North Penn Reporter
January 4, 1992

Actress No Stranger at School

By Scott Kraus
Staff Writer

Actress Melanie Wilson is no longer a "Perfect Stranger" to the children at York Avenue Elementary School.

Wilson, who stars as Jennifer in "Perfect Strangers," seen Friday nights on ABC, took time out Friday afternoon, while vacationing with relatives in Lansdale, to speak to the students there about the world of acting.

It was nothing new for Wilson, who said she has visited about 20 schools in California, where she makes her home.

"I like to be able to give kids an idea of what we actors and actresses really do, to let them know.  Itís important that they see us in a normal light," Wilson said.

Meeting separately with the first- and second-graders and then students in the upper three grades, Wilson related her average day on the set of "Perfect Strangers" and debunked some myths about the glamour and glitz of Hollywood.

The students showered her with questions, and afterward crowded around her for a picture.

"Are you and Larry really married?"

"Are you rich?"

"Do you know Erkel?" (sic)

"Were you married by real priest on the show?" (sic)

Answering each question in turn, Wilson even fielded questions on shows on competing networks.

One second-grader asked if she liked "Married With Children."

"I donít really watch that show much.  Is it a good show?  Iíve heard itís pretty wild.  Are you allowed to watch that?" she said.

By a show of hands, it was obvious that the children watch a lot of television.

Carol Earl, a fourth-grade teacher at York Avenue Elementary, said the children were very excited that a real actress would visit the school, and their ability to recall old episodes illustrated that television plays a large part in their lives.

"The kids really enjoyed it quite a bit.  They were fascinated by the idea that a real actress would visit them.  They were remembering episodes from way back that Melanie didnít even remember.  I only wish they would remember their lessons that well," Earl said.

A fact that many do not know about Wilson is that she is the daughter of Dick Wilson, who made appearances on "Bewitched," but is most famous for portraying Mr. Whipple in Charmin toilet paper commercials.

"Boy, I got ribbed all through school about that," Wilson said.

Wilson said she is dedicated to finishing up the rest of the season of "Perfect Strangers," and when filming is done, she may look into other projects.

In answering a question on whether she lived in a mansion, Wilson said she had a pool and then explained that all actresses are not rich.

"Iím doing OK now," she said.  "I decided Iíd like to pay the rent and buy some groceries in the same month, but before ĎPerfect Strangersí I wasnít as secure."

Wilson said she spent several years acting on stage and making guest appearances on shows like "A-Team" and "Hollywood Beat," where she often got shot in the course of the story.

The actress, who was visiting relatives, said one of the reasons she took advantage of the chance to speak to the students is her love for children.

"I love talking to kids.  They always ask the best questions and are a huge part of our audience," she said.