By TOM WEAVER
She packed enough capable performances (and exciting times)
into her acting life for two people, so perhaps it's appropriate
that many movie buffs think that she IS two people: They
know her as Laura Elliott, Paramount contractee of the early
1950s, and also as Kasey Rogers, prolific TV actress ( Peyton
Place, Bewitched, scores of Westerns), and don't
realize that the "two" are actually one and the same. She
was menaced by dinosaurs in the low-cast fantasy epic Two
Lost Worlds (1950) and stalked by psycho Robert Walker
in Alfred Hitchcock's suspense masterpiece Strangers
on a Train (1951), but she embarked on some of her favorite
adventures between takes, tomboyishly scaling the masts
of soundstage sailing ships and running with stuntmen along
the top of a moving train. (And for "relaxation" between
acting jobs, she took up motocross!)
Hailing from Morehouse, Missouri, she was born Imogene
Rogers and moved with her family to California at age two-and-a-half.
She got the nickname Casey when her neighborhood playmates
discovered how well she handled a baseball bat ("I could
hit a baseball farther than anybody in grammar school except
Robert Lewis -- he and I were always the opposing captains
of the sixth grade baseball teams!"); she later changed
the C in Casey to a K. Twice-married and the mother of four
(and a grandmother), Rogers has in recent years turned her
talents to writing and development, including the proposed
new TV series Son of a Witch.
When did you get your start on the stage?
KASEY ROGERS: When I was about eight [laughs]!
I started piano lessons at seven and accordion about 10,
but in between there my mother paid to have me take what
they then called elocution lessons -- enunciation and pronunciation
-- and I did little monologues. I think my mother, God love
her soul, was a frustrated actress all of her life. She
never attempted anything, but I think that she just liked
the glamour and that sort of thing. Maybe her influence
pointed me in that direction, although it certainly didn't
take much pointing because I loved every bit of it. I did
little plays, and I always had the lead, even then! Then
I did the lead in my junior high school play and the lead
in my high school play. So I always loved acting, right
from the beginning.
what point did you set your sights on getting into the movies?
KASEY: It sort of happened accidentally. I was
20 years old and had just gotten married -- I got married
when I was 19, which was really dumb. It was a wartime thing.
And at 20, an agent from MCA saw me in Beverly Hills or
Hollywood or some place, and wanted to represent me.
saw you in a play?
KASEY: No. I can't say I was sitting on a drugstore
fountain stool or anything like that [laughs] -- he just
spotted me ... some place. Whether it was a restaurant or
walking down the street or whatever, I don't remember the
exact situation. And I was with my husband, and so it was
okay that he approached me. In those days, you were very
leery. I didn't know Hollywood, I didn't know anything about
I went over with my young husband because [laughs] --
because I was afraid to go to "a Hollywood agent's office!"
And of course it was only the biggest agency in town. But
then I discovered I was going to have a baby, so I didn't
go back. After the baby was born, however, I thought, "Hmmm
... I wonder if they're still interested ..." I called the
agent and he said, "Yes, by all means," so I went in. They
took me to Paramount, and I auditioned in a scene there.
They liked it, and so I did a screen test. And they liked
that and signed me and I went into the lead in Special
Agent , like, the next week [laughs]! So I didn't
have to go through the "struggling actress" bit.
you remember what your screen test was?
KASEY: I used to know. It was with George Reeves,
who was TV's Superman, of course. Oh! It was Voice
of the Turtle, it was a scene from Voice of the Turtle.
My God, I can still remember that [laughs]! I worked on
that scene with the coach and with George. God, I thought
I was not going to be able to remember that!
talked to other actors and actresses who went through Paramount,
and they all tell me horror stories about a room called
KASEY: [Laughs] Oh, yes! Yes indeed! You're one
of the few people who know about the Fishbowl, eh? What
that was was a room that had couches and chairs and lamps
and a piano and light switches, a totally furnished, lovely
room. Except that one wall was double-glass, the entire
wall, and you could not see through it. On the other side
of that glass were two rows of seats and an intercom thing.
That's where the coach would sit, that's where (if you were
doing a class) the other students would sit, that's where
the casting director would sit, or the producers, or the
director ...! The only terribly intimidating thing was that
you could not see through that glass -- and they were looking
at you! It took some getting used to!
side of the glass -- was it a mirror, or just dark?
KASEY: Just dark -- a mirror would have been too
distracting for the scene. I do think it served the purpose
of making you learn to concentrate on what you were doing,
like you would in front of a camera. You had to get rid
of your consciousness of self and learn to be natural in
a very unnatural environment.
you object when Paramount changed your name to Laura Elliott?
