Mammy Yokum in the musical Lil' Abner, based on the popular comic strip.
In addition to recording albums and musical theater, Charlotte landed many television guest spots on the United States Steel Hour, The Phil Silvers Show, and Play of the Week.
In 1961, Rae became a series regular on the police comedy, Car 54, Where Are You? Before the show even ended, she was back on Broadway in The Beauty Part, with Alice Ghostley and Bert Lahr. Rae earned her first Tony Award nomination for her work on the original musical Pickwick and garnered another nomination for her role in Morning, Noon, and Night.
It was the role of Edna Garrett on Diff'rent Strokes and later her own spin off entitled The Facts of Life, that made Rae a household name and TV Icon. "I still meet people who just want me to put my arms around them and give them a hug," Charlotte later told Entertainment Weekly with regard to the characters popularity.
Today Rae continues to
work on television and in the theater, most recently appearing
opposite multiple Oscar winner, Meryl Streep in Ricki and the
November 2015 will see the launching of her memoir, Facts of My Life
Norm: Good day Charlotte and thanks for participating in our E-terview. What was your training as an actress and did you specialize in any particular technique? As a follow up, what motivates you to act and what keeps you going?
Charlotte: I went to Norhtwestern University and in our acting classes we learned how to analyze a play, plot, theme, setting, and especially character. It was the best training I could possibly have had. For me my best performance starts with a deep understanding of what’s on the page. After I graduated from Northwestern and went to NY I found a wonderful teacher. Mary Tarcai. She used the Sandy Meisner technique which is terrific.
As for what motivates me to act, well, it’s what I do. Spider spins his web. Bees makes honey. I act. I’m grateful for the talent God and my parents gave me and I’ve always wanted to do as much as I can with it.
Norm: Do you believe that actors need to have room for their own creativity and if so, why?
Charlotte: Yes, actors are
collaborators in the dramatic process and every great writer and
director understands that and wants his actors to be a part of that
Norm: How do you go about working on your roles and how much research do you undertake for a role?
Charlotte: It depends on the role. When you’re doing Shakespeare or O’Neill or Beckett you try to find out as much as you can about the world of the play. You look into the social mores and what was going on then so that you get the authentic feel for that time and can get inside the skin of your character.
Yes. I’ve turned things down. Sometimes because I’ve just
finished something else an I’m too exhausted or sometimes the
material just doesn’t grab me. I’ve been offered TV pilots I
didn’t think would fly – and even if they did go to series those
weren’t shows I’d want to be on for years and years. When my boys
were young, I turned things down to spend time with them. It was
something I needed to do—for them and for me.
Norm: What effect do you hope to have on an audience?
Charlotte:I want them to forget who I am and who they are. The greatest compliment my mother ever paid me was after she saw me as Lola in Come Back Little Sheba and she told my older sister that she forgot it was me felt for that woman on the stage, completely forgot she was watching her daughter. I want my audience transported to another world, away from their lives. Sometimes uplifted, sometimes devastated, sometimes both. But away from their lives.
Norm: How does it feel to work opposite one of my favorite actresses, Meryl Streep?
Charlotte: Heaven on earth. She’s just one of us. Not Stella Star. And she’s brilliant. Highly intelligent and warm and I don’t have to tell you how gifted she is. Working with her was a gift. I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I had the chance.
Norm: What directors inspired you to do your best work?
Charlotte: So many of them. I’m afraid if I start naming I’ll unfairly leave someone off. But one thing they all have in common is that they allow their actors a little space to be creative and bring your input about the character before they tell you what they want. They honor you as a creative artist.
Norm: What do you look to for criticism of your acting?
Charlotte: I’m not sure I understand that question. If you mean what kind of criticism do I prefer, that’s easy – anything constructive. The more specific the better. Some critics and others like to see how clever they can be. Clever and mean. That’s not useful and it doesn’t impress me.
Norm: What motivated your to write your memoirs, Facts of My Life and could you tell us a little about the book which I believe will be coming out in Nov 2015?
Charlotte: I thought I had a story to tell and wanted to share it with people. Everybody has an interesting life. Mine certainly has had its ups and downs. I’m a survivor in a few ways including several miracles regarding my health. I’m still here and I just thought some of what I’ve been through might inspire a few people. If I can make it this far and have joy maybe my story can uplift someone. I’m not just a survivor. I’m a joyful one.
Norm: What would you like to say to actors who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Charlotte: If this is your passion don’t judge yourself. Just keep striving. Life is one long day at school. Keep working and growing in your art.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your soon to be released book?
Charlotte: Amazon is an easy way to get any book, mine included. I know you can also order the book through the publisher’s website. Bear Manor Media. If they want to see old clips of me, YouTube’s got some good ones.
Norm: After your phenomenal success as an actress, what, if anything, remains "undone" for you? What is the one thing you haven't done, that you are still "itching" to accomplish?"
Charlotte: I’ve always wanted to do Brecht’s Mother Courage.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Charlotte: I’d ask myself what role I’m most proud of and my answer would be Winnie in Beckett’s Happy Days. Dane Peggy Ashcroft described it as Hamlet for a woman, the ultimate acting challenge. It certainly lived up to that claim and I think I rose to the occasion. Winnie’s a noble soul stuck in a mound. In the first act she’s up to her waist. In the second act she’s up to her neck. But she never gives in to hopelessness. I did it at here at Mark Taper, then NY @ CSC.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.
Follow Here To Purchase The Facts of My Life