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conducted Saturday, 24th August, 2002 and 12th March, 2003

I was lucky enough to have the chance to speak with Joanna Cameron about her time on Isis and what she was up to before and after that time.

Why did you take an interest in acting?

Joanna Cameron: Probably because I was in the University of California system and it was a good major for me.


I think you got your professional start in the Bob Hope film "How To Commit Marriage", right?

JC: Absolutely! Bob Hope discovered me, and Jackie Gleason was the other big star in the picture, which was a thrill. Jane Wyman was my mother and Tim Matheson was the love interest.

So, what were all those celebrities like to work with?

JC: [It was] tremendous, absolutely tremendous. Between Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason, I don't think the set ever stopped laughing.


In another early role, you had the female lead in "B.S. I Love You". Tell us a little about that.

JC: I had been with the William Morris Agency, which, in its day, was on the cutting edge of the industry. It was my agent who signed me to that picture. I was fairly new to the industry and if you have a damn good agent, which I did at the time, you follow their direction. I was always sorry I didn't keep William Morris as my agent.

This picture took place in New York at the same Ali McGraw was filming Love Story. [We were both] over in Central Park shooting, so you can imagine for a kid from Colorado how much excitement that could've been.

I portrayed the daughter of a woman like Mary Wells Lawrence, one of the most brilliant minds in advertising. The experience was great fun. They very graciously gave me the glamourous daughter role, who was pretty outrageous as a character.

I think a couple of the stills from that picture have become "classics," (laughs) if that's not just a thrill for any girl! There's a shot of me in a white bikini that stills lives and there's a shot of me in a red, white and blue vest that still very popular. I still have the vest!


Did the fact that the part called for nudity bother you?

JC: I have no problem with it. In this day and age of full-frontal nudity, I would say that anything that I've ever done is pretty tame. Fortunately, everything was in good taste. Pretty tame, almost natural stuff [although] that scene on the airplane I'm sure had to be dreamt up about 20 minutes before we actually shot it!


You also did "The Great American Beauty Contest" that featured an up-and-coming Farrah Fawcett.

JC: One of the first things Aaron Spelling and Douglas Cramer made. I wish I'd worked more for Aaron Spelling, who doesn't? Farrah and I were buddies, we knew each other. I think we even did the interview for that together. Susan Anton and Barbi Benton [were] also in the picture. Barbi was just adorable! In its day, it actually made a statement about feminism.

I actually wanted Farrah's part, and she would've been just great as the one who won it, but with her accent, they gave her the "cowboy" funny role with Larry Wilcox.

And there was a TV movie you did called "It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy" where you played a female rapist! What did you think of that film?

JC: Fist of all, Paul Sorvino was a very respected actor out of New York and it was a unique opportunity to work with a really classy crowd. He's a top-notch professional. It was a really ahead-of-its-time, tongue-in-cheek comedy. It was played with great humor and with a twist. Certainly, in the day it was made, you [didn't] have too many stories like that.


How did you come to get involved with Isis?

JC: Long story short, I held the Guinness Book World Record [for most television commercials]. When I was in college in the Westwood area, I had the unique opportunity to do all those commercials. I got into the business a year or two after Jackie, Kate and Farrah (Jacklyn Smith, Kate Jackson and Farrah Fawcett), so between the three of them, they really opened up the business for women who weren't six feet tall. You didn't have to be like Lauren Hutton anymore to be successful as a commercial model.

Because of that, it was just a very positive time for that "All-American" commercial look, [so] I had a fabulous career when I was in college and the people over at CBS and Filmation were looking for a certain "type." Again, all-American, very athletic.

They flew me in from Hawaii and I truly appreciated that because somebody at CBS said "this girl's got TVQ - she'd be good if she'll do the role." The first time I met them, I said "no". The second time I went back and met them, we really tried to hammer out something where everybody would be comfortable.

The Filmation people were nice to me. I didn't expect a lot. I just thought it was going to be a two-week shoot one summer. Literally! I thought, "this sounds fun! Okay, I can fit it in!" (laughs).


Did you have any say as to what Andrea wore on the show?

JC: In the beginning, none of us had any control of wardrobe, hair, boots, costume, makeup, amulet, (laughs) got the point? Or the crow! The crow was not a friendly pet!

