Mary Kay Stearns

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Mary Kay Stearns describes her stage debut as a toddler at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. She talks about her appearances on stage and in film on the West Coast before moving to New York to appear on Broadway. She describes her television debut on the Dumont network on a show called J.J. Juniors, in which she modeled junior fashions. The timeslot was then taken by Mary Kay and Johnny (1947-50), television's first situation comedy. She details her co-starring role on the show with her husband, discussing the format, premise, production, and crew of the program. She talks of her later show, Mary Kay's Nightcap, in which, from 1951-52, she "signed-off" for NBC by telling the viewers what would be on television the following day and doing occasional interviews. She recalls appearances on live television shows such as Armstrong Circle Theatre and Kraft Television Theatre. She also describes her several year stint in the 1950s as the spokesperson (along with her husband) for U.S. Steel, appearing in commercials during The U.S. Steel Hour. Michael Rosen conducted the interview with Mary Kay Stearns for half an hour solo and for two hours with her husband, Johnny Stearns, on August 25, 1999 in Corona del Mar, CA.

"The main thing is to remain truthful. To heck with the audience, you're doing it for yourself."

Highlights
Mary Kay Stearns on taking ballet lessons from Cyd Charisse's husband
00:29
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on writing Mary Kay's pregnancy into Mary Kay and Johnny
02:02
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on Mary Kay getting an interview show called Mary Kay's Nightcap
04:15
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on Alan Handley wanting to use Mary Kay's sign-off from Mary Kay's Nightcap for Dinah Shore's show
01:23
Johnny Stearns on writing the first script and dressing the set for Mary Kay and Johnny
03:13
Full Interview

Chapter 1

START OF JOINT INTERVIEW WITH JOHNNY STEARNS: On how they met and their first date; on getting engaged
05:29
On their television debut and thoughts on early television; on writing the first script and dressing the set for Mary Kay and Johnny
16:27
On theater people looking down on television; on Mary Kay and Johnny getting picked up as a series for Dumont
05:16

Chapter 2

On getting a half-hour version of Mary Kay and Johnny; on typical story ideas and production
12:37
On the format, premise, and characters on Mary Kay and Johnny
06:06
On the comedy on the program; on the challenges of acting in live television; on sets and locations on Mary Kay and Johnny
09:40

Chapter 3

On the directors of Mary Kay and Johnny; on the cameras used on the show; on getting recognized by fans and working with Standards and Practices
06:52
On the comedy on the show; on what it was like during the early years of television
12:53
On what they did after Mary Kay and Johnny went off the air; on Mary Kay getting an interview show called Mary Kay's Nightcap; on why Mary Kay and Johnny went off the air
07:38

Chapter 4

On problems getting writers for Mary Kay and Johnny; on the show going off the air
08:25
On becoming spokespeople for The U.S. Steel Hour and U.S. Steel; on Johnny producing the local version of The Steve Allen Show
07:20
On their commercials as spokespeople for The U.S. Steel Hour; on additional television appearances together
09:54

Chapter 5

START OF SOLO INTERVIEW WITH MARY KAY STEARNS: On her early years and influences; on wanting to be an actress from a young age; on The Actor's Lab
09:33
On moving to New York; on her film debut in "Our Hearts Were Growing Up"; on becoming an understudy on the play "Dear Ruth"
07:40
On getting over her stage fright; on her role in "Heart Song" and in other plays and films
04:53
On several television appearances including Kraft Television Theatre's "A Kiss For Cinderella"; on the challenges of playing a character based on herself on Mary Kay and Johnny; on how she approaches a role
06:11
Shows

Kraft Television Theatre

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Mary Kay Stearns on appearing in Kraft Television Theatre's "A Kiss For Cinderella"
01:26

