Media Path 74 Video Cindy Williams
Shirley Feeney was not just Laverne’s best friend. Cindy Williams made us feel like she was our bestie too. Cindy’s career has taken her from American Graffiti to The Conversation to Broadway and beyond. She’s worked with Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Garry Marshall, Penny Marshall, Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Henry Winkler, Gene Hackman, Dame Maggie Smith, Gene Kelly, and she’s written a book all about it called Shirley, I Jest. Plus, Cindy is taking her one woman show, Me, Myself and Shirley on the road! Settle in because she found some time to share many stories and laughs with us. Plus Fritz and Weezy are recommending The Power of the Dog on Netflix, 800 Words on Acorn and 15 Minutes of Shame on HBO Max.
Louise Palanker (00:00:04):
Welcome to Media Path. I am Louise Palanker
Fritz Coleman (00:00:06):
And I'm Fritz Coleman.
Louise Palanker (00:00:07):
Join us, won't you, as we adventure through a media rich landscape dotted with lovely and picturesque movies, books, streaming series, and engaging guests with tales of the media they have planted and nourished. Today we are so honored to welcome the legendary Cindy Williams from Laverne and Shirley. She is about to join us. But first, Fritz, what lucky reviewer of our fine program shall have her words dance across your very lips today.
Fritz Coleman (00:00:33):
This is brief, but complimentary. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which is good. Let's bring it. This is, uh, entitled Legends by Oh hey, K d d <laugh>. In this time of social distancing, the loneliness is real. It's nice to hear familiar voices Keeping me company.
Louise Palanker (00:00:51):
Thank you so much. Oh, hey, K d d I love the screen name and I love the review,
Fritz Coleman (00:00:55):
But I mean, I, I love that we're, that we're sort of, uh, massaging people's mental health during this whole thing.
Louise Palanker (00:01:00):
Oh, I mean, that's just absolutely gratifying to hear. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, would you like to hear a little bit about what I was watching this week phrase?
Fritz Coleman (00:01:06):
Louise Palanker (00:01:07):
So, do you get the acorn?
Fritz Coleman (00:01:09):
I do not.
Louise Palanker (00:01:10):
The acorn is British and or Australian.
Fritz Coleman (00:01:13):
Is it part of Brit Box?
Louise Palanker (00:01:15):
I mean, maybe. I just wish I knew, like the umbrellas that there are. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, you know this, like one company pretty much owns us all, but mm-hmm. <affirmative> Acorn is where you can watch a lot of programming and there's so much programming that happens in like, some idyllic small town that's lovely to live in, if you don't mind murder <laugh>. So, but I found one that doesn't involve detectives and a body washing up on some beach. So this is called 800 Words, and it's a fish out of water tail where the fish is Australians and the out of water is New Zealand. Yes. To those of us in this hemisphere that feels like veering left and doing a little bit of rowing. But it is a culture shift in the land down under a widowed father. And his kids encounter adventure, intrigue, and quirky neighbors when they move from Sydney, Australia to the small coastal and fictional New Zealand town of Weld. He is a writer who enforces a strict 800 word count to his essays, which voice his experiences. I am finding it delightful. You will find 800 words on Acorn, which is the same spelling in American and in New Zealand in,
Fritz Coleman (00:02:19):
Come on. The Brit are the best at everything. Best television, best films, best acting, best
Louise Palanker (00:02:24):
Everything. These are Australians.
Fritz Coleman (00:02:26):
Oh, uh, okay.
Louise Palanker (00:02:27):
I'm sorry. Say what you said. So it's, it's really, really fun. And,
Fritz Coleman (00:02:30):
But you said you found that on a British streaming service, which is Acor.
Louise Palanker (00:02:33):
They have a lot of British and, or I guess commonwealths <laugh> that fall under the Crown. They have a lot of Australian programming as well. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So what have you been up to?
Fritz Coleman (00:02:43):
Well, I, I, I saw a movie that's open for discussion called The Power of the Dog. It's in theaters, it's on Netflix now. And speaking of New Zealand, this is a Western drama set in 1925 Montana, but actually shot in New Zealand. And the sweeping vistas are a dead ringer for Montana. It's based on a 1967 novel by Thomas Savage. It's directed by Jane Campion, who directed the piano, a spectacular film in 1993 with Holly Hunter and Harvey Kittel. Now, at first you think the beautiful cinematography is gonna be the major part of the film. It just seems like a slow moving, beautiful character study, and that's what it is for the first three quarters. And then things get dark and interesting. It's about two wealthy Montana ranchers, Phil and George Burbank. They represent opposite ends of human emotions. George is a kind, dapper, thoughtful man. Phil is a volatile, cruel, and dirty person.
They meet widow Rose Gordon, who falls in love with in Mary's George. She and her son Peter, move into the ranch. And Phil, the darker brother, makes both of them miserable because he thinks that Rose is marrying ju for his money. Phil Antagonizes rose constantly driving her further into her alcoholism, and he and the other ranchers taunt and criticized her son Peter as well, because he's a sensitive and a bit delicate. You could almost say effeminate in his demeanor. And as he would walk through the scenes, the ranchers would often say, well, here comes Nancy, all the old tropes. And as the movie goes on, there starts to be homoerotic tension between the gruff fill and the soft. Peter, I'm gonna stop there. I just will say that you have to pay close attention to the plot points after the halfway point. This will help you to understand the dark twist at the end.
A hint to understanding the film is the fact that the author of the novel, Thomas Savage, was a closeted gay man who worked on a Montana Ranch earlier in his life. And although the book in the movie are not strictly autobiographical, the flavor is definitely informed by Savage's experience. The Down and Dirty Phil Burbank is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, his more gentlemanly opposite brother George Burbank is played by Jesse Clemons. Rose Gordon is Jesse's real wife in real life. Kirsten Dunt and Rose's son Peter is played by a young man by the name of Cody Smidt McPhee. This man is a beyond gifted actor. What a revelation to watch him. Incidentally, the phrase power of the dog is from a Bible verse that appears later on in the film. I loved it. But you have to be patient cuz it takes a long time to get so interested.
Louise Palanker (00:05:35):
Yeah. It's, it's a very still movie and it's also, uh, uh, ominously creepy. Yeah. In, in, in places where you're gonna wanna pause it and play some Tetris or just clear your head and maybe bake something. I don't know. But, you know, come back to it. And also pay attention to the closeups as Fritz was saying, because every shot is there for a reason. And if you're, um, this is just a tiny, tiny spoiler alert if you're watching it, it for the dogs, there are no dogs. <laugh>.
Fritz Coleman (00:06:00):
Louise Palanker (00:06:01):
There are no dogs in the
Fritz Coleman (00:06:02):
Movie. That's why I mentioned the Bible voice, cuz it makes no sense until the very end of the movie.
Louise Palanker (00:06:05):
All right. I watched a documentary on H b o Max called 15 Minutes of Shame. The internet gives frustrated individual voices, collective power, Twitter, do your thing. But when we cancel and docs and shame are we overcorrecting, tech companies have learned that when we are pissed, we are more engaged. And so they are using your anger for profit. Our rage is their revenue. This is not good for the health of either you or our human community. 15 minutes of shame takes a deep look at folks who have been hung out in the cyber stockade of social media shaming the guy with a garage full of hand sanitizer. The woman who told Trump voters they shouldn't get a ventilator. The man who appeared to be giving a white power sign at a Black Lives Matter protest. He wasn't. He's Mexican. Maybe it felt empowering to stick it to them and continue scrolling, but their lives were shattered. The doc is produced by Max Joseph from MTV's Catfish and Monica Lewinsky from being Monica Lewinsky. Wouldn't a healthy conversation be more effective and productive than shame? You'll find 15 minutes of shame on H B o Max.