KASEY: Oh, no, I thought it was very glamorous
and "very Hollywood" and all that sort of thing! But then
after five years I got tired of it and I went back to my
own name. So almost all of my films are Laura Elliott, and
all of my television is Kasey Rogers. It's like two different
actresses, and very very few people in this entire world
associate the two.
you have any anecdotes that go along with your tiny part
in Samson and Delilah ?
KASEY: Just [Cecil B.] DeMille -- he was wonderful.
I had, I think, only two lines, but they were in big closeup,
gorgeous big closeups, me and an actor. DeMille took, like,
half a day to shoot those two lines -- he was on this big
boom, the big arm that goes up and down with the camera.
He was clear up in the air and we were up on the second
level of the Coliseum -- oh, it was such a production to
get those two lines! Incredible! But I knew Mr. DeMille
quite well at Paramount. He was intimidating to many people,
but he was always very kind to me. So I liked him very much.
did you know him? Just from seeing him around the lot?
KASEY: Yes. In fact, I had auditioned for a different
role, I auditioned for the role of Miriam in Samson and
Delilah. I actually did a screen test, but he told me
later, "You're too pretty and you're too young." [Olive
Deering played Miriam in the movie.]
if you had to lose out on the role, that's an explanation
you could live with!
KASEY: Yep ... but I would rather have done the
role [laughs]! But that was good of him. I'd see him around,
and you could go up and talk to him on the lot or in the
commissary, or whatever. He always had an entourage around,
and he had on the leather riding boots and the jodhpurs
and the crop -- he cut quite a figure!
you can remember that your screen test was Voice of the
Turtle, I'll bet you can remember your line from Samson
KASEY: Um ... okay, let's see ... I turned to this
fellow and said, referring to Delilah, something like, "Why
don't you look at me like that?" And he said, "Because
she's Delilah." And I pouted and turned away [laughs]!
That's as near as I remember! And I had a long-stemmed rose
is it like to work at a studio where you can have the lead
in a movie one day and the next day you're an uncredited
bit player in a different movie?
KASEY: Sometimes it was frustrating. It was especially
frustrating after Strangers on a Train. That was
on loanout to Warner Brothers, and there I worked with Hitchcock
in this wonderful film. And I had writeups which said ...
I'm not bragging, but one of' em, Variety or somebody, said,
"brilliant performance." And I go back to Paramount, and
the next thing they had me doing was color tests, holding
up swatches of material for the camera crew to test their
new film with! And I'd think, "Jeez, was it for nothing?"
[laughs] -- it was very frustrating. But then I did get
some other pictures at Paramount, and so it worked out okay.
loanout from Paramount you got top billing in an adventure-fantasy
called Two Lost Worlds.
KASEY: It was a loanout, and it was my third film.
Interestingly enough, that was James Arness' first film
-- it was my understanding, when we were shooting it, that
that was his first film. Of course, I was "the old pro,"
'cause that was my third film [laughs]! [Two Lost Worlds
was Arness' first starring role, but not his first film.]
That film ultimately became quite a cult-type film, which
I didn't know for years -- I thought, "Oh, who would ever
remember that?" But then I had various friends saying, "Are
you kidding? That's a cult film!" Think about it -- we had
the dinosaurs, we had the volcanoes erupting, we had the
big-masted ships firing in battles at sea, we had everything!
may have all been stock footage, but you had it all!
KASEY: We had it all. The volcanoes and dinosaurs
were from One Million B.C. . It was fun --
well, it was sorta fun. We worked in Red Rock Canyon out
here in California, it's on the way to the desert, and Red
Rock Canyon is solid rock. And the floor is sharp little
rocks, like a half-an-inch, triangular-type, sharp rock.
In this one sequence, I had to run to a pool of water --
we were dying of thirst and then we saw the water, so we
ran and got down on our knees and drank the water. Talk
about pain! It hurt! I was barefooted. They tried taping
the bottoms of my feet, but it wouldn't stay on. So you
just had to go through with it, just do it. It was uncomfortable,
to say the least!
memories of the people who made Two Lost Worlds?
Producer Boris Petroff?
