Interview by Randy Waage
What a thrill to talk to Cindy Morgan, who played two of the most diverse and iconic sex symbols of the early 80s as circuit laden Yori in TRON, and the insanely gorgeous Lacey Underall in one of the world's greatest comedies, CADDYSHACK. Cindy indulged our inner geek and gave us so much background dirt on both films, it was like getting our own exclusive DVD commentary tracks.
I did about five minutes of modeling and I was sent to Los Angeles for a job.
When you grow up in Chicago and you get off the plane in Los Angeles I canít even tell you the kind of impression that makes. Moving to LA seemed like the right thing to do.
I was never overly satisfied
with the 12 years of Catholic school I had in Chicago. Thatíll scare the
hell out of anybody.
They had attitude. There
wasnít any actual contact, but there was a lot of "Do it my way."
The movie Caddyshack is
well remembered as a slice of pop culture history.
The dynamic between Ted
Rodney Dangerfield is incredible.
I had heard that Ted was
a nice person, but challenging to work with.
How did they manipulate
you into the character of Lacey?
Thatís a great part of the movie.
Iím legally blind without my
contacts. Iíve got a -7 power lens. If you put my glasses on you could see
Venus. I donít swim and I donít dive. If I hit the water at that speed my
lenses would have shot through the back of my head. I had to go up there
They did a damn good edit for that one. I had to walk the board blind and jump knowing that when I hit the water I couldnít swim.
You canít swim?
I canít see without my lenses. Jumping in is the way you had to do it with this film. There was no thinking about it. The second scene was the nude scene which I agreed to do. They kept trying to push me to shoot the scene for Playboy. There were a couple of problems with that. I was the Irish Spring girl at the time and my dad would have dropped dead.
I said no Iím very flattered & thank you, but I canít do it. They sent the photographer anyway. One of the producers called me between takes and told me, "Youíre fucked in this business and you will never work again. Iím taking away your paid ads and your billing." Did you notice that Iím not on the poster?
You were relatively new to the business.
Itís my first job and Iím getting these threats. I told them I want four people on the set during my nude scene: I want the Director of Photography, the Director, the other Actor Iím working with, and me. Until we get that done weíre not getting a shot off. Itís your call.
Bill Murray was a total nut in that movie.
He was flying by the seat of his pants. Heís doing these scenes such as the whole Dalai Lama scene. Much of what was done was nowhere near what was in the script. The original script is about the Caddy. All the boys were very different and a lot of fun. The key was to stay on my toes because, more often than not, there was a camera rolling.
What about Chevy Chase?
They filmed Caddyshack
over a month?
You partied off the set.
I thought okay this is how
films are done. Iíll play along and it was crazy! First of all, those
drugs make you think youíre more brilliant than you are. There were a lot
of things going on in 1979 in Florida. It was a part of the time. I think
Ted Knight was the only one not involved on any level.
Crushes? You mean with my co-actors. Always!
You dated one of the guys from Caddyshack.
Scott Colomby who played Tony D'Annunzio. He was one of the actors in it that I ended up seeing for a couple of years. It was originally about the Caddies. Boy was he pissed off. Heís one of those serious actor types. Itís just acting!
In movies/plays actresses & actors often end up together.
You mean getting emotionally involved if not more so. In Caddyshack I was sitting in a car after breakfast with one of the actresses in the film. I donít like competing with other women. Iím going to put together my wish list and you put together yours. Then weíll stay out of each others territory. In my upcoming book Iím not going to say who I got to know on more than a first name basis. Letís just say Iím an overachiever. I had a list of three & I got three.
You know itís like the old saying from the 1960ís. If you remember the 1960ís you werenít really there. Much of that was true for Caddyshack.
What did you think of Caddyshack 2?
I was in the first one. The funny one.
Being the pretty young woman Iím sure you had to fend off the guys on the set.
Iím listening to you and Iím thinking, "What the hell is he talking about?" I wasnít raised pretty. I wasnít told that. I got cast in that and Iím so confused. I was a disc jockey behind the microphone. The reason I became a disc jockey is because I had a stutter and I took a couple of speech classes. I was a lousy speaker, but a good writer.
