By Tim Parks
Morgan Fairchild has made a career out of playing strong willed blonde vixens, who aren’t afraid to go after what they want. The Texas born beauty was a perfect fit for nighttime soaps such as “Dallas,” where she originated the role of Jenna Wade, which would later be played by Priscilla Presley; or the show that catapulted her to fame, “Flamingo Road,” in which she played the quadruple threat, Constance Weldon Semple Carlyle. On “Paper Dolls,” she starred as Racine alongside a pre-“Desperate Housewives” Nicolette Sheridan, and then went toe to toe with the other vineyard denizens of “Falcon Crest.”
Fairchild has proved just as potent on the flip side of drama, landing comedic spots on “Happy Days,” “Mork and Mindy,” “Murphy Brown,” “Roseanne” and “Friends.”
Off camera Fairchild has fought the good fight for AIDS Awareness; which makes her latest role, as a homophobic mother named Mrs. Hale in Shock To The System, a complete antithesis to who she really is.
But, this is par for the course for Fairchild, who describes herself as a “puppy dog from Texas.” Up next is a return to a movie which introduced America to her bitchy side, a remake of “The Initiation of Sarah” is set to air on ABC Family around Halloween.
Fairchild, who is filming the tele-novella “Fashion House” here in San Diego, spoke with The Gay & Lesbian Times about her reel life versus her real life.
ay & Lesbian Times: What aspect of playing “the bad girl” do you find most appealing?
Morgan Fairchild: Well, they’re the most fun, aren’t they? (laughs) They’re always the most fun! I always thought I’d be stereotyped playing ingénues my whole life, because of the way I look. And then once I got cast as one kind of bitch, I just seemed to be doing it the rest of my life. I like to play other things too, it should be noted that she likes to play other things too (laughs).
GLT: Of all of the television shows you have done – which moment stands out the most for you?
MF: With “Paper Dolls” I felt like it all kind of clicked, and it was fun for me. Of all of the series I did, “Paper Dolls” was my favorite, I loved Racine.
We had hysterical moments, one moment I remember we were shooting over at MGM in The Wizard of Oz soundstage; so it’s the biggest soundstage in Hollywood. And, they had built this elaborate apartment set for me, which was really fabulous. And, I had my own Jacuzzi in my bedroom in this apartment; and Dack Rambo and I had this hot love scene in this Jacuzzi one day.
And I guess they thought maybe it was too clear, and you were going to see a little too much. So they put some bubbles in, only they overdid it, and they flooded the whole soundstage full of bubbles! (laughs)
GLT: How was it playing Sandra Bernhard’s girlfriend on “Roseanne?”
MF: It was a lot of fun. When they called me about that, I thought it would be very challenging, because this was in ’92, when the whole gay and lesbian thing was not as hot a topic as it is now. It was quite groundbreaking at that time, and they build up through this whole episode that Sandra has a new girlfriend; and I figured the last person in the world America’s going to expect to walk through that door was Morgan Fairchild.
So, I thought it would be a hoot, and it would put a familiar face on a controversial issue that could get people talking and get a debate opened.
GLT: You are very pro gay in real life – how was it to slip into the skin of Mrs. Hale in Shock To The System?
MF: That’s one reason I was kind of interested to play Mrs. Hale, is because it was so different than what I am in real life. And, so that in itself made it a challenge to try to get into the skin of someone who is just so homophobic, and cannot accept the fact that her son is gay. To me, she was a very complicated character and difficult and tragic, because of that I thought she was a very interesting character, it would be interesting for me to play that kind of character.
She’s similar (to other characters Fairchild has played) in that she is kind of rich and snooty, but dissimilar in that she’s not a vixen. She’s sort of this repressed and old money kind of thing.
GLT: What do you think is the most common misperception people have about you as a person?
MF: I do seem to surprise people that I have a brain, so I’ve always had that advantage, I have a MENSA IQ. Because of the way I look, if I can walk and chew gum at the same time, they’re impressed. So, it’s rather easy to impress them (laughs). And, when they find out you can actually pronounce a few $10 words, then they’re really impressed.
I guess some people actually think that I am a bitch, and I’m actually not, you’d have to push me pretty hard to get me to go there.
This interview was originally published in August 2006.