By the time the four of us had gotten to know each other [Joanna, Albert Reed, Brian Cutler and Joanna Pang], we were in the fourth or fifth show and could start giving some input.

Of course, we realized they had a very lean budget the first year, but they were still a good studio. We all tried to upgrade the show as we went along. If you went from the first show to the very last show in the second year, you'd see massive improvements. It's too bad we didn't have really great flying technique in those days, but this was before "Superman" [the 1978 feature film] even, so they were still doing that old-fashioned bluescreen.

I certainly wasn't much older than the high school students when I did the show. I was very lucky. [Growing up] in Colorado, I had some sports in my background, I got to go to Hawaii for a week with United Airlines, Search took me to Jamaica and put me in a race car, I told someone a couple weeks ago that it's really close to a Cinderella story. I never really had a lot of time to go out and do movies, not that I was asked to do a lot, but you're in school and you have certain interests.

My background was in drama and English, so people would take me, do a commercial and in a couple days, I'd be back.


What was it like getting rigged for flying sequences? Was it a pain?

JC: No, it was just fun. It was an adventure. If you go back, the cinematographer, Robert Sparks, [was] one of the best in the business. Matt Leonetti cut his teeth on Isis. Matt is probably one of the most successful cinematographers today. Quite a bit of craftswork there, too. I don't think anybody took it seriously at the time. Had to work on them to improve the costume, but other than that...


Well, what are your thoughts about the costume?

JC: Oh, great fun, but it's too bad I didn't have creative control. If we could've done it now, I'd much rather have done something more "Egyptian goddess-like." That was a bit of a white tennis skirt kind of look which was fine, it was prime-time children hour, but you can imagine what could really be done today with the project. Just think of "Tomb Raider."


Speaking of tennis skirt, some of the Filmation publicity stills depict you in a tennis outfit that was never seen in the series.

JC: I had just come back from Hawaii for one of the primary shoots. I was in a white tennis suit with the USA jacket. I'd been living in Hawaii and it showed!

The Isis thing just fell into place. I could do a lot of shots in a day, didn't bother me to be out on location or to do my own stunts. I think once they got a handle on it at Filmation with Brian and Joanna Pang and saw that we really mixed well together that they could actually have a hit show.


What were Joanna and Brian like?

JC: Brian was just a real nice guy! He was well-suited, well rounded, and if I remember correctly, he had an interest in music. Joanna, my goodness, was barely much older than the high school students. They were both delightful, but I'm sure none of us at that time thought that this would continue this many years later! It's too bad CBS didn't take it when they had it!


Were you aware of the show's original "crime solving" format?

JC: Arthur Nadel, the producer, told me all that and because she was a chemistry teacher, I thought it was good that they kept it in the school.


It's been speculated that the school's exteriors were shot at Reseda High. Any idea if this is the case or not?

JC: I really do think it was Reseda. I remember being just north of Universal City and I lived in Studio City at the time. We spent a couple of months there two years in a row. It makes sense because Filmation was [located nearby].

What was it like, being the leading lady in your own show?

JC: We had a great time shooting that show. That's when there were only three networks! That was an amazing period in time to be on television. Charlie's Angels or Angie Dickinson in Police Woman again had that very unique experience. If you have a creative bone in your body, to your own TV series has got to be one of the great pleasures in the world if you love the business, and I do. I worked in that industry since I was nineteen or so. I came here to go to school and very fortunately, fell into the film industry. If I ever do anything, I would like to write a short book about the incredible women in the industry I had the pleasure to meet.

I was at an age where nobody really saw me as competition. They met me when I was fairly young, I didn't have the [Playboy] Playmate "look", so a lot of people were very comfortable around me.

I also did quite a bit of charity work, so you [also] get to meet some great people in the charity work that's done in that town.


How did you find out the show was cancelled?

JC: They didn't cancel it, they just didn't pick it up for a third year. It was just a yearly contract.


You did get to go out on location occasionally, such as the desert scenes and on "Year of the Dragon". Other times, though, some of the exterior locations seemed to get re-used in other episodes.

JC: Well, the Screen Actors Guild has a ruling that something under 60 minutes is x amount of dollars or travel time and anything over an hour is regulated differently. Since this was a fairly small studio with a limited budget, we never got to go to Cairo, but would've loved to have done it!