I had a speech class that got me into broadcasting, and that got me into acting as an accident. I flew out to California and I got an Irish Spring commercial in a month. Eight months later I got Caddyshack. I was listening to these guys and thinking they are crazy, but Iíll do this film.
You end up having sex with two people in Caddyshack.
I do. I got to kiss Chevy Chase and Michael OíKeefe in Caddyshack. In Tron I kissed Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner. This is a wonderful job. I highly recommend it.
The candy bar in the pool scene is classic.
What about the line about Nude Skiing and Bullfights on Acid?
I think itís a riot of a
line. That was Lacey trying to get a rise out of Ty. She was trying to see
what he would say.
In Caddyshack youíre clothing is tight fitting.
I know. That was the year
women had burned their bras. Thereís a whole reason she was like that. I
just drew the line as to what I was going to do and not do. Thatís what
pissed so many people off, but thatís what made Lacey.
Itís tough when people respond to you that way. At first you donít mind because itís part of the job. Itís a double edge sword. People love and hate you for the same reason. It gets a little tiresome when people think sheís obviously this, that, and the other thing. You think, "Get over it and grow a brain."
Do you think youíre competing in life against the character of Lacey Underall?
I did the job, I was happy to do it, and I moved on. The funny thing is I never got the credit I was promised or deserved. The producer John Peters was very pissed off at me and my agent didnít stand up for me. They took away my paid ads and my billing. I never got any promotion from it because they were angry with me.
I wasnít even invited to the
Doug Kenney, one of the writers of Caddyshack who subsequently died.
He was a good writer and a sweet guy he heard I wasnít invited and paid
for two first class tickets out of his own pocket to send me to the
premiere in New York.
We got our hands on "Caddyshack" and have not stopped laughing yet ... not only is the movie a piece of our past lives' experience, but remembering you again as the all American girl with brains, wit and humor brought us all memories of the good wholesome things in the USA we sorely miss here.
A few of the new military types down here from Iraq just came up for air too ...the one thing we all agreed on though was no matter the generations apart, Cindy Morgan is the girl we all hoped to find and marry. For me as a retired mustang naval officer, you really were never that far removed. In some of the worst situations and places you could imagine, I could always quote some line from Caddyshack to break the stress in the crew, and keep close to me the thought that somewhere back there was a Cindy Morgan for all of the troops, if we only could get back alive. I kept the original vivacious lady, no look alike, in that special place that all memories go when things look bad or dead-ended.
So watching you again stroked fond thoughts of better and yes, worse times in my life. But for the brave soldiers in that hell-hole up north, you became that special, special girl in all of their lives for a few laughable and pleasurable moments in their tortured quiet places. Now when an actress or any woman can do that spanning a generation or two, she indeed is an actress for the ages, and the haunting ghost of what I (and probably we) looked for after coming home from our private hell called Vietnam...and more followed but always you trailed along in the fondest, warmest memories of this Salty Dog.
Thanks for being you,
Cindy...with warmest regards & wishes...Joe (Cdr/USN retired).
It took me a few days to
answer him. I was thunderstruck by it. His letter was articulate, it was
feeling. I was just flattened by it. If you get one letter like that in a
lifetime youíre done. Thatís all you need to hear. I can die a happy
Youíre drastically different characters in Caddyshack and Tron.
I do these fan conventions and two out of three people donít know thatís me in both Caddyshack & Tron. They both have elements of me in them. Lacey in Caddyshack is offensive in biblical proportions. Lora/Yori from Tron is more like the radio or communications nerd I was in college.
Did you have to audition for Tron?
The first audition was just the director, Stephen Lisberger and Jeff Bridges. I think I remember a camera, so it was a casual screen test, if there is such a thing. I felt a little weird, but not nervous. (My nerves deep-six me all the time, so that was a good thing.) The second "audition" was really a meeting with one of the Disney VP's. He asked me what my political affiliations were, and I told him I had none. I got the job. Debra Harry was up for my role too. Tron was the first CGI (Computer Graphics Imaging) movie ever done.
Itís CGI, but most of the movie was hand animated.
Very frame by frame. It took 10 months in post production. Literally all these folks knew me. They would ask me did I know so and so. They were one of the animators on the film and saw me everyday for 8 months. I did this film in 6 weeks and didnít see the movie until it came out much later.
