An Interview With Sandra Manchester

April, 2009.  We are in the home of Sandra Manchester, a 68-year-old television star.  She lives in Hollywood, California.  She is being interviewed by Mark Carmichael, a writer who has specialized in television comedy for thirty-five years.  This interview is to be aired on a special "women's-life" channel, and they believe there will be a high public rating.  Sandra is a very interesting person to talk to.  The show will run for an hour.  This isn't the whole interview.

Mark: This is Sandra Manchester.  We are in her Hollywood home, and she will be ours for an hour.  The famous television sitcom star, if I may correct myself?

Sandra:  Go right ahead.  Thank you.  It's a pleasure to be here.

Mark:  Let me start at the beginning.  Where were you born?

Sandra:  Boise, Idaho.

Mark:  When were you born?

Sandra: March 6, 1931. A long time ago.

Mark:  What did your parents do?

Sandra:  Well, my father was a lawyer, which was a good thing because the depression was just happening.  You know, we never wanted for anything.  And my mother worked in a store, like a kind of general store.  She was well-liked in the area.

Mark:  And you went to school in Boise?

Sandra:  Yes.  I lived in Boise all during my childhood and went to
the public schools there, which were very good.  And then I left
for college for a while to pursue a drama, or theatre major.

Mark:  What kind of a student were you?

Sandra:  Pretty good. I had a nice home in which to do my
homework.  My older sister Stella was quite studious, so I did
what I was supposed to do.  But, when I felt acting come into
my blood as a girl, I never worried about the academics as a
necessity.  I just did all of the work right.  And well.

Mark:  So, you knew at a young age that you wanted to be an actress?

Sandra: They put on a lot of plays and shows at the schools I
went to.  And I was always volunteering.  I wanted to act, to
show off.  To be on stage in a costume. It was fun.  The first one
took place in third grade.  I played a mother dog who was
teaching friendship to her puppies.  The teachers loved it.

Mark: Did your parents approve of appearing in school plays?

Sandra: Yes.  They thought it was great to express myself that
way and to win the approval of my peers.  They never imagined
I'd turn to acting for a future and a career until the serious
plays in high school.  I played Margaret in "Cat on a Hot
Tin Roof."

Mark:  So, you won the approval of teachers and students as
a teenager and that inspired you to seek a theatre major
when you went off to college?

Sandra: That's right.  I dreamed of making it to the stage
and possibly to television.

Mark:  Did you ever think of comedy as a future?

Sandra:  Not yet. I liked to laugh, to tell jokes, and to listen
to comedy, but I  never imagined myself in a television
comedy.

Mark: Would you say that your first major influences were your
mother and father?

Sandra:  No.  As I said, they wanted me to be a nurse, accountant,
secretary, or lovely housewife.  They didn't encourage me toward
acting, nor did they discourage me.  They thought there was too
much competition for a gal from Boise.  And so did I, by the
way.

Mark: You waited for your big break, then?

Sandra: I was very patient.  I thought a bit academically even
about techniques of acting, about drama, about comedy.  I looked
forward to the new horizon of college courses and how that
would influence me both as a person and as an actress.

Mark: No major influences?

Sandra:  Alice Mitchison, my first acting teacher inspired me
a lot.  She pointed out a few opportunities to me and I
succeeded with them. She was confident that I had a future in
acting.

Mark:  Where did that future begin?

Sandra:  Broadway and Off-Broadway.  I was chosen for parts. My journey toward "The Garrisons" was a long one, and then it
was easier to land the part in "Love in Los Angeles."  Sixteen
years of taping total.  One Tony while on Broadway and two
Emmies from the shows.  So, it was fun.

Mark:  Let's get back to your decision to move to New York
to begin your acting career on the stage.

Sandra:  (emotional) No, this is not the time to do that.

Mark: (interrupting)  Yes, it is.

Sandra: (abrupt again, ignoring him) This is ahead to 1970.
I was in my second year
doing "Cindy at Home" on Broadway, very popular, when I got the
call from Harvey Fiedler offering me the lead female part in
"Dr. Grange."  I jumped at the chance because I also wanted
to break into movies.  I knew my acting was good.

Mark:  That was not my next question.

Sandra: (continuing)  I'm a little out of place, but this is
significant to me.  (During this, the camera crew begins to
make annoyed gestures at her.) I really wasn't ambitious at
this point.  But, I felt that I could return to the theatre
again if no other roles presented themselves after "Dr.
Grange." It appeared that it was time for me to begin my career
in movies.  I was immediately offered another starring role in
"A Day of Miracles" right after the shooting began.  I then
began to get excited.

Mark:  You're too far ahead.  (irritated)

Sandra:  This bad timing is important to bring up.  Two months into
the filming of "Dr. Grange," I got a call from Steven Sturrock,
the television director, telling me he had a wonderful part in
a sitcom called "The Garrisons."  He needed me for the pilot in
a week.  I went crazy, on the phone.

Mark: (indulging) Why?

Sandra:  I couldn't get out of my contract with the movie
people.  I had to beg.

Mark:  But you did get the part.  We have eight seasons to
prove it.

Sandra: Yes.  I was absolutely not allowed out of my contract.
Mr. Fiedler and the Paramount people emphasized to me that  my
future was in movies.  I should think positive and concentrate
my talent on films.  I was torn.  I really wanted to do a
sitcom.  I believed I would feel more comfortable in a funny
female part.  As luck would have it, the pilot and show were
postponed by CBS for another year.  Just enough time to do the
next movie and finish "Dr. Grange."  I took no other movie
offers.  Steven Sturrock kept me first on his list.

Mark:  This prologue to the "Wife of Bath" is too long.

Sandra: (bursts into laughter) I read from the script and
got the part.  The pilot was a success, and CBS took the show
and kept renewing.  Therefore, I will now go on to explain
why I am so resentful about that coincidence and the harmful
effects on my disposition.

Mark:  That wasn't the plan.

THE END


 


Comments:
 
TheTaleMonger   TheTaleMonger wrote
on 11/28/2013 10:54:21 AM
I read this twice. Part way through the interview, Mark dons his Hyde mask and turns into a brutish interviewer. He purposefully attacks, then insults (Wife of Bath comment) his subject. Why? I missed his motivation.

frederic
Playwriting
1 act
writing frederic
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