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When I was fifteen years old I fell in love with Donna Loren.  I saw her in an afternoon screening of Beach Blanket Bingo on CITY-TV out of Toronto, where she sang a little heartbreak number called It Only Hurts When I Cry.  It was a short scene that had nothing to do with the actual plot of the movie.  A musical cameo if nothing more.  However, to me it became the defining moment of the film.  Forget the wild bikinis and the chaste, yet sexual, humor.  Forget Annette Funicello, Marta Kristen or Candy Johnson.  Something about Donna Loren just struck a chord with me, although I had no idea who in the world she was.  You see Donna Loren was a bit of a mystery.  In the 1990’s, when the “age of information” was still developing, my options for solving pop culture mysteries were few, and out of the spotlight for decades, Donna Loren had all but disappeared from the pop culture radar.  However, after years of searching, I discovered that Donna Loren’s career in show business is so drenched in pop culture history and lore that, unlike most teenage girls during the 1960’s, she was able to touch every single aspect of the entertainment industry.  Television, movies, music and print – Donna Loren did it all.

Although she started her career as the teenage spokesmodel for Dr Pepper, Donna Loren eventually crossed over to all aspects of media, including television, film, music and print.

Although she had started singing as a child, and even made her first national appearance on “Talent Round-Up Day” on The Mickey Mouse Club, Donna Loren started her career in 1963 when, at the age of sixteen, she signed a contract with Dr Pepper as their new spokes model.  However, due to her good looks, her big personality and her strong singing voice, Donna began to branch out and within time became a familiar face on the 60’s pop culture scene.  From her memorable musical numbers in American International Pictures’ now classic Beach Party films, starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, to her guest appearances on some of the era’s most beloved programs, including Batman, Milton Berle, Hollywood Squares, Gomer Pyle, The Danny Thomas Show and The Monkees, Donna seemed to be living the teenage dream.  But perhaps the biggest splash of her career was when she got a regular gig on America’s greatest rock n’ roll party, Shindig!  Donna appeared in numerous episodes singing some of the era’s biggest hits, and appearing alongside some of the 60’s most important performers.  For five years Donna Loren was living the “All American Dream” as seen on TV.  But in 1968, despite being offered her own TV series to be produced by Danny Thomas and Aaron Spelling, Donna turned her back on her show business career and retired at age twenty-one.  After decades of staying out of the public eye, Donna slowly faded from the cultural radar, eventually to become the “It” girl that time forgot.  Yet, while she may have been out of sight and out of mind, to her fans that remembered her during the 60’s, and those, like me, who discovered her in movie matinee reruns of Beach Blanket Bingo, Donna Loren remained to be the mod girl of our dreams.

After decades off of the pop culture radar, Donna Loren is back with a new album, and is making public appearances across North America.

Now, four decades after she left show business, Donna Loren is back.  After years of living in Hawaii, Donna Loren has returned to the cultural radar with a new album, personal appearances at autograph shows and venues in the Los Angeles area, and is working on a brand new autobiography in which she plans to reveal not only the story of her career, but why she left show business and what happened during her reclusive years.  Seeing her reconnecting with fans on the internet, it is almost as if Donna Loren had never left.  As one of my very favorite pop culture girls of all time, it was an absolute thrill to have the chance to talk with Donna Loren.  So I went to the store, purchased a Dr Pepper (i mean, what else are you going to drink when talking with Donna Loren), and settled in to chat with my favorite Beach Party girl.




“I think there is a continuity of (the 60′s), where I believe the seed was planted for the renaissance that began, and now, through two generations, is still continuing through the music, through the culture, through the architecture and even through politics.”

Sam Tweedle:  To me it seems like the 1960’s is a lifetime ago.  Does it seem like it’s been an entire lifetime to you?

Donna Loren: The 60’s is a very unique period of time.  I think there is a continuity of that era, where I believe the seed was planted for the renaissance that began, and now, through two generations, is still continuing through the music, through the culture, through the architecture and even through politics.  If you are referring to my time away from the public, I always have sung in my own privacy, because that is just something I love to do.  I’ve always kept my nose into what’s going on in the current music, because my family is involved in music.  I think it’s a question of when I was public, and for how long I wasn’t.  Now I’m approaching that position again of reaching out, because I kind of feel like people are coming out of the woodwork to participate on this planet and make it a better place.

Sam:  I remember when I first got interested in your career as a teenager growing up in the 90’s; it was very hard to find information on you.  Now, all of a sudden, you are back on the radar.  What made you decide to reappear?

Donna Loren’s new CD, “Love it Away”, will be joined by a new autobiography in 2013: “when I came back to LA I met someone who I wanted to work with who had a studio and was a sound engineer. It took me fifteen songs to feel like I could tell my story, and put it down, and put out an album after four decades.”

Donna:  That’s a very good question.  Well, let me go back to 1968 when I had decided that I had a long childhood/youth oriented career from the ages of seven to twenty-one, and at twenty-one I retired for a variety of different reasons.  I know that I’m not the only one, but I know that there’s only a few of us who took this much time out of the public.   Some of us are still rockin’, and some of us have been taken by illness, and some of us have been taken by overdose or some other trauma.  At my time, in this life, I just feel like it’s time to get back in the world, and see where I’m a good fit.  I remember in 2008, and I remember it very vividly being on a full moon in August, I just received an idea.  It’s more than an idea.  You know when the light just goes on?  You get plugged in or something.  Well that’s how I felt.  I knew that now was the time to see where I fit in and how to participate.  Well a few songs had come to me, and I hadn’t written in many years, and that lead to me going into the studio.  I was living in Hawaii at the time, and there was an amazing state of the art studio not that far from where I lived.  So I made arrangements to do some demo work there.  I have children that live in Los Angeles so I was commuting there quite often, and when I came back to LA I met someone who I wanted to work with who had a studio and was a sound engineer.  It took me fifteen songs to feel like I could tell my story, and put it down, and put out an album after four decades.  So that started the process, and it was very much a spontaneous, creative process.  I’ve been writing my autobiography for the last year and a half, and I am hoping by the end of this year that I will be wrapping it up and putting it out there, because I know being part of the 60’s, and being part of pop culture, that it was such an impactful time that being gone from it, I really wasn’t but I was out of the public.  So I want to write about my experience when I had my career, and how it was more or less unique.

“It’s up to each individual to choose to be in the creative and loving space. You just have to follow your heart or just go down that dismal path of destruction. I believe that most of us are creative and loving beings, and we need to take a firm stance and create the world we want.”

Sam:  You’ve mentioned twice that you want to find out where you “fit.”  Have you discovered that yet?  Have you found your niche?

Donna:  (Laughs) It’s interesting.  In writing, as a lot of writers say, there is a catharsis, and I’ve learned so much when I’ve put pen to paper and sorted out my thoughts.  In my first career, I was young and I really had a different set of circumstances.  [There was] a different energy that I was orbiting in.  All these years later it’s so much different.  In the 90’s a huge change happened with me when I found out a family secret.  I had just moved to Hawaii, and found myself in a place that was peaceful and tranquil, and I could process this new information, which took me fifteen years.  It’s still taking me time, but when I decided to move back to California I realized that change on this planet is really happening… It’s up to each individual to choose to be in the creative and loving space.  You just have to follow your heart or just go down that dismal path of destruction.  I believe that most of us are creative and loving beings, and we need to take a firm stance and create the world we want.

At age seventeen Donna made her film debut in “Muscle Beach Party,” performing “Muscle Bustle” with Dick Dale (pictures) and the Del-Tones: “Well I was living the “American” dream. I wasn’t living the “teenage” dream, per se, because my work translated to support my family. That was a lot of pressure on me.”

Sam:  When you were at the top of your career you were only a kid!  You were still a teenager!  I read that when you were doing the Beach Party movies that you were the youngest person on the set.  But despite this you were probably one of the busiest teenagers working in show business during the era.  You were doing everything.  How did you have time to do it all?  Did you sleep?  Was it stressful?  Or were you living the American teenage dream?

Donna:  (Laughs) Well I was living the “American” dream.  I wasn’t living the “teenage” dream, per se, because my work translated to support my family.  That was a lot of pressure on me.  But, in retrospect, something in my makeup allowed me to take on that extra responsibility.  Then I was blessed with the option, at a very young age, to retire.  It’s always traumatic for a young person, regardless of what takes them out of their role as a child, for making decisions along the way to teach them how to take on major responsibilities as an adult.  When you skip the sequence, one day you’ve got to go back and do it, or you spend the rest of your life dysfunctional.  There’s just no question about that.

Sam:  What did you do to prevent yourself from being dysfunctional?  There were never any stories of Donna Loren smoking dope with Jim Morrison.  You had the image of being the “good girl.”  How did you stay on the straight and narrow, or did you?

From 1963 until 1968, Donna Loren was “The Dr Pepper Girl” in print ads, television and radio commercials and calendars: “You know, I never really been a soft drink fan, but I drank a lot of it when I was making commercials.”

Donna:  (Laughs) I was exposed to all that stuff, but my career was really unique that I wasn’t just a recording artist or an actress.  I started my career, literally, by signing a contract with Dr Pepper.

Sam:  Do you still drink Dr Pepper?

Donna:  You know, I never really been a soft drink fan, but I drank a lot of it when I was making commercials.  (Laughs)  But let me put it to you this way.  Every other actor or artist that I knew who was close to my age went from record to record, or if they were lucky, they were on a series and went season to season.  But there was a real insecurity there.  Any form of [stress] that a child experiences, be it divorce or illness or needing to stop school and participate in helping your family, those type of experiences linked with show business and not knowing where your next job is, can lead to all types of things.  Well, I signed a seven-year contract when I turned sixteen, which allowed my family the security of knowing that, for that time, they were taken care of.  That’s how my career started, although I was working and singing nine years before that.  The basis of my career, and my sense of my responsibility to my family, kept me on the “straight and narrow” besides the fact that I had an image to portray, and I had a contractual agreement with Dr. Pepper that told me that I had to weigh between one hundred and eleven to one hundred and sixteen pounds or they’d cancel my contract.  When I turned eighteen and I saw girls taking their bras off, I tried that and Dr Pepper stepped right in and said “No.  Not here.”  That was an experiment that failed for me but I still have those feelings.  (Laughs).  I’m just that way.  I’m not a conformist.

Sam:  Was it hard having Dr Pepper breathing down your neck?

“The basis of my career, and my sense of my responsibility to my family, kept me on the “straight and narrow” besides the fact that I had an image to portray, and I had a contractual agreement with Dr. Pepper that told me that I had to weigh between one hundred and eleven to one hundred and sixteen pounds or they’d cancel my contract. When I turned eighteen and I saw girls taking their bras off, I tried that and Dr. Pepper stepped right in and said ‘No. Not here.’”

Donna:  The positives outweighed the negatives.  Not only did Dr. Pepper give me so much exposure, but they sent me all over the country.  I was in Dallas the day that President Kennedy was assassinated, and I tell that story in my book.  I witnessed what was going on in the mid to late sixties in the South with segregation.  I was there.  How many people can say that?  It was crazy, and it actually still is unfortunately.

Sam:  Looking throughout your career you had a strong association with Dick Clark.  What sort of connection did Dick Clark have in regards to your career?

Donna:  He was also affiliated with Dr Pepper.  [Dr Pepper] sponsored so many of the shows that he did.  I never asked him, so I don’t know it for a fact, but he was a smart businessman and I wouldn’t put it past him to have had stock in Dr Pepper.  They sponsored so many of his projects, and I think they still do.  So [Dr Pepper] introduced us.  You know how they introduced us?  It was crazy.  If you can imagine that you’re sixteen years old, you’ve just signed a contract with a major company, and you are told that you are going to co-host a television special with Dick Clark.

Donna Loren with Dick Clark in her “Dr. Pepper Girl” debut, co-hosting “Dick Clark’s Celebrity Party,” a 1963 television special sponsored by Dr Pepper. Unfortunately the special aired one day after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy: “While I was doing it I felt very much in synchronicity with the whole scene.  But looking back it’s kind of an awesome experience”

Sam:  Oh.  I’ve heard about this.  This is when Dr Pepper filled a house full of some of Hollywood’s biggest young stars and had you and Dick Clark bantering with them.  What was that like for you?

Donna:  It felt comfortable.  It felt like second nature, although I was in awe.  While I was doing it I felt very much in synchronicity with the whole scene.  But looking back it’s kind of an awesome experience.  It would be that way if you met a President of the United States today, because Dick Clark was such a major celebrity.

Sam:  Now that TV special was broadcast the same week as the Kennedy assassination, wasn’t it?

Donna:  It was broadcast the day after.  Kennedy was assassinated on the 22nd of November, and the special was aired on the 23rd of November.  I know this because my mother kept a diary of my career, so while I’m writing my book I have it as a reference.  That was such a profound experience.

Sam:  I want to discuss Shindig! with you for a while.  I love Shindig!  I think it was the greatest rock n’ roll party ever broadcast on television.

Donna:  I agree with you.

Shindig! producer Jack Good with the legendary Shindig! dancers: “(Jack Good) challenged the network because the network didn’t want black and white singers on television together. They did not want them to have close contact. He literally put them to the test, and they dropped the ball and he got on the air.”

Sam:  The stars and the performances and the combinations of talent.  Ed Sullivan was one thing, but Shindig! was so raw and sexy.  I just love watching you and Bobby Sherman and Darlene Love and all the dancers.  What was it like being a teenager and being on with all these incredible performers in this ultimate rock n’ roll party?

Donna:  Well, first of all, I have to give kudos to the producer Jack Good, who really should be in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.  This guy was a Brit who started to do shows like that in England.  He was a friend of Brian Epstein and he knew the people there.  He decided to come over to the US and got into California, got into the Wrecking Crew, and he just sourced out all these West Coast people, put them together with the great British acts and totally let us have our freedom.  That’s something else that I’m so appreciative of.  I just got some communication from Jack last Christmas.  He’s in England again.  But what a brave soul.  If you can imagine on network television, which basically had its moral principles and, shall we say, racial biases, and probably even gender biases, and he challenged the network because the network didn’t want black and white singers on television together.  They did not want them to have close contact.  He literally put them to the test, and they dropped the ball and he got on the air.

Donna Loren singing on Shindig! Donna would cover the biggest hits of the day when the original performer was unavailable: ” I loved covering those tunes. If I could sing a Dusty Springfield song then that was fantastic!”

Sam:  You know Donna, I have never thought of that before.  I never thought about how Shindig! really was the pioneer of mixing black and white performers together on one stage.

Donna:  Yeah.  I never met him, so I can’t speak as an authority, but Ed Sullivan had a stage where everyone was segregated.  Each act was separate, so there was no contact with mixed company.

Sam:  Shindig! had you singing some of the biggest songs of the era when they couldn’t get the original performer on the show that week.  Was that intimidating that for you?

Donna: Not at all.  I loved covering those tunes.  If I could sing a Dusty Springfield song then that was fantastic!

Sam:  It was bold though, and it’s amazing how you could pull off some of those songs.  For instance, I saw a clip of you singing Goldfinger, and anybody who is going to go on television and cover a Shirley Bassey song has some huge shoes to step into, and you pull it off.  You were just a kid pulling off Shirley Bassey.

Donna:  Thank you.  Tell you the truth, Goldfinger is the music that’s sitting on my piano right now.  I’m putting together a band, slowly and surely, and I want to call it “surf music,” and since surfers are fans of the Bond movies I want to incorporate Goldfinger.

Donna Loren’s scene stealing moment in “Beach Blanket Bingo” when she performs “It Only Hurts When I Cry”: “I always had my representative from Dr. Pepper, or someone for the ad agency, on set with me, and it was very much business. So I was basically an observer of everyone else having fun.”

Sam:  Now I discovered you through my love for the Beach Party films.  It’s such a strange genre of film, which nothing like it exists today.  Was everybody on the set having as much fun on the set as they seemed to be?

Donna:  My life was very insulated.  I was the youngest one on the set.  The only one younger was Stevie Wonder.  The reason I was in the Beach Party movies was because they were sponsored by Dr. Pepper.  But I later found out that the advertising company that represented Dr. Pepper had a very master plan, and one of the executives was a screenplay writer, and he wrote Muscle Beach Party.  He had me put in the movie for product placement and I was supposed to sit at a table and hold bottle of Dr Pepper and that was it.  But the music director heard my commercials for radio and television and said, “Oh, you can sing.”  So that’s how I did my first song, Muscle Bustle, with Dick Dale.  But I always had my representative from Dr Pepper, or someone for the ad agency, on set with me, and it was very much business.  So I was basically an observer of everyone else having fun.

Sam:  Okay, but in my opinion, It Only Hurts When I Cry is one of the stand out moments of Beach Blanket Bingo.  I mean, besides maybe the opening number, and the mermaid, I think of you doing that song.

Donna:  Oh.  Well, thank you.

Sam:  I can’t be the only person who has ever told you that.

Donna:  Well, everybody always talks about the bikinis and “chicken tushies” and all that kind of stuff.

Long before Harley Quinn was created, Donna Loren played The Joker’s assistant “Susie” – a cheerleader gone bad who pulls on Robin’s heartstrings – in a classic episode of “Batman”: “ I could be a little evil as long as I became a lot of good.  It was a little bit of a stretch, but it was so campy.”

Sam:  Another thing that you did, that is very well remembered by pop culture fans, is when you played Susie the cheerleader in Batman.  You got to play a villain!  Here you were, nice little Donna Loren, playing The Joker’s female companion.  What was that like for you?

Donna:  Well, fortunately there was a happy ending.  I could be a little evil as long as I became a lot of good.  It was a little bit of a stretch, but it was so campy.  I never really considered myself a serious actress, so it was fun to try something new.  Actually, it turned out that when Shindig! was cancelled it was like the rug was pulled out from under me.  Although I had the contract from Dr. Pepper, it felt like I had a very big void in my life.  Before I knew it I got cast in Batman, which took the same time slot of Shindig!

Sam:  So was that sort of bittersweet?

Donna:  No, because when my Dad used to drive me to the lot to do Shindig! there would be teenagers lined along the gate waiting for whomever was entering, so we always had that environment.  So with Batman, you couldn’t drive on the lot of Desilu without all these teenagers trying to climb over the chain link fence.  It was a complete link energetically.  It was one pop culture experience to the next pop culture experience.