For you it was performing on a black set with tape.
It was a black set and we got the script. I thought, "Okay, this doesnít make sense. Iíll just show up and do it." You get there and youíre in this skin type costume. Steven Lisberger would say okay youíre on the Solar Sailor and youíre crossing the game sea. It was a black table with felt on it.
I would say, "What a minute. What the hell are you talking about? Iím flying a ship. What does it mean?" Youíre just pushing buttons and moving things. The animators will put it in later on.
You put yourself in that
willing suspension of disbelief. You imagine youíre a little kid playing
the games you use to play. For me I wanted to believe I was there.
You didnít think Tron was going to become a Cult Classic?
No way in hell. I loved working on TRON with Jeff and Bruce, but I had a heck of a time with the dialogue sometimes. "Oh TRON, I knew there wasn't a circuit built that could hold you" was a line that I begged Stephen Lisberger to let me skip. Years later it's pretty darn campy.
In fact Tron was the film
that broke me up with Scott Colomby. Every time I got a film we broke up.
I think Tron was the last straw.
a classic in its own way. Heís one of those seriously trained actors. The
thing is Iím not discounting that. Thatís where good balance comes from.
You need people who are serious. I like to play it for real.
Itís in the eye of the
What would your character Lora be doing over 20 years down the road?
Designing Playstation games, but of course sheíd have Yori doing all the footwork.
Did they put glasses on you to make you look geekier in Tron?
The glasses were there because I wear glasses. Like I told you without the glasses Iíd be legally blind. One day I came into makeup with glasses and Steven Lisberger saw me and said you look great in glasses. When Iím doing the film Iím wearing my contacts, but with fake glasses over it.
Did you know much about
computers back then?
Then I said, "Well, but what if no one comes to see the movie?" Steven said, "Thatís okay". He had a very strong sense of integrity. Heís very true to his vision and itís held up over time.
You filmed in Lawrence Livermore Lab.
Weíre over there working and as usual Iím not listening to anything anyone has to tell me. I had to go to point A to point B to get to the makeup trailer. I saw this little rope so I stepped over it and I start walking. All of a sudden I hear someone yell, "Stop!" There was some sort of spill or leak there. I had to freeze and someone comes over and takes the shoes I was wearing. I had walked right into a radioactive something.
I canít imagine how they got permission to film there. It was so amazing to walk into there. About 9/10ths of it is in the ground. That really big door was a really big door. We could have shot that anywhere, but the fact that we got into there is amazing.
some people come out from the lab and eat a Hamburger with you?
What was it like working with Jeff Bridges?
Jeff is a sweet, charming, down to Earth, bright, wonderful, and funny guy.
Bruce was born and raised in the same part of the country as me. We had a lot of the same background. He was this great looking guy. Heís a big guy. Heís very solid, very steady, knows his lines, shows up on time, and is always prepared to do the job.
The three of us got along so well in Tron. We were in the Disney Commissary in our costumes. I donít know what Bruce said, but I was across the table. I think I had Bruce by the throat & said, "How can you say that about me?" We were cracking up. Bruce is big. Clearly Iím not hurting the guy. We had a good friendly dynamic. You canít write that stuff and you canít buy it.
Did you ever meet Bruceís wife Melissa Gilbert? We here at retroCRUSH are big fans of Little House and weíd love to interview her.
I did meet Melissa when there was a screening of Tron at the El Capitan in Los Angeles. Sheís so nice and great. Actresses donít always hit it off with other actresses. She said, "Oh youíre going to go outside. Iíll hold your bag for you." Sheís so cool. I love Melissa. Sheís the president of the Screen Actors Guild for Godís sake.
You did the Tron 2.0 videogame?
I did the voiceover in the videogame. Itís the fans that put me in business. I originally wasnít in the Tron 2.0 game. My character was killed off. My fans wouldnít have it. I was brought back as Ma3a.
What about life after Tron? It wasnít a career killer?
Right after that I did, "Bring them back alive" with Bruce. It rolled into a TV show that was hellish work. It was probably some of my better work. The hours were ridiculously long and the stunts were outside. Not only was I doing the same stunts as the guys, but I was wearing the damn high heeled, open toed shoes and wearing shorts. The men got to wear Khaki pants and boots.
