Yvonne Craig

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Were there any roles that you turned down that you later regretted?

No. And, I must say, from the time that I stopped acting until recently, I can't think of any role that I've seen other people play that I've said, "(gasp) Ah! I wish I could have played that." I've seen directors ... I saw All The Pretty Horses, and, if I were a young actress today, I would be beating down Billy Bob Thornton's door, trying to get a part as a toadstool, as anything. I just think he is such a talented ... He made such wonderful director's choices in that. I was just blown away by it. And, of course, I'm a big Matt Damon fan. I think he is highly underrated. I have never seen that man have an untruthful moment on the screen, ever.

And you once said that - I can't remember if it was in the book or just you and I talking - that you usually just watch what you've done once.

Yeah.

Why?

Well, I don't know. I don't know. I like the doing of it, I like rehearsals, I like the creating of it and then I'm on to whatever the next thing is. I kind of, don't look back. I mean, I look back to say, "Well, I won't do that ever again," or whatever, but I learn from my mistakes. But I don't, kind of, relish the past. I have a girlfriend who is constantly saying to me, "Oh, you remember when we did such-and-such?" Well, that was like 30 years ago, and, yes, I remember, but ... I enjoy the times I'm spending as they're happening. I knew I was really happy when I was in the Ballet Russe, I knew I was really enjoying myself when I was an actress, so I enjoyed it at the moment, so I don't have to look back and say, "Ah, if I'd only known how wonderful it was ..." I did know. And, that's kind of a blessing.


Courtesy Yvonne Craig

Were you no longer interested in a series after Batman?

Oh, I would have done another series after Batman. None of them were ever offered to me. But, I did a lot of episodic TV after Batman. So, you know, just no series came up.

At that time, did you consider Batgirl a role model?

Did I? No. You know, I'm really pleased when women say, "She was my role model, because she was really spunky, and she could do anything the guys could do." And I think the credit there should actually go to the writers. I mean, they wrote that character; yes, I played her, but if they hadn't written her as spunky, how could I have perceived that she was. So, I think the writers are the most important people.


Courtesy Yvonne Craig

And, by the mid-70s, you started looking in other directions. Were you losing interest in acting?

No. I never made the transition from being a leading lady to anybody's mom. Nobody ever, ever, ever cast me as a mom. And so, if you don't make that transition, going from a leading lady to a mom and then to a grandmother ... I used to joke and say that my career has been from an ingenue and then going to an older character actress, having never hit that middle ground at all.

Then you went into real estate, which, I would think, was a pretty lucrative business in southern California.

Yes. Yes, it was, and it opened up a whole other part of my brain that I had not been using. I really enjoyed it, and I really had lots of self-revelation, because I had never really considered myself competitive, and once I got into the real estate business I realized that, yes I am, I like winning; I really like winning. And that I'm a good negotiator and all those things appealed to me, and I enjoyed that for as long as it lasted.
And then, I think everybody reaches burnout, sooner or later, in real estate. You're dealing with a lot of personalities and you're just dealing with all kinds of things. And so, when you look up one day and say to your cohort, "I hate buyers, but you know who I hate worse than buyers? I hate sellers," that's the time when you need to say, "Well, there are buyers and sellers," so maybe you need to find another niche.


Courtesy Yvonne Craig

Did you have any clients who were surprised to see Batgirl trying to sell them a house?

You know, no. I had a couple of experiences where ... One experience where I was hoping they wouldn't notice, because I was new in the business and I was trying to be very professional and I was on television. It was muted, but I was on the screen, at the same time I was trying to look professional as a real estate person.
And the other time was, the reason they chose me over the other realtors, was because they wanted Batgirl to sell their house. And that was the only one that I didn't ever sell. I could not ... I finally called them and said, "You know what, I've done everything I can to sell this," this was a condo, "I think you should find another broker. Because, short of setting my hair on fire and running naked through the streets, I don't know what to do to get this sold (laughter)!"

Well, I could have lived without your hair on fire ...

(Laughter) I could've lived without all of it (laughter).

Do you miss acting at all?

No, I miss the creativity of building a character and doing something like that, and having a group experience with it. But, no, not really; no. As long as I'm doing something creative, I'm happy.

Right.

So, writing the book felt creative to me, and I'm really seriously considering going back to painting. I really want to give that another crack before I ... (laughs) I leave this plane.

Well, what are you waiting for, then?

Inspiration.

Mmmm.

Yes; yes. I'll do it. I'll do it; I just don't know where I want to set up. I know what I want to do, so probably in the next ... My husband and I are going to do some traveling, because we do a lot of adventure traveling, and so we're going to travel. So probably when I come back I will start that, just because it feels like the right time.