Fritz Coleman (00:07:11):
Cool. Let's keep the topic current. And we talked about this before the podcast, that Instagram is gonna testify before Congress this week. And in preparation for that, they've already tried to tweak some of their rules so that they won't get slapped too bad by Congress because they've been accused, because of whistleblower testimony of, uh, causing great, um, uh, shame among teenagers. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and self-esteem issues and suicidal thoughts and all, all those things. And I don't know how they've done it, but we'll find out over the next couple of days that they've tweaked their algorithms to be a little more protective of sensitive teens and also giving parents a little more control over the time spent in the hours, uh, the specific hours that that children spend on Instagram. So it's gonna be interesting to see how that goes.
Louise Palanker (00:07:59):
Awesome. Are you ready to introduce our guests?
Fritz Coleman (00:08:01):
Let's go. I can't wait.
Louise Palanker (00:08:03):
Cindy Williams is an actress and comedian who has starred in some of the most notable movies and television programs in entertainment history. Cindy's lengthy list of groundbreaking achievements includes Laverne and Shirley. Happy Days, the Conversation and American Graffiti. Cindy's passion for performing is deeply rooted in theater, and she travels with wonderful shows all over the country, including a stint on Broadway in The Drowsy Chaperone. This is all according to her author page on amazon.com, so it must be true. <laugh> welcome, Cindy. Yay.
Fritz Coleman (00:08:32):
Cindy Williams (00:08:33):
Yay. Well, thanks for having me say gang. Are there any koala bears involved in any of those films that you were talking about?
Fritz Coleman (00:08:42):
Not to my knowledge,
Cindy Williams (00:08:43):
Because I'd be very interested. I know there are no dogs <laugh>, but flower bears, it
Fritz Coleman (00:08:49):
Seems the koala bear would've been too warm and fuzzy for power of the dog. Okay. It would've made people smile instead of, of scare the crap out of my
Louise Palanker (00:08:56):
<laugh>. And they were pretending to be in Montana. So that would've been like, you know, something that the internet
Cindy Williams (00:09:01):
Is this like mystical craziness, you know, that scares you. Like an a horror movie.
Fritz Coleman (00:09:07):
No, no. It'ss just a sense of foreboding. This guy Phil Burbank is, uh, you know, played by, played brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch is just a dark force. And, you know, things are not gonna end well <laugh>, they would have to travel too far to get a smile out of you at the end of this movie.
Louise Palanker (00:09:23):
Yeah. He's a different type of, he's not like that kind of nerdy sort of professorial guy that he often plays. And he means he's extremely handsome in every movie because that's his face. But he's just dark and sinister. Is that too strong a word? No.
Fritz Coleman (00:09:39):
Okay. No, no. He's the minister of I think you like it the
Louise Palanker (00:09:41):
Whole movie. Yeah. You'll like
Cindy Williams (00:09:42):
It. Like, he might be hiding a switch blade on himself. There you,
Fritz Coleman (00:09:45):
There you go.
Cindy Williams (00:09:46):
Louise Palanker (00:09:46):
And some secrets. And also some secrets. Secrets.
Fritz Coleman (00:09:50):
No, it's good. It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a masterclass in acting. Every single person in it is beyond. And this child, I, uh, mcfe uh, Cody Mcfe is unbelievable. You're gonna hear a lot about this,
Louise Palanker (00:10:02):
But he needs a sandwich. He's awfully
Fritz Coleman (00:10:04):
Thin. He is thin. That was part of the point. He had to be delicate in a feminine. Yeah, he does.
Cindy Williams (00:10:08):
Louise Palanker (00:10:09):
Sandwich. Yeah, he does. So, Cindy, oh my God, I love your book so much mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Oh, oh
Cindy Williams (00:10:17):
Yes. Thank you. Thank
Louise Palanker (00:10:18):
You. It was delish. It was just like hanging out with you. And I did read some of the reviews and did you know that, uh, people like Henry Winkler are just raving about this book? He wrote, Henry wrote Cindy Williams talented in everything she does writing her book is no exception. Get Ready to Enjoy. And then Ron Howard wrote Cindy's book brings back a lot of great personal memories, but it also entertained the hell outta me. The lady can write. And then Harrison Ford. Yeah. Who wrote Harrison? Everyone's reading the book. Cindy a great read. I couldn't put it down. Not a word of it is true. Cindy, who? <laugh>.
Cindy Williams (00:10:52):
I know. That's
Louise Palanker (00:10:53):
Cindy Williams (00:10:55):
Oh, that's wonderful. Thank you for reading that, Louise. Thank you. Great. But
Louise Palanker (00:10:59):
Let's, let's start with your childhood, because, you know, you're such a just innately talented and deep person, but your childhood was lonely, a little bit lonely and, and tough. And you mustered through a lot of un maybe unhealthy family dynamics.
Cindy Williams (00:11:18):
Well, yes, <laugh>, yes, I did. Um, yeah, I grew up in Texas and for the most part, and, um, I, um, my dad was, uh, the funniest man I ever I have ever known and just a great, great fabulous guy. But he drank and he was an alcoholic, and when he drank, he turned into somebody else and he worked during the day. And my mother worked as a waitress during the night. And so when he would come home from work at four o'clock from the time I was a little girl, he'd put me in the truck and, uh, and we were in Texas, as I said, and we'd go to the bars and he'd lock me in the truck, he'd buy me candy, he locked me in the truck, and then he'd go into the bars and he'd drink. And, uh, I was always worried from a young age that we were gonna get into a car accident or he'd be arrested or something. So I was always on the lookout like that. And it did, you know, it changes a person. I'd be, uh, in the truck and he'd park in front of the bar and in the window. I remember this so vividly, I would see Schlitz Schlitz,
Fritz Coleman (00:12:27):
Cindy Williams (00:12:28):
Schlitz mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And isn't it ironic that, you know, on a neon sign advertising the beer in, um, in the bar, but then later on, it just hit me one day when I was on the set of Laverne and Shirley Shots. Shots. That was your Oh my God, that's what they wrote. That's what they took shots from. If it
Louise Palanker (00:12:50):
Were a book, we'd call it foreshadowing, but I think it was the universe just kind
Cindy Williams (00:12:54):
Of Exactly. That's it. It was the universe, Louise. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and all those kind of things have happened to me. And that's really kind of a fun, happy thing that came out of something. Talk about foreboding. Um, and, um, so my childhood was, you know, it was, it was rife with foreboding moments. And, uh, but that's not to say that, you know, it wasn't, didn't have a happy note to it because as I said, uh, my dad was the funniest man I ever knew. And when he was sober, it, it was wonderful. Um, as far and few between, but still and my family, I come from a family, uh, on the Williams side that are very funny people. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they're just funny. Yeah. Just pro gross and funny people. So that saved me Plus, and I talk about this a little bit in my show that I'm doing, and I, I may have talked about it in the book too, um, that my dad would always drop me off at a different church every Sunday and tell me, Cindy, go in there and find the Sunday school and go to Sunday School, church of Christ, Methodist Church, Baptist Church, rev Tent Revival.
I want a Bible for perfect attendance at Tent Revival. So this also, it, you know, just saved me because I had these wonderful Bible stories in, um, Sunday school about Jesus and, and, and good Samaritans and wonderful people. And so I, from that, I just garnered from a small, you know, from a young age faith and that everything was gonna be okay. And it did, it turned out akay.
