E! Extreme Close Up:
Interview with Katey Sagal

Last update January 24, 2000

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Transcribed by Marriedaniac. Also thanks to Ade Bundy. Remarks by Andreas Carl in [brackets].


Interview with Katey Sagal 1992


Firstly, a clip from "Wabbit Season" (508) is shown. Then the interviewer, ARTHEL NEVILLE, narrates while various clips are viewed: a clip from "The Unnatural" (504), Katey and Ed O'Neill rehearsing for MWC, Katey at various Hollywood functions from 1989/90/91.

ARTHEL: Married with Children has weathered a storm of varied views, but Katey Sagal has emerged unscathed and better than ever. Although polyester-clad, Peg Bundy, is an unconventional version of the American housewife, Sagal can still relate to her. She has always gone against the grain, as what she describes as "growing up socially inept". Sagal's giddy laugh may seem like a contradiction to her calm demeanor, but she says her "need for humour" is a result from being a "serious child". Ever reflective, Sagal believes she started out life acting 'old' and now she's getting younger.

A clip of Katey singing is shown, then more, silent, clips during the voice-over: "Sue Casa, His Casa" (503), "Wabbit season" (508), then Katey at home preparing for the interview.

ARTHEL: (continued) It may seem out of character to her fans, but singing is Sagal's first love. She started when she was a child and believe's she'll spend more time behind a microphone than in front of a camera in the long run. Her talents in the Bundy home are no reflection of her off screen domesticity. Sagal is a self proclaimed 'great cook' and a new fangled vegetarian. She compliments her healthy efforts with "healthy thinking", believing her spiritual side is her strongest side. It's apparent from meeting Sagal that her on screen lifestyle is far from reality. When we sat down with her at her home in The Hollywood Hills, she began by recalling the past, which she believes determined the way she is today.


ARTHEL: Of course Peg Bundy has the knockout figure, which of course you do, obviously, it's you!

KATEY: (hiding her face behind her hand, but smiling) Oh, God.

ARTHEL: But c'mon, you know, a lot of girls who, who grow up to be these voluptuous, sexy women have that awful lanky period.

KATEY: No, mine was for a long time! [laughs] Yeah I never really, uh, I still don't um, feel comfortable sometimes about that, but um, I didn't quite see myself. I think I was developed early in life, and that was really hard growing up. To be shapely when you're in the seventh grade is not exactly what everyone's looking for, or they weren't then, as someone was telling me the other day. now, that's like a really great thing to do, to be, but then it wasn't.

ARTHEL: Because remember when you were embarrassed to wear a training bra?

KATEY: Uh, I hid. My mother wouldn't let me wear one for like 6 months before I should'vev done and I was just, oh, I was humiliated. It was horrible. Now they're, (laughs) now things are paying off a little better, but then it was really horrible.

ARTHEL: Did it get you dates?

KATEY: Oh no, I had no dates. I was about 6 feet, well not 6 feet. I was, I'm 5'9" now. By the time I was in seventh grade I was 5'7" and all the guys, the little boys, were coming up to my waist, so I really thought, you know, 'dates' was out of the question. I was just made fun of a lot because I was so tall and voluptuous. Then, I didn't feel voluptuous.

ARTHEL: Yeah, but you're classmates are eating their hearts out now.

KATEY: Yeah right! I don't know, Y'know, I always wanted to be one of those cheerleader girls and I never was that, and I was never sort of cute and perky, and I always thought it was fun to be cute and perky, and those, I don't know what those girls are doing now. Now I'm glad I'm tall. (laughs)

ARTHEL: Everyone in your family went the showbiz route.

KATEY: Yeah.

ARTHEL: Except your brother David, who's the attorney.

KATEY: Right.

ARTHEL: Now, What does he know that you don't know?

KATEY: He, for some reason, y'know, 'cause I grew up - my father was a director - so I grew up in this whole environment...

ARTHEL: Boris Sagal.

KATEY: Boris Sagal, yes. And he, David, for some reason decided to go to the East Coast to go to school, and before we knew it he was, y'know, learning Chinese and doing all sorts of different things. So I can only say that it was because of, uh, he got out of that environment, that, he didn't want to go into that area, and my father also didn't want any of us to go into show business. So I guess he's the good one, (laughs) or something like that.

ARTHEL: So, He didn't want you to go into show business?

