Grandma Has Accepted the Change
Afternoon TV Magazine, July 1971
by Sidney London
Article Provided By Wanda
Every afternoon, grandma rushes to the TV set, flips on the switch and watches her granddaughter Nancy Addison (nee, Altman) perform as Kit Vested on The Guiding Light. Now there's nothing really special about that - except for a large slice of irony. Because some 30 years ago, grandma had a positive fit when her daughter Nancy's mama, lit out for Hollywood and stardom.
"My mother must have been very beautiful," said Nancy, "because everytime I see my uncles, they give me a poke in the ribs and say, 'oh boy. You should have seen your mother as a girl.' Well anyway, my mother ran off to Hollywood when she was 18 and she was all set to sign a movie contract when my grandmother intervened. She sent my grandfather across country on a bus to bring her back. He did, and that was the end of my mother's movie career."
"But things are different now, and I think grandmother has kind of accepted change. To tell the truth, I think she's rather excited that I'm an actress."
Grandma's acceptance, however, was not immediate. Nor, for that matter did Nancy's parents thrill over the idea of an actress daughter. Raised in a comfortable middle-class home in New Jersey, with her brother Richard, destined to become the Assistant Attorney General in Trenton, Nancy soon discovered that her family didn't rate acting very high among the professions.
"When I graduated from high school," she said, "I knew I wanted to become an actor. I told my folks about it and they said, "sit down, we'll discuss it." So we did, and shortly thereafter I was enrolled at a small college in Boston.
"But I couldn't stand it. It seemed that the only thing the girls were interested in was getting married. So I called my parents and pleaded with them to get me out of there. And they said, "come home, we'll discuss it.'"
This time, however the discussions broke in Nancy's favor. Soon after the family negotiation, Nancy was a student at the Stella Adler acting school in New York.
"At first, said Nancy, "My parents thought I considered acting a lark, as something I had to get out of my system. But then they began to realize I was getting serious about it."
So serious, in fact, that after leaving the acting school she toured with The Impossible Years and performed in dinner theatre presentations of Barefoot In The Park and Generation. Nancy further solidified her feelings about acting by marrying actor Don "Bo" Addison.
Although she had long yearned to be an actress, it wasn't until after her graduation from high school that she was able to openly express how she felt about acting. The reason - shyness.
"It's very difficult for me to express Nancy!" she said, "I don't want that many people to know about me. I have a hold on myself and that's nice, because it's safe. On the other hand, because of the way the world is today, I think it might be better if I were more open."
"When I was a kid, I was dying to act in high school plays but I never could because I was afraid to audition. I was just too shy. So I'd sit in the audience and think, 'Oh I know I can do it. I know I can act.' But the fear of getting on stage was overwhelming."
"I remember I used to come home from school, run upstairs and lock myself in my room, Then I'd act out all the parts in front of my bedroom mirror. Sometimes I'd take my brother's recorder and tape my voice."
"And because I couldn't express my feelings, I'd daydream. I would have gotten an A in daydreaming. I'd picture myself in a hundred different places, see myself as all kinds of people. My desire for acting was a like a balloon that kept filling and filling. Then finally, the balloon burst."
Although that was a monumental event in Nancy's life, it was nothing compared to her emotional explosion when she learned last September that she had won the role of Kit on The Guiding Light.
"My agent called me with the news," said Nancy, "and I'm sure she thought I had gone bananas. Bo ran out of the kitchen, and when I told him I had the part, we began to jump and and down in a circle; I couldn't believe it. I was floating on a cloud for a week."
But Nancy came down to earth again - as soon as the first rehearsal.
"I was terribly nervous," she said "and I was doing everything I could to avoid the camera. I'd turn away from it, and if I wasn't fast enough, I'd let my hair fall over my face. But the director was very patient and understanding. Now I'm completely relaxed."
In sweater and blue jeans, Nancy looked exactly that in her walkup apartment on New York's west side. Bo had popped in and out, while her dogs Henry (a combination of Pekinese and poodle) and Malcolm (a more exotic mixture of Tibetan shitzu and poodle) established themselves as a constant, scurrying presence. The room was tastefully appointed, mostly with antiques.
"I was raised on this stuff" she said, pointing to a huge antique breakfront and an old chest. "But I have a feeling that my folks thought we'd go all curves and glass. When Bo and I were in Chattanooga, we picked up a wonderful oak table and chairs. It cost us next to nothing, but we spent a fortune bringing the furniture back to New York."
For Nancy, The Guiding Light may well be just the first step in a long and successful acting career. One thing is certain at least - and unlike her mother's experience of 30 years ago, Nancy's career will not be suddenly short-circuited.
"I have no fear that my father will take the bus from West Orange to pluck me off the TV set," laughed Nancy. "When I recently called him at the office, his secretary told me that he couldn't be disturbed. 'He's got three very important people here to see him,' she said, 'and somehow, I've got to stall them for a half hour. I've told them he's in conference. But what he's really doing is watching you on television.'"
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