KASEY: His little girl [Gloria Petroff] played
my little sister in the movie. And there was a funny story
which I was told, that when James Arness met Boris Petroff
for the first time, Arness' agents told him, "Now sit down
-- and don't stand up! No matter what you do, don't stand
up!" Because he would have towered over Petroff -- and sometimes,
if you're too tall, that's not good. So he sat through the
whole entire interview, and he got the role. I also remember
that I used to love to go climb the riggings of the ships
on the soundstage -- at lunchtime, I'd climb up the riggings
and see what it felt like up there. That was fun.
high were they?
KASEY: High [laughs]!
you still in costume?
KASEY: No, no, you'd take the costumes off for
lunch, and then get back in 'em later. Another thing I remember
which is kinda funny: There was a certain period of time
when it was extremely hot on the soundstage -- so hot! And
I had this one scene leaning over the railing of the ship.
I had my costume on top and my shorts from the waist down,
because it was so hot [laughs]! But you couldn't see that,
'cause that was behind the railing.
interviewees tell me they feel that James Arness was never
comfortable being an actor. Did you see any of that, did
you find him at all "different" from the average actor?
KASEY: I didn't think so. I thought he was a very
nice man -- just very, very tall! I'm five-five and he was
six-six. I remember at the end of the movie there's a shot
of two people standing with their backs to the camera, and
I thought, "Who's that little girl?" And it was me standing
beside him [laughs]!
also had love scenes with Arness. Is it tough to do romantic
scenes with people you've perhaps just met?
KASEY: Yes and no. You learn to look at it very
professionally. I did a love scene with Charlton Heston
in some of his first tests, and I hardly knew him except
through rehearsals. But I remember the crew saying, "Wow,
that was really a hot love scene!" -- implying, like, "What's
going on here??" Well ... nothing. Hel-lo! [Laughs] We were
working, is all. Especially if you're with a professional
actor, you know you're both doing a job. And you can finish
kissing and say, "Oh. Thank you. What's next? Where's my
lunch?" -- whatever [ laughs]!
was a romantic triangle in that movie -- you and James Arness
and an actor named Bill Kennedy.
KASEY: He was always trying to upstage me [laughs]!
Oh, dear, I hope he doesn't read this! One time he had his
arm around me as we were watching the volcano or something,
and he tried to bury my face into his shoulder! There were
a couple of situations like that, and that's all I remember
of him. That's where I learned about upstaging -- and how
to protect yourself.
at Paramount, you had just the tiniest little part in When
KASEY: At that time at Paramount, there was a thing
called the Golden Circle -- a dozen contract people, all
of us very young, who Paramount was, quote, grooming for
stardom. A whole bunch of the Golden Circle group was in
When Worlds Collide [Barbara Rush, Peter Hanson,
Judith Ames et al.] but while they were shooting, I was
in Sonora, doing the second lead in Silver City .
We got off location and came back to the studio, for just
the last two or three days of filming on When Worlds
Collide, and I was just kind of thrown in. I think the
only thing I did was walk down some airplane steps [playing
a stewardess] -- that's all I can remember doing! But [producer]
George Pal was very lovely -- he gave all of the kids, all
of us, beautiful gold charms with an inscription about the
film. I got one, too, even though -- you know, what did
I do? Nothing. There was another member of the Golden Circle
in Silver City, Michael Moore, a nice-looking guy
who played the heavy, and he and I just got in on the last
two days of When Worlds Collide. The Golden Circle
was very interesting. Actually, it was the second Golden
Circle -- there was a Golden Circle probably a dozen years
before, and from that came a number of well-known stars.
The year before Paramount revived the Golden Circle, I was
the only young actress under contract to Paramount. So they
decided [to re-start the Golden Circle] and they signed
the others. It was a neat thing, because now we had all
these guys and girls to do scenes with and become friends
with, we did a lot of promotions and we all worked together
in A Place in the Sun . Again, I don't think
I had a line to say and I don't remember what we did [laughs]
-- we were all at this resort, around a swimming pool. But
we got to work in movies with George Stevens and Frank Capra
and C.B. DeMille -- you name 'em! It was an incredible training
Paramount finally did give you a few more co-starring roles,
they were in Westerns like Silver City and Denver
and Rio Grande .
KASEY: Denver and Rio Grande was filmed
outside of Durango, Colorado. We stayed in Durango, then
took those little narrow gauge track trains for an hour
every day up into the mountains. I told you I was a tomboy:
At night, coming in after work, I'd get up on top of the
train cars with the stuntmen and run along and jump the
cars. Oh, [producer] Nat Holt would have killed me if he'd
seen me up there!
were a few of the stuntmen?