You have traveled a lot. Now, what is "adventure travel?"

Oh, you know; safaris in Africa, whale watching in Alaska, going to the Galapagos and white-water rafting in Ecuador. Stuff like that. It's all more primitive than people like. We were talking about it the other day, and my husband said we could probably write travel books and, sort of, guides. And I said, "I don't think so," because I don't think anybody wants to travel the way we do. I mean, I don't care if I'm in a really primitive situation. I don't care if we don't have flush toilets. I don't care that there are bugs in the bed - just shake 'em out and go about your business. In you're in a place and you're seeing things that you would never have the opportunity to see, unless you were suffering these hardships, then, okay. But I don't know that you can write a book and say to people, "Oh, I really think you should go and live with the bushmen in Africa for a while, because it's fairly interesting, although primitive.
" And so, I also think that people that write travel guides for others are spending so much of their time just trying to figure out, you know, "where do we suggest they eat," and "what did we have," and "did we like it," and "do you think they could have done better," and all this stuff. You know, it ruins your trip.

So, what made you decide to start the website?

These people came to me and said, "We think that you're high-profile, and we would like to do your website," as an entre into that business, and they did it in 1997. And it was very cutting edge in 1997. When they did my website, it won a whole bunch of awards for them, and it sort of put their business in a higher profile place than it ordinarily would have been. I just thought they did an excellent job, and I was happy for them and I was happy for me, because it's nice. And, it's kind of held its own all these years. I mean, that's a long time for it to be up, and productive.

And you get e-mail from idiots like me ...

Yeah! I get e-mail from all kinds of people, all over the world, and, as I've often said, I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into cyberspace, but I kind of like it now.

So, how's your mom?

She's good. She's good. She's going to be 92 in October, and she has joie de vivre. And she just bought a new car (laughs). And, she's terrific.

A Camry, wasn't it?

Yeah, she bought a new Camry. And she's funny, because she said, "You know, I always felt like I'm about 37, and then I look in the mirror and say, "(gasp) Ah! Who is that?" (laughs) So, I said to Meridel, you know, that's a great legacy, that she has all these interests, and all this energy, and even though she's slowing down, she is curious, and that's wonderful.

At 91, and she's just now slowing down?

Yeah, really.

Gosh.

Yeah, we - for her eightieth birthday - we took her to London and Wales, because her father was from Wales. And she had not been to London. And so, we figured, at 80, we probably should take her while she was still mobile, and so we did. I remember getting off a bus, and saying to her, "Okay, Mother, now the plan is this: We're gonna go back to the hotel room and rest ..." and before I could get it out of my mouth, she said "Oh, I don't need to rest." And I said, "We do." (Laughter) So, yes, she's a ball of energy. She always has been.

Have you and your mom and your sister always gotten along this well?

Absolutely. Yeah; absolutely.

That's special.

Yes it is! And, we have a brother, with whom we get along very well. Yeah, it is special, and you don't realize that until, you just think that's the norm, until you get out in the world and you notice that people aren't talking to their mothers, they're estranged from their siblings ... Yes, it's good.

Do you enjoy doing the memorabilia shows and things now?

Yeah. I do about four of them a year. Last year I did a lot more; I think we did about eight. But we did more last year because the book was out, and I was promoting it. We're back to doing, I think, only four this year. And a percentage of all of it goes to breast cancer, so that's good.

Really?

Yeah, and we've switched ... we used to support the Santa Barbara Breast Cancer Institute, and when the man who was running it died. and no one took over his research, I was unwilling to just give it to any old body, so then we started backing a food bank for AIDS families.
And now we're back to breast cancer, because they have a plan now for free mammography - I mean it has to be underwritten by somebody, so that's our contribution - free mammography for low-income women. If they don't have any medical coverage, they often detect it so late that it's fatal. And it doesn't have to be, it shouldn't be. And so, that's who we've been donating charitable funds to.

Great. Do you have any more books on the way?

You know, when I finished this one, everybody liked the chapter about the animals that I've had so much that I was tempted to write a children's book, with the lead character being my guinea pig, George Gregory, who had a fascinating life. And I even spoke to a fellow who was going to draw him for me, and I said to him, "I'll let you know when I start work and then I'll send you the book, and you can illustrate it." And so, we had talked about that, and I just can't seem to get off the dime on that, so I have a feeling that there probably is not a burning desire within me, and I need to look elsewhere for my creative outlet.

What's the best time of your life; was it then or now?

It's always now. As long as I'm healthy, it's always now. Even when it was then (laughter).

For more information, visit Yvonne's website at http://www.yvonnecraig.com.


Courtesy Yvonne Craig

Special thanks to Meridel Carson for her invaluable assistance in making this interview possible.

 

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