Kyle Aletter Oldham is a gusher.
About her mom.
About her dad.
About Bob Barker and Burgess Meredith and Cesar Romero and the employee discount at Nordstrom. She gushes and gushes and gushes, which makes her both an absolute delight and the perfect Quaz. Kyle brings to this forum a little bit of everything—she’s a product of famous parents who never valued fame; she’s an outspoken political Tweeter who never ran for office. She worked in a department store and performed on “Circus of the Stars” and had a huge crush on Robin. She was a “Price is Right” model, a movie of the week staple, a “Love Boat” smoocher.
Kyle Oldham, you are the Quaz …
JEFF PEARLMAN: So—you’re fascinating. As you say (correctly) on your website, you’re the daughter of Hollywood royalty. Your dad starred in “Bringing Up Buddy.” Your mom had been “Miss America” and acted in a gazillion things. And I wonder—how are you normal? Because it seems like fame, showbiz, attention … it all can reall warp a person. And you seem … unwarped.
KYLE OLDHAM: Unwarped. What a refreshing word in this crazy world of Hollywood. It all starts with Mom, Dad and Gramma. My sister and I were very lucky to have two extremely normal parents. We grew up in the northwest part of the San Fernando Valley … far, far away from Hollywood or Beverly Hills. Still in the same house. If they were both working? Gramma (THE general) wouldn’t take any of my sister’s or my whining—ever. Dad worked on probably every show in the 1960s, 70s, 80s and a few in the 90s. Mom, of course, had Barnaby Jones and that’s when I started to get the whole “Hollywood” thing. Kids at junior high up the street wondered why I came all the way to the Valley to go to school. People assume a lot. During Barnaby? Mom drove a Dodge Dart. That’s what you can take away from my famous parents. That car? Became my first car. And I loved it. No pretense on possibly getting a fancy car … why would I? Mom drove it!
J.P.: So you spend many years modeling on “The Price is Right.” Which … I mean—crazy. Awesome. Unique. So how did that happen? How did you land the gig? And what are things we wouldn’t know about working the show?
K.O.: Price is Right. Best. Gig. Ever. I went to the show with my best friend and a buddy from high school. Somehow I ended up getting called, correctly guessed the price of a trash compactor and I was on stage. Surreal. Bob Barkers executive assistant had gone to school with my mom and when she realized I was moms daughter? A few weeks after I was on as a contestant, they called to see if I’d like to try out as a model. Holly was going to leave, and they were looking for a replacement. So I did two weeks of shows, we all got along, Holly ended up not leaving and I was given a relief position if you will. If the girls were sick or out of town? They’d call me. On and off for 14 years. Like I said … Best. Gig. Ever.
I learned a lot about how they choose (back in the day … don’t know if it’s changed) contestants. Everyone always thinks I got picked because of Mom or Dad. Not true. When you’re interviewed by the EP, all he has is your first name (on your name tag). If he sees something/someone who looks like they have a personality? He cues his assistant to jot down a few details. Then they go back in and put people in order. The database has to be checked to see if you’ve ever been on Price before (If so? You’re out), or if you’d been on another CBS game show within the last year (also out). That was when they learned my last name (Aletter), said “Hey isn’t there an actor named Frank Aletter & wasn’t he married to Lee Meriwether and doesn’t Kyle look just like her?”
J.P.: You appeared on “Circus of the Stars” with your mother. I can think of nothing I’d less want to do. Soooo … how did that happen? And what do you recall from the experience?
K.O.: Circus of the Stars … what a blast. My mom did the show first with Peter Fonda. Him riding a motorcycle on a wire with a “trapeze” underneath. Then my sister did trapeze with Mom, and the next time? It was Mom and I doing the Cradle. And it was in Vegas! We got to see a lot of celebrities we already knew, and made a bunch of new friends, too. But we had to work out and practice twice a day for three months. The cradle is a stationary piece of equipment 40 FEET IN THE AIR! Yes, there was an airbag but good grief, one false move and you’d bounce out of the airbag to the floor. We did a bunch of tricks, hung neck to neck, then she spun me … wheeeee. Then I did splits in a pair of rings, again… 40 FEET IN THE AIR!! Spinning spinning spinning.
And we as a family (Mom, sis & I) ended up traveling with the actual circus. Much longer story. Haha.
