The latest occupant of the Celebrity High-Five hot seat is known to many as the Bride of Chucky, but she's no stranger to TV, particularly in the voice-acting arena: Jennifer Tilly has long provided the pipes of Family Guy's Bonnie, the wife of paraplegic policeman Joe Swanson. She'll also be dropping by The Simpsons next season, making a cameo as herself in an instructional DVD about playing poker that Lisa watches in hopes of becoming a card shark.
Tilly—who's also a professional poker player, hence the basis for that upcoming guest spot—recently appeared in All In: The Poker Movie, a documentary released this past March. When we caught up with her via email while she was making the press rounds, she recalled two of her earliest TV memories... though neither one is particularly joyful. Indeed, the first is as heavy as it gets: the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which happened when Tilly was five years old. "I couldn't understand why there were no cartoons on," she said. "Every channel had the same thing, a grainy, black-and-white image of a body being loaded onto a hearse." The second memory Tilly shared took place not long after: "My mother came home early from work to find me and my little sisters watching Let's Make a Deal. As we happily tried to imagine what it would be like to have a whole wall of Eskimo Pies, we heard our mother yelling at the babysitter. Apparently we were not supposed to be watching TV. After that both the babysitter and the TV disappeared."
But even though she didn't spend her early years watching television, Tilly insists she didn't miss out on the medium entirely. "There were a lot of shows that I loved and that became part of the fabric of my life," she said. Read on to find out which shows made her top five, and why.
"When I first moved to Hollywood, I lived in a tiny apartment with an old TV. I was unemployed, and I remember it rained constantly. I never went anywhere, I was so depressed, all I did was watch reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I wanted to be her. She was so perky and cute. She had lots of friends, and nice outfits, and everyone wanted to take care of her. Most importantly, she had a job. She had a reason to get up and get dressed in the morning, because she had somewhere to go. Her life seemed sunny and uncomplicated."
"My dad helped me drive to Los Angeles, and dropped me off at the Hollywood YMCA. (In my handbook, Acting Professionally, it said this was the place to stay). My room was very small and grungy with a tiny black-and-white TV affixed to the wall. I turned it on, and there was Cher in gigantic shoulder pads on Johnny Carson! He seemed somewhat bemused by her outfit.
To me, Cher and Johnny Carson epitomized Hollywood glamor. I was excited because it was my first day in town, and I knew I was going to be on the show someday, and when that happened I would wear something glittery just like Cher.
I loved Johnny, he had such an easy way about him. I would watch him every night before going to bed. It seemed like he was my friend. Eventually I did end up doing the show many times, and he was a true master of the art of conversation."
"Everybody at my school loved Happy Days. For a class assembly we did a sketch based on the show. I played one of Fonzie's girlfriends, and we had a kissing scene. I decided then and there I was going to go to Hollywood one day and kiss the real Fonz. Many years later, I played Henry Winkler's girlfriend on a show called Out of Practice and got to kiss him every week. Funny how things work out."
Survivor (Season 1)
"This was the first reality show I ever saw. I was instantly addicted. It seemed like it was actually happening as I tuned in every week. I loved the interaction between the different tribes, and I wished that I too could build hammocks out of palm fronds, and lose weight on a diet of rice. I remember once my makeup artist and I had to drive to Palm Springs for a night shoot while the show was airing. We were so upset to miss an episode that I called my ex-husband Sam, and he watched the show, and gave us a blow-by-blow account of the action. I'll never forget driving past the cacti at dusk, listening to Sam telling us who was getting voted off."
"When I got my new TiVo I programmed in one word: poker. This was the first season of World Poker Tour being on TV, and I was mesmerized. After years in Hollywood it was so refreshing to watch smart people just thinking, and being, rather trying to perform for the camera.
The editing was great, the action suspenseful, and all the poker players were such characters! I first saw my boyfriend (Phil "The Unabomber" Laak) on this show. He was at a final table, faced with an all-in, and trying to calculate pot odds. As he did his calculations I saw his brain clicking like a computer and I thought he was some kind of genius."
What do you think of Tilly's picks? Did any of them surprise you?
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