KASEY: A fellow who Yvonne DeCarlo ultimately married,
Bob Morgan; Leo McMahon, Harvey Parry ... they were all
who was the instigator? Did they get you up there, or did
they follow you?
KASEY: No, they did it. And so, if they did it,
then I had to do it. I said to myself, "Okay. I can do that"
-- and did! We pulled another terrible joke on Nat Holt:
We were back here at the studio and I was not working one
day. They were going to have a great big barroom brawl that
day, all the stuntmen and [stars] Eddie O'Brien and Sterling
Hayden and all the guys. So I came in very early in the
morning and I had the makeup guys make me up like a guy.
They put this brown makeup on, and whiskers, and my long
blond hair was all tucked up under a cowboy hat. And I've
got on men's cowboy clothes and things.
I set this up with Bob Morgan: I went onto the saloon
set and sat down at one of the tables. (You never realize
how small you are as a woman until you put on men's clothing.
Then, all of a sudden, they're all towering over you [laughs]!)
We waited 'til the dress rehearsal. Eddie O'Brien came in
the one door and Sterling Hayden came in the other, and
they started talking and yelling back and forth. Finally
I stood up and I said something like, "You can't say that
to him!" Bob Morgan hauled off and threw a punch, and I
threw a punch back at him, and he did a flip back over a
table. I started to run around, and then two stuntmen jumped
up and they held me back -- everybody in the room, their
jaws were dropping, like, "What's happening? What's happening?"
They were holding me back, holding onto this wild man, and
my hat fell off and all the blond hair fell down. I think
it took 30 seconds before anybody finally realized what
was going on, and then they started laughing. Nat Holt was
one of the people whose chin dropped -- he was like, "What
is this going on on my set?" [Laughs] We created this whole
fight sequence which didn't hurt [the studio], it didn't
cost them very much money, and they didn't get too mad at
me. And it was funny!
many people were in on it?
KASEY: Probably a half a dozen of the stuntmen
is all. The two guys that had to grab my arms and Bob and
maybe one or two others. But we had a whole saloon full
of people and crew and Eddie and Sterling Hayden who didn't
know what was happening!
Q: Denver and Rio Grande
also had a tremendous head-on train wreck. Were you around
KASEY: I was. It was very spectacular. They brought
150 members of the press up there to photograph and witness
it, but the day the press people were there, the weather
did not permit filming. So a number of them had to leave,
and the scene was filmed the next day. We were all many
hundreds of feet back from the actual impact. The thing
I remember are the engineers -- some of these little guys
with white hair had driven those trains for 50 years! They
started the two trains on the same track, coming toward
each other, far apart. The trains got up to six or ten miles
an hour and the engineers had the controls locked down,
and then they would jump out. The trains picked up speed,
picked up speed, until they crashed into each other. And
they had rigged it with some dynamite and stuff, to make
it really explode. Those little engineers had tears rolling
down their cheeks -- oh, it was so sad to see them, they
were so emotional. They were holding it in, but the tears
were there. The impact threw pieces, huge pieces of metal
as far away as we were, hundreds of feet. And when the smoke
finally cleared, here were these two engines still standing.
Still standing, just like, "We won."
Q: Strangers on a Train.
Even though you don't have the biggest part in the world,
that's the first thing all my friends thought of when I
said I'd be interviewing you.
KASEY: Strangers on a Train -- oh, my favorite,
of course [laughs]. Yes, it wasn't the biggest role, but
it was certainly memorable, and that's what counts. I had
heard about the role from another actress, months before.
The actress was Jean Ruth, a young contract player at Paramount
-- she came from musical comedy. She said, oh!, it was perfect
for her, and she'd auditioned for it. And I thought, "Well,
she and I are such different types that there's no way it
would be right for me," so I didn't think anything more
about the role. She and I looked nothing alike, our personalities
were nothing alike, so I thought, "If it's right for her,
it's not right for me!"
I guess they were searching, searching, searching [for
the right actress], and my agent called one day -- this
is like three or four months later. He said, "Laura, you
have an interview over at Warner Brothers on this Hitchcock
picture." I said, "Well ... I don't think I'm right for
that," and he said, "Go. Just go to the interview." So I
went over there and I read the scene and I thought, "Oh,
my God, it's wonderful!" [Laughs]
it the scene in the record store?
KASEY: Yeah. Well, that's the only big dialogue
scene there was. I just lovvvved the scene, so I auditioned
and the casting directors loved it. So, after they'd interviewed
girls for months, they finally screen-tested six of us girls
in one day. I had not even met Hitchcock, had no direction
from him, so what we brought to the role that day, each
of us, was what we brought to the role, you know? I tested,
and I got the role. Just as simple as that! I was thrilled.
