Morgan Fairchild acts it up
In a business known for its fickleness, Morgan Fairchild's beauty
and quirky style have kept her ever-busy for decades. Today's audience
knows Fairchild for her recurring cameo on "Friends,"
playing Chandler's mother. She also helped Old Navy rev up its image
in her many commercials. The Dallas native began acting as a child.
From the age of 10, she performed in children's and dinner theater
and stock productions. Six weeks after moving to New York, Fairchild
landed a role in "Search for Tomorrow." Fairchild then
moved to Los Angeles.
She's best known for her endless series of TV guest
spots. Shows she has appeared on include: "Mork & Mindy,"
"Roseanne," "Dallas" (Jenna Wade), "Barnaby
Jones," "Happy Days," "The Bob Newhart Show,"
"Police Woman," "Switch," "Kojak," "Perry
Mason," "Murder, She Wrote," "Lois & Clark,"
"Empty Nest" and "Diagnosis Murder." Morgan landed
the key role of Constance Weldon Carlyle in "Flamingo Road,"
for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress. In
addition, she made over a dozen appearances on television specials
with Bob Hope.
Morgan returned to the stage November 1999, costarring
with Faith Ford and Crystal Bernard in the Pulitzer Prize-winning
comedy "Crimes of the Heart," directed by Gary Marshall.
She stretched her dramatic muscles with her acclaimed portrayal
of Skye in the off-Broadway play, "Geniuses," named one
of the top 10 plays of the year by Time Magazine and The New York
In addition to her accomplishments as an actress,
Morgan is an activist for several political and social causes. She
starred in an informational video, "Safe Sex for Men and Women,"
about AIDS education and prevention. She is on the Board of Governors
of Aids Project Los Angeles and Board of Directors of American Foundation
for AIDS Research. Former surgeon-general C. Everett Koop has asked
her on occasion to substitute for him at AIDS events and she has
hosted an AIDS awareness TV special with news anchorman Steve Bell.
She is a frequent speaker on environmental issues of all kinds.
Morgan wrote a beauty book, "Super Looks"
(Simon and Schuster).
me about your latest projects.
I've got "Jungle Juice" in the can. It's kind of a Caribbean
Club Med movie. There's another film, "Arizona Summer Camp"
that I was in. Also, a movie called "Knuckle Sandwich"
with John O'Hurley. They're independent films and sometimes it takes
a long time, years even, for them to come out. Sometimes things
will get messed up on the financial end. You don't even know when
they'll be coming out. I saw myself on cable in a movie I did; that's
the only way I knew the movie had been released. They don't call
you, they don't care.
started as a child actor; how did your parents manage your career?
Oh, they weren't managing my career. My mom was an English teacher.
She got me into children's theater. I was never what you see backstage
now, with the child actors. I feel sorry for them. They're under
a lot of pressure. I have several friends who were child actors
and it's a difficult transition from child to adolescence and then
from adolescence to adult.
has the business changed for women since you began?
I don't know really that the business has changed for women, the
business itself has changed. It went from the studio system to the
quasi-studio system in the '70s. There were independent film companies
and they were swallowed up. The structure of the companies now,
I think, if they could just do without actors, just computer-generate
us, I think they'd be happy! The problem is they see actors only
as a means to an end.
Bankrate: It used to
be that stars would only do commercials maybe overseas, but now
they're quite open about it.
I think it's been accepted to do them for a while. Of course, there
was Olivier doing car commercials in the '60s. Then, Jim Garner
was doing commercials. They're major stars. It's been accepted for
a long time. I decided that I needed to reintroduce myself every
five years to fans. That's why I'll do some of the more outrageous
roles, such as the lipstick lesbian on "Roseanne," getting
into food fights on "Cybill" or playing Chandler's mom
on "Friends" with Kathleen Turner as my husband.
Bankrate: How did you
decide to do the Old Navy ads?
That's self-evident. They serve a target demographic for me, boys
13 to 18. Every network wants this demographic.
Bankrate: You've been
involved with AIDS charities, pro-choice and environmental causes.
How did you pick these causes?
All my life, I've been interested in science, epidemiology and virus.
I was on "Nightline," speaking about retro viruses. I
was before the Senate. I had to explain weather patterns. As a kid,
I always wanted to be a paleontologist.
Bankrate: Do you have
I have no political ambitions. I'm very interested in the issues,
though. You'd have to be stupid not to see that to affect the issues,
you have to have an effect through politics. Politics affects funding,
Bankrate: Do you manage
your own money?
I have a business manager.
Bankrate: Do you have
I don't have a lot of investments. I wouldn't mind being a landlord,
something basic. I have mutual funds for long-term.
Tamar Alexia Fleishman is
a writer and lawyer living in Maryland.