Fritz Coleman (00:14:42):
And you and your father also had humor in common because it used to be that you and your dad would watch television or he'd be watching TV and somebody funny would come on and he'd say, come in here, Cindy. You'll love this guy
Cindy Williams (00:14:52):
That, thank you for that Fritz. Yes, he did. He would, uh, he, he turned me onto your show of shows. Sid Caesar's are an imaging coca. And I remember sitting there and, you know, with him and thinking, I can do, I love this, I can do that. But I was very, very young. But in my own mind, you know, my own child childish ways, I said, I can do that. I love that. And it just made me so happy. And, uh, he, um, toward the end of his life, he called me in and he said, I, I was going actually to my first interview, uh, and he called me in and he said, Cindy, look at this. This guy is a fabulous singer. And it was Bob Dylan. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, uh, my dad. My dad was pretty hip. And, um, and l as you say, he turned me on to wonderful, wonderful things. Um,
Louise Palanker (00:15:46):
And there's another piece to that, and it's that your dad knew you and you knew, your dad knew you. And sharing those moments with you, they resonate with you still today because he, he believed in you and he knew if he liked it, you were gonna like it cuz you guys had that bond. And that's really special.
Cindy Williams (00:16:04):
Right. Well, I think any, you know, I mean, I did bond with my father in the most loving way, aside from the, you know, the, it was horrible when he drank. But aside from that, the love that my father, that his real self had ju and the humor and everything else, the, you know, he was protective of me. And I just knew that. And so you're right. That bonding was there. And I think it is with children because my dad was a good guy. He wasn't a bad guy, he was a good guy, but he just, you know, the alcoholism overtook him.
Fritz Coleman (00:16:42):
Yeah. You know, I don't wanna get too far ahead of your youth because you spent part of your youth, the teenage part, and then here in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. Yeah. Birmingham High School. You lived near Recita, or in Recita, correct. The north and northwest part of the San Fernando Valley. And I, I just think you and Penny, but in particular, you were so relatable to most Americans, which is 50% of what made your character so delicious for people was that you just seem so regular and relatable. And I I I read about where you spent your time and, and the San Fernando Valley is like suburban America. Yeah. <laugh>, I mean, for people who aren't familiar with it, you know, it's the suburbs of Los Angeles, and I think maybe your experience in and around Southern California was, was sort of what really kept your feet grounded and made you so relatable.
Cindy Williams (00:17:37):
You're so right Fritz with that, because I went to church again, I went to the first Methodist Church of Recita. I went to church camp. I was involved in all the church talent shows and, um, and everything else, youth camp and, um, plus high school. You know, it was in the days when it was a community. And, um, they wrote Shirley as that person who was always down to earth. Both the characters were pretty down to Earth and Penny. And I knew we had to be, um, true to that. We had to have the integrity of those characters and to make the comedy work, especially. And, um, and I, you know, my, my folks were blue collar workers. Well, um, my dad and my mom, my mom was a waitress and my dad was, he was a, he was very, very bright, my dad, but he just didn't want to, uh, he only had a third grade education, but they wanted to make a manager at, um, Bunco remote.
Woolridge, the big, um, um, oh, I don't know. They built missiles and computers out in the valley. But, um, but it was a household like that. And it was a childhood. When I got into my teens, it was like that all the neighbor kids, and you know, that sense of famili, that familial sense of, of, of, uh, community, if you will. And, uh, that played right in to the two characters on the show. Now, penny was, she was from the Bronx. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but had the same type of girlhood childhood as I did, only from the Bronx. You know, she girlfriends and she, you know, her mother owned a dance studio and she taped dance and they all went to camp together. And so I think that, as you said, Fritz, yes, we were, we always kept our feet on the ground. That was the only way that show was going to work, was to maintain that sensibility
Louise Palanker (00:19:39):
To me. What, what got you that show, or maybe the most important moment in your, in your book is when you describe how you, since you and Penny had been writing together as you were driving over, you said, what business can we do? And it was that business that you did that got you the spinoff, in my opinion. Can can you tell that story?
Cindy Williams (00:19:59):
Oh yeah. Yeah. Um, well, penny and I were writers together on this movie. That's a whole other story. But, um, when we, when Gary called us to do, you know, he said, I've got these two, uh, characters on Happy Days. Uh, they go on a double date with Fonzi and, um, Richie. And, uh, they're called Laverne and Shirley, and they're two girls who date the Fleet <laugh>. That's how we described them to us, <laugh>. And, um, so we went, uh, you know, so Penny and I thought, girls who date the fleet Hookers <laugh>. And so we decided that we were gonna play the characters, uh, chewing gum, smoking cigarettes. Now, mind you, penny and I, neither one of us, even though Happy Days was her brother's show was Gary Marshall's show. She'd never seen an episode of it, nor had I
Oh my God, dying.
So we thought we'd smoke cigarettes, chew gum. We were gonna go in and have pin curls in our hair, you know, and take each other's pin curls, <laugh> out of the, this is our first entrance. This is what we decided to do. And then we were gonna fix each other's bra straps
While we're smoking like that. So while
You're arguing with each other,
<laugh> Yeah. While we're bickering. Yeah. <laugh>. So we make this entrance and we do that. We stop and we do all that business. And then we take drags off our cigarette and we're really smoking <laugh>. We chew and our gum and smoke, we take drags off our cigarettes. We look around, uh, the room, we spot Richie and Fonzi take a last drag. We flick our cigarettes
Stage and we start walking toward them. And Jerry Paris, who was directing Happy Day, screams cut. He said, what is that? What is that? You were doing smoking? They're still smoking in family Hours,
<laugh>. And then
He said, what do you think you're doing a spinoff now? Get backstage, uh, rework it and enter again more
And so we, we went backstage and Penny and I were like, we were terrified. Now we, so we got rid of the cigarettes. We kept the gum, uh, and um, we kept the pin curls, <laugh>, and the, while we're doing this, talking about it, I said, what's a spinoff? <laugh>? I don't know what's, what's family hours?
Speaker 4 (00:22:28):
Cindy Williams (00:22:29):
We, um, we, we reworked it and we went out and um, and then we did the show. You know, it took a week. And then we went back to our little writing job. And then two weeks later they called us and they said, a ABC saw this episode and they loved it, and they do a do a spinoff. Wow. And we said, what? And they said, A spinoff of the two characters. And it, we had to have, it explained to us what a spinoff was. And they said, it's your own show,
And we still couldn't compute that. But anyway, that's how that came down.
Fritz Coleman (00:23:06):
But, but, but about, uh, setting your own business, you guys created most of your own physical stunts for the show, didn't you? I mean, tho that was a part that was unwritten and it allowed you and Penny to come up with the gags selves.
Cindy Williams (00:23:19):
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Because they tried to write them for us and then, um, we just reworked them on stage ourselves. And, uh, then they come down and watch a run through and they usually loved it. And, uh, we had this litmus test, if you will, um, during rehearsal if something we did or said or if, you know, if the story was going the wrong way. If it didn't make us during rehearsal, me and Penny laugh out loud, then we'd rework it because we figured it was not, if it made us laugh out loud, we, we knew it was gonna make the audience that came in cuz we shot it in front of a, a audience of two over 200 people. We figured if it made us laugh out loud during rehearsal, it was gonna trans make that studio audience laugh out loud and then translate to the home audience. So we would always go for that laugh out loud. And no matter how stupid and silly we had to get for it.
Louise Palanker (00:24:22):
And it worked. And she's a great physical gags. Now, was it one of the first blue collar, uh, sitcoms that resonated with maybe people that weren't, uh, the father knows best type of family?
Cindy Williams (00:24:34):
Well, I think all in the family came before us. Okay. But it certainly wasn't, ours was more physical, you know, um,
Louise Palanker (00:24:41):
And young ladies that worked
Cindy Williams (00:24:43):
And women, women who worked. Yeah. Penny and I were neither one of us, you know, um, you know, we didn't sign the contract to be feminists <laugh>, but, uh, we just, you know, we just were what we were. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, um, uh, people kept saying, oh, this is a feminist show. This is about two women. We go, yeah, it's about us. Because both of us had struggled to make ends meet in college. Both of us had had that background. And so y you know, it was just a, um, a natural occurrence that it was about two women who really had to have the wolf hit nipping at their heels. Which Penny and I always insisted on that. It had to be a story about, you know, we can't pay the electric bill. We can't, you know, we have to put ends together to, to pay the rent.