KATEY: Well, it's not that he didn't want it, he really knew what a hard road it is, and it is! It's a very uh, you know um... fickle, sort of, 'who knows from where' kind of business, and he really knew that. I think he was just coming from a protective place, um, not that he didn't acknowledge that there was talent in those areas but I think he was trying to spare me from a life of pain and suffering. Which I haven't had to do so much right now. So, he got his wish.

ARTHEL: Did your father take you on the set when you were younger?

KATEY: Yes. That was my big coo too. In Elementary School, when I was tall and gangly and being made fun of, I would take people on the set of "Dr. Kildare", which my father directed, and that's why. Then they'd be nice to me. (laughs) I mean it's really so sad, but it was kinda like that, y'know. So yeah, I'd hang out there. He'd take me to the set of "Man From U.N.C.L.E.", that's what he, he worked on that show. Yeah, he'd take me around...

ARTHEL: You're saying "that's how you got your friends", you'd take them to various sets?

KATEY: Well, that was one of the ways, yes one of my... yeah. (nods) Yes.

ARTHEL: You've had to connive these people?

KATEY: Yes! That's the thing about it. What just got really sad is that I thought of that. I thought, you know, well... But that's kind of how it was. You know, we travelled a lot when I was a kid because my father was wherever the work was. So for the first ten to twelve years, there were lots of different schools and different homes and, um, so kinda when you come into a school that way, you do anything you can, (laughs) so I'd bribe them and take them to the set.



ARTHEL: Now Katey, it's apparent to those people around you; that you and your boyfriend, Jack White [who is her husband now], are just a GREAT couple, so I have to ask, When are you going to get married?

KATEY: (laughs) Well, I don't know, um, Jack and I have both been married before, I... (thinks) I'm not sure if we both feel a strong necessity to get married. I think it's a nice thing to do. I think that um, uh... when we plan to have a baby, um, that we'll probably get married too. I don't know, it's funny, because I don't feel, I feel married to Jack, we feel married to each other. Married in the eyes of God and what really matters, you know, so a nice party sounds like a good idea (nods).

ARTHEL: Now, were you guys acquaintances beforehand, or was it love at first sight when you met?

KATEY: It was um, no, it wasn't love at first sight, but it was pretty much one date and then we sorta just kept doing that. No, we hadn't met before, which was interesting, you know, because we had a lot of similar friends. It was kind of odd that we hadn't met until we did, and um, we've been together ever since. But it's grown, you know, it's like, I don't know if it was love at first sight. I've had those (smacks her hands together) 'love at first sight things', they never last. You know, you're sort of bowled over for a minute. And Jack and I definitely really liked each other right away and then it grew into what it is, which is, I think, ultimately better.

ARTHEL: Katey, I read where you said, um, "I always thought that when I got to be an adult, tragedies wouldn't happen". So who, or, What has helped you deal with the loss of your baby [some months before the interview]?

KATEY: Um, I have an enormous faith in God. I have an enormous support system that also has that same belief. I really, um, when I lost the baby I had, I sensed that there was a higher good to it, a higher purpose to it, you know, perhaps the baby was scared of life itself. Um, I believe that's what's gotten me through, just that I have faith, that everything is how it's supposed to be, and it may not be the way I always want it to be, but sometimes, that, to me is what maturity is. Sort of, being able to deal with what you're given and not always having to have it the way you want it to be, you know. I think a child's needs are always the ones saying, "Me, mine, my way", you know. I find the older I get I'm just given some stuff to deal with and it's up to me to choose the attitude that will go with those things. So, um, you know, when you go through any kind of disaster, I think you always have the choice of falling apart or not, and I mean really falling apart, I mean, you fall apart and that's part of healing, but what how, whether or not your gonna come back afterwards, is a matter of choice and a matter of belief system. You know, that's kinda how I feel about it and uh, I'm still coming back, you know. I just have to believe that there's, that sometimes things happen for reasons that are not for me to know, and that's hard because I'm mortal. I want logical, logistical, I want concrete, you know, sometimes that's just not the way it is.

ARTHEL: That's what I was going to say. Even the people with the strongest faith, you get a little weak - if that's how you want to call it - and say, "Why?".

KATEY: Oh, absolutely, or you wanna blame yourself, or you wanna, you know, think that I'm being punished for this, for something, you know. And I don't want to believe that, that uh, that I'm punishable. Do you know what I mean? That, I have these mean, awful, punishing things around me that are gonna tell me that I did something wrong, you know, I don't want to look at things like that.