Donna Loren and Annette Funicello (with Susan Sweeting and Cheryl Sweeten) in AIP’s Beach Party off-shoot”Pajama Party”: “ I met Annette Funicello when I was on The Mickey Mouse Club.  I was only ten, and she was fourteen.  To reacquaint ourselves in the Beach Party movies was a trip for me, because I always looked up to her. “

Sam:  As a teenage girl, you were surrounded by the biggest celebrities and idols of the era.  Was there anyone you met that you were a fan of, and that really blew your mind?

Donna:  Absolutely Dick Clark.  He was larger than life.  The people that came from England; I didn’t get to meet the Beatles on Shindig!, but I did become acquainted with them later on.  I was just totally in awe of their music, their beliefs, their courage and their talent.  I met Annette Funicello when I was on The Mickey Mouse Club.  I was only ten, and she was fourteen.  To reacquaint ourselves in the Beach Party movies was a trip for me, because I always looked up to her.

Sam:  You have been doing some autograph shows in the last year.  Your next show is the Davy Jones Memorial Convention in March 2013.  Is doing autograph shows a new experience for you?

Donna:  Oh yes.

Sam:  What do you think of that kind of experience?

Donna Loren with Davy Jones in her appearance on “The Monkees:” “Pop culture in the 60’s, or even a little bit earlier in the 50’s, is our history.  We don’t want to cling to the wars.”

Donna:  Well, it’s like a family or high school reunion.  The faces are familiar, but you don’t quite remember the details.  It’s about connecting with people, and most people are very well intended.  Sometimes they want to share their lives, or they want to hear something from me, and that’s what it’s all about.  Ever since chefs became celebrities, and models became celebrities, recognition has started to be given to so many people on so many levels.  In the 60’s a model was some silent beautiful figure who you never heard her voice, or knew her name, except for the giant ones.  You might know Twiggy.  But the other aspect is that pop culture in the 60’s, or even a little bit earlier in the 50’s, is our history.  We don’t want to cling to the wars.  At least that’s my experience.  The people that have survived, and that are still with us who put themselves in the position to meet the public again, are given that sort of recognition that [they are remembered], and shown a bit of appreciation.  If you are in Europe, or South America, or Asia most people in the public are always held in high esteem.  It’s in America where people are so fickle.  This whole resurgence of showing appreciation and giving recognition to people who maybe haven’t decided to work, or decided to take a different direction in their lives, now have an opportunity to link the past with the present.  Maybe they’re active now, after many years, like myself.  It’s a phenomenon that we have this opportunity.

“When you know people care about you it’s your responsibility to give back to them. I’m sure you know how that feels. You love giving. Just talking to people, putting it down, getting it out there. It’s just giving.”

Sam:  When I became a fan of yours I wasn’t really sure who you were or what you had done.  It wasn’t until the Internet became a reality that I really was able to understand the full extent of your career.  How has the Internet affected you directly?

Donna:  Well, it has given me the opportunity to communicate with thousands and thousands of people all over the world.  My current husband and I moved to Hawaii in 1995, and we moved to a very rural area, and something about it made me feel that I needed to stay connected.  A lot of people who move to an island decide to cut themselves off from the world.  I didn’t want to do that.  So we set up a computer and learned about e-bay and saw some of my old scripts and photographs floating around even back then.  Let me just say that from 1968 to 1995, no matter where I was, and while I was married to my first husband and raising my children, every year I would receive little index cards requesting an autograph.  Every year I would buy small photographs and be prepared to show my appreciation of people finding me.  How did they find me?  I don’t know.  I had no idea.  Since 1995 we decided to develop that even more.  It’s just incredible.

Sam:  Well I believe that once you put yourself into the public sphere that becomes forever.  You always have your fan base.

Donna:  When you know people care about you it’s your responsibility to give back to them.  I’m sure you know how that feels.  You love giving.  Just talking to people, putting it down, getting it out there.  It’s just giving.  I’ve got to give a shout out to this one fan, Matt, who lives in New Jersey.  He flew out to Los Angeles for the second time I ever did anything in public and he met me and we bonded.  Now, every time I go to New Jersey, Matt makes sure that he takes me wherever I need to go.  I know his family.  We’ve gone and eat pizza together.

Sam:  How about younger fans that didn’t grow up in the 60’s.  Are you meeting younger fans who are interested in your work?

Donna:  It’s happening more and more.  Again, I think it’s reverence for the mid-century culture and for that whole period of time which we still yearn for.  It’s like a dormant seed, and it’s up to your generation, and the next generation, to water it and make sure that the seed that was planted back then grows and flourishes.

I have a degree in media studies. I have been writing about pop culture for over a decade. I have interviewed over a hundred celebrities.  However, never in my life have I ever heard anything more profound about the importance of pop culture as I did when listening to the musings of Donna Loren on the subject.  In only a few words she summed up my feelings more perfectly than I thought possible.  But only someone whose life was so entwined with pop culture of her time could come up with such a statement.

Donna Loren did it all. The 60’s wouldn’t have been the same without her. She helped shape the history of one of the most dynamic eras of entertainment, one part of a fertile base from which so much of our current pop culture has grown. Time will tell if Donna ever finds where she fits into the history of the medium, but to her fans, both old and new alike, she will always be an important part of our pop culture experience.

For more information on Donna’s career, and upcoming appearances and activities, make sure to check out her web-site, and you can connect with Donna via twitter at and facebook  Also, make sure to check out her new album, Love it Away, which is avaiable now at


POP CULTURE ADDICT NOTE:  I want to send a big thanks to Donna’s husband Jered Cargman, from Swinging Sixties Productions, for arranging the opportunity to talk with her.  Thank you Jered for all your support, and allowing us to help share the story of a very special and talented woman.  I hope that we’ll communicate more in the future, and that we can work again soon.

PCA presents article from the past for you to enjoy today!

Donna Loren: The Girl Who Drank Dr. Pepper

The year is 2005.  I am sitting in former Monkee Davy Jones’ trailer just before he goes on stage.  Davy is not wearing any pants.  I am looking for a way to break the ice but, believe me; it’s not easy when Davy Jones isn’t wearing pants.  The World Cup is on and Davy is talking soccer to me, but considering that I am barely an armature on the subject I tactfully change the topic.

“You know who I got an e-mail from the other day Davy?  Donna Loren,” I say.

“Cor.  Donna Loren!  Do you know Donna Loren!”  Davy exclaims breathlessly.

“Not personally.  I wrote an article on her and sent it to her people and she sent me a nice e-mail back” I replied.

:”Whatever happened to her?  Where is she?” Davy asked.

“She is in Hawaii.  Works in the fashion industry.”  I answer.

“Oh.  She was beautiful.  Wow.  Donna Loren.  Me and her had a thing.  I mean, we never did the nasty or anything but we went out a few times.  I took her around” Davy says with a far away look in his eye and a wide grin.  “How does she look?  Is she still beautiful?  I bet she’s beautiful” Davy asked.

“I don’t know.  I’ve never actually met her” I remind him.

“Oh.  Well I bet she’s still beautiful” Davy reasons.

Davy Jones would not be the last performer who worked with Donna Loren who would mention her to me.  Donna Loren was one of the 1960s true oddities.   Model, singer, actress, movie star and TV icon, Donna Loren was America’s girl next door. The spokesperson for Dr. Pepper, she appeared in the Frankie and Annette Beach Party movies, was a regular performer on ShinDig! and appeared in such cult TV hits as Batman, The Monkees, Dr. Kildare and Gomer Pyle.  However, when retiring from show business at the age of 21 in 1968, Donna Loren went from being one of the most recognized faces in show business to one of the more obscure members of the pop culture community.  However, there is no denying that the people who remember her truly love her, and she knew how to make an impression.  Just ask Davy Jones.

Reintroduce yourself to Donna Loren in today’s archive feature, featuring an analysis of her TV, movie and music career, videos, photos, trivia and lots more!

Also, Jim Beard, an acquaintance and writer who’s work I truly admire, recently did a short interview with Donna Loren in regards to her work on Batman.  Make sure to check it out at Wild Hairs From the Beard, and for more of Jim’s writing check out

The true sign that we are in the sure fire, full swing of summer is when Toronto’s CITY TV do their Annette and Frankie Beach Party marathons. For one week each year CITY TV designates their afternoon movie to the cheap and corny romps of surfing, bikinis, motorcycles, music and early battle-of-the-sexes frolic and fun. Ever since I was a kid I have, for some reason, had a soft spot for these films. Nobody can really understand why. I’m not sure I even understand why. However, since I was a young teenager I have collected and enjoyed the antics of Frankie, Dee Dee, Bonehead, Candy, Eric Von Zipper, Big Drop and all their guys, gals and foils. And then there are the girls… WOWZA! So much eye candy on that beach. But for me there was one special girl on that beach I always looked for. No, it wasn’t Annette. It wasn’t Marta Kristen or Linda Evans or Luciana Paluzzi or even Candy Johnson. No, it was the dark haired, dark eyed angel who sang It Only Hurts When I Cry in Beach Blanket Bingo. With the plink plink of the guitar and the enthusiastic encouragement of “Go Donna!” I lost my heart to Donna Loren. Now growing up in the eighties and nineties, when I discovered these films, I was a bit lost about exactly who and what Donna Loren was. To me she was nothing more than a girl that was found in the background of the Beach Party movies. She wasn’t quite a character exactly, as she didn’t have any lines nor did she participate in much of the action. However, being rewarded with a solo performance in Bikini Beach and Beach Blanket Bingo and a duet with Dick Dale of the Del-Tones (who regained fame when their song Misirlou was used as the opening theme for Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction) in Muscle Beach Party, I had to assume that Donna Loren was more than just a face in the crowd. Thus I recently went on a search for the beautiful Donna Loren who had held a few of my heartstrings since I was fifteen. How was I to know that I was to find a figure richly imbedded in pop culture history? How the career of Donna Loren had escaped me all these years hurts my brain and why this multi-talented model, actress and singer is not more of a house hold name in the current century remains a mystery. So come friends as Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict introduces you to




Early Dr. Pepper ad featuring Donna Loren

Donna Loren was far more than just a girl on the beach. By the time she was ten years old Donna was working in commercials, talent shows, radio and even making recordings and a token appearance on The Mickey Mouse Club. However it wasn’t until 1963 and at the age of sixteen that Donna Loren’s career would really take off when she won a national talent search by Dr. Pepper for the teenage spokesperson for their drink. Thus began Donna Loren’s five year career as “The Dr. Pepper Girl”. With her face being featured on Dr. Pepper ads, billboards, television commercials, radio spots and every other type of advertising imaginable Donna became a familiar sight in America’s collective consciousness. However Dr. Pepper had gotten much more than they had bargained for and it certainly did pay off. Donna had both a radiant smile and that special charismatic quality which made America sit up and take notice. However Donna Loren didn’t simply have a talent for just sitting about and looking pretty while holding a bottle of Dr. Pepper – Donna Loren could also act and sing! Dr. Pepper had a bonafide potential teenage celebrity on their hands.

Donna’s first go at the public spotlight as the Dr. Pepper Girl was in 1963 was as co-host of Dick Clark’s Celebrity Party which was really nothing more than a 45 minute Dr. Pepper commercial featuring a number of celebrities plugging their new albums and movies and performing some musical numbers. Featured were teen idols such as Paul Peterson, Connie Stevens, Jan and Dean, Connie Francis, Donna’s future co-stars Annette and Frankie and Dick Dale and the Del-Tones as well as a few odd choices such as Wayne Newton, Johnny Mathis and Nino and April. The special was oddly scheduled only a week after the Kennedy assassination so its success was questionable, however the world would be introduced to the talents of Donna Loren in a strong way. On the special she performed two musical numbers – the slow country ballad I Can’t Make My Heart Say Goodbye and was backed by the Challengers on Bill Bailey.

Donna Loren makes her film debut in AIP's "Muscle Beach Party" where she sings Brian Wilson's "Muscle Bustle" with Dick Dale and the Del-Tones

It wasn’t much long after that Donna, Dr. Pepper and American International Pictures joined together to create the time capsule that would make sure that Donna Loren would be seen by future generations (a.k.a. me). In 1964 Dr. Pepper became a sponsor for the Beach Party movies and Donna was slated to make a cameo in Muscle Beach Party holding a bottle of Dr. Pepper. However some genius realized that there was much more talent in Donna and paired her up with Dick Dale for the musical number Muscle Bustle (written by Brian Wilson). The performance was one of the highlights of the movie which solidified her inclusion as part of the Beach Party gang. In her next two outings with Annette, Frankie and the gang in Bikini Beach and Beach Blanket Bingo Donna received similar musical numbers. The best of the bunch was definitely Beach Blanket Bingo’s It Only Hurts When I Cry. Donna also appeared in Annette’s Pajama Party and Frankie’s Sargent Deadhead.

It was at this time that Donna recorded the album Donna Loren Sings the Very Best of Beach Blanket Bingo. The album, which has recently been released on the CD The Very Best of Donna Loren, is what it is. It’s kind of an uneven album in the sense that while a number of songs, mainly the songs that didn’t appear in the Beach Party movies, are rather good, the rest of the songs just sort of lack something. The highlights of the album include the Lesley Gore-ish Ten Good Reasons, the garage sound of So, Do the Zonk, a slow ballad called I’m Just a Little Girl and, of course, It Only Hurts When I Cry. However some of Donna’s covers from the Beach Party films such as I Think You Think and Beach Blanket Bingo aren’t what one would call stellar. Firstly, I think part of the problem is that the songs, which were originally written to be duets between Annette and Frankie are recorded by Donna as solos thus they don’t seem quite right. Perhaps it’s just that I am used to hearing these songs as they are done in the films. Also, Donna’s vocal range and Annette’s vocal range are completely different. I prefer Donna’s strong and confident voice to Annette’s squeaky under-developed one, however in these recordings Donna seems to try to imitate Annette, or sometimes the opposite happens when the song just doesn’t seem to fit Donna’s style. Furthermore, the songs are all likeable enough but lack any depth – especially with the caliber of music that was being produced in the sixties. With a world that was still reveling in the British Invasion Donna’s album didn’t take the cake. However this was no fault of Donna’s. Her recordings display a strong and sensational voice. One must wonder what could have happened if she had been working with better producers or songwriters such as Phil Spector, Billy Strange or Burt Bacharach and Hal David. A real wasted opportunity which we’ll always have to wonder “What if…” about.  Under better musical direction Donna could have been another Jackie DeShannon or Dionne Warwick. She definitely had the talent. Yet, despite the lack of depth that might be in the songs, they all remain to be likeable.

Donna Loren sings "It Only Hurts When I Cry" in "Beach Blanket Bingo"

Meanwhile,  if promoting Dr. Pepper and appearing in five Annette and Frankie projects in a two year period weren’t enough, Donna Loren also took another job appearing as a regular songstress on the popular music program Shindig!. The first of the rock and roll variety shows of the 1960s, Shindig! featured big rock acts performing their biggest hits, accompanied by luscious go-go dancers dressed in good girl outfits but dancing like they belonged in a red light district. Truly tantalizing and exciting stuff in the early sixties.  Shindig! kept a few celebrities as regulars, such as Darlene Love, Bobby Sherman and, of course, Donna Loren, to sing the hits when they were unable to get the real singers to sing them. It was also at this time that Donna did seven consecutive appearances on Dr. Kildare in the role of Anna Perona. Now the question is when the hell did the girl manage to sleep? At age 18 she was getting more exposure than any teenage girl in America. One must assume she was running on adrenaline or something. That’s a lot of work for your average 18 year old. Mind you, she was truly living the teen queen dream in the mid sixties. Who knows what the reality was?

Donna appears opposite Burt Ward in an episode of "Batman"

Donna stopped appearing in AIP movies in 1965 but she wasn’t out of the spotlight yet. Besides still representing Dr. Pepper, Donna made two major pop culture appearances between 1966 and 1967. The first was in the Adam West Batman series. Playing a cheerleader that Robin was in love with in the two part The Joker Goes to School and He Meets His Match, That Ghastly Ghoul, Donna got to finally play what she never played before – a bad girl. Donna’s character “Susie” was actually a cronie of Cesar Romero’s Joker who was trying to corrupt Gotham’s youth by putting silver dollars in milk machines. A year later Donna played Davy Jones’ romantic interest of the week, Princess Colette Yaduin, on an episode of The Monkees. Her performances on Batman and The Monkees only strengthened her pop culture appeal.

Donna Loren joined with Milton Berel as his beautiful co-host for his failed variety show

Then, all too soon, 1967 was the beginning of the end of Donna’s short but successful show business career. Just as her Dr. Pepper contract ended she joined the regular cast of Milton Berle’s new variety show. However, with The Man From U.N.C.L.E in the same time slot, Berle’s show was cancelled after only one season. A performance on The Danny Thomas Show and a guest spot on Gomer Pyle, USMC in 1968 would be Donna’s last two pieces of television work. This wasn’t by failure but by choice. Danny Thomas and Aaron Spelling offered Donna a series called, Two For Penny as a spin off from her appearance on The Danny Thomas Show. However Donna turned it down to marry and to retire at the ripe old age of 21.  Can you imagine retiring at 21? It only proved that Donna’s continuous hard work had truly paid off. Thus after 1968 Donna Loren disappeared from the world of film, television and music to become little more than a memory to the people that were there, and a “Donna Who?” to those who weren’t. Perhaps it’s no wonder that I hadn’t heard of Donna Loren.

So where is Donna Loren now? Well Donna is a partner in the Hawaii-based fashion company ADASA ( ). However, to those who lived in the 1960s she will always be remembered as the pretty dark haired singer in the Beach Party movies or the girl who drank Dr. Pepper. In fact, I think later today I’m going to go and purchase a Dr. Pepper and think of Donna Loren as I drink it cause, well, I’m a Pepper too I guess.




 I can’t express enough how much I recommend that you visit Donna Loren’s website at On the site is a tonne of information, merchandise, links and numerous video clips featuring highlights from her career. Below I am including links to some of my favourites so you can see for yourself why I’ve fallen in love with Donna Loren. If you have any interest in 60s culture at all I highly suggest you take a look.

It Only Hurts When I Cry from Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)


Donna sings Bill Bailey on Dick Clark’s Celebrity Party (1963).  This special was a 45 minute commercial aired a week after the Kennedy assassination, and introduced Donna to the world as the Dr. Pepper Girl.


Donna Loren’s film deut in Muscle Beach Party!  The song was written by Brian Wilson and Donna performs with Dick Dale and the Del-Tones.  How can it get better then this?