And, and there's always that desperation because that really helped the comedy. And that is blue collar. And that's my mom and dad. And that was not necessarily Penny's mom and dad, but that was her when she went to school and had to struggle mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, uh, so we understood that struggle and it's a human, every man struggle that everyone can understand. And you put it to story and then to physical comedy, and you've got kind of an across the board, you know, great show. But the other thing was Louise and Fritz, we had back in those days, and you'll remember this, we had sensors that were, um, that were, um, delegated to each show. And the sensor on the show, on our show who watched the script, you know, for words and the storylines and everything else we did. He was born again Christian, fabulous guy. And he wouldn't let us get away with diddly squats, <laugh>. So I don't think we could have said diddly squat <laugh>,
Louise Palanker (00:26:37):
Cindy Williams (00:26:37):
We, we had to invent around it. And that made the show better.
Louise Palanker (00:26:43):
And that's how you came up with fo what did you call it exactly, <laugh>.
Cindy Williams (00:26:46):
Exactly. Yeah. Well, we didn't come up with it. I think that was a low gz <laugh> genius. Bit of line. Yeah. But yes. Things like that. Exactly.
Fritz Coleman (00:26:54):
But go, going back to struggle, uh, even after you have a modicum of success, the struggle never stops. Cuz after American Graffiti, didn't you have to go back to being a waitress for a while? Be before you? I
Cindy Williams (00:27:06):
Was thinking about
Fritz Coleman (00:27:07):
It. Oh, okay.
Cindy Williams (00:27:07):
I, because I didn't work for a long time. No. And um, uh, and I was thinking, well, I can't go, I can't wait tables in LA because I'd waited tables all through college. Right. But, um, I, I knew I couldn't in LA because I was recognized there and I, I just didn't want, oh, that's interesting. I just didn't wanna do it. So I was gonna go up to Eugene, Oregon, which is a place I love, and a university town and wait tables. And that happened right before, uh, Laverne and Shirley happened. Like, I had talked to my mother and said, can I borrow $200 from you? Uh, and I'll pay you back as soon as I get this job. You know, that's, that's how it went. And then the next day, uh, it seemed I was doing Laverne and Shirley making, you know, money I couldn't fathom.
Louise Palanker (00:27:58):
But your relationship with Penny was already complicated because she had kind of walked away and wasn't returning your calls. And now you get this offer and you're feeling kind of hurt. This is your friend that you bonded with and what's going on. So tell me. Yeah.
Cindy Williams (00:28:12):
I think you're referring Luis to when we were writing together. Yeah. And, uh, she like disappeared and I, I couldn't find her. And we had all these writing assignments. We were writing this, um, bicentennial spoof for, uh, Francis Coppola was producing it, and it was called My Co My Country Tithe. And it was supposed to be released, uh, during the bicentennial. And it was all, you know, sketches and music and, uh, comedy about the making you know, about America from the time the pilgrims came over and, and everyone was assigned sketches. You know, we had, uh, Sutters Mill and, uh, the US Patent Office and the Salem Witch Trials. Yes.
Fritz Coleman (00:28:57):
And, um, and talk about some of the other writers that you, you, Steve Martin was a writer on that trial. Steve
Cindy Williams (00:29:02):
Martin, Martin Mall, Harry Shearer, my goodness. Um, oh gosh. Uh, it's all going outta my head. But yes, uh, Steve and Carl Gottlieb and, uh, amazing writers and, but they were teams of writers. And so we were the skirts, we were the female writing team. But, um, during that time, and this is after we had shot the Happy Days episode, and they wanted to make it, um, into, you know, they wanted us, they wanted to spin it off. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> Penny, just, um, she disappeared on me. And so I had all these assign, well, I had two assignments and I couldn't find her anywhere. And, um, and then, you know, I thought, gee, I I don't really wanna do this show because, and I, and Penny and I've talked about this because, um, she disappeared on me and how can I, you know, I, and I have a bad feeling. And, um, so that's when I was gonna go to Oregon and wait tables. And then, um, she showed up and um, and, and they made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Well, I'll put it that way. Did
Louise Palanker (00:30:20):
She explain what she was going through? Because may maybe she had her own struggles of being a cream
Cindy Williams (00:30:25):
Herself? No, it wasn't the, it wasn't anything that would've gone in the power of the dog. Got it. <laugh>. It was just, she was, there were so many fun people over at the studio that time that she'd go off and have fun and write with them. Oh my God. And didn't bother to tell me, which ticked me off. Yeah. Yeah. And, um, but also, well, that ends Well, you know, oh yeah.
Fritz Coleman (00:30:51):
You, you, you said something in your book, which was very similar to what we heard from Anson Williams talking about the success of Happy Days. And that is, you guys are hard at work doing the day-to-day hard, long hours of creating a television show, and you're living in a bubble. And you had no sense of how popular the show was until you and Penny would go out on press junkets and personal appearances and saw these insane reactions in these little towns all over America that finally made you realize, oh my God, this is a huge hit we're involved in here. Talk about those emotions, especially when you're in your early twenties, that's, that's probably hard to get your head wrapped around.
Cindy Williams (00:31:30):
Well, the first thing that happened was right after the show was aired, the first episode, uh, Gary came down to the set the next day and he was just so gleeful and he showed us, um, the numbers, the overnights mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which are the numbers of how many people viewed the show. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And he shows <laugh> this number, penny and me. And uh, and it was like, it was more than 36 million. I don't know the exact, uh, number, but it was, it seemed, it was like up in the millions, millions and millions. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and Penny and I just stared at, and everyone's cheering and applauding <laugh>. We had no sense of what that meant. Yeah. <laugh>. And so the first time, like Anson said, we were constantly on this set because we did the show like a play. We rehearsed it four days, and then the fifth day when we were gonna shoot it, uh, we rehearsed half of that day and then we shot it, and then we started again.
So nobody got off the sound stage. So the first time for Penny and Me was when we went, we were asked to go to the, um, Macy's Day parade to be in the parade. Yeah. And we, I thought, gee, this is great <laugh>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we gotta be in the parade. And so we're on this float and, um, and all of a sudden this crowd breaks the barriers and starts to run toward us. Oh my gosh. And Kenny and I looked behind to see who they were running board, who was there, cuz we would've joined the crowd. Is it a, you know, ager or somebody? <laugh>. And it was us. And then security had to put us, you know, had to like, get the, you know, way, lay the crowd or whatever they did. And that was puzzling. And then outside our hotel room, uh, our hotel, the paparazzi was there and, and there were like hundreds of, uh, cameras and we had no idea it was for us.
And then when we found out, so then I call that our two weeks of Headiness <laugh>, where we thought, wait a minute, <laugh> for us, <laugh>, you know, we must be some special people. And Oh, and going back to keeping your feet on the ground, it was because Penny and I never thought of ourselves as more special than anyone else ever, ever. And, um, so for two weeks there we did, and it was bad. We paid the Piper. And so, uh, we went back to just being us. But, um, yeah, we never knew when was it for Ansen and, and everybody there,
Fritz Coleman (00:34:14):
They went to Texas to play in some softball thing. Yeah. And he said they had, they had no sense of how huge this show was. And it was, it was a revelation to all of them. They were just blown away by it. They couldn't believe it.
