Roxanne Albee, a young Hollywood actress, tells how her acting career led her to the Monkee show!
I think I’m one of the luckiest girls in Hollywood. Micky Dolenz and I went together for about six months and I worked on the Monkees show from the very beginning—how much better can you get than that? I’d worked so hard and so long for it, though, I’m not too sure that much luck was involved. What do you think?
I always wanted to be an actress, from the first that I can ever remember. But, daddy was a career man in the Army so we lived all over the world when I grew up. It seemed to me that it took an awfully long time before I could start to make my dreams come true.
There were nice things about growing up in the Army, though. We moved to Germany when I was five and I started school there. That was loads of fun. We got to go all over Europe on vacations and weekends. One week I got to ski in the Austrian Alps and the next week I got to swim in the Mediterranean sea. It was pretty groovy.
All the time I was in Germany. I kept thinking that I was wasting my time because I wasn’t learning how to be an actress. I really was, but I didn’t realize it at the time.
An actress has to be able to play her roles just like she actually is the person she’s playing. The more experienced she is, the better actress she’ll be. When I lived in Europe I was really living there, not just visiting, so I sort of soaked everything up. I learned all about the countries and their peoples and I learned to speak German as well as any German can. This means that when I get the opportunity to try out for any roles that have anything to do with any European country, especially Germany, I’ll have a great advantage over any other actresses that may be trying out for the same part. I’ll play the parts better, too. So, I was doing a lot, even though I didn’t realize it.
I began to study ballet when I was seven. I studied at the State Theatre in Augsburg. That was lots of fun because after I had studied for awhile, (I practiced several hours every day, whenever I got the chance), I got to perform with the Theatre. That was my first public performance and I loved it.
Daddy got out of the service when I was fourteen and we moved to New York. That’s when I began to model.
I met a model who was a few years older than I was. She told me that I might be a good model if I worked at it, so I decided to try. She taught me how to use makeup and how to walk, then she got me an appointment with her agent. He signed me and the next day I got my first job at $25.00 an hour! I was really impressed.
I started to get jobs regularly after that. I’d get off from school, dash for the subway and put on my makeup as I went to my appointment. It was hectic, but fun.
Then the best thing of all happened, though I sure didn’t think so when it happened! We moved to Torrance, a small town in Southern California about twenty-five miles from Hollywood. Now this sounds very good, but in California they have so many child labor laws that most people won’t hire kids under eighteen. They have to go through so much red tape and have so many extra people on the payroll, like child welfare workers, that it just isn’t worth it to them. Instead they use models over eighteen who look younger. So I was out of work for a long while.
I went to North High School and was getting very good grades—after all, all I had to do was study! I didn’t like not working, and I still wanted to be an actress very much, so I thought a long time about the whole situation. It was going to be a couple of years before I was eighteen and I didn’t want to waste that time.
It finally occurred to me that if I entered some of the local beauty contests I would meet many photographers and learn more about appearing in public. I started entering every contest I heard about, practically, just to get the experience. The important thing was that I didn’t waste that time.
After a long while enough people got to know me so that I started to get work anyway, though I still wasn’t eighteen. I got a few jobs modeling for Sears Department Store and a few other stores in the Southern California area. It wasn’t at all like the work I had been doing in New York, but I was working again and that was the important thing to me.
At last things began to look lucky again. I’d met quite a few people at all the contests and someone told me about some auditions they were having at Desilu Studios. I went over there and they awarded me a scholarship for acting classes. I went every Tuesday and Thursday evening from seven to about midnight. I wasn’t getting paid so I didn’t have to worry about labor laws.
Then I won the best contest title I’d gotten to that time—Miss All American. Part of the prize was a trip to the Philippines where I appeared in a show with some of the other contest winners at the Araneta Coliseum. We also played in Hong Kong and in Tokyo. It was a great three weeks.
When I got back I started modeling on television for Sonny and Cher. I was on shows like “9th Street West”, “Shebang” and the “Lloyd Thaxton Show”. This was my first work on television and I loved it.
I was really getting established in modeling now, and I was meeting more and more people, so my agency suggested that I have a nose job. My nose wasn’t bad, of course, or I couldn’t have modeled at all, but it could have been better—more photogenic—so I drew my savings out of the bank and went to one of the best plastic surgeons in Southern California. He did a great job and now you can photograph my nose from any angle at all and it looks good in any picture.
After that, things really began to happen. I was in the Red Velvet one night, (that’s a club on Sunset in Hollywood), and Micky Dolenz walked in. This was way before anything had happened with the Monkees. They were just working together, they hadn’t made any films or anything.
We got to talking and I told him I wanted to be an actress and he said he wanted to be a good actor. I told him about some of the things I’d done and mentioned that I was already in the unions. (I’d had to join in order to work on television.)
I was really surprised the next day when I got called for an interview. They wanted me to be on the pilot film for the Monkees!
The pilot is the first film they make—it’s the one that they use to sell the show to a sponsor, so it has to be very good. Well, I got to be on that very first film!
I reported for work and, believe me, it was work! We had to be in the studio for makeup at 7:30 in the morning and we worked until 7:30 at night. The whole cast worked very hard, but the Monkees had it the roughest of all because they were learning how to work together for records, too. They worked even longer than the rest of us did.
Micky and I sort of hit it off from the first. I thought he was one of the funniest people I’d ever met. He was always moving around, always saying or doing something that was outasite. He never just stood anywhere talking, he always had to be doing something funny.
That first night I was pretty tired, but Micky asked me to stick around after the rest of the cast had left for the evening. I did, and watched the guys perform all by themselves. It was totally outasite!
After the guys called it a day Micky and I went to Bob’s Big Boy Drive-In for a hamburger. After that we went over to his place and listened to Beatle records.
We went together for about six months, and Micky is one of the greatest people I’ve ever known. All the Monkees are. I worked on about seven films and so I got to know all of them very well, and they are some of my best friends. Even though Micky and I aren’t going together anymore, we’re still the best of friends and I can call on him anytime I need him.
Like just a couple of weeks ago I didn’t have my car and I found myself without a ride after a modeling interview. The guys were recording at RCA so I walked over and it was a wonderful feeling knowing that I could just walk in and ask one of them to please give me a ride home. When I walked in they were in the midst of a song, and Peter sort of turned-around and started singing the song to me! It was groovy.
Through my career, the Monkees have really been behind me, encouraging me every step of the way. Whatever happens in the future I know that the Monkees, all four of them, will be my friends. That’s one of the greatest things any girl could say, isn’t it?