Nora: Very often I've told people that you really shouldn't push peoples' buttons, because you don't know what's going on in their head, and you don't know how close they might be to either giving in to the desire to hurt themselves, or turning on you and ripping your head off with their bare hands because they just can't take it anymore.
Dino: You know, I'll tell you, as a director, having to deal with a lot of actors and their anxieties, I'm now forever going to question whether or not anybody I happen to be dealing with has those typical actors' anxieties or something much more serious. There are directors in this town who have not-very-good reputations because they have been screamers, they have been abusive. I used to think it was childish and unnecessary, now I think it's outright dangerous. I'd gladly punch the crap out of a director who screams at and abuses his actors.
There are directors, that voice-over people fear to no end, who have loved Mary Kay because she had a way of disarming them. I personally know some of those very feared directors who just revered her, and a lot of times it was because she wouldn't pull punches. She would get them on the phone, I know one in particular, she got on the phone and told him exactly "Why actors have a problem with you ... because you do X, Y, and Z." They admired the fact that she had the nerve to tell them, but she did it professionally. She wouldn't call them out in the middle of a session, or anything like that, but that doesn't mean that she wasn't upset by what they did or the way they treated her. She took those things very hard and very personally, but I don't know of any ... well, except one, of them that didn't feel like complete jerks and come to cherish Mary Kay. It seemed like even the most feared directors loved her. You get much better results not being abusive, there's no reason to do it. It's pure ego, that's all it is.
Doreen: How did Mary Kay get started in voice-over?
Dino: Funny enough, that's another story that says something about her giving personality. She went to a party years ago, around the time she was thinking about giving up acting, she had not discovered voice-over yet, she wasn't getting anywhere, and she was considering a career in the Air Force. This was when karaoke machines were first coming out, and somebody had brought one to this party. She went up to sing, but she didn't just sing, she did it in character, and kept changing voices ... she was Carol Burnett. There was a guy who was an aspiring voice actor, whose name I don't recall, who came up to her and said, "This is gonna sound like a come-on, but you have talent. You should go to this voice teacher," and gave Mary Kay the card for the teacher. Mary Kay had never heard of voice-over, but she figured, 'Why not?' She took the class, and she loved it, she found she really belonged.
She took class after class, no half-measures for Mary Kay, she would not do anything unless she studied the hell out of it. It wasn't until she finally took a class with Daws Butler, when Daws looked at her and said, "There's nothing I can teach you. Just go do it." So, on Daws' words she went and made her first demo and got her first agent, who went belly-up and opened a cookie store. Then she got her second agent, which was Abrams, Rubaloff and Lawrence, signed by Libby Westby. Mary Kay was fiercely loyal, so when Libby moved to Sutton, Barth and Vennari, Mary Kay went with her. Years later, Mary Kay is in a position on some show she's working on where she's not only working as a voice artist, she's also involved in producing. She finds out that the guy who gave her that card at that party so many years back was available, and the guy, in fact, had not managed to break into voice-over. So she gave him a job on that show, his first voice-over job. That's the way she was.
Doreen: Well, she didn't know who I was when I wrote her and asked if I could interview her ... she wrote right back and said "Sure!" She also visited a little page I had made about her and said she thought it was "cool." She even pointed out an error on it for me.
Dino: Yeah, that's why she did the Nightcap interview. She was always very giving of herself for these things. Again, there are two sides of it. There's the one side where she is a giving, wonderful soul, and the other side which is that constant need to be liked. But, the caring side was genuine. I know there were so many people, agents and so on, who at first were thrown by Mary Kay, when she would remember their birthdays or something like that, but they would realize that she was never doing these things to be remembered for a job. She would never give, as presents, a demo reel, or any of the other goofy things I've heard people do. She was always genuine about these things. God, she was famous for her gift-giving. I think it goes back to why she hid her pain so well. She couldn't let anybody know she was suffering. She loved to entertain. We always wanted, when we got our own house, to have a Christmas party every year, and it would be "Dino and Mary Kay's Macabre Christmas." We would show The Nightmare Before Christmas, and we would get dressed up as Gomez and Morticia Addams, and all of these things because she loved to entertain, but had to do it in a different, original way. She was a remarkable spirit.
Nora: I guess it's sort of self-therapy in a way, you get a moment of feeling good about yourself when you're actually able to do something positive and connect with people, make them happy by entertaining them. I have that feeling occasionally, it's a good feeling.
Dino: I think that was very much the way she was, yeah. I remember when they had the Haunted Mansion Celebration on the thirtieth anniversary of the Haunted Mansion, Mary Kay was not able to make it because she had to work. I went to the park and bought all kinds of memorabilia, because I'm such a huge Mansion fan. I got home and Mary Kay saw it all and said, "Oh, did you get extras for ... this guy and that guy ..." and I said, "No," and she was like, "Let's go!" So back to the park we went. There was nothing that she loved more than Disney.
Nora: Was it more the Disney product or Walt, himself, and his dream?
Dino: A lot of it was the persona of Walt. She had always said one thing she always regretted was that she never got to meet him. Of course, that's now taken care of. It was the magic of the parks more than anything. She could go to the parks at the drop of a hat. I remember when they put up the statue at the hub of Mickey and Walt and she just stood there and wept and wept and wept. I think it's more the myth of the man than the actual man himself, of this thing he created, this park.
She was always fascinated with these fantasy worlds. When she was little, Mary Kay grew up right next to the Forever Hollywood Cemetery. She would sneak into the cemetery and hop the wall into Paramount Studios, that was a very special thing, these fantasy worlds, she loved being around them.
Of course, when the limos would go for the premieres, she would hop on a bus and go to the Chinese Theater and watch the princesses getting out of their limos, smile for the paparazzi cameras and walk the red carpet. She always wanted to do that, and of course, she finally did.
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