Farley Granger in the test with you?
KASEY: No. I've forgotten who was in the test.
when you finally did work with Hitchcock ... ?
KASEY: I must say Hitchcock really didn't give me
a lot of directorial stuff about the character, just ...
"Play it as you played it" and "Walk here" and "Go there."
That was pretty much it.
the movie, Pat Hitchcock reminds Robert Walker of you. Besides
the glasses, was anything done to make the two of you look
a bit more alike?
KASEY: No, I don't think we were made-up to look
like each other at all, the only similarity, basically,
was the glasses. There were six pair that were made up --
two pair had clear lenses, two pair had medium prescriptions
in them, and two pair were so thick that I literally could
not see the blur of my hand passing in front of my eyes.
I could not see through them. If you can imagine this, all
I could see was just a little bit out of the sides, on either
side. And that was the pair Hitchcock wanted me to wear,
because in reverse, they made the eyes look very small --
very "pig-eyed," as he called it. Therefore, I did the entire
film without being able to see. I could not see Farley Granger's
face when I looked at him; I could not see the merry-go-round
when I was trying to jump on [laughs] -- I could not see!
And Hitchcock insisted that I wear those glasses even in
the long, long shots, out of doors. Which was pretty strange!
idea why he insisted on that?
KASEY: There could have been the possibility that
somebody could forget and I'd be wearing the clear glass
when we went to closeup -- if that had happened, then suddenly
I'd have a different look entirely. Look at the picture
again: In the record store, when I'm ringing up the cash
register sale, I can't see the cash register. When I'm running
after Farley as he's leaving the store, when I'm saying,
"You can't toss me aside like that," I could not see him.
Watch for my hand running along the counter -- the reason
I did that is because when my hand came to the end of the
counter, I knew I had hit my mark, and that's where I stopped.
In my scenes with my two young boyfriends [Tommy Farrell,
Rolland Morris], you'll see they'll always offer their hands,
or I'll take their hands. Up and down the bus steps, on
and off the carousel -- because I couldn't see anything.
you had them helping you.
KASEY: Yes, and Bob Walker. Bob Walker was wonderful
because in real life he wore thick lenses like that -- but
he didn't in the film. So he always said, "It's the blind
leading the blind!" [Laughs]
you like Hitchcock?
KASEY: Oh, yes. He had a wry sense of humor, and
you never wanted to cross him or to be a smart-ass, 'cause
he could just cut you down. So you were pretty respectful
of Mr. Hitchcock!
was his rep, or you saw him do that?
KASEY: He could do it with a smile. And his wit
was just rapier-sharp. He was brilliant -- he did some wonderful,
wonderful things. I'm just so thrilled that I was lucky
enough to be in one of his films.
Remember when Miriam is choked and her glasses fall to
the ground? The camera shoots into one of the lenses and
you see the strangulation taking place and she's sinking
lower, lower, lower, and then Bob Walker stands back up -- all
in the reflection. Well, of course, we shot the exterior
things out at the park, but then one day they had me come
in, onto an empty soundstage. Hitchcock had this big round,
like two-and-a-half, three-foot diameter, concave-type mirror
sitting on the concrete floor of the soundstage. The camera
was on one side, shooting down at the mirror, and Hitchcock
said, "Now go to the other side of it and turn your back."
I did, and my reflection was now in the mirror. He said,
"Now, Laura, I want you to float to the floor. Float backwards
to the floor." Like I was doing the limbo, bending backwards
under a stick. He said, "Float to the floor" and I said,
"Yes, Mr. Hitchcock."
"Okay, roll 'em," he said, and I started leaning back
and back and back. But you can only get so far until, suddenly,
THUNK -- you drop two feet to this concrete floor! He'd
say, "Cut! Laura ... fllloat to the floor." [In a despairing
voice:] "Yes, Mr. Hitchcock." And we'd do it again and I'd
get just-so-far, and go THUNK on the cement floor. Seven
takes -- but on the seventh take, I literally fllloated
all the way to the floor. And he said [imitating Hitchcock],
"Cut. Next shot." [Laughs] That was it! I don't know how
I did it, and I've never tried it since! But it shows what
you can do when somebody insists -- you can do things that
you had no idea you could do.
that seventh take is what we see in the reflection in the
glasses in the movie?
