"A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember.
You take me: one day back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in,
and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol.
I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl."
-- Mr. Berstein, Citizen Kane
Here's the best part of running this site: I get to hear from people I saw on TV *decades* ago.
Sometimes, people you saw on television a long time ago actually make a career out of their earlier television shows. Ben "Cooter" Jones, for example, runs a restaurant based on his Dukes of Hazzard character. Johnny Whitaker (Jody from the original Family Affair) has a radio show where he discusses life as a former child star.
Many stars of the past, though, have removed themselves from the public eye - - some by a fade in their screen appeal, others by choice. Quite a few of these actors have no idea that Alert Viewers are still fascinated by their careers.
So, let's talk about Katie Sweet.
Back in the 60's, the child star Katie Sweet was in *everything* - - from Bonanza to My Favorite Martian and a dozen series beyond that. Katie was a series regular in the TV Single Dad show Hank in 1965. She appeared in movies like Hitchcock's The Birds and Samuel Fuller's Crimson Kimono. She even had a novelty record, "I Love To Rock", that was a brief hit around 1960. As a series guest star, she was in league with contemporaries such as Jodie Foster and Kurt Russell. Then, in the late '60s, she disappeared from the screen.
What happened? A Google search turned up no information. For years, I posted a "What ever happened to Katie Sweet?" request in the 50s-60s page under the Hank entry. Apart from a few messages from people who said they went to school with Katie in Kentucky during the late 60's, I had no clue what happened to her.
Then, one day in June, I got a message in my In box with the subject "I used to be Katie Sweet". Wow.
It really was Katie. And she said yes, she would *love* to talk.
Thanks so much - - I appreciate this.
Katie - Sure! This whole thing just boggles my mind, that there's any interest in any of this stuff - - and it seems like there's a lot more than I anticipated or would have ever expected.
I guess it's one of those things that - - everybody wonders what happens to people, when you've seen them when you were younger, and then you wonder what became of them...
Katie - Sure, because they didn't *all* become a MONKEE who's been around forever, like Mickey Dolenz, whom *everybody* knows where he went!
Yeah, that's true - -
Katie - ...whereas, more of *us* dropped out, never to be heard of, or heard from again.
Sure - - and sometimes it's by choice and sometimes it's by accident, but it's all very fascinating nevertheless. And I guess that's why so many of my readers write in about these topics. I do get quite a bit of mail about you, and especially your appearances on Bonanza. Ever since I mentioned on the website that I'm going to have Katie Sweet from Bonanza for an interview, I'm getting, I wouldn't say *inundated* but I'm getting a lot of mail with a lot of questions about that timeframe.
Katie - Wow - that's funny! I work with a bunch of younger people in their 20's and early 30's, and this one girl I'd been talking about the stuff I had done - - and she had been talking to her husband about it - - he used to watch Bonanza with his dad all the time, and it was like "Well, which *ones* were your episodes?" People always ask, "well, who *were* you?" and I always said, "the little girl!" one day I had just kinda had it - - I was probably like 8 or 9 years old, and someone said, "well *who* did you play in that?" and I said "the old man!" Most of the time, the shows they were talking about, there was only one little kid and, well, it was *me*, you know? [laughs]
Katie - Well, this is a lot of fun, but I'm telling you there's not going to be... I'm not going to any conventions or anything. I mean, it's so flattering that anyone would be interested to see me or hear from me, but my life is pretty... *regular* -- you know, 8-to-5, five-days-a-week, and I don't really aspire to get into all this. Maybe when I'm older, but for right now, I'm too *busy.*
Sure, I understand that. There's a Bonanza magazine that contacted me about you. I forwarded that to you...
Katie - You did, and that's what I meant by that. Again, it's so flattering, but again, I'm not into that. But I've got to tell you, doing that as a kid was just ... great, great fun!
Just in looking over your filmographies and things, you were *everywhere* in the late 50's and 60's.
Katie - [laughs] Yeah, by the time I was five years old, I was eligible to collect unemployment insurance. And I can remember standing in the unemployment line in Hollywood - - we lived at the Castle Argyle at Franklin & Argyle, which is right on a freeway ramp to the 101 freeway, and just blocks from Hollywood & Vine. I can remember - it was *cards* and you had to fill out the cards and stuff, and of course everybody assumed my *dad* was the one collecting the unemployment, and I was just there with him - - but that was not the case! [laughs] It was me!
