Hi again. We’ve got another interview with you from a game show legend. This time, it’s one of my favorite guest stars, Mr. Charlie Siebert. You may know him from One Day at a Time, Trapper John M.D., The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake, or something like that. Anyway, here’s his picture.
Not much has changed, except he’s grown a beard. Oh, and his hair changed color too.
Greg Palmer: Hi, Chuck. First off, how did you get involved in show business?
Charlie Siebert: It’s Charlie. I was lucky enough to come under the influence of an inspiring teacher in college. He was a Jesuit priest named John Walsh and he instilled in his students a sense of purpose and an understanding of the need for hard work and dedication. I owe him my career and the wonderful life I’ve had because of it.
GP: According to your Wikipedia page, you have some experience with Shakespeare. That makes you a thespian. You’d think with all this experience, you’d get a lead. But you never got a starring role.
CS: Depends on what arena you’re talking about. I’ve played Hamlet and Macbeth among others, and they’re two of the greatest role[s] in all dramatic literature. My television career didn’t often give me the leading role but it gave me a very nice living which enabled me to put a lot of kids through college.
GP: Even though you never got a major lead role, I bet you had a lot more fun appearing on game shows. Anyway, how do you get picked for these? Do you have to be somewhere low on the proverbial food chain or what?
CS: A lot of fun but not more than acting and directing. I started on game shows in the most old-fashioned way possible. I enjoyed the Pyramid shows and thought I could do well on them so I contacted the producers and told them so. They invited me to do their show and that led to many more.
GP: I’m looking and it seems you have been on a number of game shows created by Bob Stewart (Super Password, The $25K and $100K Pyramids, Go, Double Talk). I’m just curious, why is that? Did you have some kind of relationship with Basada?
CS: They’re the ones I contacted and I enjoyed doing their shows very much. They were smart, funny, and unpretentious people with whom I had a lot of fun.
GP: What’s it like working on those shows? Do you have any experiences you’d like to share with us?
CS: It’s fast-paced work which can only happen with very good organization and good people. They do, I think ten shows a day with brief breaks for change of wardrobe and a meal break once. That way they can do a whole year’s worth of shows in about six weeks and people like Dick Clark can then go off and do lots of other projects for the rest of the year.
GP: There were talks recently of a Pyramid revival, but that got replaced by The Julie Chen Show (better known as The Talk). If and when this Pyramid revival finally gets through, would you be interested in appearing as a celebrity?
CS: Sure but it won’t happen. You’re probably the only person in the world who knows who I am. At this point they’d be much happier having hip-hop artists, current TV stars and maybe an athlete or two.
GP: Now, more recently, you’ve been directing. You’ve worked with Lucy Lawless and Kevin Sorbo, and all the others. How different is that from what you did on Trapper John?
CS: Well directing is a big job. Actors get to have a lot of breaks between scenes while the crew is busy setting up and lighting new sets. They can go nap in their trailers, or play cards or talk on the telephone or anything they like. The director is on the set all day every day watching and worrying that things aren’t happening fast enough. The truth is, though, that I much prefer directing. It’s a great challenge and very fulfilling.
GP: So, what are you doing now? Anything you’d like to promote?
CS: I’d like to promote world peace but that’s not going to happen any time soon either. I’m retired and help out with several causes in my home town and enjoy the wonderful life I have with my wife, children, and grandchildren who are spread all across the globe.
GP: Finally, Charlie, what advice do you have for people who want to enter your field of work?
CS: Make sure you develop another skill. There will be plenty of time when your acting or directing work won’t sustain you and your family. It’s a risky business with great potential reward but also great potential heartbreak. I love it!
GP: Thank you very much sir.
CS: You’re very welcome, sir.
Well, I guess it’s “We don’t call you, you call us” when it comes to a game show. That’s very odd, I had no idea how that was done. Thanks a lot, Charlie. That just explains even further why Jamie Farr was on so many at one time. Will we see a revival of Pyramid? I don’t know. All I can say is if Betty White can come back, anything’s possible.