A cost-cutting move, presumably, to air reruns rather that new ones. I guess they assumed younger viewers wouldn't be smart enough to know they were watching the same ones over and over again.

JC: What they did, was about two years later was make an animated show (the Freedom Force segment of Tarzan and the Super 7), so they could continue the merchandising [of the character]. Well, that might not have been their smartest marketing decision.

They went with it the second year and I've always thought it was too bad that they didn't take it to prime time. Over at CBS, I think they pushed Wonder Woman, we could say, "harder", as that was a known merchandising commodity, and after that, CBS put me in a pilot for Spider-Man [the two-part "Deadly Dust" episode that kicked off the web-slinger's first season] and again, I think it's too bad in retrospect that they didn't keep me in the series.

After that, I tried to continue in the business, at one time I was even a director, and that has its own history. [Directing] is not an easy business to break into.

You did direct films for the Navy, right?

JC: Somebody called me and I had "the right face." They were having problems with your basic communications with sailors, so somebody asked "do you want to host Navy Network?" I did!

I had the pleasure of being flown out to aircraft carriers, meeting people, doing short vignettes, interviews with the captain, little memos to home, it was just great fun. Because of that, I flew with the Navy's Blue Angels. Talk about a thrill for a lady! It certainly was right up there! Someone turned around and said, "why don't you take this film [they had some, I had some], put it all together, and let's make a commercial for the Naval Academy." That's how Razor Sharp came to be.

The reason I wanted to be a director is that you do get so enraptured with the creative process that you don't want to just paint a little bit of the "picture" - you want to put a frame around it, influence the colors, make sure the music's right, and that's why people are so taken with the creative process. I can't blame anybody who wants to be in the industry, especially now.

I have great pride in my knowledge. I'm thrilled that I got to work in the industry with some of the great people that don't work [anymore] or are no longer alive.

Bet you had no idea you'd be talking about the show all these years later!

JC: Absolutely not. If you wanted, there is a formal listing still in Who's Who in America. I am sometimes shocked about how many shows I did and all the work I was lucky enough to do. For this to be the one I'm remembered for is fun, as long as people remember there's a couple other things I really liked doing.


What were some of the other movies/TV shows you enjoyed being in?

JC: Oh, gosh, the McMillans, Columbo, the whole time I spent at Universal was great fun. You're very well-cared for when the studio wants to take care of you!

I did Carson, I did Merv, you know, I used to spend a couple months a year in New York just doing commercials. I look back at that with great warmth and affection.

Can't really think of a bad shoot or a bad time or had any great difficulty with anyone. Probably a couple of leading men I'd like to work with!


Were you ever afraid of being typecast as Isis?

JC: No. Who's afraid of being typecast as a super-hero. If you have to be typecast, take super-hero. Or Egyptian goddess.


Even better! How do you feel about the conventions?

JC: Yes! It was a delight. Everybody's been so gracious about this. I can't imagine not going to Texas [which she did in October 2002] and having a really good time.

Any idea why Joanna Pang wasn't asked back for the second year?

JC: Who knows. [I wouldn't] try to rationalize network decisions. I hope, and from what you've said, she's had a very successful life as a lady and mom. That's what's important.


Anything special from the show stick out in your mind? Memories?

JC: I think the biggest thing was the fact that they added those tags at the end and they turned out to be so successful and memorable to people. That's what people sometimes seem to remember the most: that the show had some meaning, a little positive note that closed the show.


It's a shame they cut those out in foreign syndication.

JC: Let's not even go there!


Did you enjoy working with the Shazam! cast?

JC: I didn't get to know them very well as they worked on one half of the street and we worked on the other half. We did share a crew, but I just didn't get to know them very well.

Both the gentlemen who played Captain Marvel were charming, John Davey and Jackson Bostwick. Michael Gray was adorable, he's still charming and Les Treymayne was a kind older gentleman.

There were days I remember that we did 50-60 set-ups on Isis. You just don't do that without moving real fast!

Unfortunately, the Isis cast didn't get to know Jackson well. He is charming and I'm sure we could've made a really good team. I know him and his wife and they're delightful people.


What was your impression of Tut, the bird?