KASEY: That's what you see. And furthermore, Robert
Walker was not there; the tree branches were not there;
all of that stuff you see surrounding me wasn't there. That
shot is studied at UCLA and USC, in their film schools,
to this day, and I don't have an explanation for how he
did it. I should go to school and find out how it was shot
memories of Robert Walker and Farley Granger?
KASEY: I adored Robert Walker. He was very quiet,
very much a gentleman, and verrry talented. He was just
brilliant. Farley Granger was ... handsome. He was the 8x10
glossy, you know what I mean [laughs]? But he did fine.
He was in a couple of Hitchcock films -- you can't be all
bad and be in a Hitchcock film, you know. Robert Walker
and Farley Granger and the two actors who played my boyfriends
-- those were the only people I really worked with in the
Q: Strangers on a Train
didn't do your career any immediate good ...
KASEY: No, and that was rather a shame. I had the
feeling that no one at Paramount watched the film [laughs].
It would have been nice if somebody had been a little bit
impressed, or something! But I just think they didn't even
see the film. Therefore, you have nobody "pushing" you publicity-wise
or putting blurbs in the trades or anything of that sort.
One thing was kind of fun: When it was in release, I went
on a junket full of stars. We traveled on this big bus and
we were raising money, or we were doing something like that.
We were going through Oklahoma and various places and, of
course, at the various places everybody is introduced to
the audience by an emcee. Well, they would introduce Laura
Elliott and everybody would give me a very polite little
who-the-heck-is-she? round of applause. Finally one time
I said to the emcee, "You know, I've got a picture out right
now." He said, "Oh? What is it? Let me announce it." I told
him, and he said, "Oh my God!" So the next time he announced
me, he said, "This is Laura Elliott, who in Strangers
on a Train was...Miriam." And everybody [Rogers gasps
] -- big gasp! They all recognized the character, and they'd
look at me with these wide eyes, like, "Oh! You horrible
girl!" [Laughs] And then great applause, a wonderful reaction!
It was funny.
Oh, you've got me going on this now: My little niece Harlene,
she was turning 16 and she was taking a bunch of her girlfriends
to see her auntie in this film, Strangers on a Train
is when the picture was new?
KASEY: Yes, when it was just out. They're all sitting
there in the dark theater watching the movie and I come
on, being the "sweet" person I was in that picture. And
they were all asking Harlene, "Is that your aunt? Is that
your aunt?" But Harlene told 'em [stuttering], "No -- no
-- I -- I -- I don't know that woman! I've never seen her
before!" She would not admit to it!
you enjoyed playing a meanie? You certainly excelled at
KASEY: Oh! Love it! Are you kidding!
Q: After you left Paramount,
you changed your name back to Kasey Rogers. Did that create
problems? Was it like starting from scratch again?
KASEY: In retrospect it sounds really dumb, but
it didn't seem to hurt because I went right into television.
In those days, people kinda looked down their noses at television,
but I had a young son to support and I was a divorced single
parent, so I did television. It was a fairly smooth transition.
acted in lots of TV Westerns -- including one where you
were almost hanged.
KASEY: I don't remember which TV series that was,
but it was a half-hour series, and I was in a Western girl's
costume, and I was going to be hanged. You know how you
go up stairs and you're about six feet high on a platform?
They ran a big plank out from the platform and balanced
it on barrels at the far end, and had a scaffolding up above
with three nooses hanging down.
There were two older bit player-types and me waiting to
be hanged. We walked out there, the one guy and then I'm
in the middle and then the next guy, and they placed the
nooses around our necks. Now, milling about are cowboys
on horses -- one kick of that barrel and down we'd
all come! We're standing there ready to shoot when suddenly
the gentleman next to me -- his eyes got big as saucers.
I asked, "What is it? What's the matter?" His hands were
tied so he motioned with a movement of his head, a "look
behind you"-type movement. I turned around to look and I
saw guys tying and nailing down the far ends of each of
the noose ropes. The nooses were already around our necks,
and our hands were tied behind us. If a horse had kicked
over a barrel, they'd have had three hung actors -- there's
nothing we could have done. The other two actors were afraid
to say anything, so I spoke up -- I said, "Please!
Undo that!" They did, and then it was okay. So they weren't
exactly thinking -- sometimes you have to watch out
addition to all the chances you took in your movies and
TV shows, you were also a real-life motorcyclist.
KASEY: I love motorcycles -- I raced 'em for eight
years or something.
in the world did that start?
KASEY: My little son Mike was nine years old and
he came home one day and he said he wanted to motorcycle.
