Ask Martha for 2007
Q: Babs rules!
You're incredibility beautiful. Will you marry me?
My husband says "No" would be the appropriate response here....
But thanks all the same!
Q1: Dear Martha,
I heard that you once guest-starred on "Fantasy Island" way back when. How was that experience like for you?
A1: Hi Chris,
Fantasy Island was really fun as I recall. For me, I love when the wardrobe is exotic and this one was a flashback to a 1940's Bogart/Bacall theme-I got to do the white suit, big brimmed hat, you know the scene. Been reenacted everywhere. Then later I recall another scene in a sexy long red nightgown. That's about all I remember! Ha!
Q2: It says on the Internet Movie Database that you also guest-starred on "Civil Wars," a TV show from the early '90s starring Mariel Hemingway. How was THAT like?
A2: Yes, Civil Wars was an hour long legal drama that paved the way for a lot of the current of this genre on TV. Mariel was so stunningly beautiful that you would just stare at her as she worked! My character was going through a messy divorce... I enjoyed working on the show as the writing and directing were both quite good.
Q3: So how is it like having so many people (critics, the general public, etc.) critiquing your work and stuff?
A3: No problem with that. Actors are often their own worst critics and if you can't take the heat-you get out of the kitchen.
Q4: Lastly, when you were in high school, what did girls in your neck of the woods do to be athletic or get in shape?
A4: My neck of the woods was just outside the Detroit, Michigan "woods", in a suburb of Detroit. Everyone had to take gym class in my day, so there was no escaping the exercise in those awful little blue starched uniforms! Otherwise most of the same things one does sports-wise today, just minus the going to the gym obsessions. People were not very overweight in those days. Very few-it was the exception ... unlike now it seems more the norm. I blame sodas and McDonalds and fructose...
Q: So I am going through my tapes of Swamp Thing, finally transferring them to DVD and I'm watching The Living Image. Martha played a woman who is Dr. Arcane's lover and is pretending the be Swamp Thing's long lost wife. The show was the second episode broadcast, but actually the 12th filmed.
Anyhow, I decided to check IMDB for this "Martha Smith" and was surprised to see that someone who guested on Swamp Thing actually had a real acting career! This lead me to the site.
Anyhow, sometime when I get around to updating
my Swamp Thing site I will add a link to yours.
Stupid question, but do you have any memories of that show that I could share on the website?
Swamp Thing webmaster
A: Hi Steve-a Swamp Thing fan!!
Well I do have some memories but not sure they are fit to share! Let's see what I can tell you. Oh yes, the one thing I shall NEVER forget is sitting late night in the Florida studio undergoing the plaster cast for the aging mask.
There were two straws strategically shoved in my nostrils... so I would be able to breathe... then the plaster went all over my face over my eyes, ears, around down my neck-my chest, and even my hands had plaster casts made. I am a bit of a claustrophobe... so I had no idea what this experience was going to be like... NOT pleasant. I was told if there was any problem to raise my hand... My plastered hand! Because obviously my mouth was plastered shut too. It seemed to take forever waiting for it to set. Forever. I almost raised my hand a few times! If you saw the episode you recall at the end I was supposed to be 105 yrs old. And pretty hot for 105. years old.. heh... ; )
I do recall also that Mark Chapman-the star of the show-and I got along fabulously, thank God. Our first scene we shot was in bed together having a wild romp! We were both wearing only the barest of skimpy undies, nearly naked-and our first "Hello" was me waiting in the bed on the set for him to hop in in his little briefs... and we're off to a love session. "Nice to meet you." They always seem to schedule those intimate scenes up first in a production. I think it's some little joke they like to play on the actors.
Lastly I remember the funeral scene-in that great hat! And having one or two takes to cry for the close-up. But it came. Overall I have very fond memories of doing the show. The director of photography was a friend I had worked with previously also-making it more comfortable.
Just a couple of questions about the "Animal House Double Secret Probation" DVD.
In the extras you, as Babs, are seen working at Universal studios. Was that a real tour party you were with or were they extras?
Did anyone recognise you at all whilst filming and was any of the script improvised?
Finally, did you get to keep your Universal shirt!
Thanks a lot.
A: Hi Peter!
Well-That was a real tour bus, a real tour guide, the real Universal tour route... but-the bus was filled with crew, and others working on the feature with us. John Landis was on the bus with us directing as we rode along, coming up with ideas on the spot, as he does. It was such fun! It was very loosely scripted and there was some moment to moment improv, but mostly because I only got the script the night before the early AM shoot. I think I was out of town somewhere the day before and got back-unpacked, looked at my lines and went to bed. I seem to remember something around the Jaws portion that was improvisational. I had not taken that tour in so many years, I'd forgotten the jumping shark in the water.
