Angela Cartwright remains one of the prettiest and most talented child actors of the last 45 years. And I could have happily called this article “Both Sides of the Lens” as Angela has spent most of her life experiencing both sides of this marvellous invention. From the age of five, Angela has been teasing the camera with her English Rose good looks and that warm joyous smile. Firstly, she played Danny Thomas’ daughter, followed by the part of Brigitta Von Trapp in the classic 60s film, “The Sound of Music” and then her most memorable role in the much loved series, “Lost in Space.”
For 83 episodes, Angela was catapulted through deep space at the whim of the Gods while watching her family constantly suffer at the hands of the ever calamitous, Dr Smith. Even now, one wonders if those startling words still ring in her ears, “never fear, Smith is here?”
Without doubt, Angela’s best roles came in the episodes, “My Friend, Mr Nobody” and “The Magic Mirror” where she enjoyed a rare opportunity to dominate an episode in this fine homage to Alice through the looking glass.
So from the age of five, Angela was rarely off the studio set, until, with the advent of adulthood her life interests inexorably changed. And thus the idea of the looking glass becomes analogous to Angela’s own career because while her early life may have been dominated by movie cameras the second half has been equally dominated by her deep passion for stills photography.
Nowadays, Angela is a highly regarded photographer as can be seen by visiting her website at www.rubberboots.com and viewing her brilliant work. Since being given her first camera at the age of 16 her movie worked became less important while her career behind the lens has grown to the point where she now helps other photographers achieve their dreams.
That’s not to say that Angela doesn’t devote any time to her acting. In 1998 she appeared in the mega-movie version of Lost in Space. And her fans can still see her appearing at occasional sci fi conventions like Chiller to sign the thousands of autographs that are always demanded of her. Through her webmaster and son, Jesse and her lovely sidekick, Cindy you will also find a brilliant array of photos, biographical information, web links and the like at
www.angela-cartwright.com or you can become a member of Angela’s fan club, the ACFC to keep up with events and see where she will be signing next by going to: www.angelacartwrightfanclub.com
I caught up with Angela recently with a few questions about her career and experiences and this is what she had to say:
David: It’s lovely to have this opportunity to catch up with you, Angela. You made your film debut at 3 before spending seven years playing Danny Thomas’ daughter in “Make Room for Daddy.” What do remember most from those early years in television? And do you remember being asked for your very first autograph during this time or did it come later?
Angela: I remember doing the Danny Thomas Show live in front of an audience every week. I got to stay up late on Thursday nights… I don’t remember my very first autograph, but I do remember practicing my handwriting so I could sign my name neatly.
David: Your second big break came with being cast in “The Sound of Music” at the age of twelve. How did this role come about? And did you get asked to sign many photos after the release of this classic family film?
Angela: I had been on “The Danny Thomas Show” for 7 years and I remember it was the last season. My agent had called about a movie they were casting. All I knew was that you had to be able to sing and dance. I went and auditioned never knowing the story or what it was about. When I got the part, Danny was so sweet to let me out of the last show so I could start shooting the movie.
The Sound of Music is so popular, but people don’t always associate that I have been on Danny Thomas, Sound of Music and then Lost In Space. I looked different and still had an English accent when I made the Sound of Music so perhaps that throws people.
David: You have never made any movies with your sister, actress Veronica Cartwright, but have you signed many photos with her over the years? Have you ever had the chance to make a film together?
Angela: Actually we did work together a couple of times when we were children. First on “The Alfred Hitchcock Show” we played sisters, and then in “The Danny Thomas Show”, she was part of Linda’s Brownie troop.
David: Of course these days you are fondly remembered and adored right around the world for your great role in “Lost in Space.” While there a many sci fi conventions held today where photos from the series are signed, do you remember signing many photos early on when the series was just released? How have you found things have changed since the 1960s in the way people view this series? What effect has if had on your own life?
Angela: Lost In Space is wildly popular. A couple of years ago Bill Mumy, Marta Kristen (from LIS) and I were given a private tour of NASA. It was a fabulous experience. The recurring comment from the people who worked there and which they told us again and again was how the show inspired them to go into the space program. I was also fascinated with space. Even to this day, LIS has influenced a lot of people… I think that’s such a neat thing. At the time of LIS, I did have a fan club. My Mom would read and answer my mail, and I remember signing photos, though I couldn’t tell you how many.
David: During the late 1960s you had the chance to meet the Beatles and there is a wonderful photo of you appearing with them. Do you recall ever signing a photo with any of these great Liverpudlians at that time, or later on in life? Do you recall signing any photos with other celebrities outside the shows you have made? If so, what were your most favourite signings over the years?
Angela: No, I never signed any photos with the Beatles, I just met them and I’ll never forget it. Mostly photos with the Lost in Space group are the ones I’ve signed the most.
David: You’re an incredibly multi-talented person who writes, paints and is who also a great photographer. Does your acting career aid or hinder your work? When you do a book signing, are you asked more about your acting career or about the particular book you have been asked to sign? How do you feel about autograph collectors?
Angela: Acting has enhanced my photographic career. I always enjoyed being on the ‘other’ side of the lens. When I sign photos I’m asked mostly about my acting career.
David: Do you or any members of your family collect autographs? And if you had the chance to ask anyone in history to sign their photo for you, who would it be and what would you ask them to write for you?
Angela: My son has some autographs. Mainly I have gotten them at collectors’ shows from the people he likes… He loves comedy, but the only autograph I ever asked for myself was from Marcel Marceau many years ago. We had just watched him perform and I was speechless when I met him.
David: Given that you attend lots of great conventions like “Chiller” can you tell us about some of your more interesting experiences with autograph collectors? What are some of the funniest and weirdest requests you have received? And what was the most diabolical moment you can remember?
Angela: I actually don’t attend lots of conventions. I’ve been asked to sign arms, legs and stuff… that’s kind of weird… and not very long lasting. Diabolical… probably the food they deliver in room service.
David: What are some of the projects you have planned for late 2003 and early 2004 that your many fans can keep an eye out for?
Angela: I’ve been having some exhibits of my hand-painted photography and I love shooting photographs…it’s a passion I’ve had since I was a teenager and a never ending joy. I also am working on producing some documentaries with Heather Menzies Urich (Louisa in SOM). Bill Mumy and I wrote a fantasy adventure novel that I would love to see published soon. And I enjoy being with my family and digging in my garden. I like to keep busy…
David: Last, but certainly not least, Angela, what are any final thoughts that you would care to share with your legion of fans around the world?
Angela: I don’t have any final thoughts…I like to live in the moment and don’t think that far ahead.
David: Thank you for sharing your time with us today, Angela, and we all look forward to seeing your films and great TV series on DVD and TV for many generations to come.