"You want to what?!" [laughs] -- what did I know about motorcycles?
Nothing. Anyway, I got him a little mini-bike, a mini-motorcycle
-- those things are powerful as can be, you just don't realize.
I got on a 50 cc and immediately ran into a chain link fence!
At any rate, Mike learned to ride in the Encino hills and
became very good. (I didn't even know he should have a helmet
-- I was very uninformed!) He wanted to race minicycles,
and it fell to me to take him out to Indian Dunes to race.
I remember the first time I went out to Indian Dunes, about
a 600-acre motorcycle park. I thought, "Oh, my God, it's
dirty, it's loud, it's muddy, it's dusty" -- and then I
learned to love it [laughs]! At first, we went every Sunday
to ride, and it didn't take very long before I was unhappy
sitting and watching. So I got a racing bike too. Then I
learned to ride on the regular motocross tracks with all
the teenage boys. They had a Friday night race for the minicycles
also, so we would go Friday night and Saturday night. And
that's how I got into motorcycles, because Mike wanted to
race and he happened to be very, very good -- he became
one of the top five or six minicycle racers in the United
States. We ultimately raced in Texas and Florida and Missouri
and all over the United States.
old was he at this point?
KASEY: Nine or 10. They have all different categories,
from beginning to expert. My son used to race with Jeff
Ward -- Jeff rode for Honda when he was a youngster, but
he turned pro when he was 17 or 18 and at some point became
what they call a "factory rider" for Kawasaki. My son raced
him, and they would dice it out all the time. Sometimes
Mike would win, sometimes Jeff would win. But that's how
I got into it -- and then, of course, found that I loved
it. I learned to ride motocross sitting on the start line
with all the teenage boys. You rev on the line, dump a clutch
and grab a handful!
You're going to have to translate some of that for me!
KASEY: You rev on the line -- in other words, you're
revving your bike, getting the RPMs up. "Dump your clutch"
means you put it into gear. And when you "grab a handful,"
you twist the accelerator on the right handle. Then you
haul ass, trying to get the hole shot in the first corner!
read in one of your earlier interviews that you used to
see Steve McQueen at the track.
KASEY: Steve McQueen was a wonderful rider. He
raced the six-day international trials in Europe, and they
pick only about six or eight riders to go over there and
compete in that. You don't get picked because you're Steve
McQueen, you get picked because you're good. He raced a
lot and his two children [son Chad and daughter Terry] raced
minicycles with my son. Terry passed away a few years ago,
unfortunately. We knew each other on the track, and -- it
was funny -- one day Steve walked up to me and his TV series
Wanted: Dead or Alive came up. I said, "Yeah, Steve,
I did a couple of those with you." He looked at me and he
said, "You're an actress? You did shows with me?" "Yes,
Steve, I did!"
One day, I was riding the track, practicing, and I had
on white leathers and a white racing jersey and white helmet
and black boots. But in those days, we didn't even have
chest protectors or shoulder protectors or anything.
I was out there play-riding, practicing, and I heard this
big bike come up behind me. When you hear that and you know
they're coming fast, you just "hold the line" -- that means,
you just go straight ahead and let 'em go around any way
they want to. So this big bike went around me, and then
the rider gassed it, he twisted the throttle. The tires
are called knobbies 'cause they have big thick one-inch
tread for traction -- and they also pick up every rock,
and shoot 'em back [at the rider behind]. I was just showered
with all these rocks hitting me -- they're peltin' your
chest, because (as I said) there were no chest protectors
in those days. At any rate, I finished that lap and I pulled
off because I thought I'd like to catch my breath. Steve
came up and said, "Oh, my God, Kasey, I'm so sorry! I didn't
know it was a girl! I didn't know it was you!" [Laughs]
kind of bike did you have?
KASEY: Usually a 125 cc Honda. Loved, just loved
racing. I ultimately put on the International Women's Motorcycle
Championship for four years. I was the entrepreneur, I organized
it and presented it. I had a race director who ran the races,
but I was the one who did the advertising and the publicity
and got the prizes to be given to the winners and all of
that sort of thing. We had two hard days of racing -- we
had the Grand Prix one day and motocross the next. The Grand
Prix is a very long race -- I've run hundred-mile Grand
Prixs -- and motocross is tighter and harder, but shorter
loops. They really had to ride hard and, boy, those girls
were wonderful. We'd have 300 girls from all over the United
States come. Very family-oriented, all of this -- no Hell's
Angels stuff. I wrote the motorcycling column for the [Los
Angeles] Herald Examiner for four years, and a lot
of feature stories for motorcycling magazines.
did you land your role as the wife of Mr. Tate [David White]
KASEY: Again, very easy. (I've had such incredible
luck!) First of all, Bewitched and Peyton Place
started the very same year, and I started on Peyton Place,
playing Julie Anderson, Barbara Parkins' mother. It was
a great experience. We were shooting two and three episodes
a week, and I left the show on episode 252. We did that
all in, like, a little over two years. And Peyton Place
was in the top 10, if not No. 1 -- I've forgotten the exact
ratings, but it was just a hot show and great recognition.