They said, "Look at the woman running up & down the hill in those shoes." Thatís no joke it hurts! I did on average of a pilot a year.
You were on the nighttime drama Falcon Crest. Youíre the one who stole away "nice guy" Chase from his wife Maggie.
freshened up his character a bit. I'm starting to think I'm always a
version of "the other woman" or some femme fatale. Yep, I stole Chase
from Maggie, and it was fun. Hey, everybody's got a job to do, right?
It was short and punky.
They didnít want me looking too much like anyone in the cast. I use to wear headphones in the makeup trailer. One of the actresses would ask me, "Whatís it like kissing Robert Foxworthy?" Iíd reply, "It beats working for a living. Iím happy."
Robert was a big Teddy Bear. He was fun to work with. Iíd come in with all these wild eye harebrained schemes on how to do a scene. Heíd say, "Yea, whateverÖlets do it." He was great to work with.
I remember one time I came in for one table reading and there was no place to sit. I couldnít find a chair. Who gets up but Jane Wyman. She was my adversary in the show. She gets up and says, "Iíll get you a chair." She was making a big statement. Sheíd always be playing cards with the crew.
Thereís one scene where I walk in and throw a newspaper at her and slap her. I apologized. I told her Iím sorry. She said, "Oh Honey. You just do your job." Of course I didnít physically connect with her.
You donít want to be slapping the ex-wife of President Reagan.
The secret service guys would come on when her sons were on the set.
It was a popular show along with Dallas and Dynasty.
The nighttime soap opera was fun. I got to slap three people on that show. I slapped Robert Foxworthy, Robert Stack, and Jane Wyman.
Being an actor or actress can be a rough business.
Youíre only as good as your last job and your last job better have been yesterday. You stop taking it so damn seriously it gets a lot easier.
Youíre proud of other movies or independent movies youíve worked on?
My work in "Bring them back alive" Iím pretty proud of. Iím doing an indie this summer called "Open Mikers" with Gary Woods about standup comics. Iím just starting to see the pages now. What they have me doing is playing two versions of myself. Onstage Iím this loveable person Cindy Morgan and backstage Iím this bitch from hell Lacey Underall.
Have you dated many well
Itís a challenge to find the right person in life.
Itís tough. Itís like that line from Rita Hayworth, "They go to bed with Gilda and wake up with me." Even if Iíve known the person they see me as Lacey. Even if Iím related to them they see me as Lacey. Itís pretty darn spooky. My career has gone a lot better since Iíve eighty-sixed anybody who has been related or Iíve dated. Iím doing a lot better now. It does become a hazard.
Life becomes a business. Back off from all the relationship stuff. This is what I meant about getting away from anybody related or that Iíve dated. Iíve been engaged a bunch of times.
Not everybody has to get married.
The worse, most expensive mistakes Iíve ever made were getting married.
Youíve been there once or twice.
Itís like being bit by a Gila monster. I understand they have to be struck by lightning to let go. Thatís what these guys are like. Let go! Iíve walked out with nothing a couple of times. It can be very expensive. I take the best and move on.
Is there anything you fanatically collect?
Iím probably fanatic about trying to stay healthy. Thereís time in all of our lives where we have to press the edge of the envelope too far. My dad died in 1996. Just before he died he paged me out of the gym and said, "Iím dying and itís your fault. Have a nice workout."
My dad was my best friend and it was hard to hear. He didnít want to go. I stopped working out in 1996. Thatís a long time. Thatís nine years of not going back. Iím starting to train again because Iím going back to work.
I was told I was dying a
couple of years ago. I had a tumor and it took me a year and a half to get
it removed. By the time I did it was a half a pound. I gained some weight.
I went on a Pizza and Beer diet at that point. I figured if Iím going. Iím
going my own way.
It was a rare tumor. Thereís like ten in record. It was completely benign and I didnít die. I was under a death sentence for about a year and a half. It was harsh. I think thatís why things are going amazingly well now. Once you look death in the face what are you going to do?
Thereís nothing but looking up from there.
Itís all good news.