ARTHEL: You, you plan to try to get pregnant again soon?

KATEY: Yeah, I think this time though, I'm gonna not do it quite so publicly. I don't know if Mrs. Bundy will get pregnant. So, I'll have to ah, time that schedule-wise. But yeah, we're gonna get back on the horse. It's a little scary but we're gonna do that (nods).

ARTHEL: But I was wondering though, I mean, we can't turn back the hands of time, but in retrospect, you sort of wish, 'Maybe it had not been written into the script'?

KATEY: Well, you know, it's one of those things. At the time it was the most fabulous thing that could happen because I was able to continue my job and, you know, be pregnant and uh... Who knows, that's the, that's the biggest lesson I've learnt out of the whole thing; that you just never know. You know, we really have to sort out, ah, (thinks) it's like Why are the expectations so ridiculous? You know, have 'expectations' and God laughs at you. (laughs) That's how I feel, you know. All we can do, it's just what's in front of us, I mean, Who knew that something like that would happen? You don't plan for these things.

ARTHEL: You are incredibly resilient, I mean, your strength is quite admirable.

KATEY: Well, I'm feeling better lately, I'm feeling better lately! Doesn't, you know, today- I'm having a really good today.

ARTHEL: I'm glad.

KATEY: Yeah. Me too! Me too.



A clip from "Tooth and Consequences" (404) is shown.

ARTHEL: Am I right; that you came up with Peg Bundy's walk?

KATEY: Ah, well, actually what happened was, uh, I, when we went to wardrobe, about how we wanted them look - them all to look, and I thought that she should wear shoes like that, and anyone who wears 'those kind of shoes' will walk that way.

ARTHEL: So I guess, indirectly, you did.

KATEY: Sorta, yeah.

ARTHEL: How much input do you have with the character?

KATEY: Well, now... actually, though the writing is so great on our show, it's really, it's consistently good. They pretty much send down really great stuff. But it's funny how you'll see, the longer we're in the characters, suddenly things that we might do will show up in a script later. It's hard to tell who's doing it off of who a lot of times. So I suppose I have some input. If I really don't like something I'll say it, but I really, I pretty much like everything I'm given.

ARTHEL: Are you afraid of being typecast?

KATEY: Ummm, I don't know if I'm 'afraid' of it, that's not the right word, I um, I don't believe I will be. We've been very select about keeping Peg Bundy only on Married with Children, I don't want to do other characters like that. I love that I do that character in that show and um, I feel that because of that, hopefully, I'll get a shot at, to not be just that person. You know, I have a sort of dry sense of humour so..., which is one of Peg's qualities, so that would probably carry (laughs) more into other things. But as far as the look goes, I don't, I don't have a fear of it.

ARTHEL: Now, If you and Peg share the same dry sense of humour, then, What other characters do you guys share?

KATEY: [laughs] Good question. Well, I would say like, I think that Peg is really, um, enjoys her life. I think she's a, she really likes being a girl, that's obvious. She loves to dress herself up and, you know, sorta, make herself laugh I s'pose, and y'know, I'm sort of that way. I like to be girly and dress up. (To herself) Is that true? yeah, that's true, I do like to do that stuff.

ARTHEL: What do you NOT share with Peg Bundy?

KATEY: Well, I would like to think that I'm (scratches her nose) a bit more demure, (laughs) um, not quite as crass, and uh, I don't speak to my boyfriend the way she talks to Al! That's for sure.

ARTHEL: You said your father 'didn't want you, necessarily, to go into showbiz', but you began singing at a very early age, in spite of our father, almost.

KATEY: Yeah, well, I sort of had, I had a gift for that and I could sing from the time I was five or six. I even have a report card from kindergarten saying something, saying "she doesn't pay much attention, but she has a great singing voice" and so, early on, and my mother was a singer, so I uh, I was singing all the time and then when I was sixteen? Fifteen or sixteen, I started singing in rock bands, which y'know, my father just hated that, and this is when he decided "well, if you're gonna go into showbiz, at least, be an actor OK - so then I can control you." (laughs) I think that's what he meant y'know. So that he knew what was going to happen next, and I didn't want to do that, I wanted to sing. So, that was my, that's my first career. It was and is as a singer.

ARTHEL: If you were singing back in Grade School, What were you singing like that in a classroom?

