As a kid, I was so jealous of Vicki Stubing! For those of you too young to remember or for those of you who lost too many brain cells in the 80s, Vicki Stubing was the daughter of Captain Stubing on The Love Boat, which ran for nine seasons on ABC from 1977 to 1986. The Love Boat was produced by the amazing Aaron Spelling (Tori's dad!), whose other hit shows airing at the time included Charlie's Angels and Fantasy Island.
I wasn't jealous of Vicki because she got to live on a cruise liner and travel the world with her dad and the rest of the crew, who were like an extended family. I was green with envy because on a regular basis, little Miss Stubing got to meet a magnificent array of talent including the likes of Ginger Rogers, Howard Keel and Ann Miller! The Love Boat was known for its ability to reel in the most fabulous guest stars on a weekly basis. My penchant for watching old Hollywood movies on television started at a very young age, so when stars like Debbie Reynolds, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Mickey Rooney showed up on Saturday night's episode of The Love Boat, I was in heaven!
Well, I'm all grown up now and so is Vicki, AKA Jill Whelan, who is currently starring in the British farce Move Over Mrs. Markham at Stage West in Mississauga. I got to meet Jill and talk about her life as a child star in Hollywood and what she's up to now.
Gay Theatre Toronto
The walls of Stage West's buffet are covered with pics of celebrities who have performed here over the years. Coincidentally, many of them also appeared on The Love Boat. Was there a guest star who really stood out for you?
I was really lucky. I was an old movie buff - Gone With The Wind was my favorite movie - so when Olivia de Havilland came on, it was too much! Jane Withers (a former child star from the 1930s) was a dear friend. Ethel Merman and I were pen pals, which was pretty awesome!
You run an acting school, have two kids and are still performing yourself. Unlike a lot of celebrities who grew up in the spotlight, you seem to be quite grounded. What sets you apart from someone like Dana Plato? (Plato, who played Kimberly Drummond on Diff'rent Strokes, died of an overdose at age 34.)
I'm in the middle of writing a book and that's one of the things I will be talking about. It's really one word - mother! My mother. It's a really odd thing for a kid to be an actor. You have to be an adult when they want you to be and a child when they want you to be. I think of Lindsay Lohan, whose parents seem to be more obsessed with the fame and the money and the power than they are about protecting their own child and raising their kid. My mom couldn't have cared less about the money or the fame. None of that meant anything to her. What meant something to her was raising her kid to be a good person. I had a moral compass and a giant fear of my mother! My mom and I still talk every day.
There's a clip of you on Youtube, belting out All The Good Men Are Gay from The Gay 90s Musical. What was that all about?
There's a place in New York where there's a show (The After Party) that happens after all the Broadway shows have closed and they asked me to come in for it. That song is in my show. (Jill Whelan: An Evening In Dry Dock has played at the Metropolitan Room in New York.) I would love to do my show again. You'd love it! It's a really fun show. There's a lot of camp to it, which is my favorite thing! There are a lot of great stories about all the people that I worked with - Carol Channing and Ethel Merman...
Tell my readers a little about Move Over Mrs. Markham.
It's a British farce, which is always fun. It's mistaken identities, innuendo. The audiences seem to eat up the gay element! It's a great cast. Everyone is really funny. - J. Sean (Elliott), who plays my husband, has become a dear friend. He's adorable! It's just a fun show. It's nice to do a comedy.
Have you been able to see much of Toronto while you've been in town?
I have fallen in love with Toronto, as have my kids. It is such a fabulous city. What I love about it is everywhere you go there is art and culture and diversity. It's everywhere! Hopefully, I will be back here doing some musicals or maybe my show. I've made great friends here. I love everyone in this cast.
Move Over Mrs. Markham runs at Stage West until November 20th.
For the chance to win a pair of free tickets to the closing night show, email your name and phone number by Thursday, November 17th, 2011 at noon to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your answer to the following question.
- Jack Jones originally sang the theme song to The Love Boat but what female singer recorded the track for the show's final season?
To purchase tickets, visit www.stagewest.com