Youíre still open to
I was in a tough program in High School. They took the top 10% out when we were freshmen. They kept us together for four years and graded us on a Bell Curve.
I wanted to go to Illinois Institute of Technology and become an Engineer, but when I went to open house it was all guys. I kind of got scared. I was a little freaked out. I got over that obviously. I was a geek.
After all these male relationships you havenít thought about trying something different?
Not yet. One of my best friends is gay and I keep telling her I can go with you. I can hang out with you. She says, "Cindy no". I tell her Iím an actress I can play the part. She just laughs at me.
Iíve gone to her club in New York a couple of times. They do have pretty women there. I thought I could pull it off. I have a lot of good friends who are gay.
In the entertainment business many of the people who take
care of you are gay.
How many times have I been on the set and a guy has reached inside my bra and re-adjusted things. Iím like whatever. One time I was at a wardrobe fitting for a show I was doing called Beverly Hills Bunts.
I had to change into different wardrobe outfits. Only in Los Angeles is this an insult. One time I said to a guy, "Clearly youíre straight. Youíre leaving the room." He wanted me to change in front of him, but he was straight. Normally you donít pay attention to it. Thereís no time to even get into all that.
In a show like that youíd expect everyone to be gay.
Itís so good to have a trusting relationship with someone and you ask, "How does this look?" and theyíll really tell you.
Did you get into the club scene in the 1980ís in LA?
Weíd go dancing and have a lot of fun. I tried getting married a bunch of times. I had to try. I wanted to have kids and I wanted to have a family. It wasnít in the cards. It costs me everything I had. One of the times I got married I tried to stay with it with someone who was totally wrong for me.
We all try to stick it out for love.
You thought he was cute enough to give you a few babies?
I thought so itís just that every time he opened his mouth I wanted to shoot myself in the head.
In the beginning itís all fine.
This guy was the real actor. For a whole year he played he was somebody else. A year after we met I got married and he was someone completely other than the person I met.
They tell you to stay
away from the people in the business.
You have to keep going.
Ultimately in the long run
thatís what matters are the fans. Itís not going to be the producers who
took your face off the poster or the casting directors who have a bad
attitude or the
When was your first kiss?
I was in college and I took a second Psychology course. The student assistant who I was doing lab work with walked me home. He gave me a kiss goodnight and told me I didnít know how to kiss. He spent about an hour and a half teaching me.
I didnít close any deals so to speak until I was 21. By the time I was 21 I looked at my life and said thatís it. I looked at the guy I was dating and said, "Okay tonight is the night." and he said, "What?"
Thatís quite a challenge for the guy.
Thatís the whole thing about Lacey. Sex can be intimidating.
It can be intimidating, but your character in Caddyshack doesnít come off that way.
She tries to be just a little. Women and men can use sex as a weapon.
Thatís true. Iím sure you enjoy it.
Itís one of my favorite things. I love it!
Itís a great way to burn calories.
You see thatís why I put on the weight.
Iím certain there wasnít a drought for you. What do you look for in a guy?
I like a guy with great eyes that means they have a great soul. A great sense of humor and if he is good at being himself. I know it sounds clichť, but someone who is happy and comfortable in their own skin. Thatís attractive.
"Everyone I know is nuts!" I go about proving it. I donít just leave the title out there. Once you accept the fact that everyone is crazy things get a lot easier.
Is it hard to keep a momentum after achieving success in your career early on?
Nine out of ten times people
are trying to strike you down. Why? Whatís the big deal? I did the job.
Whatís the problem? Thereís a lot of weird dynamics. I try not to listen
to that. I was never in it for the power, money, or fame. I was in it
because I liked it and hopefully it shows in the work.
Iím working on a book, a reunion golf tournament, an article for Sports Illustrated, some public speaking, and a film in September.
You like being an actress?
I always liked telling
stories whether itís acting out a role or writing something. Iíd like that
to show in the work. When someone makes me crazy itís not worth it. I took
a few years off. I had a death, I had a divorce. Iím lucky enough to be
back in it without showing a hundred miles of bad road. Iím back and doing
what I like to do.
If you'd like to find out more of what's going on with the lovely Cindy Morgan, or buy one of her autographed photos, check out her website at: www.cindy-morgan.com
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