|Before Night Of
The Living Dead were you a fan of horror films?
Not exactly. When I was around seven years old, I saw HOUSE OF
WAX ... the 3-D version starring Vincent Price. It scared the
bageebees out of me! Science fiction... flying saucers, things
like that, were more to my liking. I also LOVED the old MGM musicals
and love stories like THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR and A PORTRAIT OF
The role of Barbara is looked at differently
by many people. Some people think Barbara represented a change in the
role of women in horror, seeing her as the roots of the strong, determined
characters of modern horror, while others have her criticized the character.
Where do you see Barbara's place in the evolution of women in horror?
You grew up
in Pittsburgh, but were in Hollywood at the time "Night
of the Living Dead" was being cast. Who was it that thought
you were right for the part of Barbara?
Yes, Pittsburgh was my home from 6th grade until I left for
Hollywood in my early twenties. I think it was Karl Hardman
who thought I might be right for Barbara. He was the one who
called and asked if I'd like to come back to audition.
Wow, that's quite a question. I'm not quite sure how to answer it except
that I believe Barbara exemplifies honesty. How she got through her
horror ordeal is probably the way many REAL people would. She wasn't
a superwoman, but she wasn't a wimp either. She was just trying to survive
the best way her unique soul could. And yes, that included a period
of catatonia... a mental protection, if you will... a time for her mind
to pull it together while her body waited. Then, when all looked to
be lost, when the zombies were breaking into the house, she snapped
back into reality. It was time to fight back. And she did, until her
death. If Barbara is remembered for her honest behavior in the "evolution
of women in horror" then I'll be thrilled.
|What was the toughest
time for you on Night Of The Living Dead?
I really can't remember any time being really tough. Maybe
the sitting around during set ups between scenes could be considered
tiring. But, in all honesty, that was fun, too, for it was a constant
learning period for all of us.
||What was your
impression of Romero, as a director?
I thought George was extremely creative. He was relentless and
could go on forever. He was/is very dedicated to producing a quality
Did you ever think that Theyre coming to get
you, Barbara would become such a memorable & quoted
line from the movie? How many times have people come up to you
and said that?
I never ever guessed the line would become so quoted. I couldn't
begin to tell you how many times I've heard it. Let's just leave
it at LOTS AND LOTS!
|Did you know in
the recent zombie flick 'Shaun Of The Dead', they homage that
line, as Shauns mothers name is Barbara and they say
Were coming to get you, Barbara?
Yes, in fact, it was my son who told me that. I went right out
and rented the movie. It was really well done.
character of Ben was unlike any cinematic hero seen in a horror
film before 'Night Of The Living Dead'. What do you remember about
working with Duane?
Duane was pure class. Quiet, thorough, dedicated, and extremely
intelligent. Working with him was effortless.
What was it like for you to first see 'Night Of The Living
Dead' on the big screen?
What was the first indication that you'd taken part in a cinema classic?
|Oh, I don't believe
that awareness came for a long time... some years really. It wasn't
until friends and acquaintances continually sent screening notices
and reviews from around the world that I began to feel we'd made
something more enduring than originally thought.
When was the last time youve seen the film?
I saw NOLD at a screening this past September in West Los Angeles...
at the Nuart Theatre.It was one of those midnight showings like
the ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.
||What would you
consider to be one of your favorites scenes or moments from 'Night
Of The Living Dead'?
One of my favorite scenes is when Barbara runs her fingers over
a music box and starts it running. You can just catch a look at
her eyes as the little doors open and close.
After 'Night Of The Living Dead', we couldn't find anymore credits for
you, but we understand you continued to work in films. What other films
or television shows have we seen you in?
I worked for Warner Bros. upon my return to Hollywood. I did I picture
called THE PIRATE with Anne Archer, Eli Wallach, and Franco Nero.
But most of my work after NOLD was on the stage doing a wonderful variety
of musicals, comedies, and drama.
There was a much different Barbara in the 1990 Tom Savini remake, but
again, some critics were harsh on that characterization. What's your
opinion of it, and can strong women ever get a break in horror?!
|I can understand
why Tom made Barbara's character more commanding. Women were asserting
their strength and equality in so many ways and venues in the
90s. It seems quite acceptable that Barbara should be so much
more a leader and vanquisher in this version. I don't compare
the two versions. Each stands on its own merit in its own time.
And as far as strong women ever getting a break in horror... I
certainly would think so. We just have to get ourselves beyond
the "scream queen" mentality.
attended fan conventions, such as Horrorfind's in AZ. Have any
fun convention memories you'd like to share?
The best convention memories for me are of the many and varied
truly wonderful conversations I've had with NOLD fans. It's really
been mind boggling! I am continually amazed to meet so many fantastic
people who still support and enjoy NOLD so much.
Did you have a chance to meet up with any of your fellow NOLD
cast mates at any conventions?
Yes, I have met up with my cast mates at various times. And
when we do, we rock! What a great bunch of people they are...
Karl, Marilyn, George, Kyra, Bill, Jack, and Russ. Just the greatest!
I only wish we had Duane and Keith still with us.
Have you collected much Living
Dead memorabilia over the years? What are some favorite pieces?
I think I have given more AWAY than I have collected. Some favorites
though are the few original stills I've managed to hold on to that were
shot during production and an original movie poster that was given to
me by a very generous fan.
So, we hear
your going to be working with Dante Tomaselli on 'The Ocean'.
Howd that come about and what can you tell us about that
Dante contacted me through the Internet asking if I'd like
to participate. Being as how I am a firm believer in supporting
independent film, I said yes. I also love the ocean, am a passionate
scuba diver, and have great interest in the paranormal. It sounds
as if his film might offer it all. I can hardly wait.
You were also linked to a project called A Moth To The Flame,
which would also feature Reggie Bannister and our buddy Felissa Rose.
Are you still involved with that film? What can you tell us about that
Yes, I was asked to do a role in that film, but various changes in producers
and schedules made it impossible. I surely wish them all well though
and look forward to seeing the film sometime this or next year.
Tell us about your company O'Dea Communications?
offers a variety of oral presentation coaching and training
workshops, seminars, and multi-session courses for both the
professional and non-professional speaker. My Company vision
is verbal, vocal, and visual communication excellence throughout
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tailored to my customers specific needs. If you'd like
to check out my website, visit www.odeacommunications.com.
Tell us what
you think made 'Night Of The Living Dead' special. Why do you
think it connected with people so strongly?
NOLD was more a horror docu-drama. It appeared real, even with
its zombie storyline. And the fact that not one of the lead
characters survived was a first at that time. I think the movie
was also very special in that it paired a black man of strength
and intellect with a white woman. It was their survival we cared
most about. The racial element was never an issue.
Amen! And thank you so much for taking the time out to talk
Special thanks to Judith for her time!!!