Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest, actress Joyce Bulifant and author of Four Hollywood Husbands.
Joyce is known for Airplane, Match Game and Sport Billy as well as starring as Marie on The Mary Tyler More Show, dancing with Fred Astaire in Alcoa Premiere, and many other TV shows, films and theater plays. Off screen, she has managed to navigate the choppy waters of her husbands' alcoholism, co-dependency, and an extended family of four marriages.
Norm: Good day Joyce and thanks for participating in our interview.
When did you know you wanted to become an actress, what was your training and do you specialize in any particular acting technique?
Joyce: Since I was a little girl. The only two things I ever wanted to do were to be an actress or a nurse. When you are an actress you get to be all kinds of characters. I did volunteer in the emergency room as a patient advocate. Aren’t I lucky…I have been able to follow all my dreams!
I was an apprentice in a professional summer stock theatre company for three years. I was just 14 years old when I started. I learned so much, lighting, sound, props, and played small roles. After high school I went straight to NYC to study at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I was trained in a more classical approach. In my technique, I try to rely on honesty and being in the moment. Sometimes in comedy there are tricks that you can use to get a laugh.
Norm: What do you consider to be your greatest success (or successes) so far in your acting career?
Joyce: Starring on Broadway, although my opening night flowers lasted longer than the run of the play. Dancing with Fred Astaire, and playing Molly Brown in The Unsinkable Molly Brown and dancing and singing in Disney film, The Happiest Millionaire.
My greatest success, I feel, has been the ability to make people laugh, even at my own expense and using that gift to help raise funds for children’s charities.
Norm: What has been your greatest challenge (professionally) that you’ve overcome in getting to where you’re at today?
Joyce: I’ve been so fortunate, right out of The American Academy I was in a Broadway play, under-studying the lead and playing a small role. In TV, I started off doing serious roles. Then I was in a comedy and from then on getting typed cast has prevented me from doing more complex roles.
This has been my challenge. Otherwise I have been working for 65 years as an actress.
Norm: How do you set about working on your roles and what motivates you to act?
Joyce: I look for things in the character that I can find in myself, sometimes that is difficult, especially if you don’t like your character and their behaviour. You have to find something that you DO like. You must understand your characters and learn to like them. I think I have always wanted to act, to be someone else for a while, to escape into a fantasy world of make-believe, to create another person.
Norm: How do you think acting has changed over the years?
Joyce: That’s a difficult question. In the theatre, not much change that I see. I adore the English performers they are all so well trained. In TV, the writing isn’t as good in comedies and that impacts the acting. It often feels forced and doesn’t come out of character. However, the dramatic shows are really quite good.
Norm: What effect do you hope to have on an audience when you act?
Joyce: Because I most often do comedy, I hope to make the audience laugh and have a good time.
Norm: What are the qualities in actors you most admire?
Joyce: Usually actors are sensitive and caring people.
Norm: Do you do any research before you undertake a role?
Joyce: If the role requires research, yes.
Norm: Have there any been any roles that you have turned down and were sorry for having turned them down?
Joyce: I turned down The Beverly Hillbillies because my agent said it would never go. But, if I had taken that role and not the role my agent wanted me to take, I wouldn’t have met my husband, Roger Perry.
Norm: What motivated you to write My Four Hollywood Husbands and how did you decide you were ready to write the book?
Joyce: Oh MY, I wanted to share my story with others who are co-dependant and in alcoholic marriages. It’s my hope that my story will be helpful. I felt I was ready to write my story when I had to leave my third husband. It was a sad time.
Norm: Could you tell us a little about the book?
Joyce: It’s about my marriages to alcoholic men, my co-dependency and the effect it has had on my children. It is a story of love, a long lost love with a happy ending. The background of the book is the golden age of Hollywood and involves all the fascinating actors I‘ve met and worked with.
Norm: What's the most difficult thing for you about writing your memoir?
Joyce: Reliving the sad parts.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and My Four Hollywood Husbands?
Joyce: Go to MY WEBSITE
Norm: Are you still acting and what is next for Joyce Bulifant?
Joyce: Yes, I am! I just finished a role in my son, John Asher’s film, I Hate Kids. I have also been performing in two one-woman shows, MY Life Upon the Wicked Stage and Remembering Helen Hayes with Love.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Joyce: My favourite quotes, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
and “What you are is God’s gift to you. What you become is your gift to God”.
Norm: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
Joyce: And thank you so much!! Joyce