Cindy Williams (00:34:26):
It's something else. Yeah. I'll tell you, it's just how anybody would imagine it. It's, it's surreal and, and it's a blessing, you know? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and a privilege. But, and, and you can't ever make it anything else but that. And people are so beautiful. You know, that's, um, I always say, people say, well, what is it? You know, you have fans and they come up to you, does that ever bother you? And I say, well, it's not like I played Hannibal Lecter
Fritz Coleman (00:34:53):
<laugh>. And, um,
Cindy Williams (00:34:55):
When they, when people approach me, they approach me with their fun side, the, you know, they're fun and happy side. And sometimes they'll come up and they'll thank me and Penny and the cast, you know, because we got them to, through a bad childhood, you know, we got them through, they watch us. They, they became our family. And I did that with my little Margie, remember that show? Anybody, anybody. You're probably mm-hmm. <affirmative>, my little Marjorie and Southern, um, uh, oh, what were, were the other shows?
Fritz Coleman (00:35:29):
You, you, you, I mean, you represented female empowerment. You, you were, as Weezy said, the first representation of like, middle class, blue collar women, and your friendship was bonded forever. And I think people, uh, particularly women during that time, really related to your relationship.
Cindy Williams (00:35:48):
Well, yeah. I mean, I think that, I'm sorry, is it Wei?
Louise Palanker (00:35:53):
Oh, Wei is a nickname for Louise. Oh,
Cindy Williams (00:35:56):
Wei. Yeah. Oh, wheezy. Yeah. Okay. What do you prefer to be
Louise Palanker (00:35:58):
Called? Oh, Weezys fine. You're on?
Cindy Williams (00:36:00):
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I like saying that Wheezy. Yeah. Um, that sounds like a character name from Laverne and Shirley.
Louise Palanker (00:36:07):
Well, it was from The Jeffersons, and that's how I got the nickname because my name is Louise and I was a page on the Jefferson, on the Norman Leer shows that year.
Cindy Williams (00:36:14):
And so everybody called you Wheezy. Yeah. I love it. Love it. We see in France, right? Those are the two Charact
Fritz Coleman (00:36:20):
Characters. Hey, you, you, you were a waitress on the Sunset Strip back when the Sunset Strip was really the sunset.
Louise Palanker (00:36:26):
Oh, the stories.
Fritz Coleman (00:36:28):
Yes. And you, and you got Punked by Jim Morrison. You have to tell that story.
Cindy Williams (00:36:33):
Oh, it's so, you know, it's so difficult to tell the story cuz it's an action story. Yeah. But, um, I was working at a place, well first I worked at IHOP on the strip <laugh>, uh, down, way down though near Hollywood High. And I, I worked the graveyard shift and then I got this job at Ye Piccadilly Deli. And then I, my friend said, they're hiring cocktail waitresses at the whiskey of Gogo live music, Cindy. And I said, oh my God. So I went over and I got the job and, uh, I had to quit my job at Ye Piccadilly Deli. And I love those people. They were so sweet. But I did. And, um, so the first night after they tr trained me, you know, how to hold up, you know, and serve drinks. And, um, they, they, uh, assigned me the v i p section cuz there's the peanut gallery upstairs at the whiskey where the kids that can't afford to tip and can't afford, you know, to drink more than two drinks, sit and then, and they're benches.
And then there's the tables downstairs by the dance floor, and then there's the v i p booths. And they gave me the v i p booths and I, oh my goodness, I can't believe this. Uh, well, they gave me a table in front of the v i p booths. So they said, there's your first, your first customers, you know, go, go get 'em. So I go over to this table and there's this man who's facing away from me and these two blonded girls. And so I asked them, I said, what may I get you to drink? And each of the girls said, I'll have a, uh, Tom Collins and the other one said, Tom Collins. And then I said, and for you, sir. And he turns around and they're in a shaft of light.
Louise Palanker (00:38:22):
Cindy Williams (00:38:24):
Is Jim Morrison. And all I'm thinking is I was just playing the album before I went to work. You know, this is the end <laugh>. And I, I'm looking at him and I, and he, he looked like a Greek god mm-hmm. <affirmative> in this light. And the light was just hitting him in the perfect way. And, um, and I said, what would you have, sir? And he said, I'll have a bottle of Jack at the table. And I said, and I wrote down bottle of Jack at Cable. And so I run over and I put my ticket up and I'm about to run away back to the other customers. And the, uh, bartender says, ho ho, ho, hold on you new girl, what is this two Tom Collins and, and a Ballah jack? And I said, yes. And he said, we don't serve Jack at the table.
And I said, but he goes, wait, let me guess Morrison's in the club, right? And I said, yes, Jim Morrison <laugh> is over there. And he said, well, he knows perfectly well I can't send him a bottle to the table. Uh, tele have a single or a double, but no bottle at the table. And I'm thinking, I don't wanna tell Jim Morrison can't have a bottle of Jack at the table. But I go and I go back and I say, excuse me, Mr. Morrison, I'm so sorry, but uh, I'm not allowed to, um, bring a bottle to the table. I can serve you a single or a double. And he says, I've had a bottle at my table before and I want a bottle here tonight. Who's Tendon bar? Is it Tony <laugh> and I? Yes it is. And he goes, you go back and you tell that so-and-so that I want my bottle of Jack on the table.
I want it now. So I run back. Meanwhile, I've got other customers trying to flag me down. I run back and I go, listen, Tony, I'm sorry, but he goes, no bottle of Jack at the table. And I go, but please can't I, and he goes, absolutely not. You go back there and you tell that so-and-so he cannot have a bottle of Jack at the table. So I go back and I'm in tears now, and I say, Mr. Morrison, I'm so sorry I can get you a single or a double and I'm happy to buy it for you. Uh, but I cannot serve you a bottle of Jack at the table. And this went on a couple more times. And finally he says, he takes my hand and he says, what, what is your name? And I said, Cindy, and this is the first time I'd ever heard this termed like this. He said, well, miss Cindy, because he called everyone in those days, miss. And, you know, and he said, just bring me a double, we're just playing with you. And I looked around and Tony's leaning over the bar laughing, and all the waitresses and the bus boys and Mario, the club owner, <laugh> and, and Eler, they're all laughing at me. And Jim Morrison had pun, Morrison had punked me. And then after that they relegated me to the peanut gallery, <laugh>.
Louise Palanker (00:41:14):
Wow. That's how you get initiated at the whiskey. That was amazing.
Cindy Williams (00:41:18):
That is, yeah. Now
Louise Palanker (00:41:20):
Can you, let's talk a moment for about Ron Howard because it was interesting to me that in all corners of your book, he's a recurring theme and he, you know, he's a young guy that grew up in show business, but now he's trying to adult in show business business and you're just newly adulting in show business, but you keep intersecting with one another. Talk about that a little bit.
Cindy Williams (00:41:39):
I like that term. Weezy adulting in show business. <laugh>. Are you sure we're not gonna get canceled using that
Louise Palanker (00:41:46):
Term? <laugh>? I think we're good. <laugh>
Cindy Williams (00:41:49):
During American Graffiti, you say? Yeah.
Louise Palanker (00:41:51):
And then it then the, your happy days. And it just seemed like every time you went somewhere there was Ron Howard. Like he was like your beacon.
Cindy Williams (00:41:58):
Yes. In fact, Ronnie and I had this conversation a couple years ago. Uh, he said, wow, we played everything together. We played, you know, dates, we played each other's, um, boyfriend and girlfriend. We played high school sweethearts, we played, um, a married couple and, you know, and then on Happy Days, uh, and Laverne and Shirley, we played, you know, two opposite kind of people who dated, but also, which very few people know. Fritz, what's the name of that old show? Um, inspirations are something that, um, that the Catholic Church, uh, produced. Um,
Fritz Coleman (00:42:40):
This Bishop Fulton Sheen?