And no... I never get to keep the wardrobe! That would've been fun. I understand they are no longer honoring any special privileges or rates to customers who "Ask for Babs" at the studio. Shame. I liked letting tourists off easy! : )
Q: Hi Martha,
I had an opportunity to meet you Saturday evening at the Animal House showing at Hollywood Bar and Filmworks here in Indianapolis. Thank you for the gracious signing of my original Animal House movie poster.
I was curious how you enjoyed your time in Indianapolis? I know that you and the other cast members were busy with LOTS of interviews. Did you and the other cast members get a chance to do anything social or fun while you were here?
My wife and I thought about it after the fact that perhaps we should have invited you out to a nice restaurant to club. We figured it was maybe like the prettiest girl never getting asked to the prom because everyone figures she is already going; we hope you were not sitting around bored in a hotel room when we could have been showing you some "hoosier hospitality".
Jon & Kathy H
A: Hi Jon & Kathy-
How sweet of you! But dont' worry-there was no "sitting around" in Indy! We were constantly on the go there. We would get up each AM around sunrise to hit the morning shows on radio and TV. Nobody should have to see me on camera before 7 AM... It's cruel. Then of course the evenings we did the signings and Q & A's at the theatre. We had some lovely dinners in restaurants that I of course do not remember their names-one establishment well known for it's steaks right in town, another kind of Italian one near our hotel, very good. We went to a Blues club and danced after the last night into the wee hours... again-no name, just "a blues club"! By the time the visit was finished we needed a vacation to recover from all the activity. But thanks anyways for the hospitality. Glad you were able to make it to the theatre.
We are doing it again in August in Chicago-same theatre company. The show is the weekend of Aug 10 -12, and we are going to have Stephen Furst, Karen Allen (who just signed to do the next Indiana Jones!), Mark Metcalf, and a special this time-Otis Day and the Knights! Maybe Peter Reigert (Boone), too. Come by if you're in the Chicago area in August!
Do you recall who the guys were on the sofa in the first part of the Animal House movie? What were their stage names? One of them looks just like Samuel Jackson might of as a young kid.
A: Oh, Dave, if you only knew.
As you can see by reading previous answers here... memory of names is NOT my forte. It's some weird mental block I have... especially those from 1977! Sorry but I may not have ever known their names as my time in those opening scenes was spent in the entrance and the other side of the room. They were great though-Jugdish! Ha! One of my favorite scenes when they re-introduce Flounder and Pinto to them. "Um, we've already met..." "Super! Then you'll have lots to talk about!!!"
Do you have a still photo (of one of the final scenes) depicting Babs having gotten into the car with Bluto (before they drove away)?
I would like it to promote a Syracuse Univ Fraternity (circa late '60's) upcoming reunion to the rest of my classmates/ettes.
Kevin Clark '71
A: Hi Kevin and FORGIVE my tardiness in replying to these questions!
My lovely patient 'webmistress' (that always sounds a little kinky...) has always been gentle about not pushing me to meet any strict "deadlines" with these, knowing how busy I often get....and this time I must admit, it got lost in my email inbox for way too long.
You have likely already had your reunion... If not, one thing-It was not me who drove off in the car with Belushi but Mary Louise Weller who played the role of Mandy- Bab's nemesis! I was the one who was hiding crouched behind the car in my bra and panties. When Bluto and Mandy drove off-I was exposed and left screaming trying to cover up. And yes-- I do have pix of that. That is probably my most popular image I sell! Hope you had a fun reunion nonetheless... and sorry I was so late.
Q: Happy Holidays Martha,
I am a 41 year old struggling actor and father who also collects autographs. I have a website here where I place my autographs with a link to an official site if applicable. I was hoping you'd send me yours, I am collecting autographs to be passed down to my daughters someday.
Thanks for all the great memories
Seasons Greetings and best wishes.
A: Hello R.W. and thanks for writing.
For the moment, I am not presently offering autographed photos until I set up a new venue somewhere. Possibly here at this site, not sure yet. Stay tuned here and you will learn when / if they become available again. Perhaps the site admin can give you an address to mail a photo to that I can sign and get back to you? She will advise in this one case. Good luck in your acting.
Q: Hi Martha,
Just noticed that you are no longer selling signed pictures via Pierce & Shelly, will you continue to provide this great service from your own website?