Not what every kindergartener's doing on a typical weekday.
Katie - No! [laughs] I'll tell you, though, I was just so fortunate with these .. great opportunities. It was a serendipitous, out-of-the-blue, who'd-have-thunk? You know? And I was in it. But it was really good.
As far as I can tell, you were in everything from My Favorite Martian to Bonanza, of course, to ...
Katie - Travels with Jaimie McPheeters[laughs]
Yeah! With Kurt Russell!
Katie - [laughs] Yeah, and I had the total crush on Kurt, but let me tell you: he was one arrogant kid! He was, I don't know, 13, 14 years old - - he was just ... gorgeous, and I was probably eight or nine, and he had these *beautiful* blue eyes. I think he was the first person I ever saw who had tinted contact lenses. He had blue lenses. Now, don't doubt - - his eyes were blue. I saw them, you know, "with" and "without"- - he had really blue eyes already, but he wore tinted lenses. He wanted to be a baseball player. He was a big athlete, and he was oh, *so* handsome, but even as handsome as I thought he was - and I just had this big crush - - looking back, he was - oh, how would you say it? I guess it was just his *age* - he was *arrogant* ! But you know, when you're gorgeous and rich and famous and can do *everything* -- well, it's easy to get a big head.
I guess he must have gotten stuck on himself back then.
Katie - Well, yeah, and I'm sure he outgrew it, because I'm sure the age had a lot to do with it. I *hope* he outgrew it: I don't think Goldie would have stuck with him all this time, had he not!.
He's got the new movie coming out, Sky High, pretty soon. So he's still into the business. Now, have you ever thought about going back into it? I know you've said you've got "a regular 8-to-5"...
Katie - I really haven't. I mean, I wouldn't rule out that I wouldn't get involved in some local, community-theatre kind of project or something like that at some point. But I can't really see pursuing a career or profession. Man, it is *so* tough, Jim. And, like I said, I was blessed - - it seemed like things just fell into my lap, but, you know, you get about 90% of the Screen Actors' Guild now make about 10% of the money. There's just - - it's just a tough, tough career. I mean, how many people do you know of that - - they want to be an actor but they've got to wait tables? I mean, you can't *count* on it to live! It's like getting into music or anything like that - - it is so high-risk, and you just can't live on that. And if you think about somebody like a Jodie Foster - I admire her greatly - she just went through, you know, you hit that *awkward* age and then most kids drop out. But she's one, like Kurt Russell, who made it through. And look at all the great stuff she's done.
It's a rare event that this kind of thing happens.
Katie - Absolutely. Think about Ron Howard: he got into something really different. He directs, he's not acting. It's similar to saying in America, African-Americans make less money, but then pointing to Oprah and Bill Cosby. But that's not really fair because they're the only ones at that income level!
It bends the curve.
Katie - Absolutely.
You've been doing this - - the earliest listing I have is Crimson Kimono and Fine Young Cannibals - you were doing this when you were four or five years old, then?
Katie - When I started, I was two-and-a-half. There was a late-night TV talk-show deal in Los Angeles called The Tom Duggan Show, and I was in the audience with, I don't know who I was with, my mom or my aunt and uncle or somebody - - and because I was so *little*, they called me up and had me talk to the host, Tom Duggan. And it just so happened, Jim, that *Ozzie and Harriet* were watching! And they had an episode where they were looking for a little girl my age - - and I was very *verbal* and could carry a conversation -- I talked early. And they called up the Tom Duggan people and they got them in touch with "my people" and I went! So, Ozzie and Harriet was my first appearance.
Katie - And it was "The Runaways" episode. It was -- do you know the name Donald Losby?
Katie - He was a child actor -- and I've Googled him - he's out there on the web and stuff - - he was my brother in that episode. So, after Ozzie and Harriet, I think the next thing I did was a Bob Hope movie, Alias: Jesse James with Maureen O'Hara. Bob Hope and Maureen O'Hara were the principals. And I played their kid - - it was really just a quickie thing. It wasn't like, a lot of lines or anything. On Ozzie and Harriet, I had a lot of lines, and it was a big deal.
And you were only two-and-a-half or three years old when you were doing this.
