Pamelyn Ferdin

Interview by Dennis Morgillo

Pamelyn Ferdin
Interviewer - Dennis Morgillo
As a child, Pamelyn Ferdin didn’t just watch some of the most beloved cartoons and television shows of all times; she lived them. Pamelyn was the most ubiquitous child/teen actress throughout the 1970’s; she was the voice of Lucy Van Pelt in the classic “Peanuts” specials and the voice of Fern in the animated theatrical version of Hannah-Barbera’s “Charlotte’s Web”, starring Debbie Reynolds and Paul Lynde.
Her television work includes guest starring roles on the most popular shows of the “pop” culture including Felix Unger’s daughter Edna on “The Odd Couple,” Jan Brady’s best friend on the “Brady Bunch”, and a famous episode of “Star Trek” where she battled Captain Kirk, “The Children Shall Lead”.
Pamelyn co-starred in films such as “The Beguiled” starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page, “The Mephisto Waltz” starring Alan Alda, and “Happy Birthday Wanda June” with Rod Steiger. She has appeared in too many commercials to count.

Madhouse: How did you get started in the acting business?
Pamelyn: My mother put me in the business when I was about 3 years old. I was so young, I was scared and afraid to go on the interviews but my Mom was determined to make me a star. I started getting roles right away because I could recite lines at a very young age. I was so smart as a little kid, much smarter than I am now. I could hear the lines said to me and I could remember them and recite them back. Some of my first roles were the John Forsythe show, Barbie doll commercials and a movie with Dean Martin. I was the busiest actress of all. Even the adult actors. At one point I was doing 3 series at one time. 

Madhouse: During the 1960’s and 1970’s you were basically on every TV show. 
Pamelyn: Yes I was, I was very very busy. 

Madhouse: Part of being an actress is dealing with rejection. How did you handle that as a small child?
Pamelyn: That was a very difficult thing for me. I had a Hollywood mom who would be very upset if I didn’t get a part. That made it even harder. I thought why didn’t I get that part. Was I not good enough, did I not work hard enough. I had a lot of anxiety over that. 

Madhouse: What prevented you from going off the rails with drugs and alcohol? 
Pamelyn: I did go off the rails in my own way. I had anorexia and depression. I was diagnosed with PTSD. I had a lot of irrational fears. I went through a lot but it was private, it wasn’t in the news.  I went through as hard a time as any alcoholic or drug abuser.  But I was blessed that I grew up at the end of an era. The end of the studios running everything. It was much more fun for actors that it is today. You knew everyone, it was more of a family. It was a lot more fun back then.

Madhouse: You worked with all of the Hollywood royalty. Being so young, were you aware of who they were, and their importance to the business?
Pamelyn: I really wasn’t. I wish now that I had made more of a big deal about it, but I was so young, I didn’t know who they were. However, Lucille Ball did make a big impression on me. She complimented me, she told me that I did a fantastic job on Marcus Welby. That I was a great actor. I will always remember that. 

Madhouse: Who were some of your favorite actors to work with?
Pamelyn: Debbie Reynolds, Paul Lynde, Dean Martin, William Shatner. I had such a crush on William Shatner when we were filming Star Trek. I followed him around and he was so nice to me. He asked me to marry him and I picked the last day of school, and he gave me a little cigar band as a ring. I wish I kept that. 

Madhouse: One of my favorite shows was the Odd Couple. I loved you as Felix Unger’s daughter Edna. 
Pamelyn: I loved Tony Randall (who played Felix Unger). I thought he was the funniest guy. I just adored him. We had great chemistry. He was incredibly smart, and he would sing opera in between takes. He was so full of life and grandeur. There were some roles that I played, that I connected to more than others. I felt completely natural in that role as his daughter. Unfortunately I left the Odd Couple because I had an offer to be on the Paul Lynde show. I wanted to stay on the Odd Couple but my parents wanted me to take the Paul Lynde show for financial reasons.  I also connected to the voice of Fern on Charlottes Web and the voice of Lucy on the Peanuts. I played Lucy as someone who was very smart and just got frustrated with Charlie Brown. Not a mean boss. 

Madhouse: I heard a very funny story about you running into Jack Klugman while you were filming an episode of Baretta. Can you tell us that?
Pamelyn: I was playing a pregnant teenage girl on Baretta, and during the lunch break, I went to the commissary for lunch. I didn’t have much time, so I walked over in my costume. I ran into Jack Klugman and I could tell by his shocked face, that he thought I was pregnant. I was only 14 at the time, so he was really flabbergasted. I laughed and told him no Mr Klugman, I am not pregnant, it’s just a costume. He was so relieved. 

Madhouse: I saw a clip of you singing and playing guitar. Did you do that a lot? Do you still play?
Pamelyn: I used to do it a lot. On Curiosity Shop, which was a Saturday morning show for kids, I played and sang a lot. 

Madhouse: Tell us about your post acting life?
Pamelyn: I stopped acting at 18 and I became a nurse. I met my husband and got married and I got involved in animal rights. I spent many years fighting and protesting for the animals. Things like the circus and animal cruelty. I was very involved in animal rights. The animals in the circus are treated very badly. They are abused. I have very strong beliefs that people should not abuse animals, and that is one of the reasons I am vegan. As a favor to me, I would ask any of my fans go to the PETA website and check out all of the information there. 

Madhouse: When can we expect to see your book?
Pamelyn: My co author Richard Reese is projecting 9-12 months from now. It’s going to be a great book. 

Madhouse: Do your nieces and nephews watch Charlottes Web or Peanuts and recognize your voice?
Pamelyn: Yes my nephews and nieces, love Charlottes Web and Peanuts, and say hey that sounds just like you Aunt Pam. These are classics and will last forever, and I am glad I had a part in it.  I am glad I brought some happiness to people. 
More Info: pamelynferdin.com

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