Donna Loren and the characters from Johnny Hart’s B.C. hock Dr. Pepper!  There are tons more of these odd little Dr. Pepper commercials featuring Johnny Hart’s characters and Donna Loren.  Make sure to check them out.


Donna Loren sings “Shakin’ All Over” on ShinDig!


Donna Loren performs Goldfinger on ShinDig!  Donna pulls off the impossible by recreating Shirley Bassey’s trademrk hit in one of her sexiest performances ever!

Donna Loren performs Cher’s The Way of Love on SHinDig!  A daring performance shows a glimpse of what could have been a promising recording career with better song choices then Donna’s solo material.  There are tons of performances of Donna singing some of the 60′s biggest hits on ShinDig! via YouTube.  Make sure to take a look at them all!

Donna Loren and Ceasar Romero on Batman!  Long before Harley Quinn, Donna Loren was the Joker’s moll!

Donna Loren meets Davy Jones on The Monkees!

Donna Loren sings Call Me on The Milton Berle Show!  And check out that crazy guest star list!  Paul Revere and the Raiders, Bruce Lee, Phyllis Diller,  Adam West….how could this show have failed?

Donna Loren sings It Only Hurts When I Cry in 2009!

Happy New Year friends!

So my annual New Year wrap is a few days late.  Seems to be the story of PCA all autumn, but I must admit that I am still recovering from what was an extremely busy holiday season.  Wow.  I hope everybody out there had a happy and successful holiday season.  Now it’s time for life to get back to normal, whatever that is.

So as I’ve stressed many times over a series of years, PCA is not just a one man job and it takes lots of people to make this site as successful as it has been.  I want to take a moment and thank all the fantastic people who made 2012 one of the most successful and memorable years in PCA history.  All my love and loyalty goes out to:

Jeff Albright from The Albright Entertainment Group, Bassam Al-Sarraj, Vanessa Andres and Jesse Lane from Holmes Creative Communications, Joan Baker of Media Maniacs, Nick Barruci from Dynamite Entertainment, Athena Beaumeister, Kristin Booth, Paula Brancati, Todd Bridges, Craig Cardiff, Jered Cargman from Swinging Sixties Productions, Gabi Carruba, Jeff Caudill, Sean Clark of Convention All-Stars, R. Kelly Clipperton, Pete Dalliday and Catherine Hanrahan of 100.5 KRUZ FM, Jeffery Danger,  William B. Davis, Paul Dini, Heather Donahue, Ivan Doroschuk,, Ed the Sock, Garth Ennis, Wayne `Honky Tonk Man` Ferris, Michelle Ferreri and Kevin Wheeler from CHEX-TV, Mollify Flower Fly, Ryan Ford, Emily Fox, Sherilyn Fenn, Dominic Friesen and Velvet O. White from Bridge and Tunnel Commutations, Yvonne Gettins, Darlene Gillespie, Adam Glass, Kennedy Gordon from the Peterborough Examiner, Anneliese Grosfield from Simon and Schuster Canada, Nicole Grady, Lance Guest, Linda Harrison, Janet Hetherington, Cynthia Hill, Craig Hurley, BA Johnston, Kristin Johnston, Liana K, Lisa Kim, Kathleen Lang, Misty Lee, Kate LeDeuce, Fynn Leitch of Peterborough Artspace, David Liss, Donna Loren, James Lowe, Breanna MacLeoud, Alan Mercer, Marcia McBroom, Vicky McCarty, Amanda McCauley from Indoor Recess, Jerry Milani of Wizard World Entertainment,  Kate Mior, Bill Mumy,  Lara Parker, Giddle Partridge, Jim Pearson, Siouxzan Perry of Girlwerks Media, Gary Puckett, Robbie Rist, Vanessa Marie Rose, Fernando Ruiz, Candace Shaw, Orion Simprini, Matt Servo, Catherine Mary Stewart, Carol Summers,  Ronn Sutton, Geoff Tate, Tom Veitch and Paul Vitello from The New York Times.  Each of you helped make this year happen in your own individual way and I thank you for everything you did!

A new era is coming to PCA. Watch for it!

For me, on a personal level, 2012 was a year of great change and I barely recognize my world today from the one I was living in 2011.  There is no doubt that these changes has taken its toll at PCA which, at the worst of times, seemed to move sporadically.  At the moment there are still a lot of questions about what the future of PCA looks like but I can tell you right now that big changes are a foot.  I seem to say this every year, but just as my life has changed, I think readers will be surprised when they see the changes that are in store in the year to come.  Now I don’t believe in making New Year resolutions.  I mean, why try to find petty negative aspects of our lives when we can, instead, make attainable goals that will enhance our lives?  Well I have made a few personal goals for myself and one is to evolve PCA to a far more powerful and productive web-site then it has ever been before.  Game changing plans are already afoot and I have already talked to some individuals and started assembling a brand new team of people to help make this goal happen.  So far we are only talking so I am not able to discuss these plans yet, but keep your eyes on PCA because big change is coming and a new life is about to breathed into this site.  It isn’t too late to teach old web-site new tricks.

In 2007 singer/songwriter/actor Paul Williams taught me that compassion is more powerful than cynicism. In 2013 he is still right.

But before I wrap this up I want to just share a few New Year thoughts with you.  Things behind the scenes at PCA last year was often pretty dramatic.  Things were often shaken and not stirred, and I feel that as a result I have become a stronger and more compassionate individual.  In many cases I learned a few lessons, and relearned a great deal of new truths.  One of the most important is the importance of positivity over cynicism.  Back in 2007, when I was still cutting my teeth as a celebrity interviewer, I had an interview booked with Oscar winning songwriter Paul Williams.  Well, when Paul saw a mean spirited post I made about Britney Spears, who was going through a bout of post-partum depression and had a major mental breakdown, he cancelled the interview and explained to me that my lack of compassion for someone who was obviously in a very dark place made him rethink participating in a PCA interview.  I thought I was being pretty clever and funny about what I did with Britney, but Paul’s message to me was career changing.  I realized that making a mean spirited comment on a human being, especially when we have no way of knowing what is going on behind the scenes, is one of the lowest forms of creative expression.  In the years that followed I have remembered that lesson that Paul Williams taught me and it has played a major factor in my personal success.  I will always hold Paul Williams in high esteem for teaching me such a valuable lesson, and basically transforming my career in what it is today.

Perhaps its not as dramatic, but treating each other with love and respect helps write another kind of story.

But, sadly the world still feels that mean spirited cynicism is “cutting edge.”  They try to pass cruel comments as being “honest” or “blunt” and feel that it gives them a sort of power or authority.  Well, I believe that you can honest and blunt, but in order to do it you need to balance it with kindness and compassion.  I mean we all have our opinions.  Our opinions are what make us interesting as individuals, and without one we really aren’t worth a damn.  But we can express our opinions in a truthful manner without being a troll, and in the world of the internet it is so easy to be a faceless, nameless troll.  We don’t have to take the responsibility of looking someone in the eye while writing what we want on the internet, and often we forget that the person on the other end is just as human as we are.  My wish for 2013 is that the world would exercise more compassion while dealing with others, especially in the world of media.  We can’t like or appreciate every celebrity and entertainer, but we need to remember that they are all humans with the same emotions and just because they put themselves into the public eye does not mean they don’t deserve the same respect as we would our own neighbour.

So basically, as you go in 2013 try to go forward by loving each other.  It’s a simple idea really, and a message that has been repeated for eons and eons.  It’s not an original idea, but if we all gave it a shot it might be a better world out there.  Now I know it isn’t easy.  I mean, I’m not sure if I can ever find love in my heart for One Direction or Mitt Romney, but I can at least respect them as human beings….right?

All the best in 2013 friends.  Stay tuned because there is more to come.

Sam Tweedle

Pop Culture Addict



1944 – 2012

“I know nothing more about Candy than she was on the fringe.” – Donna Loren

High energy go-go dancing sensation, and “Beach Party” film regular, Candy Johnson was an enigma during her life.

During the 1960’s dancer Candy Johnson was known by the moniker “Miss Perpetual Motion.”  Famous for her lightening fast hip thrusts and sashays, her high energy stage show, and her fringed outfits which would defy gravity due to the speed of her moves, Candy Johnston traveled the world in one of the most celebrated and unique night club acts of the era, and not only revolutionized go-go dancing, but turned “the twist” into an art form.  Whether it was from the stage or via her scene stealing presence in the campy, but beloved, AIP Beach Party films, Candy Johnson was a non stop shaking and gyrating sex symbol of the go-go scene.  However, just as go-go dancing would eventually fade out of popularity, Candy Johnson faded under the pop culture radar.  Out of the public eye for decades Candy Johnson quietly passed away October 21st, 2012 from a battle with brain cancer.  Although not forgotten by film buffs, 60’s enthusiasts or her devoted fans, all the major media publications failed to report of her passing.  Perhaps the American election was the reason that her death was overshadowed, but when Candy’s family and friends contacted the New York and LA Times they were told that her death was not considered “newsworthy.”  As a result of the major media’s neglect only now has the news of Candy’s passing began to reach the public. A private woman who avoided the spotlight for decades, Candy always seemed to be an enigma to those who remembered her.  But the unusual thing about Candy Johnson is the fact that even in today’s modern electronical age, information on her seems to be far and in-between.  Information on Candy proves to be scarce, and due to other performers performing under the same name, often misleading.  But with some investigation which lead me to the people who knew her and loved her, for the first time anywhere, the full story of Candy Johnson can now be told.

Starting in 1962 Candy Johnson and The Exciters created one of the go-go era’s most successful rock n’ roll shows.

Born Victoria Jean Hulstead in Los Angeles California, Candy was the daughter of a dancer named Jeanne Rathmann, who obviously had a great influence on her daughter who began studying dance at the age of five.  Trained in a variety of dances, Candy eventually developed her own unique style of dance which was said to be improvised from one hundred and ninety two individual dance steps.  At age seventeen Candy began her career as a professional “go-go” girl when she was picked out by LA disc jockey and showman Norton “Red” Gilson, known as “The Red Cat,” while standing in line for a 1961 Chubby Checker concert at the Hollywood Palladium.  With Checker’s dance “The Twist” becoming one of the biggest dance phenomenas of all time, Candy’s lightening fast moves and boundless energy made her stand out of a crowd.  Taking Candy under his wing, Red paired her up with a Las Vegas based rock group called The Exciters and put together a night club act called “The Candy Johnson Show.”  A high energy go-go showcase combining rock n’ roll and gravity defying speed dancing, “The Candy Johnson Show” made its debut at the El Mirador Hotel in Palm Springs in 1962 to a sold out audience.  The show was an immediate success, and within time Candy and the Exciters were traveling throughout the West Coast making all the hot spots from Sunset Strip to San Francisco.  Dressed in her signature fringed outfits Candy would frantically dance on the stage, in the aisles, on top of tables and, reportedly, would lose between five to fifteen pounds a night due to intensity of her act.  Within time Candy Johnson became one of the most prolific go-go dancers in North America.

Candy Johnson gives Frankie Avalon and Bobbi Shaw a dance lesson on the set of “Beach Party.” (1963)

Not long after they established “The Candy Johnson Show,” Red came in contact with the producers of American International Pictures who were preparing a new comedy called Beach Party featuring the star power of Bob Cummings and Dorothy Malone, and co-starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.  Gilson arranged for Candy Johnson and the Exciters to appear in the film, which would cement Candy Johnson into pop culture history.   With no lines, Candy only had a small presence in the actual film, as one of four girls that dances with Frankie Avalon in the Don’t Stop Now number, and could be seen shaking her thing during a night party scene.  However, audiences got their first real look at what Candy could really do when she danced out the film while the closing credits rolled.  Candy’s act became front and center as Beach Party came to an end, and she even received a special credit that stated “and introducing Candy Johnson.”

Candy Johnson was given a bigger presence, as well as a “super power” in “Muscle Beach Party” (1964).

With the success of Beach Party, AIP decided to do a series of spin-off films graduating Annette and Frankie to the stars, and Candy was given a much larger presence in the series.   Now called by her real name, in Muscle Beach Party Candy was given her own scene stealing ‘schtick” where she had supernatural dance powers that caused men to fall off of their feet, wipe out on surf boards, be thrown across rooms and even thrust through walls with the simple shake of her hips!  Candy was even used as a “secret weapon” in the film’s finale where, via the music of Dick Dale and the Deltones, she used her dance moves to battle a group of marauding muscle men.  Her presence was so dynamic that, once again, she used her dance moves in the final moments of the films, where she was filmed alongside “Little” Stevie Wonder and would “bump” the words off of the screen with a hip thrust.  It should be noted that Stevie Wonder seemed unaffected by her powers, but then again he couldn’t actually see her.   Candy and her super powered dance moves were back in the third film in the series, Bikini Beach, where she shimmied on the beach with Donna Loren, who sang Love is a Secret Weapon.   However, according to actress Salli Sasche, who appeared in over a dozen AIP films, it wasn’t all fun and games for the energetic dancer.  Candy would often be driven onto the set by Red at six in the morning after performing until two am in Palm Springs.  Often dancing up to six shows a day, Candy was clearly exhausted and on the verge of collapse.  But after scarfing down donuts and coffee, when the cameras rolled, Candy would be back in her groove, wide eyed and all smiles again.

In 1964 Candy Johnson and the Exciters recorded two LPs and a handful of singles under Red Gilson and Candy Johnson’s own vanity label, Canjo Records. These recordings are ultra scarce and cherished by collectors. T

During her time with AIP Candy and Red also formed their own record company called Canjo Records in which two LPs and a handful of singles featuring Candy and the Exciters were pressed.  The albums featured live performances from her shows, but it has been suggested that Candy’s vocals were done by Petticoat Junction star Meredith MacRae who produced some of her first singles on Canjo.  Canjo also produced a novelty single for Candy’s Beach Party co-star  Jody “Bonehead” McCrea.  However, Canjo records seemed to have purely regional distribution and were most likely sold at her live performances.  As a result the two LPs, The Candy Johnson Show and The Candy Johnson Show on Bikini Beach are extremely rare LPs and cherished by collectors.  In fact, copies of Bikini Beach, which feature the Beach Party gang including Annette and Frankie on the album cover, are so rare that it has been questioned by at least one Beach Party fan site if it even went into production, or if it had been pulled altogether.

Candy brought her act to New York in 1965, in which she became a major attraction at the New York World Fair, and saw her open her own Times Square based night club, “The Candy Store.”  Candy would also become the subject of The Strangeloves’ classic rock song “I Want Candy.”

Candy Johnson made her final screen appearance in Annette Funicello’s 1964 solo film Pajama Party, which featured many of the same stars and characters of the Beach Party films, although it wasn’t, technically, a sequel.  However, Candy was noticeably missing from which would become the most famous of the Beach Party films, 1965’s Beach Blanket Bingo.  Due to relocating her act to the East Coast, Candy chose to become a major New York World’s Fair attraction over the campy film series.  Now doing a reported eight shows a night, Candy kept packing in rooms, while an eleven foot cut-out of her dancing on the venue’s roof became part of the fair’s skyline.  That year New York music group The Strangeloves wrote their hit single I Want Candy after seeing her show which quickly went to the top of the Billboard charts.  The song would be rerecorded by a number of artists over the decades including The Tremoles, Bow Wow Wow, Aaron Carter, Mel C and Cody Simpson.   As a result the song has become remembered more widely by the public than Candy Johnson herself. Following her appearance at the New York World’s Fair, Candy, Red and the Exciters expanded the size of their group to an eighteen piece group, and took the act through the Catskills, dancing at resorts and venues through the summer season.  Not long after the group went over to Europe to perform at army bases and teen clubs throughout Germany for entertained starved troops. Sometime during this time Candy and Red finally tied the knot after a long partnership, and the two returned to New York and opened their own night club in Times Square called The Candy Store.  Candy and other performers danced nightly, and the club became a popular tourist attraction.

Candy Johnson does the twist with Bob Hope.

But a body can only move for so long before it can slow down, and eventually “Miss Perpetual Motion” would have to stop.  Although Candy seemed to be on top of the world, the stress of her non stop show business commitments began to wear her down, and by 1968 she decided that she had had enough.  Despite getting an invitation to become a regular at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Candy declined and decided to retire her act.  The dancing had taken a stress on her body and she wanted to long deserved rest.  Without a “Candy Johnson” to headline “The Candy Johnson Show” the company quickly folded.  But Vegas wasn’t the only major opportunity that Candy turned down due to her decision to stop dancing.  Candy also claimed that she was originally approached by Dick Martin and Dan Rowan to be a regular on their sketch comedy series Laugh-In.  When Candy declined, they hired unknown comedian Goldie Hawn.  Although there are no immediate sources to prove that this story is true or not, the similarities to Goldie’s outfits and blonde bouffant hairdo are so close to Candy’s trademark look that it is hard to not pick out the similarities.  Unfortunately the decision to end her career as a dancer also took a toll on her partnership with Red Gilson and the two eventually divorced.  After nearly a decade of appearing in nightclubs, Candy chose a life of quite solitude away from the spotlight, and while nobody was looking, Candy Johnson quietly faded out of sight.

Despite an invitation to become a regular at Caesar’s Palace, and reportedly approached by Rowan and Martin to be the “Sock It To Me” Girl on “Laugh-In,” Candy turned her back on show business by 1968.

Little is known about Candy’s activities after her career during the 1960’s, and those that know are still committed to guarding her privacy.  She was married at least two more times after Red, but she never had any children.  It was widely rumored that she appeared in a pornographic film, but that story proved to be false and, in reality, it was an “actress” calling herself “Kandi” Johnson.  It was also reported that she worked in Branson, Missouri as a dance choreographer   Whichever the case, Candy eventually returned to Los Angeles to be close to her family, and fell into a quite and private existence   Putting the past firmly in the past, she seemed to either be uninterested in reliving her glory days, or she had little idea of the cult following that she had gained as a result of the continuous popularity of the Beach Party films.  While many of her Beach Party co-stars reunited over the decades at autograph shows and reunions, Candy Johnson was nowhere to be seen, and according to former cast members, was impossible to track down.  Nobody knew where Candy was.  She had literally disappeared out of sight, but perhaps that is how she wanted it.

I private woman who shyed away from the spotlight in her later years, Candy stayed away from Beach Party reunions or autograph shows. However, she made one final appearance at a screening in 2006 where she received a standing ovation from an appreciative audience.