Katie - Yeah, I was two-and-a-half when I did Ozzie and Harriet and three by the time I did Alias: Jesse James. Then, I got an agent, of course, and you go on interviews, and I would go interview for things and just got a lot of stuff. I think a lot of it was that I spoke a lot. In All the Fine Young Cannibals, when I was hired for that, I didn't have a speaking role. There was a girl who was older than I was - - by two or three years - - she just couldn't get the lines out. And I was just very *chatty* and everything, so I got the lines! And of course my scale went up, too - - a speaking role is worth more than a non-speaking role. So, I think it had a lot to do with the jobs - my verbal skills from an early age. And not that I wasn't just as cute as a bug's ear, too, Jim, I mean, come on!
Oh definitely - you were great!
Katie - Well, I did start really early. And I've seen stuff on those filmographies that I'd forgotten about. Like, one I was looking at: The New Breed - - I can barely register that. It must have not been a big deal for me. Crimson Kimono, I can remember, because there was a scene where the cops were supposed to come *busting* in the door, and -- I was so little, I don't know exactly what was going on - - but it really *scared* me, and I really kinda reacted like - - in *not* a good way. I mean, it was good for the scene, but it wasn't so great for me.
Well, you were working for Sam Fuller, the director, at the time. Do you remember Sam Fuller?
Katie - No. He did that movie?
Yeah, he was like - not quite a Sam Peckinpaw, but he was known for - in his time, he was known for his violent feature films. Very adult-themed kind of, Mickey Spillane-type pictures.
Katie - That's what I have kind of a - - sense of this, as being like that. As I remember, it was - Glenn Corbett was the male lead. I remember him. He was a very handsome man. But I'll tell you: the guy who was just the *best* was Pernell Roberts. And I think there was something - it might have been on your website - that "there was no chemistry between Pernell and Kathie Browne but, boy, the chemistry was with Katie Sweet and Pernell Roberts." He was a family guy, he had kids of his own - - and he *liked* me! We would play Frisbee with the film cans. You know, when they used to use the real film, there were kind of big metal...
Sure, 35 millimeter --
Katie - flat cans. Yeah, and they would take them apart, and, you know, toss them like Frisbees. He'd play ball with me, we'd toss the baseball and stuff. And he was just sooo cool. The thing about being a child -- there was no -- nobody was going to make any points with anybody "buddying-up" to me. I was a kid. I didn't know anybody, I didn't have any "pull" with anybody important, really. And there were a handful of people, through my career, who were just way cool and just *spent time* with me, in spite of that. Another person who did that was Joey Bishop. I did The Joey Bishop Show. And that was like, the *live* TV. And I imagine, I hear Lucille Ball started with the three-camera deal, doing it live and cutting it later and stuff.
Sure, on I Love Lucy...
Katie - Yeah, and this show, I think, was like that. The deal was: we rehearsed all week long, and then I think we filmed it twice on Friday night, and I think they brought a live audience in. So it was a lot of work. As a kid, of course, my hours were regulated and you can only be on the set for so long, and that type of thing. So, the end of the week, I *knew* it was the final show, and we're done, and I'm *never* going to see Joey again. And I'm telling you, I was maybe seven or eight, and I was just *bawling* and just so -- it was just like he was my *best friend* and I'd never see him again! He was just *so* cool with me, and friendly and kind and -- just would bend over backwards to be cool. And it turned out, within a year, I ran into him --- this is funny, I was seven years old, I was in a coffee shop in Las Vegas in one of the hotels, I was there with my mom and dad, and he saw us and we were talking, and we were his guests at the show that night! He was appearing - - I sure it was at the Sands, I bet, because that's pretty much where he always was.
So, you were a member of the Rat Pack that night.
Katie - Wow, yeah! Really, man, post-Rat Pack, I guess. Well, maybe not.I just wouldn't have been tuned into the Rat Pack where I was, you know? It's funny doing all this stuff and, man, I was a *kid*! Do you have children?
Yep. I've got two, and I'm trying to picture my own kids facing that at when you were, what, a second-grader?
