Dateline: Novi, Michigan – Motor City Comic Con 2012. Your intrepid reporter and her ever-patient husband/photographer brave the hordes of Darth Vaders, Dudley Do-Rights, and Daryl Dixons to bring you 11 celebrities posing with mental_floss:
1. Sean Patrick Flanery
With a name like Sean Patrick Flanery, one would presume that that Irish brogue used by The Boondock Saints' Connor McManus came naturally. But one would be wrong. The actor grew up in Houston, Texas, and it proved as tough for Flanery to adopt a Celtic lilt as it did for him to overcome his Texas twang. Flanery’s tough guy persona is bona fide; he has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as one in karate. As you can see here, he even took an attack pose when we handed him an issue of mental_floss.Kind of hard to picture him as the sensitive (and hairless) Jeremy Reed in the film Powder, no? Sean loves to hear from fans, so check out his website at www.seanflanery.com or tweet him (@seanflanery).
2. Loni Anderson
When Loni was born in 1946, her father wanted to christen her with the Hawaiian-sounding name Leiloni. Further consideration made him realize that a name pronounced "Lay Loni" might be unsuitable later in life, so he and her mother shortened it to Loni. Anderson first gained fame as the sexy but smart receptionist Jennifer Marlowe on WKRP in Cincinnati. She also starred in the made-for-TV movie ratings-grabber The Jayne Mansfield Story. In 1984, she co-starred with Lynda Carter as a pair (no pun intended) of private investigators in the TV series Partners in Crime. Anderson’s résumé is filled with later TV and movie appearances, but for some reason, the mention of Loni Anderson and Lynda Carter together caused my photographer (my husband, Sandy) to twitch uncontrollably and loll his tongue out of his mouth à la Homer Simpson. I had to cut short our interview for a quick trip to the hydration booth.
3. Bill Mumy (and friend)
By the time seven-year-old “Billy” Mumy played young Anthony Fremont - who sent mean people to the corn field - on the “It’s a Good Life” episode of the original Twilight Zone, he already had some two dozen TV appearances under his tiny belt. Of course, Mumy went on to appear as a regular on Lost in Space and Babylon 5, and had roles in many films, but he’s also kept busy all these years as a musician, writer, producer, and voiceover artist. He’s one-half of novelty duo Barnes & Barnes (remember “Fish Heads”?) but has also written several mainstream musical scores for dozens of TV shows, from the soap Santa Barbara to several Animal Planet series. Find out more about the Marvel Comics he’s written, his current band The Jenerators, his twice-weekly Real Good Radio Hour, and much more at www.billmumy.com
4. Valerie Perrine
Perrine earned a special place in television history by being the first female to appear nude on prime-time network TV. True, the network was PBS, and many affiliates refused to air the 1973 playlet Steambath, which also starred Bill Bixby and Herb Edelman. One year later, Valerie co-starred with Dustin Hoffman in the Oscar-winning Lenny, a biopic about controversial comedian Lenny Bruce. At the other end of the spectrum, Perrine was nominated for a Razzie Award in the ill-fated disco musical Can’t Stop the Music, which has since become a Xanadu-esque cult favorite. In person, it’s clear that Valerie Perrine and Dawn Wells have been sharing anti-aging tips. She's as lovely as ever, and it was truly a pleasure to meet her. You can see her entire TV/filmography, her Playboy cover, and more at www.valerieperrine.com
5. Butch Patrick
Butch Patrick is bemused by reviews of the recent Dark Shadows feature-film remake that liken Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Barnabus Collins to that of the original Eddie Munster. Because, as any The Munsters fan knows, Eddie was a werewolf; Collins is a vampire. Nevertheless, it’s a tribute to Patrick's characterization that little Edward Wolfgang Munster is still vividly remembered, even 46 years after the show ceased production. Patrick’s website www.munsters.com is the official source of Munsters behind-the-scene stories, memorabilia, and other titillating tidbits about TV’s First Family of Fright.
6. Christopher Knight
As middle brother Peter on The Brady Bunch, Christopher Knight generated more fan mail than even hunky older brother Barry Williams. To his credit, Knight found a way to combine his innate charisma with his keen interest in science and mechanics. Since 1988, he's worked with several hi-tech companies as a software engineer and account manager, racking up his share of multi-million dollar accounts along the way. He has dabbled in the occasional reality television series, but not enough to interest him in maintaining a personal website. He humbly states that he’s “not really into” promoting himself, but after talking to him for just 10 minutes, it's easy to see why he’s tops as a sales professional – we’d certainly buy a used car from him!
