Newsday - Kidsday Column
January 6, 1991

 "Talking With" Bronson Pinchot
by John Savastano, Jeannette Barrett and Elizabeth Raimond

We interviewed ABC-TV's "Perfect Strangers" star, free-spirited Balki Bartokomous, known in real life as Bronson Pinchot, at the Regency Hotel in Manhattan, recently.  He was attending Yale University studying to be an illustrator when he discovered he loved acting better.  He loves watching "The Wizard of Oz," claiming to have watched it hundreds of times.

Q: Are you a public or private person?
A: A lot of people make jokes about actors who claim to be private people.  In order to make a living as an actor, you have to have people pay attention to you.  But when I'm private I am private, and when I am public I am public.  I don't like when the two of them mix.  Once I was doing a commercial in a mall.  I was trying to concentrate and a lady yelled out, "Hey Bronson, easy money, isn't it."  I thought that was personal, and I thought that was rude.  If I am in the airport trying to say goodbye to someone I care for, and someone jams a camera in my case, I am not happy.  I am trying to have a private moment, and it is being made public.

Q: Did you ever consider becoming a director?
A: Yes.  Most comic actors are directors in their head because they have to see it in their head first to make it work.

Q: Does Balki ever take over your personality?
A: No, I give Balki parts of my personality.

Q: Who thought of the name Mepose (sic) for Balki's country?
A: The writers thought of that name.  My sister thought of the name Balki.

Q: Do you have friends in show business?
A: No.  When you do it every day, you sort of need to move away from it.  My girlfriend is a photographer.  She doesn't like being around show business people.

Q: How has being famous changed your life?
A: People get a little scary sometimes, especially if they have seen you on TV and feel like killing you a little bit.  It really depends on what you have become famous for.  If you have become famous for being a really nice guy, people see you that way.  I think people who get famous for being a villain are treated worse than me.  Guys who play macho characters get challenged to fights all the time.

Q: What advice would you give to young up-and-coming actors and actresses?
A: Anyone age 10 or below should not go into acting.  The whole point of acting is to share your experiences with life.  At 10, you just don't have enough to share.  School plays are fun, but being on a soap opera is not a good idea.

Q: What is your favorite memory?
A: I remember being a little boy watching "The Wizard of Oz" on this cheap little TV.  The bottom legs were broken, we used a broken clothes hanger for the antenna, but it was great.  My mom would run around the corner, buy a chocolate cake, and we would turn out the lights and watch the movie.

Q: How long does it take to tape a show?  (Editor's note: the show was filmed, not taped)
A: Almost four hours.  We film in front of a live audience.

Q: After five years, how do you manage to keep "Perfect Strangers" interesting?
A: With eight writers, it isn't the same person thinking it up every week.

Q: Do you have a girlfriend?  Do you see marriage in the future?
A: Yes, and we will get married. (Editor's note: Bronson never did marry his girlfriend of the time, Wren)

Q: What is your favorite food?
A: I worship ice cream, and I love my mom's lasagna.

Q: Why do you love the movie "The Wizard of Oz" so much?
A: It's a fantasy with a great story and great characters.  Don't you like it?  Do you like it better than "The Little Mermaid" or "The Terminator"?  It's a movie that really works.

Q: What's wrong with today's youth?
A: I think they have too much time on their hands.  We didn't have sophisticated clothing.  We dressed like kids.  We didn't have electronic stimulation.  You made up a game with a pile of weeds.  Today's kids have too much too early.  Kids should just be kids.  You'll know what I mean when you are 31 like me.