Cindy Williams (00:42:43):
Yes. What was that?
Fritz Coleman (00:42:45):
I'm not, I'm not saying I'm old, but that was at the start of television that
Cindy Williams (00:42:49):
It insights wasn't
Louise Palanker (00:42:51):
Insights. Insights, yes.
Cindy Williams (00:42:52):
I played Ron Howard's mother
Louise Palanker (00:42:55):
Cindy Williams (00:42:57):
Yes. He was in heaven getting ready to be born. Oh,
Louise Palanker (00:43:01):
<laugh>. I was ill
Cindy Williams (00:43:03):
And I was ill and I didn't want the baby, you know, and, and, and that was a story. And I played his mother. Wow. And um, so, um, what was your question?
Louise Palanker (00:43:18):
Oh, just that
Fritz Coleman (00:43:19):
He's, he's a recurring theme
Louise Palanker (00:43:21):
In your life. He seems to be kind of this beam of light that's guiding you
Cindy Williams (00:43:23):
Through Absolutely. A recurring theme. And he has a book out now. I forget The boys. The boys He is. And um, and he writes about us, you know, trying to go over our lines together because when he did in American Graffiti, Ronnie was just, uh, had just turned 18 when he hit the set and I was 24 mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, and um, and we had to do like this make out scene together and we were really nervous. And it ended up, if you ever see American Graffiti, where I asked George, well, can we go down in the seat and play the scene off camera? And George said, yes. And that's how we play it and get into that fight. But anyway, uh, we would learn our lines together and we would go over the script together and we'd, you know, we dance cuz we had that dance scene.
We practiced that together. But we were kids and he was, I was so nervous because I was six years older than him, you know, I wore no makeup. Well there was no makeup or hair in American graffiti cuz it was so low budget and no dressing rooms. Um, but we were both so nervous. And then, you know, we did all these and we were so nervous about that kissing scene in, uh, American Graffiti, yet on Happy Days. You cut to, I don't know how many years later was it? Um, four, three or four. And we had a huge kissing, uh, scene where I kiss him, you know, in that. And things had changed. And um, but yeah, we kind of grew up together like that. And, uh, in a way, in a certain chunk of our, um, lives,
Louise Palanker (00:45:10):
Young adult lives here,
Fritz Coleman (00:45:11):
So many of these people, uh, uh, ha had their careers born out of American graffiti. It was a really low budget movie in George Lucas's first Enterprise. Did you have any sense that this was gonna go on to become one of the great iconic American movies? And did you have any sense that all these talented people you worked with, Ronnie and Harrison Ford and all these other people who have recurred in our lives over the last 30 or 40 years, did you have a sense that you were gonna be part of something that big when you were shooting that movie?
Cindy Williams (00:45:38):
Well, I'll tell you, um, we thought we were doing a Roger Carman Hot Rodd movie. That, that's it. You know, even though George had been described to all of us as this von Dukin out of, you know, usc. And, um, we had met with George Ron and myself cuz he met with the whole cast, but just Ron and me and George. And he described American Graffiti as a musical because he said the music will never stop except for two plot points when the car source of the music is gone, when the car rolls over, when the car is stolen. And I remember walking out with Ron and we looked at each other and said a musical genius,
Louise Palanker (00:46:20):
Cindy Williams (00:46:21):
When we were shooting, it was rough because it was shot in 28 nights one morning and one morning. And, uh, it was solo budget. Like I said, we had no dressing rooms. We just stand around to wait for our setups out in the dark way out in Marin County. And, um, so like I said, we thought we were doing this hot rod movie, all of us. And then two weeks in, which is half of the film, the shooting schedule, George invited the whole cast to come to the editing bay in San Francisco. And he, where he had put a 20 minute, uh, assemblage of the, of what we've shot so far with music. And at, by the time we finished watching that Harrison Ford turned to everybody and said, this is fricking great <laugh>. And we all knew it was great. Wow. And we knew we were in something special then. Wow.
Louise Palanker (00:47:16):
Let's talk for a moment about, uh, the friendship that is depicted in Laverne and Shirley, because friendships are messy. And your relationship with Penny was sometimes described as messy. Oh
Cindy Williams (00:47:29):
Louise Palanker (00:47:29):
What what did you learn about Friendship through having, not having to, but through sharing that experience with Penny?
Cindy Williams (00:47:39):
Well, I wouldn't call that, uh, shared experience in friendship. We were great friends, you know, uh, when the show was over, I mean, we were just great friends. She's like a sister to me mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, uh, we used to, I'd go over to her house and sit in bed with her and wa we'd watch TV <laugh>. But, um, during that time, we, as much as we were similar, you know, which is the reason for the show, we'd know where the joke was, where the beat was, what wouldn't work. You, you could take us into any room, anywhere, anytime. Um, maybe we hadn't seen each other for 15 years, but we'd picked the one thing out together in the room that was funny, <laugh> and, and interesting. But, um, and make the same comment about it. But during the show, we, she had a way where everything, she had it all down immediately.
I have dyslexia and, you know, things would be, uh, just swirling until I put it all together at the end of the week. But, and she really had no patience for, for me, and I don't blame her. Um, but we get into arguments about other things. Like, uh, I'd say, well, I ca like before the show became a two-person physical show, it was just really, uh, penny that they knew could do physical comedy, her brother and everyone. And so, um, I, I got upset at that cuz I said, I do physical comedy. I kept telling everybody that. And uh, finally after about, uh, a season, Gary came down to the set and he said, all right, you've been belly aching about doing physical comedy. We're gonna write something for you. And if you do it, you know, well then, you know, we'll start writing it that way.
And so I did this, they wrote this little bit for me and about a, uh, the vacuum cleaner gets stuck on her, uh, lips <laugh> while we're cleaning house. And they just said, Cindy, you know, Shirley removes it. And so they wanted to see what I'd do. So I tried putting my foot on her chest and pulling, but I couldn't get my leg up that high. But anyway, it was funny. And so then it became a two person physical show and, you know, things just happened. It, um, things just happened on the show where Penny would get upset about something and then I'd get upset about her being upset at something. And then there'd be, she's Sicilian and I'm Sicilian, and there'd be an operatic screaming match <laugh>. And then we'd say, what are, what do we wanna order for lunch? And that would be kind of the way it went. But there was a, there was, as you said, a lot of friction, but, you know, alls well that ends well. Well, right,
Louise Palanker (00:50:27):
Right, right. And you've shared that, and that's like being in a band together. Right.
Cindy Williams (00:50:32):
Exactly. But the minute we went on stage, none of that was there. Yeah. None of it. It was all about the place, the thing. And, uh, and you, we had, we brought none of that to, to the stage with us.
Louise Palanker (00:50:45):
And it's also like, you know, you created all these shows together, so you co-parent them for life.
Cindy Williams (00:50:51):
Exactly. One time we had the Olivia Newton John fabulous person, uh, came down to the set. She was gonna ask us, uh, to be on her, uh, special. And she came down early and Penny and I were going at it in my dressing room. And then, uh, Monica Johnson, the show's producer, said, God, will you two shut up. Olivia Newton John's out here. And she's delicate. She's
Louise Palanker (00:51:17):
Delicate, <laugh> so,
Cindy Williams (00:51:19):
So Penny. And I said, well, we're not ready to go out there yet. And we kept looking, see Olivia. And she was very patient, beautiful, sitting there at the table waiting for us. And, uh, I don't think we ever, we said, we'll have to talk to you later. Well,
Louise Palanker (00:51:34):
Cindy Williams (00:51:35):
Busy, but that was something funny. I, uh, when I saw Olivia years later, I talked to her about it. She, and she laughed.