J.P.: In 1993 you gave birth to your daughter Ryan—and your acting career came to a halt. And I wonder, looking back, why this had to be? Was it your choice? Was it an industry that sorta treated women like shit once they reached a certain age? Was it depressing? Were you OK with it?
K.O.: I had bought my first house at 27 or 28, and realized that I needed a “real job” to keep it. So I had a knack for sales/customer service (which in my early twenties came in handy as a cocktail waitress … I made $120-to-$150 a night in tips on a Tuesday.) Good acting genes (for remembering drinks and faces) and a general need to make sure people had a good time. Even though I did “The Day After” at 24 (I mean … sheesh it was one of the most watched MOW back in the 80s), my agent at the time wasn’t getting me any interviews after that. I still did a few plays with Mom and Price still happened even after I had my daughter. But I also had a husband (now ex) who literally told me one day that I needed to find a job. We needed the money. My daughter was 8-months old. I just wanted to be a mom. But that’s how I ended up at Nordstrom.
Best store, best customer service and I’d get a discount? Sign me up. Plus I started in menswear, but the makeup department manager had kept her eyes on me and thought I’d be a perfect fit. Again, customer service, don’t BS the customer, sell them only what they need? Instant rapport and repeat customers. Worked there for about two years, but then got a reprieve from the husband and didn’t have to go back to work until my daughter was about 8. By the time she was 10 her father and I were separated, then divorced and I found a permanent job. Plus there was a time about five years ago when I would bartend on Friday nights and Saturdays just to make extra cash. I’ve never shied away from working, ever. And if acting came back into my life? I would welcome it with arms opened wide. I’m one of those that never completely closes any doors.
J.P.: So your mom starred as Catwoman in the 1966 TV classic, “Batman: The Movie.” And, I’m not gonna lie—I absolutely love it. Like, love love love. What do you remember from the time period? How did you feel about her playing Catwoman?
K.O.: “Batman: The Movie”—I have to agree with you Jeff, I LOVE LOVE LOVE it as well. I mean it is pretty cool to say, “Yeah … my mom was Catwoman.” Have to admit, my memory is still really sharp from that experience and I was only 6! I just know I had a crush on Robin. But soon learned I had an even bigger crush on Burgess Meredith and Cesar Romero. They were so kind, gracious and fun. My sister and I got to got to set twice. Once in the Batcave (I KNOW RIGHT??!!) and the second time out to Paramount ranch for the submarine fight scene. I know that I had a blast. My sister was only 3, so her memory is a bit sketchy. The one thing that pains me to this day, is that Burgess gave me one of his latex noses which inevitably was lost in the 1971 earthquake.
And we as a family had stayed close to Adam until the day he passed. He, Burt and Mom would do conventions together. Mom still does them (as she raises money for her charities) and occasionally gets to still do them with Burt.
J.P.: In 1981 you played “Suzy Marshall” in an episode of “The Love Boat.” This makes me insanely jealous of you. What was the experience like? What do you recall? Did you go anywhere even slightly near an ocean or a boat?
K.O.: HA! Jealous? That’s funny. I was playing my mom’s daughter (such a stretch!) but her out-of-character mom was trying to help her daughter land a rich guy. I was only 19 and had my first kissing scene. The gentleman who played opposite my character was this great guy and when we did the kiss? He faked as if he hit his head on one of the ships “pipes” on his way out the door. Then he said to the director, “Can we try that again?” and looked at me and said, “Not bad kiddo, not bad at all.” Haha … really great guy. What’s even crazier is we have stayed close to almost every single regular cast member all these years. Ted Lange, Gavin MacLeod, Jill Whalen, Bernie Kopell. Side note … I invited a good friend from high school to set, you might know him. Tom Ramsey. Haha. Probably not the best scene for him to watch me film but he got a kick out of the experience.
And as I said … fake pipes. Not even close to ocean, wind, water or boat.
J.P.: Bob Barker is obviously an iconic figure in game show history. So I’ve gotta ask—what was he like to work with? Kind and decent? Mean and petty? Smelly and suave? What do you recall?