7. Dawn Wells
The lovely former Miss Nevada could win a Nobel prize tomorrow, and without a doubt, the newspaper headlines would say: "Mary Ann wins Nobel." But Dawn Wells is fine being identified with her Gilligan’s Island character. In fact, she embraces it, which is probably why she looks more beautiful at 74 than most women 20 years her junior. While dabbling in regional theater over the years, Wells has also undertaken a number of charitable pursuits, including the Terry Lee Wells Foundation and Discovery Museum that honors her late cousin (www.nvdm.org). Long after Gilligan's Island was off the air, Dawn didn't hesitate to lend a hand when aging castmate Natalie Schafer (Mrs. Howell) needed care. Her efforts even inspired her to design a clothing line for seniors that was just as functional - but far more attractive - than the traditional hospital gown.
A personal note: at the time we chatted with Dawn, her booth had the longest line of any celebrity at the convention, and a number of those waiting were in wheelchairs and could not speak other than guttural utterances in either the affirmative or negative. Each one of those fans, though, had seen enough Gilligan’s Island episodes to know what they liked and picked out a specific 8 x 10 photo from the available choices. Dawn Wells not only took the time to personally autograph the pictures, but also came out from behind her table to speak with all of them and give them a smile and a hug. Visit her official site at www.dawn-wells.com
8. Deep Roy
“Deep Roy” may sound like a deliberate attempt at a catchy stage moniker, but it’s actually just a variation on the Kenyan-born Indian actor's real name: Gurdeep Roy. Acting opportunities are often limited for Little People, but Deep Roy has been working consistently since 1976, when he made his big screen debut in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. You may remember him from Big Fish, and more recently he played all the Oompa-Loompas in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Deep's complete filmography is far too exhaustive to mention here, so please take a moment to check out his official website at www.deeproyinc.com
9. Erin Gray
In 1971, an advertising executive at New York’s McCann-Erickson Agency came up with a tag line to promote a pricey line of L’Oreal hair dye: “Because I’m worth it.” The woman chosen to first utter that famous line on a TV commercial was a pretty, up-and-coming model named Erin Gray. Hollywood beckoned, and Gray enthralled millions of viewers with her portrayal of Colonel Wilma, the beauty with brains on TV’s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. She went on to portray the beautiful-yet-wholesome girlfriend-turned-wife of the father on Silver Spoons, but on the set, her young stepson on the show had decidedly unwholesome feelings for her. Rick Schroder confessed in a 2011 interview that, as a typical teenage boy, he found it "cruel" that Erin liked to perform yoga stretches during filming breaks! Erin has been working steadily in TV, theater, and films over the years – you can find detailed information at www.eringray.com
10. Peter Tork
Just like the false story that Charles Manson auditioned to become a member of The Monkees, it was untrue that none of the four chosen men had musical experience. Both Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork had worked as professional musicians prior to landing roles on the TV series. No less a master than Jimi Hendrix - who opened for The Monkees on a U.S. tour - proclaimed that Peter Tork was “the most talented Monkee” after jamming with him on several occasions. Adept at many musical instruments, including guitar, bass, keyboard, banjo, and french horn, Tork earned a living playing backup for John Phillips, Steven Stills, Van Dyke Parks, and Arthur Lee at shows in New York’s Greenwich Village. Peter has continued to dabble in acting over the years, but his true love is music, specifically the blues. Since the 1990s, his band Shoe Suede Blues has provided him with a creative outlet. Find out more about Peter’s past and present at www.petertork.com
11. Yvonne Craig
Instead of allowing us kids to watch Batman on the color, living-room TV, dad banished us to the tiny, old black-and-white set in the basement. That changed with the show's third season, when Yvonne Craig joined the cast as Batgirl. Go figure, there was something about her figure-hugging costume and high kicks (delivered with stiletto boots) that seemed to appeal to him. As we learned during our time with her, Yvonne started out as a ballerina, which confirms my dad’s oft-mentioned remark, with tongue lolling out à la Sandy above, that “with legs like that, she must be a dancer!” Craig still draws attention with her beauty and her acting ability, and if you want to catch up with her, or just gawk at photos of her in that sparkly catsuit, head over to www.yvonnecraig.com
All of the above celebrities were kind enough to chat with us and pose with a magazine, and almost every one of them flipped through the issue and asked questions. (We left the copies with them, of course.) A few of them - we won't mention names - took the time to reach underneath the table and pull out reading glasses to peruse it closely. A couple started peppering us with trivia questions to challenge us. Both Peter Tork and Bill Mumy’s assistants asked us for an extra copy because “they’d never get to see it” nodding toward said celebs who actually sat down and started seriously reading, temporarily ignoring the fans in line. We ask you to not only share your memories of these celebs (Childhood crush? He/she scared you on a TV show? etc.) but also to take a moment to click on their websites and tell ‘em that you appreciate their work (and that mental_floss sent you!).