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Brooke Theiss:Living Doll

By Krys Longan

Primetime section SPLICE teen entertainment scene December/January Issue,Vol.3,no.6 1989

For beautiful Brooke Theiss, the most exciting and most embarassing moment of her life was all rolled up into one experience,and occurred in the bathroom of a New York City high-rise. The bubbly blonde star of ABC's hit sitcom Just the Ten of US ran into her idol, Meryl Streep, in the ladies' washroom,and went right up to the Oscar-Winning actress and told Streep exactly what an inspiration she had been in her life.

One problem, though; Brooke was dressed as a doll. As a Hasbro Maxie doll, to be more specific. But hold on one minute! If you're wondering why Brooke sometimes dresses up in overly cutesy nighties or poofy dresses to resemble a doll, you should know right off the bat that its not a weird or kinky habit. Besides her hectic schedule filming Just the Ten of Us,Brooke is also the spokesmodel for the $7,000,000 Hasbro Maxie doll advertising campaign. And when a company spends megabucks like that making sure an entire continent of young girls identifies you with their product, you know it's really an awesome responsibility.

"When I audtioned for Maxie,they asked me a lot of family questions, to be sure I wasen't doing Playboy or anything," Brooke told SPLICE cheerfully. Then she lets out one of her deep, trademark laughs. "Maxie does Playboy!"she whoops. If you've caught the commercials, you already know that Maxie is the essence of pure California beauty--much like Brooke herself.But the young actress is modest about being the beauty standard set for millions of young girls.

"I'm helped incredibly much," Brooke insists, talking about her makeover into a living doll. "I'm kind of transformed into Maxie." But what about that amazing golden hair maxie tosses around gleefully in the commercials? "No,no,thats a wig," Brooke laughs,seeing the humor. "They put a huge mop on my head."

Not that Maxie--er,Brooke--doesen't see the importance of her role."Its a great thing if you really believe in the product," she says."And I love kids! I really love kids!" And the kids love her--especially the kids who watch her playing wild and crazy Wendy Lubbock on the popular Growing Pains spin-off Just the Ten of Us. Wendy is the blonde half a pair of pretty and popular fraternal twins--also the smart half. Jamie--the lovely but dense readhead--is her sister.

"I'm very outgoing and very spontaneous,but Wendy is the type of character who takes big chances and has no regrets,"Brooke says of her role."She's a free spirit.So am I, but I definitely think things out before I do them."

But Brooke will admit that she is,"Fifty percent Wendy.People write me letters all the time and say,'Are you really boy crazy??' "Success came relatively quickly for Brooke, but it was the culmination of a decade-long dream to become an actress.Originally, all Brooke wanted was to star in TV commercials, but an acting coach she had when she was 12 inspired her to go for the gusto. Her high school classmates at Palos Verdes High School in Burbank,CA,definitely knew she had the right stuff--in her senior year,she was voted Most Likely To Become A Soap Opera Star!

After high school,Brooke chose to continue her drama education at New York University,her "first and only choice." "It was an ideal semester," says Brooke of her first time away from home. "I got good grades--which is unusual for me--and I really enjoyed myself!" The young actress suffers from dyslexia, which affects her reading skills,particularly when there are a lot of words crowded on a page. "Cher and Tom Cruise also have it," Brooke points out."A lot of artists have it--I guess because they use their creative side more."Nonetheless,Brooke loved attending NYU."I had a roommate from the Valley--Robin--and we had a lot of fun together," she laughs."We made fun of the New Yorkers--they're always wearing black."

If you still can't get enough of this funny,effervescent actress, then you're in luck--because in December she'll be starring in the NBC TV movie Splash Class,about two groups of highschool kids--one from a private school and one from a public school--who spends a semester at sea,competing against one another. The comedy special who stars marc Price from Family Ties,Shelley Fabares from Coach,and Ray Walston, from My Favorite Martian. It looks like Brookes future is bright--she still has four years left on her Maxie contract,and she's looking forward to her next season as Wendy Lubbock. "We got really good responses to the singing show,so we did another one," Brooke said. "We'll probably do more next season.I'd like her to sneak out more, take more risks next season-- but wendy definitely won't get a boyfriend!" We didn't think so.That would be too tame.