But Candy Johnson would make one last public appearance during her life, and was embraced by the audience one last time.  In 2006 a special screening of Beach Party was being presented in a Los Angeles movie theater and two personal friends of Candy’s, Kene Rosa and Louis Jancito, convinced her to attend the screening with them.  Having met Candy later in life, they did not know her during her showgirl days, and wanted to see the “Candy Johnson Experience” for themselves.  Candy reluctantly agreed, but only if they did not contact the organizers of the screening, and if they didn’t make a big deal out of it.  But once she arrived at the theater and saw the positive way that the audience was reacting to the film, Candy allowed her friends to let the house manager know that she was in the audience.  After the film rolled, the organizer of the event announced to the crowd that Candy was in attendance and, to the audiences delight, Candy rose to wave and take a bow.  The audience gave Candy a standing ovation.  Perhaps only then did Candy realize that she had made her unique mark in cult film history and on the swinging era of the 1960’s.

Although the Beach Party gang will forever be young and vibrant on the silver screen, time has not been nearly as kind.  Death has taken so many of the AIP Beach film regulars such as Aron Kincaid, Harvey Lembeck, Jody McCrea and Mary Hughes, and illness has struck Annette Funicello hard.  Even Red Gilson departed this plain of existence in February of this year.  But now Candy Johnson is dancing with all of them again, somewhere on another beach on another plane of existence.  Candy Johnson may never have been the biggest star on the beach, but she was easily the most dynamic.  Nobody could do what she did, and not even Annette Funicello  or Frankie Avalon could steal a scene like Candy could.  To her fans, Candy will dance in our memories for eternity.


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POP CULTURE ADDICT NOTE:  I couldn’t have completed this article on Candy Johnson without the help of Candy Johnson “super-fan” Ken Braasch and her personal friend Kenneth J. Rosa.  Thank you for sharing your memories, your information and your photos with me, and for helping to keep Candy Johnson’s legacy remembered.

While she may be the quietest science fiction icon of all time, Linda Harrison had a natural ability to attract the attention of film fans everywhere.  With her long legs, auburn hair, soft features and large, expressive eyes, Linda Harrison became a sci-fi sex symbol as the savage woman Nova in the cult classic Planet of the Apes.  As Charlton Heston’s speechless mate, Linda Harrison has had three generations of fans fantasizing about being trapped on a planet ruled by monkeys with her.  While some might call living on the Planet of the Apes a nightmare, with Linda Harrison by your side it could just be a paradise.

But in real life, Linda Harrison’s roles went far beyond that of Nova.  Entering the industry via the beauty pageant circuit, Linda was discovered as a contestant in the Miss International Contest and signed to 20th Century Fox.  It was at Fox that she caught the attention of one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, Richard D. Zanuck, and the two were married in 1968.  Yet, while she would find a cult following all her own, Linda Harrison’s life in Hollywood seemed to be interwoven with Zanuck’s career, giving her a unique behind the scenes perspective of the film industry as an outsider watching the insiders, and bringing her in contact with some of the most celebrated directors in modern film history including Franklin J. Schaffer, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Tim Burton.

Linda Harrison made her biggest mark on pop culture as Nova in "Planet of the Aoes," making her one of sci-fi's most noteable sex symbols.

As The Planet of the Apes became one of the most celebrated film franchises of all time, Linda Harrison chose a domestic role of wife and mother.  Making only occasional film appearances, Linda’s on-screen time was far and in between, but there was no doubt that the impact that she had made on the audience was enormous.  Although she would not be aware of her fan following for years after her appearance in Planet of the Apes, a legion of fans weren’t going to forget about her.

Warm and personable, Linda proves to have a unique insight into the history of the film industry.  With an intense working knowledge of the behind the scenes dealings of Hollywood’s elite, Linda spins an incredible narrative about an aspect of the industry rarely seen by others.  Thankfully for us, Linda Harrison is not as quiet as Nova, and she has a lot of fascinating stories to tell.




Early glamour shot of Linda Harrison.

Sam Tweedle:  You started your in beauty pageant circuit.  What made you go into that venue when you were a young girl?

Linda Harrison:  Well I was always an entertainer.  I was an acrobat since I was five.  I was very good and I got the top prize.  In front of an audience is where I shined, so once I got to be nine or ten years old I wanted to be an actress.  Back then talent was shown through the contestants in beauty pageants and talent scouts would come and look for potential movie stars.  I was fortunate to have Mike Medavoy, who was a very successful producer, come up to me and say “You should be in the movies.”  So that’s why I got into those contests.  Plus, everybody wanted me.  I was attractive and vivacious and spoke well so it was a natural for me.

Sam:  So, in a sense, it worked out the way you wanted it to.

Linda:  Exactly.

Sam:  Today it seems that there is a negative stigma towards beauty pageants.  Has the circuit changed since you were in it?

Linda Harrison entered show business via the beauty pagent circuit: "We were the real, original beauty contests. Now it’s become more commercialized and sensational..."

Linda:  Yes.  We were the real, original beauty contests.  Now it’s become more commercialized and sensational with the costumes and the bathing suits.  The contestants seem to be very aggressive.

Sam:  So you left Maryland for Hollywood and were signed to 20th Century Fox.  What was it like to be on the Fox lot?

Linda:  Oh, you just can’t imagine the thrill.  It was so exciting.  My dream was coming true!  The interview was great, and they said “Sign her up.”  They had to fix my teeth.  I had a space in the front of my teeth.  There was a drama coach, and she prepared you and tried to develop you as an actress.

Sam:  One of your earliest appearances was playing a cheerleader in an episode of Batman with Donna Loren and Cesar Romero as the villains.  I absolutely love watching you in that.   What was it like finding yourself on the set of Batman?

Linda Harrison (on right) with Donna Loren on "Batman" in 1966. The episode also featured guest villain Caesar Romero as The Joker

Linda:  It was the very first thing I ever did.  Of course, like all actors, you are looking for the big picture.  I was dating Richard Zanuck by this time.  It was early ’66.  I remember that they worked us from eight in the morning until five.  So I went up and said “Why don’t you try to conserve our energy, so by the time of the shoot we’ll be more fresh.”  Well I remember that they went and told the head of talent that I was a trouble maker.

Linda Harrison becomes the first woman to wear the Womder Woman costume in William Dozier's failed attempt to bring the heroine to screen. Linda played Ellie Walker Wood's double in the mirror.

Sam:  Well you must have made an impression with William Dozier because he brought you in for the Wonder Woman test film that he made.

Linda:  Yes.

Sam:  Now it wasn’t a successful project, but you have gone down into history as one of the first women to put on the Wonder Woman costume.  Do you have any memories at all about doing that test film?

Linda:  You have to remember that I was dating Richard, and we had a very full life, so there was not a driving ambition [in me], beyond landing that seven year contract.  So I did [Wonder Woman] because I was under contract, and they used their contract people and they thought I’d be good at it.

James Brolin and Linda Harrison as Cornelius and Zira in the "Planet of the Apes" test film, used to sell the movie to 20th Cenutury Fox.

Sam:  Now three generations of men have grown up having crushes on you as a result of your role as Nova in Planet of the Apes which is the role that will follow you forever.  But what isn’t known by a lot of people is that you also tested for the role of Zira, who was eventually played by Kim Hunter.

Linda:  Well that test was to see if they appliance of make up for the apes would work.

Sam:  Oh, I’ve seen that.  That is the little film that was done with Edgar G. Robertson as Dr. Zaius and James Brolin as Cornelius.

Edward G. Robinson as Dr. Zaius. Due to health reasons, Robinson would relinquish the part to Maurice Evans

Linda:  Yes.  They hadn’t cast anyone yet so they used their players.

Sam:  The test film was one of the final things that Edward G. Robinson ever did before he passed away.  Do you have any memories of working with him?

Linda:  Yes.  I met him at a party and they wanted him to play Dr. Zaius.  We noticed when we did the test that his health was failing so we had to make an adjustment with that.

Sam:  When did you first hear about the film?

Linda:  I’ll never forget it the evening that we were at Chez Jays in Santa Monica and Dick told me all about [Planet of the Apes.]  He was so enthusiastic about it and he told me “If it goes, you’re going to play Nova.”

Sam:  In Planet of the Apes you never speak, but you put forth so much emotion with body language and facial expression.  You become a fail range character.  How intense was it to do a role like that?

"Nova fit my personality and temperament."

Linda:  There is a saying that when you get a role that you are ninety nine percent the right person.  You are one percent just doing it.  Really, Nova fit my personality and temperament.  People who can’t speak are very animated.  They may be doing sign language, but they are putting in all the different kind of things that they are trying to say by expressing themselves.  When I had an interview with the producer and the director, I just worked off of two emotions; fear and love.  Charlton Heston’s character was my mate and I didn’t quite know what to do with him, but obviously he was kind and I gravitated towards him.

Sam:  You and Charlton Heston had an incredible chemistry on screen.  What was it like working with him?

Linda Harrison with leading man Charlton Heston: "Well every day I couldn’t wait to get to work. Just to be close to him was an honor."

Linda:  Well, the extraordinary thing was that ever since Ben-Hur, in the scene when the mother and daughter and healed when Christ transcended, [Charlton Heston] became my idol.  So on the first day of shooting I told him that.

Sam:  And how did he react?

Linda:  He thanked me.

Sam:  So did that give you a more intense emotional connection of sorts to Charleston Heston as a result?

Linda:  Well every day I couldn’t wait to get to work.  Just to be close to him was an honor.

Sam:  Nova also seems to be a physically demanding role.  I think about all the scenes of you running through the fields and being dragged around by apes.  Did you do a lot of those scenes, or did you have a stunt double?

Linda Harrison doing her own stunts in "Planet of the Apes": "Everybody was fighting over who was going to catch Nova coming down the mountain."

Linda:  No.  If I wasn’t on a horse, we were running.  We had these little tiny mesh shoes to wear, but they didn’t help much.  I remember crossing a field, and going fast and they had men at the bottom to catch me.  Everybody was fighting over who was going to catch Nova coming down the mountain.  I was psychically inclined anyways.  I was an acrobat and I was in shape.  But when that camera roles, it doesn’t matter what obstacle was in the way.  You were on camera and you could handle it.

Sam:  Do you have many memories of working with Kim Hunter or Roddy McDowell?

"Planet of the Apes" stars Maurice Evans (Dr. Zaius), Roddy McDowell (Cornelius) and Kim Hunter (Zira): "The apes tended to stay together, and the humans had their own camp."

Linda:  It was an interesting thing that happened during the making of Planet of the Apes.  The apes tended to stay together, and the humans had their own camp.  Yes, I did get to talk to them, but it was very hard for them to talk through the masks.  These people had to get up at three in the morning to get all the [make up] done.  But the reason that Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowell and Maurice Evans were picked was because of their great acting ability.  You had to have that to get the emotion through the make up.

Sam:  And they all manage to make those characters come very alive.

Linda:  Yes they do.  Its an interesting thing.  Once you take some of the senses away, like not being able to speak clearly, something else happens in you and makes the performance better.

Sam:  It’s like taking away one of your senses.  When Planet of the Apes came out, were you surprised it became such a cult phenomena?

"Planet of the Apes" opened on April 3, 1968, beginning one of the most important and beloved sci-fi franchies of all time. However, Linda Harrison barely noticed: "I didn’t realize I had a following until I was in my fifties."

Linda:  Well, I was onto greener pastures.  I was twenty-one.  I was looking for my next job.  I didn’t realize I had a following until I was in my fifties.

Sam:  Are you kidding?   Were you surprised?

Linda:  Well, everywhere I’d go they’d say “You were in Planet of the Apes,” but I never knew that it had such an impact on the mass audience.

Sam:  Well, those films are films that just stick with you.

Linda:  Remember that we were the flower children.  We were the baby boomers.  We were at war.  Viet Nam was a very unpopular war and we were changing and making transitions.  We planned [the film] to be entertaining, but the subconscious of the people writing and making the film was an experience of global consciousness.  They took [the film] from the book but there had to be changes.  [In the book] they had a much more advanced civilization and in order for Dick to make this movie he had to keep it under five million, or else he had to take it to the board of directors and they would not have bought this kind of film.

Taylor (Heston) and Nova (Harrison) encounter the ruins of The Statue of Liberty in "Planet of the Apes'" iconic ending: "We were at war. Viet Nam was a very unpopular war and we were changing and making transitions."

Sam:  Well the post-apocalyptic setting went with the political climate at the time the film was made.

Linda:  Yes.  The civil rights and the greed of man.  Man makes war.  These are still issues today.

Sam:  That could be an indication of why Rise of the Planet of the Apes was such a big hit.  They explored a lot of those issues again.  As a society we can relate to it.

Linda:  Oh.  It was a terrific film.

Sam:  Was there a different feel on the set when you were making Beneath the Planet of the Apes?

Linda:  Oh yes.  The first one had a top director and cinematographer.  You couldn’t beat Franklin J. Schaffner.  He went on to win best director for Patton.  In the second film we made it for less.  [Director] Ted Post was fabulous to work with, but I could get away with murder with him.  Ted was an actor’s dream so there was a little more make-up on me.  I was actually very comfortable because I had done [the first film.]

Linda Harrison teams up with James Fransiscus in "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" in which Nova finally speaks: "I knew it would be a standout moment."

Sam:  Probably the biggest moment in that film is when Nova finally speaks her first line.

Linda:  Well it was hardly a line.  It was a word.

Sam:  But it is the biggest moment of that film.  Did you realize it was going to be a standout moment, or did you see it as just a line?

Linda:  I knew it would be a standout moment, but we working with it.  Nova would have vocal chords, but undeveloped.  How would she say it?  So it ended up “Tay-lor.”  Charlton teased me about it.

Sam:  The film has such a bleak ending.

Linda:  Well you know why?  Charlton didn’t want another sequel.  Dick had to bribe him to do five minutes of film.

Sam:  How did he bribe him?

Linda:  Well, Dick was very good friends with Charlton and he said “All you have to do is be on film for five minutes” and he probably paid him a lot of money.

Sam:  When they went on with the Planet of the Apes series, you pretty much done with it?

Linda:  Yes.

Linda Harrison relinquished a role in "Jaws" for one in "Airport '75:" "They said that Roy Schneider couldn’t get a girl as beautiful as me."

Sam:  Another film that you were in that became a cult classic was Airport 1975.  That has an amazing ensemble cast, and you were back with Charleston Heston again.  It is an incredible film.

Linda:  There is a funny story of how I got Airport 1975.  Dick and I were thrown out of Fox, so he went on to form Zanick-Brown with his partner David Brown.  Well we had discovered Stephen Spielberg.  He had done Duel as a TV movie and we had a movie called Sugarland Express.  So Spielberg did that and [Zanuck and Brown] recognized his incredible talent.  Then Jaws came along, and I was in the throws of two little babies.  My creative side wasn’t being used.  So I said to [Dick] “Get me a part” and he said “I’ll get you the part as the wife of the sheriff in Jaws.”  So they were in New York talking about who they were going to cast and Dick said “I want the part of the sheriff’s wife to go to Linda.”  Spielberg said “Oh no.  I promised that part of Loraine Gary.”  So Dick called me and said “Here’s the situation.  Lorraine was promised the part, but I promised it to you so it’s yours.”  Well just like me, I give everything away so I said “Give her that part.”  So they said we’ll find you a part, and I got a part of the gal Friday in Airport with Gloria Swanson.  Spielberg mentions this all the time in articles, that I was up for the part and Lorraine was up for the part and he didn’t know what to do and he was young.  I would have loved to have had that part in Jaws.  But they said that Roy Schneider couldn’t get a girl as beautiful as me. (Laughs)

Sam:  (Laughs)  Poor Roy Schneider.   Now there was a ten year gap in your career between Airport and Cocoon.  Why did you seem to disappear from the radar for a decade?

Linda:  I was raising my children, which has always been my top priority.

Linda Harrison as Susan in "Cocoon."

Sam:  How did you get involved in Cocoon?

Linda:  Well, I was studying at an acting school and we were giving a presentation of work we had done, and invited agents to see us.  Dick came and I had a couple of scenes.  Well he said “There might be a part for you in Cocoon.”  So I had an interview with Ron Howard and he said “You got the part.”

Sam:  Is Ron Howard as nice and easy going in real life as he seems to be on television?

Ron Howard directing "Cocoon": "He wanted you to be you. If you were authentic, and coming from the inside of you, he’d call you on it."

Linda:  Yes indeed.  He is a very good soul.  We would walk into the hotel and a lady would say [to Ron Howard] “Come and say hello to my son.  He’s such a fan” and Ron would take the phone and say “Hello, how are you” and have a conversation.  If someone wanted his autograph, he would give him an autograph.  He is such an exceptional man.

Sam:  Cocoon was Ron Howard’s first successful film.  What was it like working with him during the early part of his directing career?

Linda:  The thing I liked about him was he wanted all your mannerisms.  It’s like if I were talking to you, maybe my hand is going up and down to express myself.  He wanted you to be you.  If you were authentic, and coming from the inside of you, he’d call you on it.  He’d say “That’s fake.”

Sam:  Out of all the films you did, which is the one that you are the most proud of.

Linda:  Well they were all unique.  The first film I did was Way…Way Out, with Jim Brolin, and the second film I did, A Guide For the Married Man, was directed by Gene Kelly.  It was all these vignettes about how to cheat on your wife and not get caught.  That was fun because my scene took me all over the world.  I was in limousines and on a donkey and on a camel and then they catch us.

Sam:  Well while you’ve only been in seven or eight films, but while some people appear in a hundred films, the films that you did seem to have had a giant impact on the people who have seen them.

Linda:  I know.  Wasn’t I fortunate?  (Laughs)  On the personal side I was married to Dick, we had an amiable divorce and remained friends, and we raised two wonderful sons and their marriages are beautiful.  We have four grandchildren.  I am very proud of that, and my boys are very down to earth with no falseness or aggressiveness or obnoxiousness.  They are good and sound.

Sam:  What was it like for them to have Nova as their mother?  Where they aware growing up that their mother was a science fiction sex symbol?

Linda Harrison and Richard Zanuck with son Dean on the set of "Sugarland Express":

Linda:  Well when I was raising them they were such boys.  It was all boys and they weren’t thinking of girls.  My house was a club house where everybody came, and they had their friends.  They would plan in the morning what they were going to do all day, and I was just there to feed them and make sure they were safe.  But what hit them was that thirtieth anniversary of Planet of the Apes, and they were actually seeing the film for the first time as young men.  I mean, they saw excerpts all the time because it was always playing and Dick would always say to them “There’s your mother.  There’s your mother.”  But during the thirtieth anniversary they were young men and their eyes would get real big because I was young and in my prime, and they felt lucky to have me as their mother.  But my sons are so low profile.