Louise Palanker (00:51:42):
She was busy being mellow, and
Cindy Williams (00:51:44):
She was exactly. Now she so mell,
Louise Palanker (00:51:48):
She's so mellow. Now. You guys have been compared to Lucy and Ethel and I'm wondering if you ha ever had a chance to meet them?
Cindy Williams (00:51:57):
No. Wow. Never. Um, but I did do Circus of the Stars with remember that mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, I did it with, and Lucille Ball was the ringmaster, or, and she was, and it was a dress rehearsal. And we were out on a break in the parking lot. And, and with the soundstage door was, you know, there, and we were over here and there were elephants and monkeys and, you know, dog acts and everybody waiting outside on their break to go back. And we were all in costumes. And Little Lucy, uh, you know, Lucy ar mm-hmm. <affirmative> was up on a big, big elephant. And she was in some act with elephants. And so Lucy Ball comes out and she sees her daughter and she goes, um, Hey Lucy. And she goes, Hey mom. And just then someone screams, look out, he's coming your way. And, uh, through the crowd, you hear everyone screaming through the crowd comes a chimpanzee in a top hat and a little chimpanzee and a, and a, a tuxedo.
And he's running straight for Lucille Ball. And the trainer's running after him and saying, look out, look out, look out. And she's standing now in the frame of the, uh, stage door. And he comes right at her and she goes up on her toes, bows her legs, and the chimpanzee runs right through them and onto the sound stage. And without missing a beat, Lucy turns to little Lucy and says, Lucy, whatever you do, don't let go of that elephant <laugh>. That's so, that's my Lucille Ball story. I mean, talk about Genius on her feet. Oh my gosh, for
Fritz Coleman (00:53:38):
Sure. You, you um, mentioned that you were writing that bicentennial sketch show with Francis Coppola and then you later went to work with him on the conversation. I love that movie cuz I just love Gene Hackman. Right.
Cindy Williams (00:53:53):
Well actually it's reversed. I had done the conversation Oh. And hired me as a writer.
Fritz Coleman (00:53:59):
Oh, I gotcha. Okay. Well anyway, it was, it was one of your two relationships with Francis Coppola and I related to it cuz you shot it in the Transamerica Building and the whole time you were having a premonition about an earthquake, which is exactly what I would've been feeling were I in the Transamerica building at San Francisco? Cuz I hate earthquakes. And I would've been petrified to be at the top of the Transamerica building.
Cindy Williams (00:54:22):
Well, yeah, that's where we were shooting on the day that they had predicted that California would Yeah, yeah. You know, there'd be this terrible earthquake and it would float off into the Pacific. Yeah, yeah. But, um,
Fritz Coleman (00:54:33):
How, how was that film really?
Cindy Williams (00:54:35):
It was scary and it wasn't finished, you know, the building, the, the, that's why he shot there, because that floor, it was like the 18th floor or some, it wasn't finished. And, um, or it was higher. And, uh, it was scary. And everybody was saying, oh, what's gonna happen? But it didn't, and I knew it. I, I knew in my heart of hearts it wasn't gonna happen. But how many times had they said that about California Friend? Oh,
Fritz Coleman (00:55:03):
I know. How, how, so how was the experience working, being directed by Francis Coppola and, and working on that movie, A really interesting dark
Cindy Williams (00:55:11):
Movie? Well, he's beyond brilliant, you know, I mean, he just, I had this, um, he's just an actor. He loves actors. And, uh, I had this part in the movie where Gene Hackman is chasing me in the fog. And I run up these steps in a park and I'm supposed to, um, give him a look, stop and give him a look. And what Francis wrote for me was the look was to say, if you come one step closer to me, I'll disappear and you'll never catch me. You'll never see me. And I tried it and tried it, and I couldn't do it. And finally Francis came on. I said, I can't do this. I just don't know how to do it. And Francis, this is what a brilliant director he is. He said, all right, take every step with the last one and then turn to Gene. And when you turn, take the last step. And that put the look on my face. So I'm just saying that because he's such a marvelous director. Wow. And, um, and everything about him is operat operatic. And, and you know, and, and that beautiful, you know, just that beautiful Italian art and it, everything about him is artful. Everything <laugh> and, and operatic, artful. And just, just an incredible, uh, uh, how blessed was I? You know, what a privilege.
Louise Palanker (00:56:40):
Yeah. It was, it was a great university for you to learn your craft. Now, uh, you have a one-woman show. Yes. And I want, I want you to talk about that for us because, you know, as, as people are just so aching to go out and experience something in real life. Again, you've got this show, so tell us about it.
Cindy Williams (00:56:57):
Some fun. Yeah. <laugh>, I wrote this during, when I was locked down during C O V and I wrote it with Charles Duggan and who's a producer of my show. And, uh, it's an hour and a half of fun and laugh out loud. And that's what I was going for. And, uh, it does have, when you asked about, you know, my life as a child and everything, um, that's what they, they asked for. They said, well, we can't just do show business cuz it's all, you know, but what about before, before you were 18? You know, what about your childhood? So I said, I'll do it, I'll do that if I can do it in a song. Like, remember when Barbara Streisand sang the Minute Walls? I have got a minute, just a little minute. I have only got a minute to sing this Minute Walsh. And I said, if I can do it fast like that and put it to song, then I'll do it. So my friend Bruce Kimmel, who, uh, is a wonderful composer and writer and, um, I went to school with, he did put it in a song. And so I, you know, I sing my, um, born in a suburb in, in they call Van I, and it's to the tune of Davy Crockett, right.
Louise Palanker (00:58:11):
Cindy Williams (00:58:12):
Um, mama was a waitress serving burgers and fries. Daddy loved his liquor, kept it in the chicken coop. If mama ever found it, she'd knock him for a loop, <laugh>. And then, then they sing the rest of it. And we talked. Does it go Cindy?
Louise Palanker (00:58:25):
Oh, you the ex Cindy Williams
Cindy Williams (00:58:27):
<laugh>. Yes, that's exactly it.
Louise Palanker (00:58:29):
Cindy Williams (00:58:30):
Fritz Coleman (00:58:31):
She My favorite part is when you come <laugh>, I dunno if it's after an intermission.
Cindy Williams (00:58:35):
Fritz Coleman (00:58:36):
I don't know if it's after an intermission. My favorite part of your show is when you come writing out on a forklift. I said, I'd like this already. I don't even know what she's saying. It was fantastic.
Cindy Williams (00:58:43):
It's an hour, an hour and a half. It's 90 minutes. So that is in the middle of the show. And then I, I sort of teach LaMi Schmale talk about that and, um, and how Gary did that and everything.
Louise Palanker (00:58:56):
So where are you going to take it and what's next?
Cindy Williams (00:58:59):
I'm starting in Palm Springs at the Annenburg Theater January 20th through the 22nd. And then we go, we're, we're not going into LA or anywhere too near there. Um, then I go to Phoenix and Santa Fe and then, um, Austin, Texas, Houston, Texas, San Antonio, then Oklahoma and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. All over, uh, Chicago. I'm looking at it here. I'm getting tired. Yeah, just looking at it. <laugh> uh, Kentucky, uh, North Carolina, Tennessee, and then back home.
Louise Palanker (00:59:36):
And when people get a chance to meet you, they probably talk about their own friendships that remind them of, or your friendship with, with Penny and Laverna. Shirley reminds them, I'm sure people tell you all the time, oh, this is just a, like my friendship and and they describe their friendships to you. Is that, is that what happens?
Cindy Williams (00:59:55):
Yeah. That, I mean, not all the time, but a lot of times, you know, my best friend and I were Laverna Shirley. I was Shirley and she was a Verne mm-hmm. <affirmative> and can we have a picture? And we entered the Halloween contest, <laugh> and we won. And just all, all kinds of fun stuff. Yeah.