JC: [It was] stupid! Next!


Okay, did you enjoy working with the dog Isis had to save from drowning ("Lucky")?

JC: I'm a huge dog lover. I had a wired-hair terrier for 13 years who was probably one of my best friends and probably one of the smartest animals I ever met. Yes, I'm a tremendous animal lover.


How about the snake you had to pick up ("Now You See It, Now You Don't")?

JC: No problem. I was raised north of Colorado. We lived out in the sticks, in the farm belt. So, snakes never bothered me.


So it was real?

JC: It was. [There was another snake used in] the CBS photo that was a cobra [that] I brought back from a trip to Africa.

Did you like working on a children's show?

JC: Absolutely. I'd do it tomorrow. Great audience because they're believers. Adults aren't.


What do you think about children's programming today?

JC: I mainly watch the Disney channel. I don't watch a lot of [network] children's programming. I think occasionally the WB does have good product. I think all of us love Nickelodeon, Animal Planet, National Geographic. The choices are so vast now.


Do you think the children of today would be able to get the same enjoyment out of the show as the children of the '70s?

JC: It seems like that's what people tell me. Again, it's a quality program [unlike] a lot of the garbage that seems to be on the air.

Heck, if you really want to turn the clock back, I did the first Marcus Welby that ever broadcast about birth control (abortion), and it was the highest-rated TV show that season.

[However,] I think there's some wonderful programming on today. I think poor little Isis could hold up if it was properly produced and a DVD put together. Obviously, it's going to be dated, but parents seem to think the children would enjoy it.

Were you nervous at all about appearing on The Tonight Show? What was it like meeting Mr. Carson?

JC: That was a delightful experience. When Johnny Carson invited me to do the show, I'd already been at NBC Studios several times. I had done a special with Bob Hope and John Wayne at NBC Burbank, right next to Johnny Carson's stage. It was a thrill to be invited! (Laughs) I remember doing it [though] I don't remember being terribly witty when I was there. It's a little intimidating, but that's a thrill for a young girl from Colorado, to do the Johnny Carson show with Johnny! He's a charmer and was very good at what he did. One of the best talk show hosts ever!


From watching, it seemed Ed McMahon was a big fan of yours! He mentioned watching you on Saturday mornings.

JC: Uhm, God graced me with this pair of legs, but what can I say! That was most kind of them to be so complimentary, so I try not to let people down!


Along the same lines, were you aware of the show's large adult male following, in addition to the kiddies?

JC: I think I was, after about the first year. You know, that show ran every Saturday morning, so I used to have friends at ABC Sports who would tease me because I was always on opposite them.


Any regrets?

JC: None that I'd voice publicly. I've been very blessed in my life.


After your film/TV career, I believe you went into nursing?

JC: Yes, I did about 10 years of home health care and that is a very strenuous and challenging industry. After that, I decided to go ahead and use my marketing degree and now I work for two major hotels.

How satisfying is that for you?

JC: Oh, it's fine. This is not a difficult period of time in my life. I stay in shape, do long-distance cycling and play golf. Gotta do something, you know? Can't just work all the time!


What did you think about the website?

JC: It's been a surprise, this whole website thing. I am absolutely shocked, thrilled, amazed, delighted, astounded that people still remember the show!


There are a lot of them out there!

JC: You can certainly pass the word along. I don't have a large family, I'm not married, it has just been a total delight this past year that so many people enjoyed the show and actually might still remember me!


Anything you'd like to say to your fans?

JC: Merci beaucoup, or thank you very much! It it wonderful that people enjoy your work and remember you for it! To me Isis is a tremendous accomplishment.


What are some of your favorite shows currently on TV?

JC: CSI and Monk come to mind immediately [and] Will and Grace. I think [Debra Messing] is a dynamic comedienne. Let me mention I do like VH-1 (laughs, a reference to the Where Are They Now "Super-Heroes" segment she appeared on) and I totally enjoyed their Divas program. I also watch ESPN SportsCenter and I also watch golf, because I play golf.

Would you consider making a comeback to acting?

JC: I wouldn't turn down working in the industry, but it also takes them to be proactive and call me! (laughs)


Thanks, Joanna!

JC: It's been a pleasure! Give everybody who reads this my best regards!


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