Sam:  How did you get involved with Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes?

Linda Harrison with Mark Whalberg in Tim Burton's reimagining of "Planet of the Apes": "Sometimes it’s a blessing to have less money, and it makes you very creative, then to have a whole lot that you just spend on costumes and beautiful shots, but you don’t hone in on the script."

Linda:  I remember that it was during a time when things weren’t best in Dick’s career.  It was my oldest son’s Harrison’s birthday and we always did something special for the boy’s birthdays.  Well I was at this thing at 20th Century Fox and the head of the studio was there, and he came up to our table and introduced himself because he was a fan of mine.  Its one of these things that all these different professionals are now fans.  Well he said “Guess what.  We signed Tim Burton to do a new Planet of the Apes movie.”  I said “I hope they’ll use some of the [original stars]” and he said “Oh, he’s good about that.”  That evening when we were out for Harrison’s birthday I was telling Dick about this and he said “Well did you tell him you were married to me?”  The boys took me aside and said “Dad would really like to produce that picture because he was on the ground level.  He made it happen.”  It was true that without Dick Zanuck Planet of the Apes would never have materialized.  So the very next day they were having lunch at a tennis club and when [Dick] got back there was a call from the head of the studio that said “We want you to come on as producer.”  For the last twelve years he’s been Tim Burton’s producer.

Sam:  What did you make of being part of that production?

Linda:  Well if you blink you miss me.  They showed my shots all over the place, but it got cut out.

Sam:  What are you thoughts of the Tim Burton film?  A lot of fans aren’t fond of it.

Tim Burton directing "Planet of the Apes": "You feel like his mind is overworking. He has a creative mind, and underneath he is always thinking."

Linda:  Well they were when we were making it, and Tim was a big fan of Planet of the Apes.  They gave him such a huge budget.  I think they gave him a hundred and forty million.  The thing about the original was that we didn’t have a lot of money so our dialogue had to be sharp and everything had to work real well.  So sometimes it’s a blessing to have less money, and it makes you very creative, then to have a whole lot that you just spend on costumes and beautiful shots, but you don’t hone in on the script.  But it made a lot of money.

Sam:  And that is what the studio likes in the end.

Linda:  Oh yes.  But I have to say that growing up with Dick [I leart] that there was nothing like a hit and they were few and far between.

Sam:  What is Tim Burton like to work with?  Is he as strange as his films?

Linda:  No.  He’s a very gentle.  You feel like his mind is overworking.  He has a creative mind, and underneath he is always thinking.

Sam:  You haven’t acted in a long time.  Are you finished with that aspect of your career?

Linda:  I think so.  I really have no desire to act.

Linda Harrison and Richard Zanuck: "You have to understand that I was involved with a very powerful man...He could make or break people back then.

Sam:  Was there any kind of things that you didn’t get to do that you would have liked to have done?

Linda:  Not really.  You have to understand that I was involved with a very powerful man, and I loved what I learned because I learned a lot about the business.  I learned about what happened behind the scenes and what it took to make a great script.  I knew his father Darryl Zanuck.  He and Dick were very close.  So I had this incredible life.  From the age of twenty years old I went from a little town of two thousand to going to eating caviar.  Some people said it was just too much for a young person.  Dick had a lot of power.  He could make or break people back then.

Sam:  That must have been intimidating for a lot of people.

Linda:  Yeah, but he was very good with people.

Sam:  So it sounds like you have been able to really maintain a strong family unit to this day.

Linda:  Yes.  We are very family.  I see Dick once a week.  The boys talk to their father every day, so Dick knows what’s going on in my life, and I know what’s going on in his life through the boys.  We are very respectful to one another and when we go out everybody is very civil and excited and grateful.  That is something we are most proud of.  That’s our real anchor.

While the fans will always love her as Nova, Linda Harrison has had far more roles in life: model, pageant contestant, actress, icon, sex symbol, wife, mother and grandmother.  She has had a unique journey that has gone beyond the usual human experience.  But as Linda points out, during her career she only made a handful of films.  While some of those films have become some of the most popular films in Hollywood history, there is something about Linda Harrison that has stuck with film fans.  Perhaps it is her beauty, but maybe it goes beyond that.  In the role of Nova, Linda Harrison only uttered a single word, but perhaps we saw something deeper, and more raw, in her being.  Something in her beauty and gentleness and those deep soulful eyes.  Linda Harrison found her way into the hearts of fans without saying a word, but that feat in itself says so much.


PCA NOTE:  I’d like to thank Carol Summers for arranging my interview with Linda Harrison, and for all her friendship, advice and friendship over the last three years.  You’re a real gem Carol.  Thanks for everything.


Since launching the site in 2005, Sam Tweedle has had the opportunity to interview many people on the pop culture journey – from stars whose names, faces, or signature roles are instantly recognizable, to those whose contributions haven’t made them into household names but still have fascinating stories and points of view.  Read on below for some close encounters of the pop culture kind.

Space Symphony: A Conversation with June Lockhart

Over seven decades actress June Lockhart has had one of the most varied careers in Hollywood.  From Universal Horror films to MGM films, June Lockhart hit pop culture gold with roles in three of the most endearing television series of the 50′s and 60′s – Lassie, Lost in Space and Petticoat Junction.  Currently involved with the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic, June Lockhart hosts their concerts and calls herself their most vocal “groupie.”  June Lockhart talks about her love for music and her incredible career in film, television and stage.

Wicked Woman: A Conversation with Jinx Dawson

In 1966, when the rest of the music industry was singing about love and peace, Chicago based band Coven had a different subject to sing about – the Occult, Black Magic and Satan.  Fronted by the mysterious and beautiful Jinx Dawson, Coven broke new ground in rock music by introducing Satanism into their brand of shock rock.  Jinx Dawson gives a rare interview where she talks about her life in music, the Occult and Coven.

We’re Going to Get Our Kicks Tonight: A Conversation with George Chakiris

When West Side Story was released in theaters in 1961, the film showed a human side of juvenile delinquency never seen before or since, and catapulted its young cast to stardom, including George Chakiris.  Starting out as a chorus dancer, Chakiris won an Academy Award for the role of Bernardo and was suddenly a screen idol.  Now settled in Los Angeles, George Chakiris has left acting behind and has focused on a new career as a jeweler.  George Charkiris talks about his incredible career on stage, television and film, and his new passion for the art of silver smithing.

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost: A Conversation with Steve DiSchivai

Retried New York homicide detective Steve DiSchivai has found fame in the most unlikeliest job.  As one part of the supernatural investigative team on The Dead Files, Steve DiSchivai uses his detective skills to investigate the history of haunted houses across North America while talking with victims of hauntings about their terrifying experiences.  Tough as nails but full of heart, Steve DiSchivai has seen scarier things than any ghost, making him the perfect man for this unusual job.

Hey Big Brother: A Conversation with Peter Rivera

As Motown’s first successful “white” act, Rare Earth had chart success with a string of hits including “Get Ready,” “Hey Big Brother,” “Born to Wander” and “I Just Want to Celebrate.”As lead vocalist and drummer for the 70′s rock band Rare Earth, Peter Rivera both kept the beat while providing the sound for a louder and rawer form of blue eyed soul. Still touring the world today with his own band, Peter Rivera talks about his musical journey and keeping his brand of soul music alive.

Return to Castle Frightenstein: A Conversation with MitchMarkowitz

Produced in 1971 out of Hamilton, Ontario, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein was one of the strangest, and most successful, independently produced television programs of all time.  Staring Billy Van, Fiska Reis and horror icon Vincent Price, the show has been a cult favorite for over forty years.  PCA talks to one of the last surviving members of the Frightenstein team, co-creator and producer, Mitch Markowitz, about this legendary Canadian series.

On the Road Again: A Conversation with Larry “The Mole” Taylor

During the late 60′s, American blues band Canned Heat added a unique and instantly recognizable sound to the musical landscape.  Reviving classic American blues with the grassroots mentality of the hippie generation, Canned Heat became part of the summer of love’s soundtrack with songs like “Going to the Country” and “On the Road Again” and making appearances at the Montery Pop Festival and Woodstock.  One of the last surviving members of the classic line-up, PCA talks to bassist Larry “The Mole” Taylor about his career in music, and his travels with Canned Heat.

The Rebirth of Mabuse: A Conversation with Ansel Faraj

One of the new faces on the horror scene, director Ansel Faraj made more films by the age of twenty than most directors make in a lifetime.  Called “A young genius” by industry insiders, Faraj had his breakout in 2013 when he brought back the villainous Doctor Mabuse to the screen in his first film starring actor Jerry Lacey in the role.  PCA talks to Ansel Faraj about his Mabuse sequel, Doctor Mabuse:Etiopomar, his on-line goth horror series, Cinema Fantastique, and things to come.

Hollywood Rouge: A Conversation with Gary Lockwood

Breaking out in Hollywood in the early 60′s, Gary Lockwood was one of Hollywood’s first cross over actors appearing in both film and television.  Appearing in television programs including Follow the Sun, Bus Stop, The Lueitenant and taking a key role in the original unaired pilot of Star Trek, Lockwood had big screen success in films such as Splendor in the Grass, It Happened at the World’s Fair and, most imporantly, 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Larger than life and living hard, Gary’s Hollywood experience is one of a man who loved lots and fought hard.  Gary talks to PCA  about his life as one of the 60′s most likeable rouges.

Margie, It’s You!: A Conversation with Cynthia Pepper

Although her acting career was brief, actress Cynthia Pepper captured the hearts of people across the world as the all American girl next door.  First noticed by audiences playing Mike Douglas’ girlfriend Jean Pearson on My Three Sons, Pepper was given her own short, yet memorable, sit-com Margie.  However, it was her appearance in the 60′s cult film Kissin’ Cousins opposite Elvis Presley which sealed Cynthia Pepper in pop culture history.  Now a regular on the Elvis convention circuit, Cynthia Pepper talks about her life in Hollywood.

Everybody Wants Something: A Conversation with Pat Mastroianni

As a teenager, actor Pat Mastroianni was one of Canadian television’s most familiar faces as the cocky yet lovable Joey Jeremiah, breakout star of the legendary teen melodrama Degrassi Junior High.  With a world wide fan following, teens looked to Joey and his friends for guidance on some of the biggest issues facing teens in what is still considered one of the boldest teen shows of all time.  With his Degrassi days now behind him, Mastroianni is looking for to reinvent himself.  Mastroianni talks fedoras, comic books, and the cultural and social impact that Degrassi had on it’s viewers.

Hasselin’ the Hoff: A Conversation with David Hasselhoff

One of pop culture’s biggest icons, David Hasselhoff has had a colorful career as an actor, director, producer, singer (at least in Germany) and sex symbol.  But just what is it about him that keeps him on the pop culture radar? In a brief encounter with the Hoff himself, Sam Tweedle discovers just what it is that makes David Hasselhoff so special.

“You Were My Doctor”: A Conversation with Peter Davison

One of England’s busiest actors, Peter Davison has appeared as a regular on over a dozen programs including All Creatures Great and Small, The Last Detective and Law and Order: UK.   However, he became a pop culture icon in the role of the 5th Doctor on the legendary sci-fi series Doctor Who.  Most importantly, he was PCA’s Sam Tweedle’s “Doctor.”  The pop culture journey comes full circle when Tweedle interviews his childhood hero.

The Return of the Four King Cousins: A Conversation with Cathy Cole-Green

Made up of the daughters of WWII era singing group The King Sisters, Tina and Cathy Cole, Carolyn Thomas and Candy Conkling were staples on television as The Four King Cousins.  Preparing to return to the stage after over three decades out of the spotlight, PCA talks to Cathy about The King Family’s musical legacy and the past and present of The Four King Cousins.

The Hunt for Harrigan: A Conversation with Barry Dale

From 1970 to 1992 actor/musician Barry Dale entertained two generations of Canadian children as Harrigan the Leprechaun.  With a sense of charm, magic and an unforgettable theme song, Barry Dale made Harrigan a family affair.  Off the radar for years, PCA tracked down the elsuive Barry Dale to Arizona where he agreed to do a rare interview about his days in green.  Barry Dale tells the Harrigan story for the first time!

Ghostly Encounters: A Press Conference with the Ghost Adventures Team

From haunted motels to abandoned prisons, paranormal investigators Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin have become amongst the most famous ghost hunters in North America via thier hit reality series Ghost Adventures.  In anticipation for their one hundredth investigation, Travel Channel threw a press conference with The Ghost Adventures Team and PCA was there!  Zak, Nick and Aaron talk about many of their experiences and the consequences of living amongst ghosts, spirits and demons.

Monkees, Muppets, Mayhem and More: A Conversation with James Frawley

In a career that crossed six decades, director James Frawley gained a reputation for being an efficient director on difficult sets.  From creating the spontaneity on The Monkees to keeping things running during the dramatic early days of Grey’s Anatomy, Frawley also made an impact on programs such as That Girl, Cagney and Lacey and Ally McBeal.  However, he will always be remembered as the director who brought the Muppets into the real world for the very first time in The Muppet Movie.  Frawley talks about his career, and drives home a very solid lesson about the reality of behind the scenes drama.

One Dog’s Joy:  A Conversation with Chuck Negron

As one of the three lead singers of 70′s supergroup Three Dog Night, Chuck Negron was the voice behind such mega-hits as One (Is The L onliest Number), Old Fashioned Love Song and, one of the most important songs of the era, Joy to the World.  After battling a drug addiction for decades, Chuck is back in the spotlight stronger than ever.  Chuck Negron talks about various projects including books, videos, tours and a brand new musical project which will see the release of three unheard Three Dog Night tracks for the first time.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire: A Conversation with William B. Davis

With a career that has spanned six decades, Canadian thespian William B. Davis has been involved in ever aspect of the acting profession including radio, stage, television, films and teacher.  Yet, despite all his accomplishments, he will always be remembered by fans as the villainous Cigerette Smoking Man on The X-Files.  William B. Davis talks about his most famous role, and how to play evil.

True Confessions of a B-Movie Bikini Girl: A Conversation with Salli Sachse

A familiar face in the background of American International Pictures B-movies during the sixties, including the legendary Beach Party films starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello and Roger Corman’s LSD film The Trip, Salli Sachse cultivated her own fan following with only a handful of scenes.  However, when tragedy left her life in shambles, Salli left show business to reinvent herself as an artist.  Salli Sachse tells about her life as a B-movie bikini girl, and her emotional journey afterwards.

I See Dead People…All the Time: A Conversation with Amy Allan

Star of Travel Channel’s supernatural reality show The Dead Files, medium Amy Allan talks to ghosts in haunted homes across America, giving answers and advice to the owners, and helping the living and the dead.  Amy Allan talks about her unique gifts, and gives a hint about whats next.

Little Sister of the Sun: A Conversation with Melanie

At nineteen years old folk singer Melanie Safka walked on the Woodstock stage with nearly no fan base, and walked off as one of the symbols of the flower child generation.  With a string of hits including Brand New Key, Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma and Lay Down (Candles in the Rain), Melanie has had an emotional journey through music.  Melanie shares the stories of her life, and talks about the music that moved a generation.

Affirmative, Dave: A Conversation with Keir Dullea

One of the 60′s most intense actors, Keir Dullea made a name for himself for playing weirdos, loners and disturbed young men in critically acclaimed films such as Hoodlum Priest, David and Lisa, Bunny Lake is Missing, Black Christmas before his legendary performance as astronaut Dave Bowman in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Keir Dullea talks about hsi career in movies and on the stage.

Gawky – Tales of An Extra Long Awkward Phase: Back to the 90′s with Margot Leitman

In her brand new book, Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase, comedian Magot Leitman gives readers a look into her often dramatic teenage past as a misfit kid living in New Jersey.  A painfully funny book, Leitman taps into a universal feeling of inadequacy and anxiety felt by many, and paints a rare picture of the 90′s, a decade of questionable culture.

Just My Style: A Conversation with Gary Lewis

As front man for The Playboys, musician Gary Lewis found international fame in the 60′s with a string of top ten Billboard hits including This Diamond Ring, Count Me In, Just My Style and Everybody Loves a Clown.  But even more important was that Gary Lewis managed to forge a career without the involvement of his famous father, comedian Jerry Lewis, and found success on his own.  Gary talks about hsi return to 2013′s Happy Together Tour and looks back at his career in music.

Critters and Confessionals: A Conversation with Donna Douglas

In the role of Elly May Clampett on the sit-com The Beverly Hillbillies, actress Donna Douglas has become one of classic television’s most iconic faces.  A deeply religious woman, Donna talks to us about the blessings that being Elly May has brought to her life, as well as her personal testimony of how faith helped a young girl from Baton Rouge find success in Hollywood.

“Danger! Danger Will Robinson!”: A Conversation with Bill Mumy

A true pop culture renaissance man, Bill Mumy has worked in all aspects of the entertainment industry over the past five decades, including television, film, music and comic books.  However, audiences best remember him as boy space adventurer Will Robinson on the classic sci-fi series Lost in Space.  Bill Mumy talks about Lost in Space, The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock, Fish Heads and more!

The Man with Bogart’s Face: A Conversation with Jerry Lacy

Over a career that has spanned five decades, character actor Jerry Lacy has had appeared on television, movies and the stage.  A long time staple in soap operas, Jerry became a favorite on Dark Shadows for playing various incarnations of the dreaded Trask clan.  However, Woody Allen fans know Jerry as the spirit of Humphery Bogart in Allen’s classic Play It Again, Sam.  Lacy talks about both of his most famous productions, as well as his staring role in the independent horror film Dr. Mabuse.

Audience with the Baroness: A Conversation with Sarah Slean

With her own unique sense of dramatic flare and poetic lyrics, Canadian musician Sarah Slean has gained a cult following throughout the world.  Promoting her latest two disk CD Land and Sea, Sarah Slean talks about touring, writing music, and her continuous work on a bilingual stage production.

Much Ado About Ed: Ed the Sock Returns to Much Music

In 1994 Canada’s favorite passive aggressive piece of footwear, Ed the Sock, joined Much Music and became an overnight Canadian icon via his wild celebrity interviews, and his popular Formage specials.  In 2013, Ed returned to his former stomping grounds for the first time since 2007, and gave PCA an exclusive on the reasons he left, and for his triumphant return!

