Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pigtails, Presley, and Pepper by Cynthia Pepper

Cynthia Pepper with Victor J. Hangor. Pigtails, Presley, and Pepper: A Holllywood Memoir. Author House, 2014.

Pepper recalls residuals from one of her movies. The first residual check was for $300, the second check was for $13, the third was for $7, and the fourth was for $2.

Pepper’s grandfather worked in vaudeville. Her father was an actor appearing in moves and on an “Our Gang” episode.

Pepper modeled and appeared in theater as a child At the age of 12, she appeared in her first movie with Cary Grant. She was shocked when she heard Cary Grant swear.

When in high school at Hollywood High School, Pepper joined a sorority, Each sorority met under a tree, Stephanie Power was in her sorority, She recalls when some boys were mad at her sorority and they cut down their tree.

Pepper appeared in episodes of “The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis” among other series. She then had steady work appearing on “My Three Sons” The other actors and crew made her fell welcome. Fred MacMurray would quickly film his scenes and leave. The rest of the cast then filmed their scenes. Actors talking to Fred MacMurray’s character would speak to an off-screen mop.

Pepper’s character dated Tom Considine’s character in “My three Sons”. In real life, she was married and he had a girlfriend They were friends and did go on double dates.

Pepper was paid $400 a week for being on “My Three Sons”. SHe was on eight episodes from 1960 to 1961.

Pepper was then cast in the TV series “Margie” as Margie. The studio had unwritten rules of no obscenities and no smoking. The show as shot with one camera on 35 mm black and white film in front of a live audience even though a laugh track was added As “Margie” was successful, Pepper was then hired to sing on reords. She jokes “this record is my Million Seller...that’s right, I’ve got a Million in My Cellar”. Marie merchandise was also produced with her likeness. She has never paid for any of the merchandising. She was pictured on a TV Guide cover which became, for then, the highest selling issue.

“Margie” lased two seasons on ABC, despite its 20 share, The show was costly to produce. ABC was moving towards showing more Westerns. Proctor and Gamble, wich sponsored “Margie” began moving their advertising towards more daytime soap operas.

Pepper next filmed an episode of “The United States Steel Hour”.

MGM called Pepper film “Kissin’ Cousins” with Elvis Presley. Elvis called her Speckled Pup. There is a scene where Pepper throws Elvis to the ground. As a joke, Elvis pretended to be unconscious after falling.

Pepper’s contract work was over after “Kissin’ Cousins”. She worked on some TV episodes She did a guest appearance on “My Three Sons”. She then got the role of the neighbor on “The Addams Family”. She filmed a pilot “Three Coins in the Fountain” which was not selected yet was shown on TV five years later as a TV movie.

Pepper appeared in summer stock theater in “Under the Yum Yum tree” with Edd Byrnes and David Hedison, Tab Hunter later replaced Hediosn. Margaret O’Brien replaced her.

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