Katie - Yeah, that, and, you know what? That was my *regular* life - - there was nothing extraordinary about it. What I was thinking you might ask me is if I thought it was "better" or "worse" for me having been through this and really, part of me would say absolutely, it was better - - but then, part of me would say, really, it was just *different*. It was very different. It was probably just very -- and not that there was a lot of rigorous "discipline" - - but something more like an athelete kid, coming up to be in the Olympics or something. It's a focus on something that where - - you might not have friends and stuff, because you're not in school so much, and it's - *different*, though. I'll tell you, I said I was *blessed* - - I wouldn't change anything. What wound up happening - - I had a lot of successes, did a great deal of shows, I did The Lucy Show, worked with Joey Bishop, Danny Thomas, they were looking to give Buddy Hackett a show - - and they brought him in - - it wasn't Make Room for Daddy, it was The Danny Thomas Show -
Katie - And Buddy Hackett was like a nightclub performer/comic, and his wife ran out and left him with his daughter, *me*. And he was going to quit appearing in clubs and stuff and being out all hours to be a dad, and take me to Brownie meetings and stuff like that. And I can remember some of the stuff that I said - - I was saying I could remember sleeping on the furs in the coat check room while my father was performing, and stuff. And *that* was more akin to what my real life was like - - not that I slept on furs in the coat check room, but in terms of how you would look at that and say, "how odd and out of the ordinary!" That was really not so odd for me, to think about doing that.
It's just moving in different circles, then.
Katie - Absolutely! Very much *smaller* circles. And even though people say, "well, yeah, but you knew all these big stars!" -- well, I wasn't going to dinner with them, and hanging out at their house or anything. It wasn't like we were *that* close. But, by the same token, up to a certain age, and certainly by the time I did Bonanza, I did have an idea about what a big deal this was. When I was little - - maybe up until four or five years old, my mom says people would stop us on the street and say, "oh, aren't you Katie Sweet?" and "Oh, I saw you on *this* or *that*!" And I'd be real puzzled, and couldn't figure out how they'd seen me, because I thought it only came on *our* TV in *our* house!
Like your own home movies?
Katie - Yeah! Exactly - - so, actually - - and here's a story about meeting the public and dealing with the public - - when I signed a contract to do Hank, there was a piece in the Los Angeles Times, with the picture, and talking about me signing the contract, and - - I can't believe they did this, but they had my home address listed in this newspaper article.
Katie - Nowadays, that would never happen, but even *then*, for a *kid* - that was pretty ridiculous. Anyway, somebody actually showed up at my *door* on one occasion, shortly after that article was in print, and I was sicker than a dog with the flu or something, and I was in bed. So my mom said, "you know, she's sick!" And this guy said, "well, can't you just get her to get up and sign this for us?" I mean, I couldn't believe how pushy they were. But that's the only kind of *negative* experience I had with the public. Overall, I got great letters and people were nice. I was in the Santa Claus Lane Parade the year Hank was on NBC. The Santa Claus Lane Parade, having grown up nearly at Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood, is the Hollywood Christmas parade. I went to it every year, and all the TV stars were in it, and it was just a *major* big deal. I had this *fabulous* lamb's wool coat with a fur collar, and I got to sit in the back of a car, up in the back with Dick [Kallman] and Linda Foster, who was his girlfriend, Doris. See, to me, being under contract to Warner Brothers and doing that series did not register as high on my Kid-O-Meter as being in that parade!
Jim - This was *your* idea of "success"...
Katie - Yeah, that's what I could really relate to! I wasn't getting - I mean the checks were - - in California, I don't know how the law is now, but at that time, a minor under contract - - the money had to be placed in trust, and it was overseen for expenditures and all that jazz. And that came about after Jackie Coogan -- the old guy who played Uncle Fester - - he had been a smashing big child star and his parents had spent every penny, and he was like, he had *nothing* when he got to be an adult. And it was on that score that they made these laws and all. Otherwise, the money wasn't required to go in a trust. So I think what we did was, after we set that up when I did Hank, then everything I made thereafter, it all just went into the trust, even though it wasn't required by law.
When did you go under contract with Warner?
Katie - With "Hank" - -I think that was... 1965?
That was your first time under Warner. I didn't know if you were contracted with anyone besides Warner at that time.
Katie - I don't think -- unless there was some kind of mini-contract with Bonanza because I did four episodes there. I was a kid, I wasn't doing the paperwork. Thre may have been some arrangement in the contract that I would do those four appearances. Otherwise, I was like - - freelance. It was like "day labor"! [laughs]
Leading up to that year, during '64 and '65, you were in just about *everything*. I mean, I don't know who your agent was, but...
Katie - I did Lassie - - in that, we were on location at Pismo Beach. And, first of all: Lassie was a *boy* - and Lassie wore a *hairpiece*.
Katie - He'd had some surgery or something, and he had a bald patch, and so they had a hairpiece on him. And he had his own little dog, a pet, and I'm thinking it was a Scottish Terrier or something. And with Lassie, well, I've never seen a better-trained animal. It was just awesome. And Rudd Weatherwax was *the man* - I think in later years, maybe, there were Lassies with other members of his family.
