Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest Kathy Garver who is most remembered for her starring role as “Cissy” in the long-running CBS international television hit, Family Affair (1966-1971).
After Family Affair, Kathy starred in an Israeli musical-stage version of the TV series, learning Hebrew phonetically for her role. Later, she continued dramatic studies at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where she portrayed “Juliet” in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Dramatic and comedic productions in the states followed including starring roles in My Fair Lady, Sunday in New York, A Midsummer’s Night Dream and The Trojan Women. At the conclusion of this work, she returned to UCLA to earn a Master’s Degree in Theatre Arts.
Today, Kathy is an accomplished and versatile actress, appearing in such films as Sweet November and The Princess Diaries along with made-for-television movies such as F.B.I. Murders and Hercules Saves Christmas with guest-star roles on many TV series. She is a sought-after celebrity on game shows, winning top money for charities such as Street Smarts and other reality programs.
Kathy has also authored several books including The Family Affair Cookbook is a tasty trip down memory lane with anecdotes and photos, Surviving Cissy: My Family Affair of Life in Hollywood and X-Child Stars.
Norm: Good day Kathy and thanks for participating in our interview.
How did you get involved in acting and what was your training?
Kathy: At three years old I was singing and tapping at the famed Meglin Studios in Hollywood where the child icon Shirley Temple was discovered. My first professional role was in the movie Night of the Hunter which starred Robert Mitchum and Shelly Winters, and Lilian Gish. After training at the Meglin studios I studied with Stella Adler, Lurene Tuttle and other Hollywood coaches. I graduated with a masters degree in Theatre Arts for UCLA and continued my dramatic instruction at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England,
What was your toughest role? As a follow up, what motivates you to act?
Kathy: Portraying the role of Helen Keller in the Miracle Worker. Practicing many hours as to how a blind person would sense and feel without the use of other senses. I'm motivated to act because it is what I do and is what I have done my entire life. It is ingrained in me and it pleases me.
Norm: Do you think you could have done a past performance better? What was the performance? Why could you have done it better?
No. I have been pleased with everything I have done.
Norm: What is the most extreme change to your personality, hair, body weight, etc etc, that you have done to land a role?.
Dying my hair with a can of streaks and tips which instantly changes the color of hair. While I was aiming for a soft golden blond to audition for my role of Cissy on Family Affair the solution turned my hair green and the producer and I had quite a laugh about it.
It's always nice for an actor to have a steady job and the character of Cissy of was an amalgam of my personality and the sweet personality of Cissy. The goal was for a realistic portrayal that was relatable to the audience. I believe I fulfilled that goal. Catherine Patterson Davis was a character that I embraced and enjoyed playing
Norm: How did you get the part in the Israeli musical-stage version of the TV series and what was it like to learn Hebrew phonetically for the part?
Kathy:My friend Danny Ben av had a friend in Israel - Haim Saban - who later became a successful producer in America with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other projects. Family Affair was the number one TV show in Israel at the time and Danny arranged for me to go to Israel to star in a musical stage of Family Affair that was being presented in tel Aviv and Haifa - Hamishcapa Shecazot It was a great adventure. and having a speech minor from UCLA I knew all about phonetics which helped me learn the script and songs all in Hebrew
Norm: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Kathy: From the time I kept a diary as a teenager, I enjoyed writing and loved to write letters. Recently i received a letter from a former boyfriend whom I had dated for three years who had discovered all the letters I had written to him while I was doing Family Affair and he was in Viet Nam - that is the basis for my next book which will be published - Hollywood letters to a Navy Seal.
Norm: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Kathy: I've written three books, and so far, Surviving Cissy My Family Affair of Life in Hollywood is my favorite
Norm: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Kathy: That it takes as much time doing promotion for the books as it does writing them!
Norm: How did you decide you were ready to write Surviving Cissy: My Family Affair of Life in Hollywood and could you tell us a little about the book?
Kathy: I was ready to write Surviving Cissy after gathering all the notes I had written about it over the years then started taking a class on writing memoirs. The book was brought to the forefront of my activities when my literary agent made a two book deal for me with Rowman Littlefied. That contract gave me a deadline!
Norm: What did you enjoy most about writing this book and what was the most difficult part of its writing?
Kathy: I enjoyed recalling and paying homage to my many friends who have made such an impact on my life.
The most difficult part was the editing and sometimes agonizing over just the right word to express the feeling and sense of a sentence
Norm: What purpose do you believe your story serves and what matters to you about the story?
Kathy: I have found that most people come away from my book feeling inspired, that was not the goal of the book - I simply was telling my story but I am glad that readers find that in the memoir. It matters that people are able to relate to my life and find aspects that relate to their own lives.
Norm: What are you upcoming projects?
next book will be X Child Stars: Where are they now which debuts
April 15 and I am working now on my fourth book.
I am engaged
in Speaking tours set up by Diane of Nine Speakers, Inc.
and the topics are The Power of Perseverance Growing Up
Hollywood and Speaking Clearly to Communicate Richly.
I will be
acting in three movies this year Heaven's Gun, Executive Ranks and
I also have 3 projects in development for Netflix. I
am host of a series called Family Tree Recipe where each show we have
have a dish cooked by a person who has been handed a recipe through
her family and then do a wine pairing with a wine ambassador.
I am also hosting the Documentary of the 50th Anniversary of Family Affair and 3 minute segments on Where are they now?
I teach Voice over in San Francisco. My biggest project is making sure my 25 year old son continues his education and finds his passion to succeed.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
Kathy: MY WEBSITE which lists all my upcoming appearances , my line of products - such as Cissy Silk candles, fragrances and lotions and a page where they are able to purchase books, photos and memorabilia .
They can also like my FACE BOOK PAGE.
Norm: As this interview comes to an end, what question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
Kathy: What do you want people to take away from this book? I want people to feel as though they have had a laugh along the way, learned about Hollywood history and shared the joy of my journey with all its ups and downs.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors