I had the honor of interviewing Cathy Silvers about playing Jenny Piccalo on “Happy Days”, what it was like growing up with her brilliant, comedic dad, Phil Silvers, being the executive producer on the new “Gilligan’s Island” film, her book “Happy Days Healthy Living” – about the Raw Vegan Diet, and her show “Healthy Living Show”.
1)Cathy, acting obviously ran in your family. Did you choose to become an actress, or was it something that you were put into because of your family?
I chose to become an actress. I loved acting from a very young age. So I was thrilled to end up on the “Happy Days” set. It was a serious honor.
2)Did you have to audition for the role of Jenny Piccalo on “Happy Days”? Who were you up against?
I did have to audition about nine different times before I auditioned for the ABC Network Read – the Final Read. It was finally down to me, Heather Locklear, and Heather Thomas before I got the role. They originally wanted Jenny Piccalo to be a blonde bombshell before they made her a comedian.
3)What were the challenges of playing Jenny Piccalo on “Happy Days”?
None. It was just an honor to play this character. Actually, the challenge was filling the shoes of this character who had been talked about for seven years prior to my arrival. That was daunting. But it was so easy, and so much fun, to play her. I felt like I was her.
4)What was it like working with the cast of “Happy Days”? Who were you close to on the set?
It was like joining a family. There was never any fighting. Everything ran smoothly by the time I got there. It was a warm, gracious family. We traveled together – Japan, Germany, all over the United States, our USO Tour – had a Softball team, and went to each other’s homes and parties. It was so much fun, and such an honor to meet the men and women serving our country when we did our USO Tour!
5)What was it like growing up with your dad? – the brilliant actor and comedian Phil Silvers. One of my (and my dad’s) favorite films of his is “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”.
Such a brilliant movie! Such a great character that he got to play in that film! My kids love it, too, and we can’t get enough of it. We especially love his scene with Don Knotts – where he steals his car, and then drives it into the lake. Growing up with him…he worked a lot, he traveled a lot. It was wonderful to be the child of a big celebrity. It certainly gave me a sense of importance – being a part of the Industry. I grew up with all these celebrities and their children. My father was always “ON” – even at home – which was fun.
6)You are an author. What types of books do you write?
I have only written one book – “Happy Days Healthy Living” (2007). It is autobiographical. The first half of my book is about my life growing up in the entertainment industry, becoming Jenny Piccalo on “Happy Days”, and “Happy Days”. The second half of my book is about healthy living – an exploration of my understanding of the path to the raw food diet, and what that does for the body. The Vegetarian, Vegan, and Raw Vegan leaders have written chapters in my book, so it’s not just my knowledge of raw food, and its power to heal the body, and keep one young and healthy. It also has excerpts in chapters written by experts in the field of Medicinal Food. Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”, and that is my Mantra, and the emphasis of my book.
7)You’re a vegan. What made you become a vegan?
In 2007, my daughter came home from school, and told me that she was going to become a vegan, and start a Vegetarian Club. I had been eating what is known as “The Sad Diet” – fast food. I had to feed her, so I studied this. We skipped vegetarianism, and went straight to veganism, and she challenged me to join her in a vegan diet. I had just had a bunch of kids in my 40’s, and was very, very overweight. I studied all the vegan books, and began making vegan food. And then I learned about Raw Vegan food, started eating Raw Vegan food, started my own Raw Vegan Club, and became so incredibly healthy. And that’s when I decided to write a book about it. I credit my daughter – she’s my best friend. I really embraced this – something that we can share together. I started the “Healthy Living” Product Line – which involves the “Healthy Living Show” and a website and blog – and we have really grown. I’ve coached people for many years.
8)What can you tell us about the new project “Gilligan’s Island”? – which you’re the executive producer of.
I am the executive producer of the new “Gilligan’s Island” film, co-written and starring Josh Gad – along with the Schwartz Family and Warner Brothers. The script is being written.
9)Cathy, what exciting projects are you working on today?
Other than “Gilligan’s Island”, we are always shooting all new episodes of the “Healthy Living Show” – a web show – for our website. It’s always fun to teach people how to make Raw Vegan Food, and do demos. Our “Healthy Living” Line is sold at Erewhon in Hollywood, PC Greens Market in Malibu, and all Lassens Natural Markets in California. I want to give a big Thank You to Hadar Paz – Powerfront for creating such an incredible, phenomenal website! And a big Thank You to my wonderful husband David Fullmer – an immigration attorney in Los Angeles. He’s always in the Top 100 Lawyers Of The Year. We’ve been happily married for twelve years, raising our five kids.