I think his son took over after a while.
Katie - Yeah, well I worked with *the Man*!
Did you meet Jon Provost during filming?
Katie - No, this was with the guy who was a forest ranger, Robert Bray.
Oh, right - he played Corey Stuart.
Katie - I was not of the Timmy & Lassie era. I wasn't that far back. This was a more modern one. And I worked with Lucille Ball, but it was The Lucy Show. It was after I Love Lucy, with Gale Gordon- - when she worked at the bank and stuff. In that, my "grandma" on the show was --what was her name? I want to say Kathleen Shea or Kathleen O'Shea.
I'm not sure.
Katie - Oh, I'll tell you who was very cool: Cloris Leachman! I worked with her...
Katie - [laughs] Yeah, she was just very kind and attentive to me, when she didn't have to be. A very neat lady. Oh, and Diane Baker? I worked with her. There's a Franciscan priest, I think - - he's got this company called "Insight Productions" and he does these religious shows, and he used to have a show on TV - - this isn't ringing a bell for you?
No, sorry. That was back in the early '60's?
Katie - Yeah, probably. He would get some names, and back then, Diane Baker was a big name. I was in a show with her one time. She's the mom on Silence of the Lambs. She's the kidnapped girl's mom, the Senator. She's been around for ages, and as a young woman, she was very beautiful. She did a *lot* of stuff. It's funny - - the people I work with, I name names of people who were big stars when I was a kid, and they just look at me like - - they don't know who that is. Like, well, *my* kids know who the Beatles are. I think I told you I have a 7-year-old and an 8-year-old who's soon going to be 9, and I have a 27-year-old, all grown and gone...
Katie - but my kids know who the Beatles are; my kids know about Elvis - - but these... *youngsters* I work with, man! These names, they just... look *blank*. I'm trying to think of an example... okay, Joey Bishop
Sure, you'd have to explain him as being from the *original* "Ocean's Eleven"...
Katie - Yeah, they'd probably say, "What *original* Ocean's Eleven? [laughs] Okay, *that* is something I'll get on my high horse about here: why can't they make *new* movies? What is with all these recycled remakes -- I'm sick of it!
Well, do you think they could ever remake Hank?
Katie - [sighs] You know, ... I suppose they *could*. It's funny, but I had mentioned in my email to you how they were *sO* sure that we were just set - - forever. You know who the producer was on that show? It was Hugh Benson. I think he was hooked up with Bonanza somehow.
I'm not sure, but I'm sure my Bonanza folks would know that better than I would. But, I thought James Komack was your producer? James Komack did The Dick Van Dyke Show. He also did The Courtship of Eddie's Father...
Katie - I know him from Courtship of Eddie's Father as an *actor*. But I didn't ever meet him on Hank. I'll tell you who I met who was a pretty funny and trippy, neat guy - - who I think just thought I was a cool kid: Eddie Foy the Third. He was a casting guy at Screen Gems. In those days, it was different studios than now. Screen Gems was like where they did The Monkees. For a long time, many years, I was always getting called out to see Eddie Foy at Screen Gems, and it got to be a joke in my family that if they needed to cast an old man, they would call me! I think what it was is that Eddie Foy just liked talking to me. He wasn't inappropriate or perverse at all - - we would just talk about school, and what was going on, and how I was doing, and what shows I'd been working on, you know. I just really think that he just thought I was a neat kid! But -- he never gave me a job! [laughs] But I bet you I was there two or three times a month, for *years*.
So, no auditions - - you just kind of hung out with him?
Katie - Yeah, I'd just go chat with him. It was fine for me because - - I liked him. He was a very nice man. And mostly people were very nice to me. The ones that were really, you know, above-and-beyond were people like Pernell Roberts and Joey Bishop, and Kelly Jean Peters on Hank - she was the babysitter, I guess. That was it - - she was the sitter. She was just really neat, and fun. Although that set - - the set of Hank was *fun*. We would sing, and play games and stuff. i think it was part of being a new series, and everyone was jazzed up about it. In those days, you did -- I'm thinking 26 episodes -- you did a full season and it was half a year. And they showed reruns for the other half of the year. Now, they're just 13 weeks or less.
And they get cancelled so fast now - you're lucky if they show four or six...
Katie - ... or even the first one! We did, I believe, 26 shows.
