I thought I’d say something about being a woman in a man’s world – since that’s what I’ve always been – I guess we all have. I was a very sought after musician for years, but I’m not going to go into that right now, just to say to women who think being a musician is not ladylike, it never stopped the guys from coming on to me. In fact, if anything, it was a turn on. Don ‘t let the conventions of society deter you from your dreams. Hillary doesn’t.
I hear that Hollywood is a boy’s club. I worked in Hollywood most of my life. There are admittedly more roles for boys and men. I started out playing boys, most notably Little Ricky on the I Love Lucy Show; and Mark in The Rifleman; and the younger boy in Flipper. The three boys have three different actor’s names because I was not allowed to be famous, yada, yada, yada. I also played some boys in movies but the thing that shaped my personality the most was TV.
In the I Love Lucy Show I contributed to the writing at age 3 and on, and sometimes I got a writing credit. If you Google it, you won’t find me. When Ricky asked Lucy why they hired a girl, Lucy shrugged and replied, “She was the best one.” And added, “What, do you think – a girl can’t do it?”
In Flipper, I had to play a boy because according to the writers and the director – girls can’t do a backflip off the dock, can’t swim across the channel, and most definitely would not be able to swim with Flipper. When my breasts began to develop I had to quit the show and even after they found out I was a girl they maintained no girl would be fast enough, strong enough, or athletic enough to play the part. I just laughed and told them the obvious, that a girl just did all those things for two years. They told me I must be some kind of a freak and I certainly wasn’t ladylike. They warned me, “No man will ever want you.” It wasn’t them that were wrong, it was me. I knew I liked boys, I always had. And boys sure seemed to like me, a lot, so I knew they were lying. I didn’t realize it then, but it was the men who had a problem asserting their man hood over a female who was more talented than they were. Get over yourselves, guys, be our partners and our equals.
Fun Fact: The whole time I had been Flipper’s trainer and the only one who could ride her. I didn’t think of myself as a freak, even though I had a telepathy bond with Flipper, which everybody just accepted as fact. I had taught Flipper to jump the fence so that she could swim free whenever she wanted to. When I came back that summer, which no one even asked me if I wanted to, I would have told them not to bother because I wouldn’t be able to start another season for the same reason i had to stop being Mark in the Rifleman. I was glad I came back because I found out that they had left Flipper for the winter in the pen and no one came around to feed her for over a month, and when someone went to check on her she was nowhere to be found. She had a habit of not surfacing or surfacing in the shadows when I wasn’t around. So I was very worried and I ran to open the gate to her pen in the lagoon, I splashed the water and searched for her with my mind. Everyone told me I was crazy, that she was gone and probably couldn’t fend for herself. They told me even if she were still alive she would never come back because she wouldn’t want to live in captivity. I maintained I just wanted to see that she was okay and I didn’t want to keep her in captivity, and anyway, why would they keep her in captivity if I couldn’t do the show anymore. Before we were done arguing, Flipper came charging into the lagoon at a rate of speed I couldn’t even calculate. She cut through the water so fast that the water made a bubbling hissing sound, not the usual wake that she could make when she went 40 miles an hour. She came in so fast I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to stop but as soon as she got up to me she leapt in the air and did circles. No one had ever seen anything like it and we were all a little sad that the camera wasn’t on.
Some idiot ran and closed the gate. After a lot of laughing and hugs I told Flipper that she would have to jump the gate again to get out and that I wouldn’t be back. When no one was looking I ran to open the gate. It was later decided that I was right, there was no point to keeping Flipper if they weren’t doing the show.
The Rifleman, I played Mark on The Rifleman. I hadn’t been asked if I wanted the part, I always just was told to try out, and I always just got the part. Then I was told not to tell anyone I was a girl. It was a very odd way to live. I thought I would hate it. I liked horses but I didn’t even like to ride Western. I hated Westerns, although mostly what you saw was old John Wayne movies on TV. Fun fact: I’m the one riding Silver in the beginning of the Lone Ranger when Silver rears up. That’s why the Lone Ranger look so tiny.
I didn’t have my heart in the show, The Rifleman, and I didn’t try very hard, I wanted to get fired. But it grew on me by about the fourth episode, because I really liked what the actor who played my father was saying. The show had a very different twist on the way people need to respect each other and accommodate each other, which the writers felt had to be the way it was in the old West, or you wouldn’t live very long. I was in that show for a few years before I had to quit, because it had gotten harder and harder to make me look like a boy. I watch that show now, and I still don’t like my acting, they really should have hired a boy, but I do enjoy the sentiment and what the character, Lucas McCain, had to teach his son every week. (Maybe that’s why I like the name Lucas so much.)
At the end of the last show on the last season of the rifleman, that’s when everyone found out I was a girl. Had they known I was a girl from the start, they told me, the only thing I would’ve been allowed to do was cook.
I’ve seen Hillary in action. She faced off against the Senate on healthcare while Bill was in office. That woman will have no problem being President, she can hold her own better than any man I’ve ever seen.