The Paul Williams Connection: A Conversation with Paul Williams

One of the most celebrated song writers of the 20th Century, multiple award winning musician Paul Williams wrote the songs of our lives including We Only Just Begun, Evergreen and The Rainbow Connection.  Current president of ASCAP, and the subject of the award winning documentary Paul Williams: Still Alive, Paul talks to PCA about his career and about addiction, recovery and the power of kindness.

Whats Purple and Goes Buzz Buzz?: A Conversation with The Electric Prunes’ James Lowe

As the front man for one of the celebrated cult groups of the 1960′s, James Lowe spent decades trying to forget about The Electric Prunes, deeming the group to be a failure.  However, with a growing cult of fans still talking abotu the group, Lowe has embraced the band all over again, continuing their unique sound into the 21st Century.

I’m In Love With Her and I Feel Fenn: A Conversation with Sherilyn Fenn

One of the most beautiful actresses in pop culture history, Sherilyn Fenn lit a million hearts on fire when she played poor little rich girl in David Lynch’s cult classic Twin Peaks.  However, after making a number of high profile cult films, Sherilyn fell out of the spot light to become a Mom.  Now back on the radar with a new film, Sherilyn Fenn is back, setting hearts on fire all over again – including PCA’s Sam Tweedle who she turns into a puddle of goo.

Thanks For the Jenny Love: A Conversation with Paula Brancati

One of Canada’s most prolific young actresses, Paula Brancati has found her footing on the CanCon industry by being in three cult series by the age of 25.  Most famous for the role of Jane Vaughn on Degrassi: The Next Generation, Paula found recent success as Jenny Zalen in Being Erica, and co-starred in the recent independent film Moon Point.

Searching for Serenity: A Conversation with Sean Maher

In the role of Dr. Simon Tam on the cult phenomena Firefly, actor Sean Maher found a devoted fan base.  But, in a strange twist of fate, found himself forced back into the closet by managers and publicists that thought if the public found out that he was gay it would harm his career as a brooding leading man.  Now out to the public, Sean gives a revealing look at a disturbing truth of sexual politics in Hollywood, showing that things possibly haven’t changed as much as you might think.

A Canadian in Camelot: A Conversation with Kristin Booth

One of Canada’s most versatile actresses, Kristin Booth has dual careers with mainstream success in the US and as the independent film darling of Canada.  Still riding high on the success of her portrayal of Ethel Kennedy in the controversial mini-series The Kennedys, Kristin Booth talks to PCA about her upcoming film, Sex After Kids, and her independent horror hit Below Zero.

What Are You Doing New Years Eve?: Liana K Talks Futurecon

One of the most over hyped holidays of the year, New Years Eve can be the night of the year, or a giant let down.  Thats why geek goddess of the North, and PCA favorite, Liana K offers Toronto based fans an alternative of hanging out in over priced clubs with annoying hipsters.  Liana talks about her own charity based New Years celebration, Futurecon, and talks about whats coming up for 2013.

Monster & Me: A Conversation with Athena Beaumeister

While many teenagers from today’s YouTube and reality show generation often seek to find instant fame without talent or time, award winning actress/director/writer Athena Beaumeister has been heading her own productions since the age of twelve.  Having recently starred in her first full length independent film, Monster and Me, Athena is a talent powerhouse with a promising future in film.

The Mod Life of a Dr Pepper Girl: A Conversation with Donna Loren

As the official teenage spokes model for Dr Pepper, Donna Loren managed to dip her fingers into every aspect of pop culture during the 1960′s including film, television, print and music.  As a fixture in the AIP Beach Party films, as well as a regular on Shindig!, Donna Loren was the hardest working teenager in America, until she walked away from it in 1968.  Now, Donna Loren returns to talk about her colorful past, and her current projects, in an often thought provoking discussion of the culture of the 60′s.

You Can Dance If You Want To: A Conversation with Ivan Doroschuk

One of MTV’s earliest icons, singer/songwriter Ivan Doroschuk fronted Montreal based ‘new wave” group Men Without Hats, which produced one of the most important songs of the era, The Safety Dance.  Now, after a twenty year hiatus, Ivan is back with a newly formed Men Without Hats with a dynamic new album, and a current tour throughout North America and Europe.

What Willis Is Talking About: A Conversation with Todd Bridges

During the late 70′s and early 80′s Todd Bridges captured the hearts of audiences in the role of Willis Jackson, a young boy trying to maintain his cultural identity after being adopted by a white millionaire in the sit-com Diff’rent Strokes.  In the 90′s Todd’s life took a tragic turn where he had a much publicized battle with drugs and crime.  Now, sober from twenty years, Todd is trying to resurrect his acting career, and find his way out of the shadows that haunt him.  Todd Bridges gives a personal and in depth talk about surviving drugs, addiction and child stardom and his thoughts and feelings about his time on Diff’rent Strokes

Heather Donahue is Not Dead: A Conversation with Heather Donahue

In 1999 Heather Donahue’s frightened eyes became one of the most iconic symbols of the horror genre when she captured the imaginations of audiences worldwide in the cult film The Blair Witch Project.  However, by 2008 Heather was completely off the radar.  Finally coming back onto the pop culture radar, Heather has released her first book, Grow Girl, chronicling her uprising Post-Bliar Witch career as a medical marijuana grower.


Mind the Gap: A Conversation with Gary Puckett

With a string of hits in the late 1960′s, such as Lady Midnight, This Girl is a Woman Now and Over You, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap were one of the pioneers of the soft rock genre.  One of the best vocalists of the era, Gary Puckett rejoined the Happy Together Tour in the summer of 2012, bringing his smooth sounds throughout North America.  And what about the meaning of Young Girl?  Well we go there, and Gary explains it in a new and different light.

Comets, Corpses, Cowgirls and Cult Films: A Conversation with Catherine Mary Stewart

During the 1980′s Catherine Mary Stewart held the heartstrings of a legion of young cinefilein her hands by playing “the girl next door” in films such as The Last Starfighter, Night of the Comet, Dudes and Weekend at Bernie’s.  Although most of her films were critically dismissed during the time of their release, Catherine is now enjoying cult fame while her films are finally being appreciated by viewers hungry for 80′s nostalgia.

Kristen Johnston Spills Her Guts: A Conversation with Kristen Johnston

Audiences fell in love with two time Emmy Award winner Kristen Johnston for her role of Sally Solomon in the hit sit-com 3rd Rock From the Sun. However, what they didn’t know is that Kristen Johnston was addicted to pain killers and alchol, which would have her fighting for her life in a London hosptial in 2006.  Now sober, and with a powerful new book, Guts, currently in bookstores Kristen Johnston is back on top with a brand new sit-com, The Exes.  Kristen tells all, and a bit more, in a powerful and honest interview.

I’m a Honky Tonk Man: A Conversation with Wayne “The Honky Tonk Man” Ferris

One of the most colorful “heals” in the heyday of WWF wrestling in the 80′s, Wayne Ferris, aka The Honky Tonk Man, went down in history for holding on to the title of Intercontinental Chapion longer then any other pro-wrestler, defending hit title against Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. The Honky Tonk Man talks about his career, and about the tough business of wrestling.

Greetings Starfighter: A Conversation with Lance Guest

In the 1980′s Lance Guest became known as “the guy next door” in extradonary situations in films such as Halloween II and Lou Grant.  However, he would be remembered by an entire generation as Alex Rogan in The Last Starfighter.  Today Lance Guest plays singer Johnny Cash on the hit Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet.  Lance talks about movies, music and more.

Black Magic Woman: A Conversation with Lara Parker

In the role of evil witch Angelique Bouchard on the cult daytime drama Dark Shadows, actress Lara Parker became a fan favorite.  Lara Parker talks about Angelique, her roles in Save the Tiger, Race with the Devil, and about her cameo in Johnny Depp and Tim Burton’s version of Dark Shadows.

For Our Children’s Sake: A Conversation with Marcia McBroom

Although movie fans remember her best as The Carrie Nation’s drummer Pet Danforth in Russ Meyer’s cult classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.  But when her mother disappeared in Nigeria during a military coup, Marcia dismantled her career in an effort to have her mother returned home safely and took up the family trade of social activism.  From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Russ Meyer Marcia McBroom shares some of her extraordinary experiences as an actress, model, activist and educator.

I Hate Hollywood: Catching up with Ed the Sock and Liana K

He is an abrasive Canadian icon who happens to be a piece of footwear.  She is the Geek Goddess of the Great White North.  Together, Ed the Sock and Liana K form the due of Ed n’ Red, who beat the odds by winning last years Canadian Comedy Award for Best TV Show.  Ed and Liana return to PCA to discuss their brand new TV series, I Hate Hollywood, and talk about how the media machine manipulates the public with banality.  Ed and Liana are about to change the way you look at media forever!

Nova Speaks: A Conversation with Linda Harrison

To film fans Linda Harrison ignited a thousand crushes as mute savage woman Nova in the sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes.  But in reality Linda was the wife of one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers, which gave her a unique behind the scenes look at the inside look at the big business behind movies and brought her in contact with some of the biggest directors in today’s film industry.An outsider looking in to a world that most people don’t see, Linda Harrison shares her life on and off the Planet of the Apes.

Turtlegate – Rist vs. Bay: Catching up with Robbie Rist

When director Michael Bay announced that his plans to make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, but was going to turn the turtles into aliens, fans revolted with an uproar.  Amongst the chaos an unlikely, but obvious, ally spoke up and called Michael Bay out – former child star Robbie Rist who also voiced Michelangelo in the original Ninja Turtles films.  A friend of PCA’s, Robbie talks about his public “feud” with Michael Bay.

The Dolly Affair: A Conversation with Dolly Read

From the pages of Playboy Magazine, to the psychedelic set of the cult classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, actress/model Dolly Read has a way of sending men right to the moon.  However, instead of continuing her promising career as a Hollywood star, Dolly fell in love with comedian Dick Martin and fell out of the spotlight.  Dolly Read turns on her special brand of charm in this exclusive interview with PCA!

Geoff Tate Unplugged: A Conversation with Geoff Tate

As lead singer to Queensryche, Geoff Tate has been performing his unique brand of “thinking man’s heavy metal” for three decades.  Currently working on a solo project, as well as making his acting debut in the upcoming independent film The Birmingmoore Incident, Geoff Tate talks to PCA about touring, songwriting and thirty years of Queensryche.

Dial “M” for Mamie: A Conversation with Mamie Van Doren

As on of the 1950′s fabled “Three M’s,” platinum blond beauty Mamie Van Doren became one of the era’s most celebrated sex symbols.  But while she was publicized as Universal’s answer to Marilyn Monroe, Mamie etched out her own unique persona as a Hollywood rebel during a repressed era where women weren’t able to be rebellious.  Highly insightful and incredibly intelligent, Mamie Van Doren shares her stories about her career and her journey amongst Hollywood’s elite including Howard Hughes, Rock Hudson, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe.

Two Faces Have Dick: A Conversation with Andy Dick

One of Hollywood’s most controversial comedians, Andy Dick is pop culture’s most unusual “bad boy.”  In a rare candid interview, PCA gets the whole Andy Dick experience as he shows two faces to his persona – angry and defensive, and warm and whimsical.  Andy talks about his film, Division III, as well as the stigma surrounding him, his famous 2007 confrontation with John Lovitz, fatherhood and more.

They’re Coming to Get You Barbara: A Conversation with John A. Russo and Russell Streiner

In 1967, writer John A. Russo and producer Russell Streiner joined forces with director George Romero to create one of horror’s most fascinating films, Night of the Living Dead, and in the process revamped the zombie sub-genre into the guilty pleasure we know today.  Both gentelmen had parts in the film as well, with Russo playing a flesh eating ghoul, and Streiner taking the key role of the film’s first victim “Johnny.”  PCA sit sdown with Russo and Streiner to talk about the film, as well as their current careers as mentors to the next generation of film makers as part of the John A. Russo Movie Making Program.

Giddle Me This: A Conversation with Giddle Partridge

Model, singer, actress, pin up girl, fashion designer, psychic, enchantress, high priestess and artist, Giddle Partridge has all of her fingers dipped in the neon green and pink honey pots in Hollywood.  A pivotal part of the Hollywood community, Giddle Partridge lives her life by her own rules, and as a result has found her own unique fan following for just being the one and only Giddle Partridge in the universe.  We try to crack the enigma that is Giddle Partridge as she talks about life and her personal philosophies.

Return to Southfork: A Conversation with Larry Hagman

One of television’s most important stars, Larry Hagman found initial fame playing astronaut Tony Nelson in the classic 60′s sit-com I Dream of Jeannie.  However, he would discover pop culture iconic by playing TV’s greatest villain, the devious Texas oil man J.R. Ewing on the classic drama Dallas for thirteen seasons and a number of TV movies.  Larry Hagman talks to PCA about being “the man you love to hate” as he prepares for the return of Dallas to television in 2012.

I Dream of Barbara: A Conversation with Barbara Eden

One of televisions most beloved icons, Barbara Eden has been the subject of generations of school boy crushes in her iconic role of Jeannie in the classic sit-com I Dream of Jeannie.  Recently releasing her memoir titled Jeannie out of the Bottle, Barbara Eden talks to PCA about her book, her career, her character, her encounters with some of the biggest icons of pop culture as well as the saddest moment of her life in a candid and personal interview.

Along Comes Larry:  A Conversation with Larry Ramos

In conjunction with The Happy Together Tour, PCA talks to The Association’s Larry Ramos who helped shape some of the biggest hits of the 1960′s including Windy and Never My Love.  Larry also shares with us his stories as a member of early commercial folk group The New Christy Minstrels, and stories about his life in music during his childhood in Hawaii.

Weekend at Ernie’s: A Conversation with Barry Livingston

Most famous for playing the adopted son Ernie on the classic sit-com My Three Sons, character actor Barry Livingston continues to maintain a career as one of Hollywood’s most prolific character actors.  Barry talks to PCA about his career, and the people he has encountered, from Elvis Presely to Charlie Sheen as he brings us through his entire career from Ozzie and Harriet to The Social Network and beyond!

Chip Happens: A Conversation with Stanley Livingston

As youngest son Chip Douglas on the classic sit-com My Three Sons, America watched Stanley Livingston grew up from a child of ten to a man of twenty two over twelve seasons.  Now a director and producer at his own production company, Stanley, with the help of a who’s who of pop culture icon, has put together “The Actor’s Journey” – a program teaching the business end of Hollywood.

The Return of That Girl in Pink: Catching Up with Benni Cinkle

From awkward background dancer to public crusader, internet celebrity Benni Cinkle has been using her sudden bizzare fame to help people and charity organizations world wide.  With a cult status that continues to grow each week, PCA sat down with Benni for a second time to talk about her charity work for cystitis fibrosis and a hint of what is next for this extraordinary California teenager.

Glory Days: A Conversation with Clare Kramer

In roles such as Courtney in Bring it On, Lucy in the Sky in D.E.B.S. and Glory on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Clare Kramer has made an entire career out of playing the perfect bitch.  A classically trained actress, Clare has had a successful career in film, television and on the stage.  Clare talks to us about her suprising beginnings in show business, as well as talks about just what it takes to play some of the bitchiest characters in pop culture!

Avenging Tara King: A Coversation with Linda Thorson

When Canadian actress Linda Thorson took the role of Tara King in the 1960′s cult spy series The Avengers, she had might big boots to fill as the replacement for the iconic fan favorite Diana Rigg.  However, approaching the role with litte fear, Linda Thorson added a sense of youth and romance to the program for it’s final season.

Meeksa Mooska Mousekateer: A Coversation with Cubby O’Brien

One of the most popular of the original Mouseketeers, Cubby O’Brien was the first crush for hundreds of little girls across North America during the 1950′s.  However, Cubby has had a lifetime of experiences in entertainment beyond The Mickey Mouse Club via his career as a drummer for entertainers such as Lawrence Welk, Ann-Margarat, Spike Jones, Bernedette Peters and The Carpenters!  In our rare interview Cubby talks about his life in show business, and takes you into the world of some of music’s lendary performers!

Queer in the Hall – Opening the Backdoor of Canadian Comedy: A Conversation with Scott Thompson

As a member of The Kids in the Hall, Scott Thompson has become a Canadian comedy icon via his many characters including Buddy Cole, Danny Husk and HRH Queen Elizabeth II.  Currently promoting his new graphic novel, The Hollow Planet, Scott Thompson talks about his career, and the changing face of homosexuality on television.

FU Ottawa!:  Catching Up with Ed the Sock

In the years since we last spoke to Canada’s strangest icon, Ed the Sock, life has been a series of up and downs.   Cancelled and resurrected, it’s often been a struggle for Ed to stay alive on the changing Canadian television landscape.  However, finally finding a foothold on CHCH TV, Canada’s favorite aggressive cigar smoking opinionated sock puppet is back with a new show and new projects…including a bid for Prime Minister of Canada!

Kitten’s Konfessions: A Conversation with Kitten Natividad

From the burlesque stage to men’s magazines, Kitten Natividad not only became one of the most popular girls to appear in sexploitation director Russ Meyer’s films, but became beloved by Russ Meyer himself, with whole she had a relationship with during the later years of his career.  Kitten gives an open an blunt look into her life with Russ Meyer, as well as the true confessions of her life as a sex industry icon.

Harris Horror: A Conversation with Danielle Harris

From family comedies to action flicks, everybody has seen a film featuring Danielle Harris.  However, she will possibly always be remembered for her role as Jamie Lloyd, the niece of Micheal Myers, in the Halloween franchise, which has lead to a career as one of today’s busiest “scream queens.”

Accidental Mouseketeer:  A Conversation with Lonnie Burr

In 1955 child actor Lonni Burr took his place in the role call of the legendary Mickey Mouse Club, quickly becoming one of the most popular Mouseketeers.  Lonnie talks about life before, during and after The Mickey Mouse Club as well as memories of Walt Disney, Jimmie Dodd, Roy Williams and his romance with Annette Funicello.

Perfect Harmony: A Conversation with Mercedes McNab

In the role of “vampire without a clue” Harmony Kendall of the cult favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer,  actress Mercedes McNab took what was to be a minor role, and shaped it into a fan favorite, eventually bringing the role over to the spin off series Angel, where she brought comedy and sex appeal to the offices of Wolfman and Hart.