Mary Kay and Johnny

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on how Mary Kay and Johnny (one of TV's earliest sitcoms) came about
03:12
Johnny Stearns on writing the first script and dressing the set for Mary Kay and Johnny
03:13
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on rehearsal and production of the first episode of Mary Kay and Johnny
02:26
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on getting a contract to continue Mary Kay and Johnny beyond one episode
01:41
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on writing Mary Kay's pregnancy into Mary Kay and Johnny
02:22
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the half-hour NBC version of Mary Kay and Johnny and the birth of their son
02:02
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on a typical production week on Mary Kay and Johnny
01:16
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on story ideas for Mary Kay and Johnny
02:06
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the half-hour NBC version of Mary Kay and Johnny and temporarily filling the time slot for Kukla, Fran and Ollie
02:33
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on moving their show from Dumont to NBC, to CBS, and back to NBC; on having a fallout with the sponsor
02:08
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the format, premise, and characters of Mary Kay and Johnny
06:06
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the comedy of Mary Kay and Johnny
01:49
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on production of Mary Kay and Johnny at NBC
01:30
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the challenges of acting in live television; on sets and locations on Mary Kay and Johnny
04:12
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the directors and floor managers of Mary Kay and Johnny
02:05
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on their infant son appearing on Mary Kay and Johnny
00:35
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on getting recognized from Mary Kay and Johnny
01:10
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on incorporating Mary Kay's pregnancy into Mary Kay and Johnny; on what they could and couldn't say on the show
03:02
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the laughter heard on Mary Kay and Johnny coming from the crew
01:04
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on kinescopes of Mary Kay and Johnny
02:13
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the physical comedy and type of humor on Mary Kay and Johnny
02:03
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on rehearsals and improvisation on Mary Kay and Johnny
01:45
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on using their real identities on Mary Kay and Johnny; on not wanting celebrity
02:22
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on their show being on television at the birth of the medium, and experiencing the growth of the industry
01:27
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on Mary Kay and Johnny moving to CBS and then returning to NBC
00:50
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on similarities between Mary Kay and Johnny and later sitcoms
01:10
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on why Mary Kay and Johnny went off the air
02:27
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on problems getting writers for Mary Kay and Johnny
03:52
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on NBC's reaction to Mary Kay and Johnny wanting to end Mary Kay and Johnny
01:56
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on problems with studio space on Mary Kay and Johnny
01:23
Mary Kay Stearns on the challenges of playing a character based on herself on Mary Kay and Johnny   
01:37

Steve Allen Show, The (1956-61)

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on Johnny producing the local version of The Steve Allen Show
03:28

United States Steel Hour, The

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on becoming spokespeople for The U.S. Steel Hour and U.S. Steel
03:52
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on their commercials as spokespeople for The U.S. Steel Hour
03:27
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the directors of their commercials for The U.S. Steel Hour
00:47
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on incorporating Mary Kay's pregnancy into Mary Kay and Johnny; on what they could and couldn't say on the show
03:02

Comedy

View Topic
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on how Mary Kay and Johnny (one of TV's earliest sitcoms) came about
03:12

Comedy-Variety

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the challenges of acting in live television; on sets and locations on Mary Kay and Johnny
04:12

Fame & Celebrity

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on getting recognized from Mary Kay and Johnny
01:10
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on using their real identities on Mary Kay and Johnny; on not wanting celebrity
02:22

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

View Topic
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on how Mary Kay and Johnny (one of TV's earliest sitcoms) came about
03:12
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the challenges of acting in live television; on sets and locations on Mary Kay and Johnny
04:12

Television Industry

View Topic
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on getting recognized from Mary Kay and Johnny
01:10
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on incorporating Mary Kay's pregnancy into Mary Kay and Johnny; on what they could and couldn't say on the show
03:02
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on using their real identities on Mary Kay and Johnny; on not wanting celebrity
02:22
Professions

Actor

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the challenges of acting in live television
00:40

Actress

View Profession
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the challenges of acting in live television
00:40
Mary Kay Stearns on how she conquers stage fright
01:46
Mary Kay Stearns on how she approaches a role
02:02

Performers

View Profession
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the challenges of acting in live television
00:40
Mary Kay Stearns on how she conquers stage fright
01:46
Mary Kay Stearns on how she approaches a role
02:02
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on how Mary Kay and Johnny (one of TV's earliest sitcoms) came about
03:12
Johnny Stearns on writing the first script and dressing the set for Mary Kay and Johnny
03:13
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on rehearsal and production of the first episode of Mary Kay and Johnny
02:26
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on getting a contract to continue Mary Kay and Johnny beyond one episode
01:41
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the premise and production of Mary Kay and Johnny
28:23
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the humor, censorship, and end of Mary Kay and Johnny
27:23

Commercials

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on commercials they appeared in
03:27
Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on their commercials as spokespeople for The U.S. Steel Hour
00:36
People

Steve Allen

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on Johnny producing the local version of The Steve Allen Show
03:28

Cyd Charisse

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Mary Kay Stearns on taking ballet lessons from Cyd Charisse's husband
00:29

Jack Gilford

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on Jack Gilford as the local grocer on Mary Kay and Johnny
00:50

Alan Handley

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on Alan Handley wanting to use Mary Kay's sign-off from Mary Kay's Nightcap for Dinah Shore's show
01:23

Dwight Hemion

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Johnny Stearns on working with director Dwight Hemion
02:09

Delbert Mann

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the directors and floor managers of Mary Kay and Johnny
00:35

Howard Morris

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on Howard Morris of Mary Kay and Johnny
00:35

Garry Simpson

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on the directors and floor managers of Mary Kay and Johnny
00:08

Bud Yorkin

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Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns on Bud Yorkin as cameraman of Mary Kay and Johnny
00:11

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