Happy new year,
A: Hello Peter,
See above response re selling photos again. I have so many plates I am juggling right now that it felt right to let one drop for awhile, and that was the autographed photos. I am still doing the occasional show / event, like the Animal House reunion-signings / screenings-in Chicago at the Hollywood dinner theatre. But otherwise, I've stopped the pix by mail for the time being. Stay tuned here to hear when it comes back online.
Q1: Hi Martha!
Just discovered your site. I'm a filmmaker and yes I've been wondering about the conditions of the weather you were in when you were in your bra and girdle in the climax of Animal House?
A1: FREEZING! It was snowing when we shot the parade - ending scenes. We had this Armory building to kind of hang out in, get made up and changed in. It was a little warmer, but I was wearing about three layers of thermals and other items under my Jackie O suit on the float!
Q2: During your audition what was it like? How many auditions did you have for the role? Were you originally reading for the role of Babs? Was it a cold reading or did you possess the script before auditioning?
A2: I was called in originally to read for the role of "Mandy"-the other cheerleader. After reading over the entire script, I went back for the callback asking if I could possibly read for Babs instead. She was so much more comedically rich on the page.... I loved the idea of trying that role. It may have been a slightly smaller part, but I just loved Babs from the first lines. 'A wimp and a blimp.' Fortunately they agreed with the role switch and I got to be Babs.
Q3: What is the best advice to give an inspiring Director, like myself, to approach women hired to perform a role? Are there any steps you would like to see more of in a Director? How did John Landis work with you during scenes you felt could be uncomfortable? What were rehearsals like and where did you rehearse?
A3: Kevin-you have so many questions here... I need to try to sum it up for you. Best advice for a director with actors? Use a light hand, give direction gently and privately when it's needed. Most actors are fragile in funny, quirky ways. They bend a lot but can also break easily... with the slightest provocation. It's not a field known for the most hardy and mentally sturdy of the lot! So tread lightly when giving direction and NEVER give an actor line readings!! Try to elicit the tone you want in ways and language familiar to the actor. By all means, take the best acting workshops in your area to familiarize yourself with that terrain. It's another language; it's painting on an emotional palette... and requires a sensitivity to that realm.
Landis was/is hysterical to work with. He is so fresh and funny, always bursting at the seams with energy and ideas and enthusiasms... and it's reflected in the quality of performances he's able to elicit on the screen. I always attribute so much of the success of Animal House to his direction, Doug Kenney-Harold Ramis, and Chris Miller's brilliant script and characters, and Belushi of course.
In a low budget picture there is very little time for rehearsals so they were minimal and mostly combined with blocking the scene for camera just prior to shooting it. Landis was a pure delight to work with in every sense, I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to work together on other projects-outside of the Bonus feature on the anniversary DVD.
Q4: After a take was shot, what did you do during set ups? Did Landis talk to you and advise you how to execute the next take? What were his ratios for you and your peer working with you?
A4: Again, lower budget films shoot frenetically fast. Ratios are notoriously low. You have to get it right in only a few takes. With Landis at the helm, that was not such a problem. He had a way of creating the mood wherein everyone was always up and ready to roll-infectious enthusiasm.
Q5: It's obvious Landis was fond of you and the magic you did with that character. Did he ever think of you for another character or another role in a film? Did you get a reading with Landis on other projects? There were roles in his films I thought you would have been perfect for.
A5: Oops, guess I already answered this part up above. See earlier question.
Q6: As you see I have a lot of questions to ask you and would love another chance to pick your brain. I saw you with the filmfreak from WKLSX on IMDB, when was this and what was the occasion? Here I go again...
A6: That was at a radio studio in L.A. when I did a nighttime call in show with him-my favorite thing to do, radio! I love radio and would really enjoy doing a call in talk show somewhere down the road. And yes... you indeed do have lots of questions!
Q7: I have a real weird story to tell you. In Universal Studios Florida, I had a one-day pass to one park and I wanted to go into the other park but I would have to pay an additional $35.00 because I paid 85.00 for just one. So as I paid for the extra fee I jokingly asked for Babs. The clerk asked me if I was serious? And I said, "Yes" jokingly. She refunded me $120.00 in cash and gave me a two-day pass at Universal Studios Orlando. Were you aware Universal Studios does this? Yes, I know, another question. Thank you for reading and write me back
A7: Last question!! Yes, I was aware they did that-but as I said on another question earlier.... I heard they're no longer doing so, and it's too bad! I am happy to hear that you were one who was able to "profit" from Ask for Babs! Very cool!
Q: Hello, Martha:
Like all of us, we enjoyed you in "Animal House" and "Scarecrow and Mrs. King."
I cannot believe that it's been over 20 years since Animal House became part of the entertainment funniest films.