And your series was very unusual in the fact that it actually had a *conclusion*. You had the last line of the entire series.
Katie - I did? What did I say?
You said, "There goes my brother, the registered student!"
Katie - Wow - how do you know that?
There is a website, TVParty.com, and it mentions about that rarity.
Katie - The conclusion? Does it have like a tape or anything?
It has little bits of the show. It doesn't have your line, but it does have the opening of the show. They show - - Dick had some kind of an ice cream truck or something that had disguises and . . .
Katie - That's right! And Hank sold *everything* from student supplies to perfume for the girls going out on dates, food - - I mean, whatever could have needed, he had it. And then - Howard St. John?...
Yeah, he played Dr. Royal...
Katie - Right, that was Doris's dad.
Right, and he was the registrar. He was always trying to catch Hank.
Katie - Yep, he was always "WHO is *that* guy?" and was always trying to catch him. And Dabs Greer was the coach - - and he's a really goes-way-back-forever actor guy. He's always seeing Dick running to elude capture, and wanted to put him on the track team. One of the episodes was "Who's Waldo Snip?" or something like that where the coach is just going nuts because he's got to get this guy on his track team. Lloyd Corrigan was a professor on the show, and Lloyd probably goes back further than anyone on that cast, in terms of old movies. *Way* old movies. He was a very neat guy.
Yes! He was the mayor in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". He's the one that promises William Demerest, the police chief - you've seen this?
Katie - I have!
He's the one that promises to deliver Spencer Tracy's pension to him.
Katie - You know, I saw "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", but at the *drive-in* when it came out. When would that have been?
That would have been - - '63 or '64?
Katie - It was neat because, although I saw how people responded to me, and what people would say to me, or that people would recognize me and stuff - - it wasn't that big a deal, so instead of being out-of-the-ordinary, it was my *life*. So, what finally happened was, at age 13, I did - - um, Second Hundred Years?
Oh yeah! With Monte Markham and Arthur O'Connell!
Katie - Yep, I was in one of those episodes - and I think that was the last TV episode I did, possibly. I couldn't swear to it. Anyway, I had auditioned for a play, [A Day in the Death of ]Joe Egg, and they were looking to do it on Broadway, or maybe they were just going to do it as an L.A. production, and *Noel Harrison* was the lead. So, I'm 13 now, and Joe Egg, as I recall, is retarded. And I thought, man, this was going to be so cool, because I was a big Girl From U.N.C.L.E, fan - - he was with Stephanie Powers, and man, I just *adored* him. I didn't audition with him - - I never did meet him, but anyway, I didn't get the part - - and I was *crushed*. It was like - - I mean, I never felt that in over *eleven years*. I had gone on lots of auditions and interviews that I hadn't got the part, and I'd never been, you know, all *bumming* and *upset* - - I was always, "oh well, I'll go in next week and *get* the job!" It was never a big deal. This *crushed* me, and I told my folks, "I don't want to *do* this anymore." I couldn't stand the rejection. It some of it was probably the age you know, when girls are 13, and start "blossoming" and all that jazz, but it was just too much for me. So that's when I stopped. So after that, it was just a lot of fond memories. And now, with my kids - - I turned on the TV and saw that All the Fine Young Cannibals was going to be on Turner - and I said, "hey girls! Do you want to see your mom in a movie?" And my middle daughter said, "Hmmf - is it in *black and white?*" [laughs] So I said, "No, smarty-pants! This one's in color!" So they saw me, and my youngest looks *just* like me. I've got pictures of me, and pictures of her, If you put them up next to each other, you'd be hard-pressed to know who's who.
Katie - It just blew them away when they saw it. I try to watch for - - The Birds letterbox edition, there's a fabulous close-up of me, but I don't have that one. I should get it and show my kids, because - - they don't know what to think about all this.
Katie - Oh, I just remembered something - I got hired to be in The Roustabout with Elvis Presley. But it turned out, when I reported for work, I had a sty in my eye. It was *not* a pretty picture. And this was not a speaking role that I was hired for. It was more than an extra, but they wound up not using me - - but the fact is to this day, I get paid residuals! I told you earlier that I get checks still for The Birds, for like eighty-six bucks. I did that probably in, oh, 1964-65. Anyway, in all that, I *met* Elvis Presley!
