It was such a great honour that actress Stefanie Powers kindly agreed to answer twelve questions which I put to her for publication in Tuck Magazine.
My thanks both to Ms Powers for the great privilege, which is mine and that of the Magazine. Also it has been a joy to network with her Agent John Sobanski.
Please read the following Questions and Answers as Ms Powers has provided us with a very full and complete interview.
Hazel Speed: As Wikipedia outlines every facet of your career, both acting, in films, television series and musicals, along with your awards, your published books plus your biography, both personal and professional, it must be said you have led a truly fulfilled, and eclectic lifestyle.
Can you remember when you first knew you wanted to be an actress and did all the other areas follow on from there?
Stefanie Powers: Don’t believe everything you read in Wikipedia…I have, for as long as I can remember, had an insatiable curiosity…of absolutely everything. Growing up I was in awe of the wider world never putting myself as the center of the universe. Everything seemed more interesting than I was, so after a long time following my curiosities I have had, what I consider to have been and still is a very interesting life, much of it lived at a time when the world was a great deal more innocent than now.
HS: If your life had taken a different path have you any other interests? For instance, might you have embarked on a career in Politics? We are all aware, of course, of your involvement in the preservation of wildlife via The Late William Holden’s work in that regard and your personal relationship with him.
SP: As a child, dancing was my principal interest along with archaeology, and veterinary medicine. Dancing won out, which led to acting …or perhaps the sort of dancing I was doing was also acting of a kind, so it seemed a natural transition.
HS: Many readers of good backgrounds will recall the classic TV series of ‘The Girl from UNCLE‘ co-starring Noel Harrison, a complementary series to ‘The Man from Uncle’. If you had to assess your role as April Dancer, how would you describe it, given that apart from the British TV Series ‘The Avengers’, the role of a woman as some type of Secret Agent was something new.
SP: I did not realise it at the time but The Girl from UNCLE was the first ever hour length weekly series starring a woman…I guess I was some sort of pioneer. We made 29 hour long episodes of the series working long and exhausting hours… but when it was cancelled, along with the Man From UNCLE, I did not work for NBC for years…..so much for being a pioneer.
HS: You have been in countless films with contemporary actors, many of these having subsequently been listed as ‘classics’ of their genre. Given that they also would feel honoured when they knew you had been cast to appear in the same movies, were you always nervous or did you take it in your stride regardless of who was on set with you at any given time?
SP: I had the good fortune of working with many of the legendary actors of the day early in my career, and yes I was very well aware of who they were and of all their work….and I felt extremely privileged, trying to watch them and learn.
HS: Are you sentimental in that you may keep a souvenir prop from some of your favourite films or TV series and if so, can you tell us about one such item.
SP: I am sentimental about a few items….a coffee mug from John Wayne, a crystal and silver perfume atomizer from Ava Gardner, and an umbrella stand from Roddy McDowall.
HS: How do you learn your lines and has it always been easy for you? Do you like improvisation as an alternative? These days it seems more admired by some directors as a format.
SP: As I work a great deal in the theater, where there is no chance of “take 2”, learning lines is crucial. There are no formulas for memorization as far as I am concerned, each project and each character is different so I try to be adaptable.
HS: We have to make one reference regarding your hit TV Series Hart to Hart and its related films. It looked like an easy series to film or was it more like the metaphor of a swan appearing to glide elegantly on the surface of the water whilst its legs were paddling furiously beneath? In other words, for the filmed episodes to look so smooth was there a lot of frantic or hard work required to give the end result such an easy and professional sheen, and give the inference of close relationships both on and off screen?
SP: Filming H to H was a demanding schedule, since we were in virtually every scene and 14 hour days were common. Our lunch hours were filled with story conferences, costume fittings and PR. We made 23 shows a year for five years. No matter how difficult a day was the great thing was that I could just look over and see Robert Wagner, my friend, my colleague and my greatest support. RJ is simply the BEST.
HS: Do tell us about Freeway your dog. Who owned him and was that his real name?
SP: We had 2 Freeways, both had been rescued from the dog pound on death row. I loved them and I only adopt dogs I save from a terrible end.
HS: Have you ever had uncontrollable giggles on set and can you share the story with us?
SP: Yes…one episode of H to H with Florence Henderson as our guest star. Toward the end of a long day we three became so silly that at a certain point in the dialogue of the scene we were shooting a word would make us collapse in uncontrollable giggles. It became so bad that as it was the last scene of the day they shut down and sent us home. The next morning we had regained our composure and shot the scene.
HS: You are a polo player and a Member of The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club. Do you still play in competitions and how did you get interested in that sport. Is it your main hobby?
SP: Yes and I still play polo but not as competitively as I once did. I love my horses and I love the sport. I was first introduced to polo as a teenager.
HS: It is understood you love England/UK. Are you a Dual Citizen and are you afforded the opportunity to reside here now and then within your work schedules?
SP: I do love living and working in the UK but I am not a dual citizen. I am grateful that I work in the theater and on film in the UK often and some of my longest and best friendships are with people who live on your shores.
HS: Please use this last question to tell us about your next projects or ask, say anything you wish, perhaps there is a genre of acting or writing yet to be tried which may interest you.
SP: I am happy to say that I have a busy life involved with wildlife conservation in Africa, India, China, Central America and the US.
I enjoy more than ever some of my more recent acting jobs, mainly in the theater recently in the UK with 84 Charing Cross Rd, and with the Broadway bound musical formerly called “Gotta Dance” now retitled “Half Time“, scheduled for 2018.
But it is the William Holden Wildlife Foundation that has my full attention because while it is based on the ideas Bill had and is therefore a tribute to him…I think he would be proud to see how far we have taken those ideas. Bill felt that his work in wildlife conservation, long before the word ‘conservation’ was in most people’s vocabulary, was his greatest work, over and above all he did on the screen.
I am sure readers will agree that Ms Powers has enriched us with her outline of a full and varied career. Not only in the roles she has performed as an actress within diverse mediums and across genres, but more importantly as a vibrant and caring person who continues with new and exciting projects.
Thank you Ms Powers for this privilege and be assured of our continued ‘good wishes’ in all you do.
Stefanie Powers is an American actress best known for her portrayal of Jennifer Hart in the series “Hart to Hart,” with Robert Wagner and “Girl From U.N.C.L.E.” with Noel Harrison, among many others. She is also president of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation.
Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine