OBIE Award winning actress Peggy Pope is best known for being the "atta girl" in the hit movie "9 to 5" starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin. In her new acting memoir, “atta girl: Tales from a Life in the Trenches of Show Business,” Peggy details an eventful life in the theater, film, and television spanning over five decades. But unlike most celebrity tell-alls, this thoughtful and deeply personal account brings to light the trials and experiences of the vast majority of actors, those who either flirt with stardom or play supporting roles throughout their careers.
From her Broadway debut as an ingénue opposite Wally Cox and Sir Michael Hordern, to her memorable turn as an office lush in the 80’s phenomenon “9 to 5,” Pope popped up everywhere. In addition to Jimmy Stewart and Helen Hayes, Peggy acted for Joseph Papp, and Gian Carlo Menotti, beside Brian Bedford in “The School for Wives,” and Ann Miller in “Mame.” After migrating to the West Coast in the 1970’s, she appeared in numerous network television shows, in recurring and guest roles. Among the standouts are memorable appearances on Bewitched (her son turns into a bulldog); on Soap in which she’s the mother of woman Billy Crystal’s gay character plans to marry, and on an Emmy-winning episode of Barney Miller starring Hal Linden in which she takes the police station hostage. Besides “9 to 5,” her other film standout was as a foul-mouthed librarian in “The Substitute.” She won an Obie in 1968 for playing a hooker in John Guare’s “Muzeeka.”
Peggy's memior, "atta girl: Tales from a Life in the Trenches of Show Business" is available now!
1. Who or what inspired you to become an actress? It was my Dad's idea for my sister, Adeline, and me to present an ice skating act called the Wind and the Thistle at the annual skating gala presented by the New York Figure Skating Club when I was ten or so and Adeline was 15. She was the wind and I was the thistle and we dressed accordingly and skated to Walpurgisnacht from Faust. The club was a way for my dad, an ENT Specialist to build his practice into New York Society. People like Newbold Morris, Rod Stephens Jr, the sailing ship builder and Buckminster Fuller's daughter, Allegra, were members. It seemed like it might work. Before we knew it they were all coming out to the house in Montclair for cookouts in the backyard on Sundays. We thought at the time that skating around in a spot light at the old Madison Square Garden was a good introduction to Show Business and Society. See page 24.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like you? I'd like to work with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood in the same movie.
3. What made you want write "atta girl: Tales from a Life in the Trenches of Show Business" and what made now the right time to release it? When Betty White took over all the parts for women our age. it seemed like a good move. Now is the perfect time.
4. What did you enjoy most about writing the book and what do you hope readers come away with after reading it? Finishing it. My wish was always to entertain. Failing that, to write something human and moving. It's been a funny life. I hope the readers will think so as well.
5. Looking back, what attracted you to "9 to 5" what did you enjoy most about starring in the film? What is most cherished memory about that time? I didn't star in "9 to 5." No way did I star in that film. I had a few lines in, a well written show based on true stories that starred Dolly Parton, Lily Thomlin and Jane Fonda. And I got to say two words, "Atta girl" three times, and got remembered for it. Stranger things have happened.
My favorite moment from that time was getting a big hug from Dolly Parton when it was over. I never experienced so much energy coming from another person in my life. It was like being embraced by the sun. And I've never seen her since.
6. I am a big fan of the TV show "Bewitched" and remember your guest starring role on that show. What was the best part about working with that cast? You have a fabulous memory, "Bewitched," where whatshername turned my little boy into a bulldog. Or did Elizabeth Montgomery do that? Yes. Elizabeth Montgomery was great. She took me shopping during lunch one day which sort backfired on her when I bought the same blue pants suit she was wearing.
7. What have you learned about yourself from being an actress? I've learned a lot about myself from being an actress. Mostly it's about how feelings work and how to use them - rehearsed onstage, unrehearsed off stage. They come from the senses and if you make friends with them life is a lot more fun than if you don't.
8. What's the best advice you've ever receieved? The best advice I ever received was "Remember, it doesn't matter what happens to you; It matters what happens within you that counts."
9. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? If I could dream about any one while I slept it would be Denis Johnston. I'd like to have a talk with him.