Katie - And - - I told you, my kids - even my littlest one knows who Elvis Presley is. So, I had told them that I had met him one time. We moved into a new neighborhood one time, and the neighborhood kids were talking to my kids - - and one of the kids was a couple of years older than my kid - - so they get talking about *Elvis* - - and I hear my Rachel, who's maybe six at the time saying, "Well, *my* Mom's met the King of Rock 'n Roll!" - - and this other little girl is like "REALLY?"
When I was looking on your website the other day, one of the neighbor kids came in and saw what I was looking at and she asked, "what's that?" and I said, "that's *me*!" So she said, "you're kidding!" and she goes and tells her mom... and people still just -- freak *out*, but in a *good* way.
Well, sure. You've had a thrilling life...
Katie - It was - - yeah, it was thrilling. And the greatest highlight was, in fact, meeting Sean Connery. On a scale of 1 to 10, that was about a *15*. He was just the *love* of my life.
The lady who was the manager of the Warner Brothers commissary, where I was doing Hank, so I had lunch there every day - - she would talk to me. She was one of those people who thought I was a neat kid, and I was around a lot, so she'd talk to me and stuff. And she knew I *loved* Sean Connery. And he was on the lot - - I think he was doing - - Marnie with Tippi Hedren, where she's the arsonist or pyromaniac. So my friend said, "you know, he's been coming in for lunch every day - - I *think* I could arrange a meeting!" And I was "oh - - really! Yeah!" So, she gets it all set up, and she tells me where to be on the studio lot at what time and all that. So this wasn't as crude as a drive-by, because it was more like a "walk-by" but... man, he shook my hand and he sat down and started talking to me - - and I'm telling you, Jim, to this day, I don't know what he said - - I guess I kinda went *blank*. Because this, of course, was the man of my *dreams*.
And he's like six-foot-three or four. He's a pretty big guy...
Katie - Well, back then, *everybody* was *way* taller than I was! [laughs] so I wouldn't have noticed. My dad was only about six-feet, but of course I wasn't looking at my dad. My dad was pretty much the one who took me to the jobs and stuff, and took me to work and all that. Of course, you had to have a teacher on set, and you had to do three hours of school per day. The teacher was also the child welfare worker, so that even when school was out, they'd hang around and make sure that they weren't working you too many hours and that kind of thing.
Katie - But it *was* fabulous. The one thing that was kind of unfortunate, and the only drawback was that there were kids who - - where, if I went to start at a new school somewhere - - there were kids who assumed that, because of what I did, that I would be some really stuck-up, conceited, snotty person. and when I went -- - to *Turkey Foot Junior High School*, as you mentioned on your site...
That was a bone of contention, you mentioned earlier...
Katie - Well, *that* part that was on your site, I just about fell out of my chair, Jim, when I read that. And that is what prompted me to write to you, because what that person said about me "doing sneaky things behind the teacher's back" - - it's just *not* true!
Well, we can correct *that* impression right here.
Katie - Well, you did! You put my letter on the site. But that is really what hooked me to write to you. At Turkey Foot, I went there - - it's right south of Cincinatti, Ohio, across the Ohio River in Kentucky - - I went there to stay with my grandparents for a while, as your reader had written in. There were people there who came up to me, "did you hear that new girl Katie Sweet is coming to school here? I heard she's really snotty." And I would just look at them, and I was about 11. That really hurt my feelings.
Oh sure, I can imagine.
Katie - And I knew intellectually that - - they didn't even *know* who I was, so why what did that tell me about their opinions? I was the new kid. I could process this intellectually, and think they're, you know, *idiots* - - but, as an 11-year-old kid, it hurt my feelings.
Sure - - and you've had an 11-year-old daughter before, so you *know* how terrible it would be at that age.
Katie - Yep, they're so sensitive at that age.
This also would explain a lot about your reaction to being turned down for Joe Egg...
Katie - That was the one -- except I do remember auditioning for Meredith Willson...
Really? The Music Man!
Katie - No, when he was doing the Broadway version of Miracle on 34th Street. So I sang, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" for Meredith Willson. Norman Jewison was the director.
