Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Katey (Sagal)!


The Bundys

Tales from the Crypt

With John Ritter

Biker Momma

One of my very favorite actresses is celebrating her birthday today, Peggy Bundy herself, Ms. Katey Sagal!
Catherine Louise Sagal started out as a small infant, being born in Hollywood, California, which makes her another L.A. Girl!
She was born into a show business family, and she began performing at the age of five. Her dad was Boris Sagal, a film and TV director, who directed Charleton Heston in the Sci Fi classic, "The Omega Man" (which is a remake, sort of, of a Vincent Price film, "The Last Man on Earth," and was just recently made again in "I Am Legend," with Will Smith, all three telling the true story of a virus killing off the entire planet except for one guy... and a bunch of zombies. And all three based on the book "I Am Legend," by Richard Matheson). Her mother Sara Zwilling was a writer, producer, and one of the first female assistant directors, as well as a singer and former beauty queen.
When she was 17 she enrolled at the California Institute for the Arts in Valencia, where our lovely friend Alison Brie also studied (in the interest of full disclosure, I once attended a living art exhibition at that school with my first wife, Michelle. Horrible experience. I still have nightmares) Katey studied acting and singing there for six months. In 1973, she went on a year long tour with a musical production of Shakespeare's "Two Gentleman of Verona," after which she got her first paid acting job in an episode of "Columbo," that was directed by her very own father.
In 1975 she discovered her mom was suffering from advanced heart disease from which she passed away the following year.
Soon after, Katey worked for a time as a singing waitress at The Great American Food and Beverage Company, which was probably in Westwood, next to UCLA, or in Santa Monica, as there were two locations. While there she founded a rock band with four coworkers called, "The Group with No Name."
She met the bass player for KISS, Gene Simmons, who seduced her, and then introduced her to a music executive, who signed her band to a record contract, and they released one album, "Moon Over Brooklyn," in 1976. It didn't do very well, but Simmons continued working with Katey hiring her as a back up singer, and at about this time she got married to another bass player, Freddie Beckmeyer. Katey's a good singer (as am I), and she worked with some big names, like little Bobby Dylan (who hired her to go on tour, then fired her with half his band before it began... crazy bastard) and Bette Midler (as one of the "Harlettes." Cute).
She got divorced from Beckmeyer in 1981, and that same year tragedy struck her family once again.
While directing the television miniseries, "World War III," starring Rock Hudson and Brian Keith, at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon, Katey's father, Boris walked into the rotating tail rotor blades of a helicopter in the lodge's parking lot, almost decapitating himself. This of course must have been a devastating blow to Katey and her brothers and sisters. It was also eerie for two other reasons. The Timberline was used for the exterior shots of the sinister Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shinning," (1980). Also, Boris had previously worked with the actor Vic Morrow in the pilot episode of "Combat," the 1960's "Platoon" like World War II drama, that my father was fond of. Well Vic Morrow of course died a year later while filming "Twilight Zone: The Movie," when a helicopter lost control striking him and two children with it's main rotor blades. Very strange and sad.
Katey carried on. In 1982 she rejoined "The Harlettes," for Bette Midler's "De Tour," which started in 1982 and lasted into the next year.
In 1985 she returned to acting and television in the short lived sit-com "Mary," with Mary Tyler Moore. The show lasted for 13 episodes before being canceled.
But that led to her being cast in the part of her life, that of Peggy Bundy in Fox's first prime time show, "Married with Children."
When she auditioned for the role she brought her own red beehive wig which was integrated into her character.
One of my favorite television shows of all time, it was outrageous in it's political incorrectness while describing suburban family life. And funny, funny, funny.
And it had Christina Applegate too! Enough said.
While working on Married she appeared in in the films "Maid to Order" (1987), "The Good Mother" (1988) and on a 1990 episode of "Tales from the Crypt" (picture above), however her career focused almost entirely on the show for it's 11 year run, which paid off when the show went into perpetual syndication. Hell, I still watch it sometimes, from 5:00AM to 7 on TBS, where it plays each and every day.
Katey received four straight Golden Globe Award nominations from 1991-94, for portraying Peg. Just last Sunday night she won that Globe for Best Actress Television Series Drama, for her portrayal of the biker momma on "Sons of Anarchy." What a birthday present!
Since Married she has kept busy. She got married a second time in 1993 to another musician, and gave birth to her daughter, Sarah Grace the next year. She recorded her first solo album during this time.
"Married with Children," ended it's run in 1997, and that year she began voice work on the animated show "Recess." In 1999 she played Danny Masterson's mom in three episodes of "That's 70s Show," and began her work on Matt Groening's "Futurama," as the voice one of the sexiest cyclops in television history, Leela (I can count on one hand the number of sexy cyclops in television history).
In 1998 Katey had starred in a television movie, "Chance of a Lifetime," with John Ritter, of "Three's Company," fame. They appeared together again on the 2002 sit-com "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter" (1. Use your hands on my daughter and you'll lose them after 2. You make her cry, I make you cry 3. Safe sex is a myth. Anything you try will be hazardous to your health 4. Bring her home late, there's no next date 5. If you pull into my driveway and honk, you better be dropping off a package because you're sure not picking anything up 6. No complaining while you're waiting for her. If you're bored, change my oil 7. If your pants hang off your hips, I'll gladly secure them with my staple gun 8. Dates must be in crowded public places. You want romance? Read a book).
The show was a hit in it's first season, but sadly during a rehearsal for a second season show, John collapsed and was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank where he died due to an undetected heart defect (coincidentally John's last film role in "Bad Santa," was one of the two movies we showed for Erin's last Movie Day here on Dec 10th. The other was her pick, "Love Actually.")
The cast was devastated, as was the country. I remember that day well. It was decided by the producers to carry on with the sit-com, as they thought John would have wanted, bringing in David Spade and veteran film and television actor, James Garner (his only appearance on a sit-com. He was also a friend of my late mothers)
The show ended after the third season. Katey guest starred on T.V. shows like, "Ghost Whisperer," "Lost," "Boston Legal," and "CSI." She now appears as the scheming matriarch of a motorcycle gang dynasty on FX's "Sons of Anarchy." My grandnephew Jaxen got his name from one of the characters on this show.
Here's a clip of Katey singing "Goodbye Ruby Tuesday," with scenes from the "Sons":
Katey continues working on "Sons" and "Futurama."
She got away from musicians and married writer-producer Kurt Sutter in 2004. They live in Los Feliz, where again, Alison Brie used to perform, and a few miles where I'm writing this.
Kurt and Katey have had a child together by surrogate, Esme, born in 2007.
And all of us here at Joyce's Take wish her and her family the best of luck and continued good fortune and health, and a very happy birthday!
Happy Birthday Katey!

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