Harris: We welcome to the guest line Marilu Henner, one of the all time great TV babes, who you know as Elaine Nardo on Taxi, and for many years on Evening Shade, and now one of the co-stars of The Titanic, a CBS-TV miniseries that’s airing on Sunday and Tuesday. Good morning, Marilu.
Henner: Well, good morning!
Harris: Welcome to the show. I was looking over some of the publicity for this and I was thinking to myself, this is a movie I could never be in, because I get seasick.
Henner: Oh, well, the way they shoot these things, you’re never really on water for very long. I mean, it’s funny because my husband directed it, his name is Robert Lieberman, and he gets very seasick. We never go on any kind of boat whatsoever because of his seasickness.
Harris: So then, how can you take this particular job? It would seem like you’d go for the landlubber thing. Sounds like the mini-series should be called Dramamine, or something like that.
Henner: He took plenty of that, believe me. But do you know what the best remedy is for seasickness? I know you’re going to laugh, but this really, really works. Do you know what an umeboshi plum is?
Harris: No, I have no idea.
Henner: An umeboshi plum is a little Japanese salt plum. You get it at a health food store. The best thing for motion sickness is to take one of these plums — which is great for anything, for balancing, for hangovers, for any time you’re feeling out of sorts, you take one of these plums and eat it — but for seasickness, you actually tape it to your belly button.
Henner: I’m not kidding you! This really, really works.
Harris: And the idea being, if they see you with the plum taped to your belly button, they don’t let you on the boat, and that way you can’t get seasick?
Henner: No, it really works. If you’re going to have motion sickness on an airplane or anything, just tape that old plum to your belly button.
Harris: What is it, that you’re so concerned that you’ve got fruit stuck to your stomach that you just don’t think about being seasick?
Henner: By the way, when you’re going to get on a plane, that looks really good on the x-ray machine, walking through there with a Japanese plum.
Henner: No, it’s really true.
Harris: What is it called? An uma… what?
Henner: An umeboshi plum. U-M-E-B-O-S-H-I.
Harris: I loved her in Pulp Fiction.
Harris: So, you’re in the story of the Titanic, and you’re on board there and you didn’t actually shoot it at sea?
Henner: No, we did. We actually shot a lot of it on a boat. But, you know, these boats are so balanced now. The camera moves more than the boat.
Harris: That’s what they said about the Titanic, Marilu. Didn’t they bill it as the unsinkable ship?
Henner: The unsinkable ship. I play the unsinkable Molly Brown, which is where she got her name from, because she survived. But they built the ship, and they did everything they could possibly do right with the ship, and then of course, everything went wrong. I mean, they didn’t do everything right, because they didn’t have enough life boats for people. They only had the standard number, which at that point was only 1200. But there were 2200 people on board and they actually only got 705 people on the boats. So, 1500 people died.
Harris: Didn’t they have lookouts in those days? Didn’t they have guys who climbed up the mast and would look out for icebergs?
Henner: It’s unbelievable. Not only did they have lookouts, but there was only one pair of binoculars and someone took them below.
Harris: Oh, good!
Henner: Everything that could have gone wrong on this ship went wrong.
Harris: Take the binoculars down to the galley where they’ll be the most useful.
Henner: Yes. So, you see all of that in the movie, and it’s like an old fashioned disaster movie.
Harris: Now Marilu, I understand you brought a clip this morning. Do we have to set this up? Do we know what this clip is that we’re going to take a look at?
Henner: No, I have no idea.
Harris: All right, let’s take a look. This is Marilu Henner and the cast of Titanic. Roll it.
[what follows is a clip from Taxi with Elaine Nardo and Jim Ignatowski]:
“What am I going to tell him? What am I going to do? This man wants a decision right this minute, and he’s given me one minute to think about it. What am I going to tell him?”
“Tell him… you wet your bed.”
“Jim, I’m not trying to get out of the Army. I’m trying to decide whether or not to take a desk job!”
“Tell him… you wet your desk.”
Henner: [surprised laughter]
Harris: [laughs] I’m sorry. I just had to throw that in. Taxi is one of my all time favorites.
Henner: Oh, it’s the best, isn’t it? You know, one of the biggest thrills I have is when famous people recognize me from Taxi. When I was working with George C. Scott on The Titanic, he knew every episode! He would quote lines from it, and I was so flattered because I couldn’t believe it was such a classic to him.
Harris: Well, it ran for so long, and now it’s running again on Nick At Nite. It’s one of those shows where, when you turn it on, you go, “Ooh! I know this one!”, and you HAVE to watch it to the end.
Henner: You know, I think it really holds up, too. Except for maybe some of my wardrobe.
Harris: Oh, no, no, no… the wardrobe was an absolute highlight for me!
Henner: [laughs] Thanks. Actually that wardrobe is back again, so it doesn’t look as dated. But there is something so classic about the show. It was not only of its time, but it really holds up.
Harris: Well, you guys were great actors, great chemistry, and the writing on that show was terrific.
Henner: Oh, we adored each other and we all still do. I talk to them all the time.
Harris: Do you stay in touch with those guys?
Henner: Oh gosh, all the time. I talk to at least one of them a week. I’m always in contact with them.
Harris: I think people would probably be surprised to find out that Christopher Lloyd, who was Reverend Jim, he’s actually the most normal of you guys, isn’t he?
Henner: Well I don’t know if any of us were normal.
Harris: I mean, compared to Tony Danza.
Henner: Tony would come in and pick up a fire extinguisher and let that off and slide across the floor, and then jump on top of me for awhile, and clear the craft service table, and somebody would say, “Is Tony in yet?”, because he was just a wild man.
Harris: It was a terrific show, and now I wish you the best of luck with Titanic.
Henner: Thank you so much.
Harris: Let me get the plug in here. By the way, I love that you got your husband, who is directing the movie, to hire you. Really good move!
Henner: Yeah, I had to sleep with him.
Henner: I keep telling everybody I had to bear him two sons, two little boys.
Harris: It’s on Sunday and Tuesday on CBS-TV. Marilu, thanks for being on with us this morning.
Henner: Thank you.
Copyright 1996, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Rhyan Jones.