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Interview with Catherine Hicks
The role model for the modern mom-as-complete-woman, Hicks has been hailed as the Donna Reed of the new millennium, and continues to receive accolades for bringing true quality programming back to television.
A native of Scottsdale, Arizona, Hicks previously starred in the series Winnetka Road, Tucker’s Witch, The Bad News Bears and Ryan’s Hope. Despite these starring roles, it was her brilliant Emmy-nominated portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in Marilyn: The Untold Story, that made her one of television’s most visible and popular actresses. Hicks proved her popularity hasn’t taken a back seat to her acting when her character was recognized as the Best Role Model for Women in a national poll.
Hicks professes a deep respect for the development of theater and the individual actors that have helped shape what the art has become. A deep and varied actress herself, Hicks has demonstrated her versatility through numerous theatrical films which span the scope of movie genres from comedies to dramas and even the horror medium. Hicks’ feature credits include the box-office record-setting Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Turbulence, She’s Outta Control, Razor’s Edge and the cult favorite, Child’s Play. She has also starred in Francis Ford Coppola’s Peggy Sue Got Married and Sidney Lumet’s Garbo Talks. On stage, Hicks has done a number of regional productions in addition to teaming with Jack Lemmon on Broadway in the world premiere of Tribute.
Catherine Hicks combined a dedicated training in acting with an impressive academic background. With a double major in theology and English literature from Notre Dame, Hicks first became interested in acting after observing several of the school’s stage productions. She later moved to New York where she attended Cornell, applied herself to formal theatre training and earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Acting.
As generous and kind off-screen as on, Hicks is preparing to begin shooting her eighth season as the family’s steadfast mom. ABILITY Magazine’s Chet Cooper recently sat down with Hicks at her Los Angeles home to talk about her real-life plans as a full-time mom to 11 year-old Catie, cooking and the impact that one person can have on helping the hungry.
Chet Cooper: The topic is trains, planes and...
Catherine Hicks: Automobiles! (laughs) Oh, I love trains. We went on a road-trip with my daughter, Catie, just a few weeks ago to take her to visit her grandparents’ farm. We were driving, but the trains we saw were just awesome and the mountains were amazing.
CC: You’ve recently been named the entertainment role model by a poll of US women. Where did this all start?
CH: I’m from the Midwest, Scottsdale, and grew up in a great home in the 50s—7th Heaven gives people what we naturally had in those days: nobody got divorced and everyone went to church.
CC: The family dynamic of today is very different.
CH: Absolutely. We’ve changed so much from the generations that came before us. People back then were so tough…so strong. My grandfather went blind at the age of 14. There was an accident with a horse and buggy and a spoke went right into his head and severed his optic nerve in an instant. He was an amazing man. I remember my mom saying that her dad was Willy Wonka, he invented the Cabin Roll.
Then, my mom almost died when I was born. She was badly hemorrhaging and lost a lot of blood. My dad donated so much blood that doctors later diagnosed him with kidney disease. The doctors told him he needed to be in a warm, dry climate and he had to move to Spain or Arizona. That’s how I ended up in Scottsdale.
CC: What were you like in high school?
CH: I was a cheerleader and always liked being in front of people. On a “Dad & Daughter Night” in high school we were doing lip syncing and dancing to Me and My Gal, by Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. For the first time I saw the way he handled an audience and I was blown away. He was spontaneous with them and had them in the palm of his hand. My dad had a gift.
CC: Is that when you began to consider acting?
CH: As much as I enjoyed cheerleading I never thought of the theater and I became an English major with a theology minor. My sophomore year in college I didn’t make cheer by one vote and depression set in. Then, on my way to yet another Saturday night beer party at Notre Dame, I stopped in at the art building and saw them doing Oliver. I just thought, “I’m going to a stupid beer party?” I was so impressed with what they were doing with their Saturday nights. But, it’s a long way to get from the balcony to the stage; it’s very intimidating.
CC: It looks as though you’ve made it out of the balcony.
CH: I was awarded a scholarship to Cornell for
CC: How have you enjoyed the role as the “Donna Reed of the New
CH: I’m playing a mom—which I admittedly, really enjoy. What I really like about the show is that it has a half-hour feel that allows you to have sit-com humor, but in an hour format, so you also get to be serious and have the drama. It’s also great to have it be such a family show. 7th Heaven has really become a modern-day Little House on the Prairie where families get together on the living room couch to watch TV.
One of the big problems families are faced with today is the divorce rate and I’ve been very proud to be a part of a show that really demonstrates what it means to be a family. It’s about raising a family at a time that can be very difficult, but showing that it’s not psychotherapy.
CC: How did you come across the role of Annie Camden?
CH: Actually, Aaron Spelling approached me and offered me the part of Annie. It was perfect timing because I was needing to do some work so that we could keep our house in Coronado. Out of the blue, Aaron called.
CC: Had you worked with him before?
CH: He produced a short-lived series I did with Ed Begley Jr. and Josh Brolin called Winnetka Road. Earlier, around 1988, the regime in Hollywood had changed, and ever since then, it has become much more stressful. There is greater pressure to keep working. If you let any time pass, it becomes much harder to find work. We actors have become very disposable…and it’s definitely more difficult than when I began. I always knew it would take some old fan! (laughs)
CC: This is now your eighth season?
CH: Yes, and it’s probably my last.
CH: My husband and I took Catie to see 42nd Street the other night and the show was just incredible, but I realized I was ready to hang up my tap shoes. I’m excited to finish while I’m at the top of my career. It has nothing to do with the show though.
CC: Then why leave?
CH: I’m just getting tired of the lifestyle. The nature of our work is not very comfortable and I don’t want to spend my days sitting in a trailer in the middle of a parking lot.
CC: Any big plans for life after 7th Heaven?
CH: Absolutely—to be a mom. I want to be home with Catie every day. I’m tired of telling her I can’t pick her up from school because I have to work. You know, I had sailed a little in Ithaca. I realized that everyone has their own course in life, and sometimes the wind is totally dead and then it’ll pick up and take you to where you need to go. Have you seen Shakespeare in Love, with Gwyneth Paltrow?
CC: No, I haven’t.
CH: I always thought I wouldn’t like the movie, but it is so neat. My husband and I saw it the other night and it really hit me. You realize that since day one, in every tribe, there has been theater. There’s always been actors…there’s always been these fools that stand up and make people laugh or cry. And God bless them. It made me really appreciate the industry. It takes a certain few and that makes me proud to have been a part of it.
CC: Has Catie talked about following in your footsteps?
CH: I’m really not encouraging it. I don’t think kids in
Hollywood stand a chance at growing up normal. It’s not natural
for kids to be faced with such rejection over and over and over. Their
esteem can only take so much. She is talented though! She was in a school
play and afterward I was just saying, “You were great! You’re
so great! You’re great!” She does have that energy: “On
with the show!” she says. I think I would have a lot of fun as a
stage mom. (laughs)
CC: How did you become involved in the hunger cause?
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