KATEY: I learned to play the acoustic guitar, in fact, I used to bring my little acoustic guitar - this is so - to Girl Scouts. Because, once again, the Girl Scouts didn't like me. I don't know Why, nobody liked me! And I would play my little guitar and I'd sing y'know, "Cumbaya" and "This Land Is Your Land", and they'd, y'know, they (laughs) it didn't work, that one didn't work. But um, so that's what I did, I actually hid behind, sort of, my identity. I was the girl who sang at functions. Even now I run into people that I went to High School with who'll say "Oh yeah, I remember when you sang at this, or, sang at that", you know, I would never really have a date, I would always just go to parties and sing. I was always with the band.

ARTHEL: What do you remember most about your days as Bette Midler's one of the Harlettes?

KATEY: I remember working so hard, that I thought I'd never make it. The first week I got that job, it was a funny story getting that job. It was one of those typical, I went to a big 'cattle-call' audition, and I was waiting for the call to see, y'know, it'd gone down to six people out of a hundred and fifty, and waiting to get the call, and then I hear a knock at the door and the producer came to my house because my phone was out of order. It was one of those things, you know, it's like the one weekend you don't your phone to... So I got that job, and my first week on it, I remember coming home every night and I'd be crying because you know, you had to read music, sing, dance, do all kinds of nutty things and I thought, "I'll never be able to do this". And um, it taught me a lot about, first of all - you can do what you think you can't. Bette works incredible hard and she sort of sets this work ethic, so you just work incredible hard. We would rehearse constantly in hotel lobbies. Y'know, we've been doing the same show for months and then you're rehearsing in the lobby once again. That's how she is. It was great though, I mean, I'm not complaining at all.

ARTHEL: Do you still keep in touch with Bette?

KATEY: Yeah, actually, I just saw her for her birthday, yeah. I mean, I don't speak to her a lot, but I really, I love Bette. She's a great girl.

ARTHEL: Now, among other people, you were a back-up singer for Etta James, as you said, and Bob Dylan, and I understand 'Aretha Franklin' is one of your role models.

KATEY: Well, she's definitely my favourite singer. Role model, I guess role model. I used to listen to Aretha Franklin records, and I'd be torn between like, I can never sing this great so why even try, to just always wanting to sing. 'Cause I just love how we sing. I mean, God, nobody sings like Aretha.

ARTHEL: Why are you interested in that style of music?

KATEY: (thinks) You know, I just, when I was fifteen or sixteen and still not fitting into school, my girlfriend and I used to run away to um, to this club that was in Hollywood, called The Ash Grove, it was a blues club, and I used to go and I'd listen to um, Chicago All Stars and Shakey Walter Horton and Willie Dixon and just all these blues guys and like I'd hang out with them, y'know, afterwards. And they were really nice to me! And it was sort of like my first, and I loved the music, and I felt kind of, you know, I felt just sort of great about it, y'know, and I didn't, I felt like they were my friends. I had this one girlfriend of mine and we sort of, we'd sneak out and go to these clubs. And that's just sort of what happened. And uh, so I think it's, you know, as anything when you're that age, wherever you're accepted (laughs) that'll do. And the first kind of music I started listening to was blues music. And I worked with this guitar player y'know, when I was fifteen, and in my first band, he knew all about Robert Johnson, and he sat me down one day and put on all these Robert Johnson records. So that's kind of where it all started. And I um, was always just listening to soul music and I just, it's what I liked.

ARTHEL: Now, Katey, before we go, if you would answer this. If you were to play a character that best describes and represents Katey Sagal, What sort of character might that be?

KATEY: What character? (thinks/sighs) Probably just the every man kind of character, 'cause I just sorta felt like, just (thinks) you know, I'm just going through it like anybody else (laughs) Y'know, probably that. That's what's most appealing to me, is how we all just do it, how we do this thing, this life thing. That's all glib, but, that's what's appealing to me. Probably a lot of characters based on that.

ARTHEL: Just being a normal, everyday person.

KATEY: I feel just like a normal, everyday person. I mean, I'm not, y'know, I have this high pro... I have this visible job, but (laughs) you know, I'm just like everybody else. We all are.

ARTHEL: Course, that's what's going to make you continue to go to the top.

KATEY: I, I, Who knows? (laughs)

ARTHEL: I think so.


ARTHEL: Alright, I'm hoping for it. (they shake hands) Thanks, Katey!

KATEY: Thanks, Arthel.

ARTHEL: Thanks a bunch.


(they laugh)


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