Looking back, John Belushi was one of the funniest men in the business. How was it like working with him at the time... and were you saddened when he died at such a young age (33)?
Kevin Van Meter
Jefferson Valley, New York
A: Hi Kevin.
Yes, it's actually been nearly THIRTY years now since we filmed it (autumn/ winter of 1977). I was of course only 9 years old at the time, but they can do such wondrous things with makeup in Hollywood. They made me look like a real college coed! :-P
Belushi was a rare gift to comedy and yes, it was terribly sad when he died. We also lost the writer Doug Kenney who played "Stork" in the movie and I had gotten to know him pretty well in Oregon near the end of the shoot... that too was tragic and an immeasurable loss to comedy. I often imagine the kinds of roles John would have been playing had he not passed. I think his career would have gone on forever, well into his old age. But we're at least fortunate we have his performances preserved so we can still look back and get a good giggle from him. He was extraordinarily funny. Glad you enjoyed the film and the TV series!
Q: Dear Martha,
I'm so glad I was able to find this site with the "Ask Martha" section. I think it's really nice that you response to fan email, because so many stars don't. I read a few questions and answers and your responses are very honest and pleasant. That's great, because it helps me think that my request might actually get answered. Let me explain.
I've seen Animal House many times and enjoyed it each time more and more. And as time went on I would hear little bits of information about the movie and the stars hear and there, especially when the 25th anniversary edition came out on DVD. Of course, not thinking much about any of it until ... I came across your name on the Playboy website. No way! It can't be the same girl ... and sure enough it was you. You could imagine my surprise! I had no idea you were Miss July 1973.
So I just filed that little piece of information away and remembered it as a piece of Playboy history I could be proud of knowing. Then ... years later I got this great idea. I wondered if back issues of Playboy could be purchased on the internet, because it would be REALLY, REALLY cool to have that issue. I mean come on, this is Babs Jansen from Animal House, right! What guy wouldn't want that issue.
So ... guess what? I found it ... in pretty much mint condition, too. And at a very reasonable price ($35.00). I was so happy I was able to find it. And, oh my gosh you're beautiful ... as all Playmate are, of course (smile)!
So ... (have you guessed yet) here is my request: If I mailed you my July 1973 issue of Playboy would you: 1). be willing to autograph it for me, and 2) mail it back to me. I can have it mailed to you Priority mail with a Priority mail return envelope enclosed, so the return postage would be guaranteed. I know this is an unusual request from so far away (I live in Buffalo, NY) and if this email is posted on your website you might get flooded with requests for the same, but I would really appreciate it, as well as be forever in your debt.
Thank you so much for reading my lengthy email and for your response, no matter what it might be. I don't know if you charge for pictures or signatures, but I would be willing to pay whatever fee you think appropriate.
Frank J. Losardo
A: Hi Frank, and no-it's not an unusual request!
If you've been following along you will see that I just recently stopped offering autographed photos... but there are always exceptions to things.
My previous fees for signing the Playboy issue would be $20, if you send your copy. I don't want to burden this site administrator- who is such a nice person... she would kill me if I start telling people to send stuff to her to send to me , etc... but-let's see what she says at this request and if there is a way, we will try to get it signed for you. A few here and there shouldn't be a problem. I just ran out of spare time to do the regular mailings I was previously doing. Glad you were able to find a good copy! The one thing that's very rare and hard to find is the puzzle of my centerfold. I have one copy in the can and one made up a fan gave me at an autograph show, but cannot find more of them anywhere.
Oh and I forgot to mention, for anyone who has a few thousand dollars they don't know what to do with (!)-Playboy has just issued a new series of limited edition prints-beautifully produced large images they culled from over 15 million pictures in the Playboy archives. They narrowed that amount down to only 48 of the best images; including Marilyn Monroe, Pamela Anderson, Ursula Andress, Shannon Tweed, and . . . myself!
They are all never before published and most run around $2450 apiece. I believe there are only 75 prints made of each image so it's very "limited" edition. You can see them at the Playboy Legacy Collection.
Well, you have to be 21 yrs old, I think... Scroll down to "view the collection" and take a look. They are really stunning photos by their top photographers. I may have to purchase one of mine, but I asked my husband, "Where would you put something like that?" (I have visions of the plumber coming for repairs and trying to whisk him past the photo on the wall!)
Thanks for the question and your nice comments.
Thank you so much for everything. It
came out beautiful. I love it!
A special thanks to the webmistress for
all of her help. She was
tremendous. Her emails were quick, timely and
the progress. I can't thank the two of you enough.