Dancing Awkwardly for Japan:  A Covnersation with Benni Cinkle

When Benni Cinkle’s classmate Rebecca Black asked her to participate in a music video for a vanity project she was working on, little did Benni know that she would gain a world wide cult following as “That Girl in Pink That Dances Awkwardly in Rebecca Black’s Friday Video.”  Charming the public by laughing along with the Friday phenomena, Benni took her new found fame to help raise money for relief in Japan.  Benni talks about her charity efforts in her first ever interview.

Behind That Friendly Mask Lies Fermenting the Unholy Seed of…An Actor: A Conversation with Harrison Page

One of Hollywood’s most versitile character actors, Harrison Page found cult stardom in Russ Meyer’s Vixen! and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls before graduating to dramatic roles on ER, Hill Street Blues, Ally McBeal, JAG, while rounding out his career as LT. Tuck in the cult comedy Sledge Hammer, and as Jaques Claude Van Damme’s right hand man Joshua  in Lionheart.

Truth and Grit: A Conversation with Kim Darby

As the co-star of True Gritopposite of John Wayne, actress Kim Darby became an overnight sensation in 1969.  However, Hollywood was not a fairy tale place of fantasy that it is thought to be.  Now, for the first time, Kim Darby talk tells the truth about the rumors of discontent on the set of “True Grit” and her real life battle with amphetamines and eating disorders.  Kim Darby’s story of survival and is a must read for any woman persuing a career in film today.

Waiting for Royal:  A Conversation with Royal Wood

One of Canada’s most talented singer/songwriters, Royal Wood offers listeners something more geniune and thoughtful then top forty radio.  Touring across Canada in the fall of 2010, Sam Tweedle talks to Royal about his fourth album, “The Waiting,” as well as his journey both on the road, and through the music industry.

Forever Young:  A Conversation with Alan Young

Multiple Emmy Award winning comedian Alan Young has had a long and colorful career in Hollywood.  With his natural wit and recognizable voice, multiple Emmy Award winning Alan has done radio, voice acting, sketch comedy, film and television.  Hower he will probably be most remembered in the role of Wilbur Post on the classic sit-com Mister Ed.

PCA Catches Up with Misty Lee

Sam Tweedlecatches up with magician Misty Lee who talks about her grand new regular performance at Los Angeles’ famous Magic Castle night club where she conjurs up Harry Houdini and the ghosts of the Magic Castle’s colorful past in a brandnew seance show!  Misty Lee takes us through the process of creating the show, and talks about the history and of the prestigious private club and the ghosts that haunt the famous Los Angeles landmark.

She Spat on Our Grave: A Conversation with Camille Keaton

One of film’s strangest feminest icons, Camille Keaton will always be remembered as the star of the controversial grindhouse film I Spit On Your Grave.  Camille shares with PCA stories of her early career, the contrvoersial aspects of I Spit On Your Grave and her thoughts on the upcoming remake.

Paul Dini Talks Tower Prep

Upon the premier of his first live action television program, animation legend and comic book writer Paul Dini talks about “Tower Prep.”  Debuting in the Fall of 2010 on the Cartoon Network, Paul tells Sam what to expect from the new series, and introduces us to his newest characters and the talented young cast that will bring ”Tower Prep” to life.

The Ups and Downs of Lou Grant: A Conversation with Edward Asner

One of television’s most respected actors, Edward Asner holds the unique record of winning more Emmy Awards then any actor in the history of television – eight statues for his roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Roots, Rich Man, Poor Man and Lou Grant.  As a result of his performance as the voice of Carl Fredrekson in Pixar’s Oscar winning animated film Up, Ed Asner is once again on the forefront of the pop culture radar, and as controverisal and opinonated as ever!

Z-Man’s Freaked Out Happening: A Conversation with John LaZar

Although a classically trained actor, John LaZar made his mark on cult cinema history when he played the mysterious, hedonistic, sexually ambiguous Ronnie “Z-Man” Barzell is Russ Meyer’s 1970′s classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.  Back on the pop culture radar in the award winning horror short Alice Jacobs is Dead, the mysterious John LaZar talks about his life, his colorful career and about bringing Z-Man to life.

Turtle Soup:  A Conversation with Mark “Flo” Volman

As a member of the top 40 pop band The Turtles, Mark Volman, along with Howard Kaylan, brought a sense of psychadelic humor to the world of pop/folk, and introdcued the world to the 60′s anthem Happy Together.  However, due to legal battles. by the 1970′s the pair could not use their real names and were reborn as “Flo and Eddie” alongside Frank Zappa.  In a rare interview about his music career, Mark Volman talks about his musical journey.

Hudson Makes Me Feel Good: A Conversation with Ernie Hudson

As straight man Winston Zeddemore, Ernie Hudson gained pop culture fame in the Ghost Busters films.  Continuing his success in The Crow and Oz, Ernie Hudson is still looking for that big break out role that he still desires.  Promoting his independent film Doonby, Ernie Hudson discusses his career, and answers the question which ever Ghost Busters fan wants to know – whats going on with the sequel?

Purrr-fect:  A Conversation with Julie Newmar

One of pop culture’s most beloved femme fatals, actress/dancer Julie Newmar has had a long career onstage, television and cinema where she has played sexy and sultry roles in shows such as The Twilight Zone, The Monkees, The Beverly Hillbillies and Get Smart.  However, TV audiences will forever recognize her as the first, and favorite, actress to bring the classic Batman villain Catwoman to life.

Austin Friday Nights to L.A. Bright Lights: A Conversation with Angela Rawna

Through the role of Regina Howard in the Emmy nominated NBC drama Friday Night Lights, Angela Rawna has been bringing a new bold reality to the face of drug addiction to television audiences, quickly becoming one of television’s newest and most respected character actresses.  Angela Rawna talks to us about creating the role of Regina Howard and what the future holds for her.

Victor Newman – The Eric Braeden Project: A Conversation with Eric Braeden

One of the soap opera industry’s most iconic performers, German born actor Eric Braeden has been portraying anti-hero Victor Newoman for thirty years on The Young and the Restless, and is fondly remembered as fan favorite Captain Hans Dietrich on The Rat Patrol.  One of episodic televisions most legendary villains, Eric Braeden talks about his acting career as well as topics ranging from politics, history, the Middle East, the World Cup and his latest film The Man Who Came Back.

Happening ’10: A Conversation with Mark Lindsay

With a combination of good looks, unique style and raw talent, Paul Revere and the Raider’s lead singer, saxophonist and front man Mark Lindsay became one of the most respected and revered rock performers of the 1960’s and one of the era’s biggest heart throbs.  Mark Lindsay talks about life as a rock star in the 1960′s and today, as well as reveals his feelings about his falling out with former partner Paul Revere and tells of the day he came face to face with a strange man named Charles Manson.

Pop Culture Renaissance Man: A Conversation with Brett Halsey

Starting his career in the mid 1950′s in “beefcake” roles, actor/novelist Brett Halsey has delved in all aspects of the entertainment industry.  Best remembered for his roles in film favorites such as Return of the Fly, Twice Told Tales, Today We Live, Tomorrow We Die, Return to Peyton Place and The Godfather Part III, Brett Halsey has done everything from soap operas to spaghetti westerns making him a virtual pop culture renaissance man.

Hollywood Everyman:  A Conversation with William Schallert

With a career spanning over sixty years in film and television, character actor William Schallert has made a career out of playing “straight” or “everyman” characters in some of television’s most beloved programs such as The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Get Smart and The Nancy Drew Mysteries.  However, he is probably best remembered as TV Dad Martin Lane on The Patty Duke Show.

Vampires and Bunnies: A Conversation with Kathryn Leigh Scott

Long before Buffy or Bella, Kathryn Leigh Scott played Maggie Evans, the obsession of original vampire anti-hero Barnabas Collins, on Dark Shadows.  With new interest in the gothic romance genre, Kathryn Leigh Scott shares her memories of the original gothic soap opera, as well as her earlier career as a Playboy Club bunny.

Grand Master D: A Conversation with David Faustino

As Bud Bundy on TV’s cult sit-com Married with Children, David Faustino was unlike most TV sit-com sons – sleazy, sarcastic and horny.  From striking out with girls to his adventures as Grand Master B, David Faustino maintains a strong fan following today.

Mane Behind the Mask: A Conversation with Tyler Mane

Making his first film breakthrough in the role of Sabertooth in Bryan Singer’s X-Men, former wrestler Tyler Mane has become a cult film icon by donning the mask of Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s relaunch of the Halloween franchise.

Eight Arms to Hold You: A Conversation with Maud Adams

One of the most beautiful women of the 1970′s, Swedish model/actress Maud Adams made her mark in film history as being the only woman to play two different Bond girls in two different films – Andrea Anders in The Man with the Golden Gun and the title character in Octopussy.  Maud Adams remains to be one of the most popular Bond girls from the cult film series.

The George Lazenby of 007s: A Conversation with George Lazenby

In 1968 the world was shocked when Australian model George Lazenby replaced Sean Connery as James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  A year later he shocked the world once again when he turned his back on the franchise after one film making him one of the most notorious and mysterious of the actors to play secret agent 007.  George Lazenby reveals why in our exclusive interview!

Bad Seed: A conversation with Alison Arngrim

Nastier than Darth Vadar, bitchier than Nurse Ratchet and more vicious than Hannibal Lecter, Nellie Olson pushed the buttons of TV audiences world wide, becoming one of the most iconic characters from the beloved series, Little House on the Prairie.

“Wherever I go, Terrible Things Happen”: A Conversation With Robbie Rist

Sam’s interview with the loathed ‘Cousin Oliver’ from the later years of TV’s beloved The Brady Bunch.  Robbie Rist went on to have a fascinating acting career spanning decades, and is best known today for his voice over work and his music.

Little Shop of Corman: A Conversation with Roger Corman

Sam sits down with legendary B film director Roger Corman, who Sam has often described as “the reason I watch the films I watch.”  Over a career spanning more than 50 years and almost 400 films, Corman has created drive-in staples, have mentored some of Hollywood’s most legendary directors and captured the imaginations of movie-goers.    Sam spoke to Mr. Corman from his home in Los Angeles.

Plenty O’Lana: A Conversation with Lana Wood

Little sister of Hollywood Icon Natalie Wood, Lana grew up in the limelight, starting her own acting career at age 8.  Years later, the little girl now a voluptuous bombshell, she starred opposite Sean Connery in Diamonds Are Forever, creating the unforgettable Plenty O’Toole.  From James Dean to James Bond, Lana Wood takes us through a journey of her life in Hollywood.

Reluctant Scream Queen: A Conversation with Barbara Steele

Strong, mysterious and powerful, Barbara Steele was a refreshing change from the damsels in distress of earlier horror films.   One of the first goth queens of pop culture, she appeared in dozens of horror films in the 60s.  Unable to escape typecasting, she still yearns for new roles.

Salame: A morning with David Liebe Hart

Over the last two decades Hart has become a mainstay in the streets of Los Angeles where he can be seen nightly outside of the Hollywood Bowl and the Santa Monica Pier performing his unique original compositions with his puppet companion Doug the Dog.  Today, David Liebe has become a YouTube phenomena, and internationally famous for his appearances on the Eric and Tim Awesome Show, Great Job!  Easily one of the strangest interviews ever conducted for PCA.

Running for the drum: A conversation with Buffy Sainte-Marie

Over her five decades in the music business, Buffy Sainte-Marie has continued to be courageous, hard hitting and beautiful in both mind and soul.  Through her music and message, Buffy Sainte-Marie continues to be a music, feminist and Native American icon.  Sam sat down with her during a visit to Peterborough, ON.

The man who made Billy Jack go berserk: A conversation with David Roya

Ever action hero needs a villain, and actor David Roya fit the bill perfectly when he took on the role of Bernard Posner in the Grindhouse classic Billy Jack.  Out of the public spotlight for decades, and having not talked to the media for years, this is the first time that David Roya has had a chance to tell about his career, his mistakes and the challenges of working on Billy Jack.

The Ballad of Billy Jack’s Babysitter: A Conversation with Debbie Shock

In the role of free spirited Indian girl Kit, nineteen year old Debbie Shock gave a standout performance in her one and only screen appearance in the grindhouse favorite Billy Jack.  However, while Tom Laughlin and Delores Taylor were heroes to many young people in the late 1960′s, Debbie Shock had a personal relationship with the first couple of counter culture films as their next door neighbour and babysitter!  Debbie Shock gives us a look into the Laughlin-Taylor household and behind the scenes on Billy Jack in this exclusive interview.

Hey Baby, they’re playing our song: Reaching back with The Buckingham’s Carl Giammarese

As current lead singer and front man to Chicago based rock band The Buckingham’s, Carl Giammarese helped shape the sound of the 1960′s with such Billboard hits such as Kind of a Drag, Don’t You Care, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song.

Lost Artz: A Conversation with Daniel Roebuck

One of Hollywood’s busiest character actors, Daniel Roebuck has appeared in hundreds of films and television programs over the last three decades, but is probably best remembered by fans as Andy Griffith’s sidekick Cliff Lewis on Matlockand Dr. Leslie Artz on the cult hit Lost.  Daniel Roebuck talks about his career, and the state of pop culture today.

Heartbeats, Lovebeats and Tiger Beats: A Conversation with Tony DeFranco

At age fourteen Tony DeFranco hit teen stardom when he and his brothers and sisters formed the pop group The DeFranco Family and hit bubblegum gold with Heartbeat (It’s a Lovebeat).  Now a successful real estate mogul, Tony DeFranco shares the highs and lows of being a teen idol and a one hit wonder.

Beyond Boba Fett:  A Conversation with Jeremy Bulloch

While he may always be remembered best for his unique contribution to the Star Wars franchise,  many fans may be surprised to know that Jeremy Bulloch also worked in a number of other popular sci-fi/fantasy franchises, including Doctor Who, James Bond and Robin of Sherwood.

Jungle Madness: A conversation with Cannibal Holocaust’s Ruggero Deodato

Still banned in a number of countries today, Cannibal Holocaust  is still the record holder of the most banned film in movie history. Deodato’s  demeanor  is not as intimidating as his reputation.  However, deep in his eyes is a kind of certain intensity and fire that is unmistakable.  There is no doubt that he is the kind of man who can lead a film crew into the deepest darkest jungles, look madness in the face, and come back to tell the tale.

Drive My soul: A Conversation with Lights

With a “no fear” sense of confidence, Canadian synth-pop artist Lights has created a devoted fan falling throughout North American and Europe. With her beauty and talent, she is currently laying down the groundwork on her own unique path as a pop culture icon.  Read as PCA’s Sam Tweedle falls head over heels in love with one of Canada’s newest eccentric music sensations.

The Deadliest Pussycat of Them All: A Conversation with Tura Satana

One of the legends of exploitation film, Tura Satana’s personal story is more gripping than any script.  She has been many things in her lifetime, but to her fans worldwide she’ll always be the deadliest pussycat of them all.  One of Sam’s personal film icons, Tura reveals some of her personal tales about sex, violence, iconisim and more.

The Man Behind the Fonz: A Conversation with Henry Winkler

A man who needs absolutely no introduction, Henry Winkler became  one of the most legendary pop culture icons of all time for his portrayal of Arthur Fonzerelli, aka The Fonze, on the classic hit sit-com Happy Days.  Sam conducted a breif interview with Henry Winkler while promoting his Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever series of books.

The Happy Days of Joanie Cunningham: A Conversation with Erin Moran

Happy Days kid sister Erin Moran answers some of the questions that fans really want to know!  Did Joanie “really” love Chachi?  Does “Chachi” really translate into “penis” in Korean?  When did Happy Daysjump the shark?  Whatever happened to Chuck?  Erin Moran shares her stories of growing up on one of television’s most beloved sit-coms.

Abacadabra: A Conversation with Misty Lee

Alluring, beautiful and whimsical, Los Angeles based magician Misty Lee has been casting her own magic spell on audiences and fan boys alike.  Developing a fan following of her own, the multi-talented voice actress, singer and comedian also provides the voice for the mischievous Little Rashy the sock monkey in a series of videos developed by Misty and her husband Paul Dini.

Everybody Has Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey: A Conversation with Paul Dini and RaSHy

Stars of the Monkey Talk internet video series, popular comic/TV writer Paul Dini and his sock monkey “son” Little Rashy create mirth and mayhem while interviewing some of pop culture’s biggest stars.

What’s The Matter Kid? Don’t Ya Like Clowns?: A Convresation with Sid Haig

One of the legendary icons of Grindhouse cinema, Sid Haig appeared in dozens of films throughout the 60′s and 70′s, most notably for director Jack Hill.  However, he would find his defining role in decades later when he played Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects endearing himself to a new generation of film fans.

Memoirs of a Hermit: Setting the Record Straight with Herman’s Hermits’ Barry Whitwam

As head of  a Hermanless Herman’s Hermits in Europe, drummer Barry Whitwam reveals the secret history of the legendary 60′s pop band full of backstabbing, legal battles and the rivalry between the Hermits and front man Peter Noone.  Barry’s story will shock you in one of PCA’s most controversial interviews.

Dandy:  Peter Noone Strikes Back!

Unhappy with PCA’s interview with former band mate Barry Whitwam, Peter Noone, frontman for classic 60′s super group Herman’s Hermits, provides a rebutal to Barry’s interview and an alternative version of Herman’s Hermits often stormy history.  Blunt, honest and unedited, this is Peter Noone like you’ve never seen him before.  Is Peter Noone’s word on Hermit history the final word, or does he just open a brand new can of worms?  You be the judge.

The Real Life of Fake Jan: A Covenversation with Brady Bunch Alumnist Geri Reischl

One of pop culture’s strangest oddities, Geri Reischl, better known to her fans as “Fake Jan,” made the pop culture radar by replacing Eve Plumb in the role of Jan Brady on the ill fatedBrady Bunch Variey Hour.  Although she only kept the role for a breif time, she remains to have a cult following and be a fan favorite today.

Beauty and the Sock: A Conversation with Ed the Sock and Liana K

Loud, abbrasive, angry and blunt, Canadian late night oddity Ed the Sock has been entertaining audiences with his “no hold barred” interviews and commentary since 1987.  Joined by his smart and beautiful co-host Liana K, the pair talked to PCA about the entertainment stories of summer 2007

Hey Hey It’s Davy Jones: A Conversation with Davy Jones

Former MonkeeDavy Jones takes his place on his soap box in our epic interview.  Conducted over two days, Davy Jones takes on subjects such as sex, women, American Idol, superstardom, The Beatles, The Rock n’ Roll hall of Fame, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, laundry and what he really thinks of the rest of the Monkees.  This is Davy Jones, unedited and unleashed.  His opinons will shock and delight you.