I left the show and, I think within the month, I met with
the people on Bewitched and I was hired. And that
was that! I didn't have to read, I didn't have to do anything.
I think it was all because of the Peyton Place exposure.
took over from an actress named Irene Vernon. Do you happen
to know why she left the show?
KASEY: I don't know the exact reason, but I know
that she was gone and I was just lucky enough to get the
role. (We were very different types.) I did talk to her
on the phone in recent years, and it was cute: I called
her one day and I asked, "Is this Louise Tate?" She said,
"Well ... uh ... yess s..." I said, "Well, this is Louise
Tate ..." [Laughs] And so we had a cute conversation --
she appreciated that. She has since passed away.
question I'm sure Bewitched fans have frequently
asked you -- which of the two Dicks did you like best?
KASEY: No, no, no, you didn't phrase that properly.
You're supposed to say, "Which of the two Darrins did you
Okay ... which of the two Darrins did you like best?
KASEY: Dick. [Laughs] See, if you don't set it
up right, I can't say it! I adored Dick York, he was just
brilliant, great comedic timing and a rubber face and a
lovely person. Unfortunately, his health and back and things
caused him to have to leave the show. And Dick Sargent came
in, a totally different type of Darrin, brought different
qualities to it and was a lovely person. But I can't play
favorites. And Elizabeth Montgomery was a great pro, just
a professional girl, great sense of humor. She should have
won an Emmy -- she was nominated various times and didn't
win it, but she should have, she deserved it. And of course
a great dramatic actress as well. She had done dramatic
things before, and then after.
is Kasey Rogers doing these days?
KASEY: Kasey Rogers these days has a writing partner,
a young man from Atlanta named Mark Wood. At one point I
said to him, "If you come to California, to Hollywood, I'll
put you up for a coupla weeks." He's been here eight years
[l aughs] -- talk about the Man Who Came to Dinner! We've
just become the best of friends, he's like my "youngest
child," and we write together. We had tried very hard to
get a spinoff of Bewitched on, called Bewitched
Again. Columbia Sony wants to do a feature film, they've
wanted to for 10 years and they don't have a script yet.
But they won't let anybody do a series. If we had Elizabeth,
we'd have a series, but she didn't want to ... and she's
gone now. So we said, "Okay. Goodbye," and we wrote our
own series, called Son of a Witch [laughs]. It's
the same genre as Bewitched but it is not Bewitched,
we own it, we created it, and there are people interested
in purchasing it at this point. We hope to do either a movie-of-the-week
or a film, and then have it go to series. That's one of
the projects that's near and dear to our hearts, and one
that we hope goes. We've written other things together and,
of course, we're pushing those as well. So I've been doing
a lot of writing, as you can see.
if anything would you change about the way your acting career
KASEY: I wouldn't change it. The only thing that
was frustrating was, between jobs you think you'll never
work again. Or you know you'll never work again, that no
one will remember you! But I think, especially for a woman,
it was an incredible career. My second marriage [to a public
relations man] was a wonderful marriage; I had four wonderful
children (still have them, thank God), grown now, and grandchildren.
I got to travel the world with my husband, I worked with
him, I did writing with him. I had time for all this. See,
if you're the lead in a TV series, the time demands are
very extreme. But when you're not the lead, when you're
supporting -- my God, most of my time was spent at home
with my kids and entertaining and doing things with my husband.
And when I got to go to work, it was like a vacation. So
it was a wonderful career for a woman, and I have thoroughly
enjoyed it. I've enjoyed the creative aspects and the creative
people who you meet and work with.
Bewitched fans wishing to read more about the series
can check out the Kasey Rogers interview on The
Bewitched and Elizabeth Montgomery Web Site.
Tom Weaver is the author of John Carradine: The Films,
Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Flashbacks, Attack of the
Monster Movie Makers and many others available from