Fritz Coleman (01:00:12):
Do you have, um, the classic show business stories of roles you regret not having gotten, for instance, you for Janet in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which ultimately was cast to Susan Sarandon. And I just wonder how you would feel about being played at midnight still in movie houses all over America? Cuz that thing continues today.
Cindy Williams (01:00:34):
God, I'd love it. I would've loved to have sung that song, you know, came down between, but she was marvelous. Yeah. You know, um, what was that In the Velvet Darkness of the Blackest night? But I just couldn't hit those high notes with, um, yeah. <laugh>, all the, that was a real treat. And you know, where we, uh, we auditioned at the Roxy. Mm Oh wow. You know, in, on the, on the strip.
Louise Palanker (01:01:02):
It's pretty intimidating. Yeah. And all the parts that you talked about not getting, I could still have pictured you in.
Cindy Williams (01:01:10):
Oh, thank you. What a compliment. Yeah. Thank you.
Louise Palanker (01:01:14):
And what were some of the others, I
Cindy Williams (01:01:16):
Forget. Oh, some of the others. Yeah. Um, that I didn't get or that I turned down or both.
Louise Palanker (01:01:23):
Yeah. Maybe I just
Cindy Williams (01:01:24):
Don't. Well, home Alone, I, I turn that down. I, you know, shamefully I am so ashamed, um, and home improvement. Um, and, and my friends told me anything with home, Cindy, take Yeah.
Louise Palanker (01:01:42):
Cindy Williams (01:01:42):
Louise Palanker (01:01:43):
Around. Let's just go for it. Um,
Cindy Williams (01:01:45):
Yeah. And then Arthur, I was supposed to do, but I didn't, you know, the, um, film with Dudley Moore and, um, what didn't I get, uh, oh, I auditioned for Star Wars. That's in my show. Right,
Louise Palanker (01:02:01):
Cindy Williams (01:02:02):
And I have a, um, I have my audition tape and I show it in the show. Oh.
Louise Palanker (01:02:08):
Oh, that's hysterical. That's worth the price of admission.
Cindy Williams (01:02:11):
It's so bad. Uhuh <laugh>. But, but anyway, I have fun with that in the show. And, um, let's see. Oh, young Frankenstein. Um, I was supposed to, um, I was supposed to, well I had that part for a couple of weeks and then they got, um, oh, who played his, not Terry Gar, but I'm so sorry.
Louise Palanker (01:02:36):
Oh, Madeline Kahn. Yes.
Cindy Williams (01:02:38):
Thank you. Madeline Kahn just went right out of my mind. No, that's okay. <laugh>, they sprung her from this other movie. Yeah. That she was doing long, you know, that was the reason they had other people come in and read for the Madeline Con part in that. But
Louise Palanker (01:02:51):
I could still picture you're doing it. Mm-hmm.
Cindy Williams (01:02:52):
<affirmative>. Oh, thank you. Yeah. Thank you Louise. I I should send you an eight by 10 signed.
Louise Palanker (01:02:57):
I would've really enjoyed that. Now what, where else can we find you and where can people find you on Twitter and on social media and what, what else is happening that people should know about?
Cindy Williams (01:03:06):
I'm not really on social media. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it took me three days to get off of Facebook at one time, cuz I got scared of it. But I, yeah. Um, for information for the show, you can go to me, myself and shirley.com. Right. And there's, uh, and that leads you to other Instagram and, um, and other, other social media pages.
Fritz Coleman (01:03:28):
We always like to end our show with the benediction. So please tell the story of being blessed by Little Richard Before we go
Louise Palanker (01:03:35):
<laugh>. That was more foreshadowing.
Cindy Williams (01:03:38):
Louise Palanker (01:03:39):
Cindy Williams (01:03:40):
Well, um, it was the first time I really met Penny, kind of, uh, we were on a double date, uh, ironically foreshadowing. And we went to see our dates, took us to see, um, Liza Minelli at the Coconut Grove. And uh, little Richard was opening for her. So after the show we were invited back to meet, um, Liza Minelli. And we were very excited. Penny and I hadn't really spoken cuz we got to the theater, sat down, the show started. So we're walking back stage to the dressing rooms. And the dressing rooms were like railroad cars. You had, in other words, you had to go through one to get to the next mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So for us, the boys had gone, our dates had gone ahead of us. And Penny and I are walking side by side and we're crossing, you had to go through little Richard's dressing room to get to Liza Minnelli's. So we're walking side by side and we get in the door frame and I see him, he's sitting at his dressing table to the right and he looks up at us and sees us and he puts his leg up <laugh> and stops us like one of those car park things,
Louise Palanker (01:04:47):
You know, <laugh>.
Cindy Williams (01:04:48):
And, and he keeps it there. And he says, you two, I wanna say a blessing over you two. And Penny and I immediately bow our heads, <laugh>. And little Richard proceeded to say the most wonderful blessing over us. And when he was finished, he shouted, amen. And Penny and I shouted, amen. And he put his leg down and we proceeded on. Wow. And years from that time, um, we were, uh, penny and I were on this, uh, sound stage, uh, of Laverne and Shirley and I saw this headline on a variety on the industry, uh, paper that read Laverne and Shirley Gold in LA and I called Penny over and I said, look at this Laverne and Shirley Gold in la what do you think the reason for our success is? And she said, little Richard's blessing. And I said, absolutely. Because he had blessed us. I should have said, you know, done a prayer for our success. And
Fritz Coleman (01:05:48):
Yeah. He was an ordained Baptist minister.
Cindy Williams (01:05:50):
Fritz Coleman (01:05:51):
He was an ordained Baptist preacher, wasn't he? I know that.
Louise Palanker (01:05:53):
And a magical person,
Cindy Williams (01:05:55):
Reverend Penny maker. Yeah.
Louise Palanker (01:05:56):
Yeah. That's right. That's right. Wow. Well, we just wanna thank you so much for being with us. We're gonna do our closing bit right now, and, uh, and we'll thank you, uh, officially at the end of the credits. But this has just been a wonderful conversation, Cindy, thank
Cindy Williams (01:06:08):
You. Right back at, you guys are great. Thank
Fritz Coleman (01:06:11):
You. Thank you so much, penny.
Cindy Williams (01:06:12):
You're wonderful. Thank you,
Fritz Coleman (01:06:13):
Cindy. Well, if you enjoyed this episode of Media Path, it would help us to be more discoverable by potential new listeners. If you leave us a quick review on Apple Podcast, and if you're new here and this is your first time, check out our back catalog. There's a lot of binge-worthy stuff. For instance, if you want to hear some great conversations with some of America's greatest comics like Wendy Leibman, Taylor Williamson, Tom Dreesen, who opened for Sinatra for 20 years, Sean Pawlowski, Elaine Boosler, who was a groundbreaking lady, comic Wayne Federman, who was a producer on the Jimmy Fallon Show. Please check us out. Thank you for spending this hour with us. And we would be overjoyed if you took a moment to share your thoughts with us or recommend us to a friend.
Louise Palanker (01:06:52):
We would love for you to join us online on Instagram and Twitter, or we are at Media Path Pod and on Facebook where we are, media Path Podcast. You can find full episodes with all kinds of bonus visual content on our YouTube channel Media Path podcast. We would love to know what media you've been enjoying. You can contact us at our social media or email us at Media Path email@example.com. We wanna thank our wonderful, adorable guest, Cindy Williams. Our team includes Dean Friedman, Francesco Demond, John Maddox, Sharon Beo, bill Philipp, Thomas Hubble, Mason Brown, and you. Our theme music is by me and John Madox. I am Louise Lanker here with Fritz Coleman and Cindy Williams. And we will see you along the media path.