K.O.: Bob Barker. How do I begin? I had mad respect for him as he and Mom had done the Rose Parade together, so meeting him on the day I was a contestant? I was giddy. Then when I had the opportunity to watch him work? Good grief. What a pro. I got to watch him do the same schtick and it never fell flat. Brilliant. And he knew, because I was an actress that he could ask me to “throw to a commercial” and I wouldn’t screw it up. Nine times out of 10, if I could crack him up? Even better. Consummate professional. Kind and decent. Never mean, ever. Suave, yes. But not in a creepy way at all. He even had Mom come to the show and kept her as a surprise for the audience. The only thing he ever asked of me was, “Can you go blonder?” I said, “Barker, if that means I can keep working with all of you people? Hell yes.” So I was literally Marilyn Monroe blond. And I’ve stayed a “blond” to this very day.
J.P.: Greatest moment of your career? Lowest?
K.O.: Greatest moment in my career? I’d almost have to say every time I’ve ever worked with my mom. Even though she gets pissed (not really) about how fast I can memorize and retain. Ha. Lowest moment? Right now. I haven’t worked (at that “proper” job I mentioned earlier) for over three years due to a bunch of spine surgeries. And other surgeries. I miss working. A lot.
J.P.: You’re very involved in your church. You’re also quite liberal. It seems, across America, Christianity has sort of been drawn, in large part, to Donald Trump and his wave. Why do you think that is? What’s gone wrong?
B.O.: Great question. I try to live my life as my mom has led hers. Kindness matters. Love matters. Hate is not a word I use often at all. I tend to have a positive outlook no matter how dire things look. Some of that comes from my faith, and a lot of it comes from seeing Mom never have an unkind word for anyone, ever. A lot of my positive stance comes from literally surviving all these surgeries. Faith was introduced to us at an early age. But I had quite a few years when I wasn’t leading my best life, and when I started rereading my Bible? It was at a time when the general message stuck.. Embraced it, and never looked back. I don’t try to “sell” anyone my faith, as I know how much that would bug me in my early 30s, so if someone asks me how, with everything that has happened to me, I stay positive? I just simply say, “Because I have faith.” And I believe it.
That being said, I can’t explain the craziness of DT and his fervent followers. When the hypocrisy of elected officials use faith as a way to “win”? Ugh. It disgusts me. But I know plenty of people who are very religious, in media and even they don’t know how to give their conservative view without getting skewered.
QUAZ EXPRESS WITH KYLE ALETTER OLDHAM:
• Both you and your daughter have traditionally boy names. Why?: My mom, Lee. My sister, Lesley. My daughter, Ryan. Mom started it by having a “boy” name. I was named after Richard Kiley, a dear friend of my mom and dad. He was also a massive star on Broadway. And my now ex? Told me on our second date “First baby? Boy or girl? The name is Ryan.” I was like … OK, cocky boy.
• Rank in order (favorite to least): Jerry West, vanilla scones, quacking ducks, Phish, Harley Davidsons, Gavin Newsome, Joe Flacco, “Remember the Titans,” Leon Spinks: Man … this is tough. But gotta say “Remember the Titans” (Every time it’s on? I stop to watch), Jerry West (cuz I love all sports), Gavin Newsome, Harley Davidsons, Joe Flacco, quacking ducks, Phish, Leon Spinks, Vanilla scones.
• The world needs to know—what does Bob Barker’s hair smell like?: Smells like lots of Emmy awards..
• One question you would ask Doug Flutie were he here right now: I would ask him if he really wanted to do Dancing with the Stars, or did they come looking for him?
• Five reasons one should move to Los Angeles: The Beach. The Sunshine. Earthquakes vs Hurricanes. (Earthquakes don’t have Seasons). Did I mention sunshine and THE BEACH?!! Oh yeah and a pool in your backyard. Boom.
• The drought terrifies me. How about you?: The drought? There’s a drought? I thought it was just “weather.” I joke I joke. Because otherwise I cry.
• In exactly 14 words, make a case for peach pits: Will you accept “What diner was made popular by Beverly Hills 90210?” Peach Pit.
• I wasn’t thrilled with the Dodgers brining back Matt Kemp. Your thoughts?: My thoughts? Dude! How can you be unhappy about Kemp!! Come on! Seriously.
• Five words you overuse: Ha. Staaaap. No! Gorgeous. Okay.
• I have an idea for a game show—“The Price is Crappy.” You’re the host, contestants come on the stage, we fool them into thinking they’ll win money and then we throw rotted tuna in their drinks. We’ll pay you $10,000 an episode to host. You in?: No way. If my appreciation of Barker and the show didn’t give you this answer? No amount of money would matter. It’s just how I’m wired.