LOIS NETTLTON “INTERVIEW”
Followers of www.shepquest.wordpress.com may remember posts about my contacts with Jean Shepherd’s third wife, actress Lois Nettleton. I’d hoped to interview her for my Excelsior, You Fathead! book, but she had been quoted as saying previously that she didn’t want to talk about him, so I didn’t try (Anyway, how could little Genie Bergmann even make contact with a movie star?). After the book was published, Shep enthusiast Doug McIntyre informed me that through his wife, he’d been able to interview Lois. He sent me an audio copy of the interview and her Hollywood address. I sent her an inscribed copy of my book and a note.
She called me with enthusiastic thanks for writing the book and for sending her a copy. She also sent me a multiple-page hand-written letter, saying among other things, “Thank you, thank you, thank you” for writing the book. I also have other quotes from her including that she considered his radio work that of a genius, above her own profession of acting.
She invited me to meet with her the next time she would be in New York, but before that could happen, she succumbed to her terminal illness in 2008. I think about her often, and sometimes note down questions I would have asked her. Here are some of them.
Why, in an interview, had you firmly stated that you didn’t want to talk about your divorce from him, and how/why did you change your mind?
You were one of Jean’s earliest followers (during his early 1956 “overnight broadcasts). What drew you to his program and, because of your phone calls to him on the air, becoming known as “The Listener”?
In The Golden Girls television episode of 1986, “Isn’t it Romantic?” (about 20 years after you separated and were divorced from Jean), in playing a lesbian, why did you take the character-name of “Jean”? Was it a negative comment about him? Were you just teasing him?
I know you preserved a lot of material about your career over the years. Can you tell me why you came to preserve so much material by and about Jean?
Can you explain more fully why you considered him such a unique person, such a genius?
It’s wonderful that you so often append the word “happiness” to your autographs. Can you express how and why you chose to do this?