5 Questions: Marion Ross

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5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –

Before she was affectionately known to millions as “Mrs. C.,” Marion Ross worked for two decades as a Paramount starlet, appearing in nearly every major TV series of the 1950’s and 1960’s -including Love, American Style, in which she donned an apron that would cinch her career. Soon after came the fateful phone call from producer Garry Marshall that made her an “overnight” success, and changed her life . . .

In this warm and candid memoir, filled with loving recollections, from the award-winning Happy Days team-from break-out star Henry Winkler to Cunningham “wild child” Erin Moran, Ross shares what it was like to be a starry-eyed young girl with dreams in poor, rural Minnesota, and the resilience, sacrifices, and determination it took to make them come true.

SD: What made this the right time to write your memoir?

MR: At first, I didn’t want to do it. My son really wanted to me to do it, so he brought David over and he started writing things down. I finally fell in love with the idea of writing my story. I would rather tell my story then have someone else do it for me. 

SD: Any surprises in your memoir?

MR: I don’t think so. I have always been pretty open about my life story. Of course, my most editors want the dirt whether it be about yourself or others who have worked with. “Happy Days” saved my life. My marriage had fallen apart and I was left with no money and alone raising 2 children. Those were tough years for me. That’s my dirt.

SD: How do you think Mrs. C would do being a mom in today’s society?

MR: Probably not so good. I once asked Garry Marshall if I could have a little more color or life in my character and he said no, the show is not about you. Back then, women were pretty trapped at home. They didn’t work, they raised the kids and baked. Given that, Mrs. C would definitely not survive in today’s TV society. 

 SD: Who are some of your favorite TV moms?

MR: I loved Florence Henderson, Beverly Garland and Shirley Jones. Being TV moms, we all got very close and did a lot of events together. 

SD: Some classic TV actors have been defined by their most famous roles. How have your refused to let yourself not become defined by it?

MR: It is all about reinventing yourself and not letting others keep you in one box. I really loved my role on “Brooklyn Bridge.” I played Sophie Berger, a Jewish / Polish grandmother. That role was a triumph for me.

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