Katie - And I got the part, but Norman Jewison wanted to talk to my folks. He said, "You know, as much as we want Katie for this role..." because I was a singer, too. I did a record when I was two and a half or three, and there's actually something on the web about it. It's called "I Love to Rock" and the other side was "Kooky Talk" - it was on DEC Records. But I digress. Norman Jewison wanted to have this heart-to-heart with my folks, and I was probably, I'm guessing, probably 11 or 12. Now, pretty much for the most part, the kids who were on Broadway - - they weren't as young as they looked. They were older kids who were *little*. So they would be in their teens and stuff, but playing 10 or 11-year-olds. Well, I was only 11 or 12, and the Broadway schedule is *grueling*. With rehearsals, and so many shows a week, and two on Saturdays. So, Norman Jewison said, "You know, I don't know if I'd let *my* daughter do it." And my parents said, well, thanks, and I guess we'll pass. And boy, did that cause a rift between me and my folks! It was *very* disappointing.
Oh well - you'd think he'd give you a role in The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming! or something.
Katie - Well, that was in the 70's, I think...
Nope, it was '66.
Katie - Really?
Katie - Oh, well - - maybe it was because I didn't *see* it until the 70's.]
It would have been in the mid 60's, because after it he did In the Heat of the Night in '67.
Katie - I just remember it because of that pretty girl who was the "Summer Blonde" girl.
Katie - and I remember John Phillip Law was the Russian guy...
Yep, before he was on Barbarella...
Katie - Really? I've never seen Barbarella.
Yeah, he was an "angel"- - he had big, white wings in that movie.
Katie - Is that *all*?
Oh no -- he had golden boxer shorts on, too.
Katie - Well, I haven't seen that one. You know, I wrote you, and I don't mean to go on a soapbox, but the majority of kids who were in the business went on to just do other things and just lead perfectly normal lives. I think it's really sad, and I really don't fault the individuals, but the tragedies that have befallen some of my contemporaries - I feel so badly for them to have to have stuff like that so public. But a lot of the public thinks that all child actors must be -- messed up. I'll tell you who pisses me off: it's Paul Petersen.
Well, he has that organization...
Katie - All he does is *badmouth* it, and I went to school with Patti Petersen - - and I didn't know her too well, but I don't know where he gets off - - I gather he was really unhappy in his career, and I'm sorry for him - - but there was nobody twisting *my* arm to work, and I had parents who could support me if I wasn't bringing home money. It wasn't like I had to put food on the table and feed people. But he just paints a picture, and speaks from a position that is like he's speaking for *everybody* - - of a pretty bad scene, and I really resent it. It may be *his* experience, but it's not *everybody's* experience.
It's a stereotype.
Katie - Well, yeah- the "victim" and "the poor pitiful..." I haven't seen him in a long time. Although I've been working during the day, I didn't work between 1996 and 2002 - I was having my last couple of kids, so I was home during the day - So, I'm not home watching daytime TV. But, for a while there, he was on all the time. People ought to know that many people had *great* experiences, great fun, great times, and wouldn't change it for the world. And we just went on, and took up regular lives, when it was over, you know?
Sure. You had the "happily ever after" version...
Katie - Well, I had a regular life. I mean, I'm not Cinderella! [laughs] It was just a *normal* life. I've had tragedies in my life, and I've had disappointments as an adult that have nothing to do with that part of my life, just like everybody else. But there's nothing that it did than give me more opportunities to meet people, to go places, and to do things that made my life *richer*. I'm forever grateful to the "Powers That Be," whoever that is, that I got to do this stuff, because it was fabulous.
Now, would I want *my* kids to do it? I don't know. I don't think so, because I'm not willing to go pursue something like that for them. What I told you about *my* situation - - I was, like, "discovered" and people were calling *me*. I wasn't out knocking on doors, looking for a job. And that's just a - - serendipitous kind of thing. I can't see going out and getting my kids an agent, and getting them jobs. And my kids are cuter than bugs' ears, too, and smarter than whips, and would be *fabulous* but I just can't do that. If we were somewhere and someone with some real credentials showed up and said, "hey! I want to put this kid in a show!" I might entertain an offer like that, but it would have to be on the level. But I wouldn't go out and pursue it, on their behalf.
Right - you wouldn't relocate back to L.A. or something...
Katie - No, that's for sure. And they try out for their plays and stuff at school. Already they've had "Peter Pan" and neither one of them got a part. The older of the two girls here, she was *heartbroken*. I just said, "Rachel, just try harder and do better next time, and we'll see what happens next time."
There's a lot more to talk about with Katie Sweet. Hank, for example, was filmed on the very same Courthouse Square where The WB's Gilmore Girls is filmed now. Does watching that show bring back memories? What was her working relationship like with Kathie Browne on Bonanza? Did she have memories of Alfred Hitchcock?
Hopefully we'll have a few more words with Katie soon.