Zeme Lou North was born in 1938 to Mr.and Mrs Walter North
of Corpus Christi,Texas.Little did they know that their new
daughter would be something very special.From the time she
was two and a half,when she put on her first performance,
dance defined Zeme's life.Because she walked pigeon-toed
and was flatfooted,her mother put her in ballet lessons
to strengthen her arches and stretch her leg muscles.Along
the way,a California dance teacher told Zeme she just didn't
have the build of a dancer,but through sheer determination,
she proved the teacher wrong.By age 10,Zeme had complete
correction of her arches,but continued her dance lessons
throughout her school days,in fact,teaching them eventually.
At W.B.Ray High School,Zeme studied dramatics and sang
with the school's dance band.She graduated 14th of 500
students as an honor student in 1955 after only three years
of high school.
It was Dallas and the State Fair musicals that gave
Zeme her big break into show business.She did such shows as
CAN CAN and SHOWBOAT.With money in her wallet,she went to
New York.It was a difficult town to crack and she knew it.
Shows were few for a wet-behind-the-ears actress and she
got few stage shows.To pay the rent,she also modeled clothes for teen magazines.Her diminutive --5'2"---limited her modeling,however.She also did ads for General Electric and Dupont.
Zeme's first real job was as a member of the famed
June Taylor Dancers for the Automobile Industrial Show.
Her first national TV appearence was on The Ed Sullivan Show on April 27th,1958 where she sang a duet with Sal Mineo.She guested on The Jackie Gleason Show,and on the
musical variety show Sing Along in which Bobby Darin was a
guest,and was Miss County Fair on Bert Parks' County Fair.
Zeme felt that she needed work on her dramatics and she
decided to attend Columbia University.Her hard work at the
famed Berghof Studio paid off and she got her first ever
role in movies and TV when she guest starred on NBC's
short lived sitcom Too Young to Go Steady in 1959.And she was to finally do her first and only Broadway show,TAKE ME ALONG,later that year.
Broadway Producer Frank Loesser had a problem: He needed an actress to play the part of Dorrie in his new show GREENWILLOW.Ellen McCowan was taking to the part,but Loesser felt at 28 that she was too old,and Zeme beat out 100 actresses to get the part,and Zeme's picture appeared in a number of Texas newspapers.Unfortunately,this was Zeme's moment of glory,because when the show took to the road for preliminary exposure,it did badly and Zeme was dropped in favor of McCowan.She recouped the loss somewhat,however,with brilliant performances in the off-Broadway version of FIORELLO.
In 1961,Zeme went west to start her new acting career,
this time in Hollywood.Her first Hollywood role was on
the popular TV show,77 Sunset Strip "Brass Ring Caper" in
which she played a carhop named Tina.She also did
Route 66 "Blues for a Left Foot" and her first movie,
ZOTZ!It was released the same day that she guest starred on
Wagon Train "The Madame Sagittarius Story."
1963 was the big year for Zeme.She guest starred on three TV shows,including The Greatest Show on Earth "Uncaged".The producers on the show wanted her to ride horseback with Fabian,but Zeme had never ridden before."They assumed that because I was from Texas I could ride a horse." Zeme said "They thought everyone from Texas could ride.They couldn't believe it when I told them I'd never ridden a horse before." Zeme also guested on The Danny Kaye Show,and did her second and final movie,PALM SPRINGS WEEKEND.The director Norman Taurog praised Zeme's performance to the sky.But the best was yet to come,for in 1964,after doing Temple Houston "Ten Rounds for Baby",Zeme would put on her greatest performance as an actress in Perry Mason "The Case of the Bountiful Beauty".Playing the 20 year-old million selling novelist Deborah Dearborn,she displayed her ability in dramatics,showing emotion and even Deborah's explosive temper.Zeme did two more shows in 1964,Rawhide and Bonanza.
Zeme only did two Hollywood roles in 1965,My Three Sons(for the second time)and The Legend of Jesse James "Manhunt".But in 1966,Zeme finally got what is so coveted by the actor,a regular role.Because OK Crackerby was doing poorly on ABC,the show was dropped and Luther Davis' sitcom The Double Life of Henry Phyfe was put in its place.Zeme was cast in the role of Judy Kimball,Henry Phyfe's fiancee.However,even this show did badly and it was dropped at the end of the 1965-66 season.
Zeme did only one more role after that,on the ill-fated
CBS sitcom Run,Buddy,Run "Win,Place and Die",and retired
from acting.Her timing was tragic,because by 1967,the actor
was beginning to call the shots.The NABET and AFTRA unions
strike in New York in 1967 sent shock waves west to
Hollywood.Producers began to sign actors to more lucrative
contracts and the actor's standard of living went up.But
Zeme was gone from the scene by then.
Zeme was the trailblazer of the Corpus Christi actress,
and such actresses as Farrah Fawcett have followed in her
footsteps.But Zeme paved the way,inspiring such actresses
to pursue acting careers.