The Cat Lady of Shambala: A Conversation with Tippi Hedren

Although she will always be best known for the role of Melanie Daniels in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller The Birds, Tippi Hedren made her mark in the film industry as one of the most beautiful leading ladies of the 1960′s.  However, today Tippi devotes her life to saving lions, tigers and other large cats via the Shambala Wildlife Preserve.


Raw, Rare, Well Done: The rock’n'roll journey of Reed Kailing

As a member of rock n’ roll groups such as The Destinations, The Hardy Boys, The Grass Roots and Badfinger, Reed Kailing’s stories straddle both sides of the industry. It can often be a magical place full of highs and joys, but also can be cold and cruel, full of backstabbing and death. Reed Kailing is the real deal, and through his journey the true face of the rock and roll is revealed.

The Hardy Boys and the Secret of the Lost Drummer: A conversation with Bob Crowder

Believed to be dead by his former bandmates, The Hardy Boys drummer Bob Crowder proves to be alive and well and comes out of the woodwork to share his sstory.  Although the world may not know his name,  for thirty years Bob Crowder worked as a session drummer, putting the beat behind some of the biggest musical legends of our time including Marvin Gaye, Howlin’ Wolf and The Bee Gees.

Cracking the Mystery of the Hardy Boys: A Conversation with Jeff Taylor

As lead singer to Miluakee based group The Messangers and short lived 60′s bubblegum band The Hardy Boys, Jeff Taylor was the voice behind some of the best pop music of the era that you have never heard.  Now working as a goldsmith in Fish Creek WI, Jeff Taylor provides some of the missing links to PCA’s search for The Hardy Boys.

Love and Let Love: A Conversation with Norbert “Nibs” Solystiak

Prior to his gig as saxaphone player for the obscure pop band The Hardy Boys, Norbert “Nibs” Solystiak was a part of the 1960′s Chicago music scene where played with the noteable garage band The Delights.  Nibs gives us a history lesson of the Chicago music scene and shares his rock n’ roll stories in the first ever PCA interview!

He Wrote the Mash!  He Wrote the Monster Mash!: A Conversation with Bobby “Boris” Pickett

When PCA conducted an interview with Bobby “Boris” Pickett in 2006, little did we know that it’d be the last interview he would ever give.  One of the more difficult interviews conducted by PCA, our interview with Bobby Pickett was featured at upon his death in 2007

Hangin’ Tough: A Conversation with Jordan Knight

As one of The New Kids on the Block, singer Jordan Knight helped redefine the face of bubblegum music in the 1980′s, and relaunched the boy band phenomena to brand new heights.  Still performing both as a solo artist, as well with the reformed New Kids on the Block, Jordan sat down with Sam Tweedle and Candace Shaw in PCA’s very first face to face celebrity interview.


In the pop culture journey, there’s some stuff that just doesn’t jive with any particular genre or  medium.  Here, Sam explores the mascot and spokemodels, commercials and cats’ opinions and brings to light stories that often slip through the cracks because they don’t fit anywhere else.  Remember Murphy the Molar?  Grimace?  The girl whpo drank Doctor Pepper?  Sam does, and he makes sure that these interesting stories aren’t forgotten.

Schlitze the Pinhead: One of Us!  One of Us!

For the love of Yoko: A reexamination and appreciation of Yoko Ono

Often blamed for the breakup of one of the most beloved and influential pop bands of all time, Yoko Ono is in reality an unsung hero whose message of peace and love has been consistent despite the backlash.

The Evolution of the Grimace: Criminal mastermind or lovable fool?

What is Grimace? Sam clears up the question (as much as possible) and goes on to examine the history of the Grimace character, uncovering some surprising early information that bears little resemblance to the lovable purple something-or-other that he’s grown to become in recent years.

Donna Loren: The Girl Who Drank Dr. Pepper

Whatever Happened to Catherine Clark?: Bringing Sexy Back to Canadian Politics

So what happens to great actors when they hit the bottom of their careers?  Well, in the 1960’s they found themselves starring in the legendary drive-in movies of yore, and if you are British actor Dana Andrews that means you find yourself starring in the wildly outrageous and hilariously over the top juvenile delinquent film Hot Rod to Hell!  With a title like that how can it not be a winner?  Hot Rod to Hell is one of the drive in greats that is so bad it’s awesome, but actually manages to provide some tension building action sequences as a New England family race for their lives against sadistic thrill seekers in souped up roadsters!  Its road rage at its finest combined with overacting at its worst making for one big drag race of B-movie goodness.

The Phillips Family, played by Dana Andrews, Jeanne Craine, Laurie Mock and Jeffery Byron, find terror on the California highway in "Hot Rod to Hell" (1967)

Dana Andrews plays family man Tom Phillips, who, while coming home one Christmas night, is plowed off the road by a drunk driver.  Barely escaping death, Tom has a long recovery, but suffers from a bad back and a fear of the world, and especially being on the road.  Unable to work again, his loving wife, played by former Hollywood glamour girl Jean Crain (obviously also at the end of her career) and his brother, played by character actor Harry Hickox, persuade Tom to buy a hotel in the California desert where he can live a seemingly peaceful existence.  Packing his plucky young son Jamie and his pouty teenage daughter Tina in the back seat of the family station wagon the Phillips’ head out to California and a new life.  However, their optimism changes when they encounter three reckless teenage daredevils, the brutish Duke, his sidekick Ernie and psychotic slut Gloria, hot roding down the desert highway.  After a confrontation at a gas station where Tom gives Ernie a “stern talking to,” Ernie discovers that Tom has bought the hotel.  However, what Tom doesn’t know is that he also has bought the local teenage hang out called The Arena full of rock n’ roll, underage drinking and other hedonistic pursuits.  Determined to not allow a “square” to break up The Arena, Duke and Ernie decide to make sure that Tom Phillips and his family doesn’t stay in California, resulting in terror and treachery on the California highway.

"Hot Rod to Hell's" villains Paul Bertoya, Gene Kirkwood and the delightfully "over the top" Mimsy Farmer

There is no other way to put it.  The acting in this film stinks.  I mean really stinks.  But if you love B movies the way I love B movies, you know that it stinks in all the right ways.  Each of the actors in the film, including veterans like Andrews and Crain, completely over do it to the extreme, making an odd sense of rhythm to the film.  Dana Andrews stomps around grimacing and giving stern lectures about highway safety and the evils of reckless driving to anyone who will listen.  Jean Crain looks like she’s going to have an aneurism just trying to keep everybody happy and take care of her ailing husband.  Bad boy Dutch, played by Paul Bertoya, slinks around being despicable and sexually aggressive.  Son Jaime Phillips, played by Jeffery Byron, gives enthusiastic one liners (“I’m going to be a prospector”), making himself into a virtual human Ralphie Wiggum.  Daughter Tina Phillips, played by the lovely Laurie Mock, who looks like a cross between Donna Loren and Amy Winehouse, mopes and pouts as she becomes the damsel in distress to Dutch’s sexual advances again and again.  Even Paul Genge, in the minor role of a traffic cop, grits his teeth and scowls trying to look authoritive in a hilarious performance.  However the real gem of the film is the outrageously over the top performance by Mimsy Farmer as “girl gone wild” Gloria.  Providing the strangest performance in the film, Farmer really overdoes everything she is supposed to do.  Whether she is laughing, crying, pouting, day dreaming, screaming, fucking, threatening or just being freakin’ crazy, Farmer does it to the extreme with hilarious results.

Sexually aggressive Duke meets pouty "good girl" Tina in a key scene deemed "to hot for television," sending this TV movie to the drive-in

But Hot Rods to Hell isn’t just about the bad acting and dialogue.  Despite the flaws, Hot Rods to Hell does provide some true thrills and a real sense of danger, drawing in the viewer to want to stay until the bitter end, wondering if Dana Andrews and his family will ever find peace and the new life they need.  The highlight of the film is truly some outrageous stunt driving on the California desert as Duke and his friends terrorize the Phillips family along the highway.  One key sequence featuring the family being chased by six roadsters is particularly gripping and filled of white knuckle tension.  The producers of Hot Rod to Hell at least got that right.  The film is also well paced, and is never bogged down by unnecessary material.  It may often be silly and preachy, but Hot Rod to Hell is never boring. 

Hot Rods to Hell was originally intended to be a television movie, but due to the censors deeming it too risqué for television it was moved to the drive-in circuit.  However, as a result, the film ends up being a bit to tame compared to the majority of the films that were appearing at the drive-in, only adding to the charm and appeal of the film.  But, Hot Rod to Hell wasn’t without its groundbreaking moments.  When a Coca-Cola bottle was spotted in the film being drank by Duke, Coca Cola forced Warner Brothers to black out the label on the bottle, not wanting to be associated with the character drinking the beverage.  This would be the first act of corporate censorship in film history!

One of my favorite B movies and juvenile deliquesce films, Hot Rod to Hell is an odd drive in classic from a bygone era that has found a cult status all its own.  Truly a great watch, Hot Rods to Hell is required viewing for cult movie fans.


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Sam Tweedle is a writer, interviewer, and cultural commentator who covers topics ranging from well-know to obscure stars with great stories to tell, fandom, fame, and what people do with their lives when the bright lights stop pointing at them.  Picking up forgotten Hollywood stories, he has been entertaining and educating fans of the pop culture journey for a decade. His writing has been featured in The National Post, and Filmfax Magazine.

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I wish you the best in your career.  You are very smart in the way you ask your questions.” - Television icon Henry Winkler, who  brought legendary pop culture icon the Fonz to life on Happy Days.

“I only did [the interview] because I’ve been around you the last few days and I knew you’d do the right thing.” – Actor George Lazenby, who took the role of James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service .

“After talking to you, I think you’ve got power that you don’t know about…You’re a good guy Sam.” – Actor Ed Asner who won eight Emmy Awards, more then any other actor, for his roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant, Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots.

“Thank you very much.  I really appreciate it.  This was a very good interview.  You’re very bright.”  – Soap opera icon Eric Braeden, who has played Victor Newman for over three decades on The Young and the Restless and remembered for playing Captain Hans Deitrich on The Rat Patrol.

“Dear Sam, what a wonderful interview we had! You got things out of me that no one ever did before. Thank you for saying such nice things. Best of luck in everything you do. Love and kisses, Mamie xoxoxo” – Legendary Hollywood sex symbol Mamie Von Doren, who appeared in 50′s films such as Teacher’s Pet and Untamed Youth.

“Dearest Sam, I so hope that this is the best year yet for you.  I feel that you truly are a special friend to me.  Thanks for making me feel alive My Heart, Kim Darby” – Award winning actress Kim Darby, best remembered for the role of Mattie Ross in the classic version of True Grit with John Wayne.

“Sam, I had the same great time chatting with you. You’re absolutely brilliant at getting someone to open up. I love this article, not just because it’s flattering (which–hello! Thank you!). I love it because I really hope it turns more people like you onto ‘The Exes’. Y’know, many people didn’t ‘get’ 3rd Rock for a long time. But we always had a base of true fans. Really smart people like yourself. I hope they check this Weds episode [of The Exes] out. It’s hilarious. If not, no biggie–I’ll just write my next book. (Arbitrary question–how is it possible that Snookie’s book out sold GUTS? Just curious.) Much love, Kristen” – Two time Emmy Award winning actress Kristen Johnston, who is best remembered for the role of Sally Solomon on 3rd Rock From the Sun, as well as star of The Exes and author of the hard hitting book Guts.

“Your questions are long winded.” – Troubled comedian and Hollywood “bad boy” Andy Dick, commenting on Sam Tweedle’s interview style.

“Dear Sam, My God, you printed every word I said!  You must have worked for days organizing that material and finding such great pictures.  Thanks for a job well done!  I will keep this one always. Love Lara” – Actress Lara Parker who became a fan favorite cult actress for her role of Angelique Bouchard in Dark Shadows, and appeared in films such as Save the Tiger and Race with the Devil.

“All in all, a very nice job, and your comments are astute and well appreciated.” – Character actor Jerry Lacy, known by Dark Shadows as the villainous Reverand Trask and his descendants, and by Woody Allen fans as the spirit of Humphrey Bogart in Play it Again, Sam.

“Thank you kindly for the nice things you say about me… I’d be happy to chat again sometime. Hope all is swell with you. Cheers, Bill” – Actor and musician Bill Mumy, best known to fans as boy space adventurer Will Robinson on Lost in Space.

“Sam, I had a “groovy” time. I feel it was one of the best interviews I’ve had.  All my best, John LaZar P.S. I believe yesterday’s session has cemented American-Canadian relations for years to come!” – Actor John LaZar who brought the iconic Ronnie “Z Man” Barzell to life in Russ Meyer’s cult film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

“Dear Sam.  Thank you for the VERY flattering open letter.  It made me blush!  I would love to send you a copy of my book (for fun summer reading) if you’ll send me a snail mail address.  Enjoy what is left of summer. Best, Yvonne” – Yvonne Craig, television’s Batgirl, Star Trek’s “greened skinned woman” and former Elvis Presley co-star.  She did send the book too.

“Sam!  Yours is one of the kindest and dearest interviews ever!!!  You listened…You are very special, and I hope to see you again soon.  You too, are special to me! Lana”  - Actress Lana Wood, who is probably best known for playing Bond girl Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever, as well as being Hollywood legend Natalie Wood’s younger sister.

“Aloha Sam!  Thank you for all your kind words about me. It’s phenomenal how pervasive flower power is today. Some energy that was born then does not want to let go and so it keeps touching the hearts of my children’s generation and it’s not over yet. I think a new courage was born then. Certainly I am a freedom fighter so the message of maintaining an awareness to always be creative and love one another is forever running through my veins. May I just say I have the good fortune to be writing to you while the sun is coming up over Diamondhead where I live with my Husband and shedding a gorgeous cast of pink wispy clouds in the Hawaiian skies. Donna Loren” – Donna Loren,  1960′s Dr. Pepper spokes model, entertainer and survivor of the Annette and Frankie Beach movies

“Sam, I enjoyed meeting you and reading the interview. When people see a woman getting brutally raped, I don’t think that they want to see a face attached to it (the victim). It really is vile.  Implied rape seems to be more acceptable. Til the next con, Camille” – Cult film actress Camille Keaton, best remembered for starring in the controversial revenge film I Spit On Your Grave.

“Sam:  I LOVE IT!   You did a wonderful job. I am so proud of it and I am sure you are too. The photos are a very nice touch and so are the YOUTUBE mentions. We did great didn’t we?!!  Thanks again for wanting to interview me. I had such a fun time doing it and talking with you.  Friends forever,  ~Geri~ – Geri “Fake Jan” Reischl, Eve Plumb’s replacement on Sid and Marty Kroft’s Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

“Sam,  Thank you for writing such a wonderful article. You are truly a professional, I could tell from the moment I heard your voice. Plenty of journalist do not do their homework. You went above the call of duty. Thank you so much. Wishing you all the best, Angela”  – Actress Angela Rawna who played Regina Howard on the Emmy Award nominated NBC drama Friday Night Lights

“Sam, I finally had a chance to sit down and read the whole interview. Fantastic! If you were in front of me right now, you’d see me bowing with hands over my head. You did a fine job of putting all of it together, I appreciate all your hard work. I especially like the way you closed it out, very nice.   Well done my friend, lets talk when you have time. Carl” – 60′s pop sensations The Buckinghams guitarist and current lead singer Carl Giammarese.

Hi Sam – Wow.  What a great piece!  Thanks for going into such detail.  Love the pictures too.  Some I’ve never seen before!  Lets try and get together when you get down to L.A. next.  All the best.. – Stan” – Actor/director Stanley Livingston who played Skip Douglas on My Three Sons.

“Hi Sam, Thanks for sending the interview.  Great work, man!  Really!!  I’m impressed. Barry” – Character actor Barry Livingston, best remembered for playing Ernie Douglas on My Three Sons.

“Sam! Wow, thank you so much for the comics! I just got them a couple days ago and they are STILL providing fresh reading material for me. Thank you for taking the time to package them, they will fit so perfectly into my collection. You are a wonderful person, and i loved the interview. And I love our pictures. Hope we meet again!! Lights”- Canadian pop singer Lights in response to our 2008 interview, as well as the collection of Wonder Woman comics Sam sent her. Don’t tell anyone but Sam has a bit of a crush on her.

“Sam this write up is just so beautiful and all the photos …..Thank yu so very very much…. I just love it all …… You are such a perfectionist….. Thank you and hugs Kitten”  – Actress and erotica icon Kitten Natividad, best remembered as the star of Russ Meyer’s Up! and Beneith the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens.

“I admire what you do, and you do it so well.” – TV character actor William Schallert, who is most famous for playing TV father Martin Lane on The Patty Duke Show, appeared in hundreds of television programs and films, with regular roles on Get Smart, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and The Nancy Drew Mysteries.

“Sam. You are the man.  I do think if you were my agent in my day “I coulda been a contender instead of a bum”.  Be well; David”- David Roya, who played bad boy Bernard Posner in the grindhouse classic Billy Jack.

“I couldn’t believe you actually said that (the Delights) actually stylized ourselves after the Zombies.  I mean how the hell did you figure that one out?….. That is incredible when you hear this. I mean how the hell did he figure this out?  What a detective!…That was incredible!  Y’know.  To have somebody contact me on that premise it was like…WHAT!” – Norbert Solystiak, saxophonist for 1960′s Chicago band “The Delights” and Chet “Chubby” Morton on Filmation’s 1960′s Hardy Boys television series/pop group.

“Hey Sam. I liked the interview.  Hope ur on to another mystery if that makes it better Stay safe…Jeff” – Jeff Taylor, singer for Motown’s first white band “The Messangers” and Joe Hardy on Filmations 1960′s Hardy Boys television series/pop group.

“Thank you so much for interviewing me tonight! It was an amazing first interview! (:” – Benni Cinkle, aka “That Girl in Pink That Dances Awkwardly in Rebecca Black’s Friday Video” in responce to her first ever interview!

“I am more disturbed by you than I am Barry.” – Herman’s Hermits’ front man Peter “Herman” Noone in response to my interview with Hermits drummer Barry Whitwam.  He didn’t like the interview.  Well, you can’t please all the people all the time.

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