My guest today is the actor, producer Glenn Scarpelli who is best known for his role in the original One Day At A Time produced by the legendary Norman Lear. He made his Broadway debut at age 10 in Golda with Anne Bancroft followed by another Broadway show, Richard III with Al Pacino. He also played Audrey Hepburn’s son in the film They All Laughed. Glenn shares the valuable lessons he learned from all of the incredible talents he has worked with including how director Martin Scorsese encouraged him to go to New York film school when he became disillusioned with acting. The truth was that Glenn felt disillusioned with the fact that he had to lie about who he was to be an actor because he was gay. It was the 80s and he was a teen idol.
Glenn now lives in Sedona, Arizona where he established the Sedona Now TV Network and creates shows that spotlight all that Sedona has to offer. Recently he returned to acting with a film he produced, Sacred Journeys, which also stars his best friend Mackenzie Phillips.
3 min – Mackenzie Phillips
6 min – father was Henry Scarpelli who illustrated Archie comics for 47 years
8 min – Wanting to become an actor at age 5, started to do commercials, agent Muriel Karl, wanted to change his name to Glenn Christopher because Scarpelli was too ethnic but 8-year-old Glenn refused saying “Tell that to Frank Sinatra”
10 min – 8 years old Broadway debut with Anne Bancroft in Golda. Golda Meir….getting to know her and she was a big influence on him. “Be the person you want to spend the rest of your life with”
14 min – 12 years old on Broadway with Al Pacino in Richard III. During the audition process Al took him to a diner to explain the whole play to him and then took him back to audition for final reading and he got the part. Advice – “Never believe your own press.” Al added improvisation during some shows to keep it fresh and Glenn had to run with it. He was so available for whatever was fresh and authentic.
21 min – They All Laughed with Audrey Hepburn and John Ritter. Meeting John Ritter; Audrey – one of the greatest stars the planet has ever seen. She was everything you have ever read about her x100. She knew everyone’s names. Audrey told his mother not to worry, I’m going to take care of him, I’m going to keep an eye on him. Filming in New York
25 min – Book/music store – Audrey loved classical music and wanted to show Glenn why. She took him around the store, looking at old tapes, Bach and Brahms and she played music for him and shared stories about symphonies she went to. At wrap party she gave him a gift “To my only movie son” she bought him all the classical music that she taught him that day.
28 min – One Day At A Time; How Valerie Bertinelli helped him get the audition because a few years earlier Glenn introduced her to Al Pacino and said if there is anything, she can ever do for him, just ask!
Bonnie Franklin wanted a kid with theatre training. He was very close to Bonnie. Pat Herrington – very often when Pat would write a show he would write scenes for them together.
34 min – On One Day At A Time the actors were a part of the re-write process after table reads. At first, Glenn didn’t contribute but Bonnie took him aside and asked why he doesn’t say anything. These 65-year-old men don’t know how to write for a 14-year-old boy, you know what its like to be a 14-year-old boy. I want you to speak up and come in with ideas.
On future shows that he was on since he didn’t know any better, he came in with all these notes and ideas. After the table read he asked aren’t we going to do re-writes? Um, we are! Lesson learned that it normally doesn’t work like it did on ODAAT
38 min – Studio teacher Gladys Hirsch. When Mackenzie returned to the show. He was nervous to meet her being worried that she might think of him as taking her spot. They ended up being lifelong friends.
41 min – Jennifer Slept Here with Anne Jillian; Daytime show on NBC Fantasy with Peter Marshall and Leslie Uggams
43 min – The album! We talk about all the teen idol actors that put albums out including Willie Aames, Scott Baio, John Schneider. I admit to having the Scott Baio albums. Because of the album, he had his own float at the Thanksgiving day parade and he did American Bandstand with Dick Clark. His teen idol status got him into Archie Comics.
48 min – Left acting because he was gay and Martin Scorsese encouraged him to go to film school. Kathy Scorsese is a close friend. Amazing Stories produced by Steven Spielberg. On set Glenn shared with him that he was feeling disillusioned with acting, even though the truth was that he was becoming disillusioned with the fact that he had to lie about who he was to be an actor. He didn’t know if he was willing to do that anymore. Without all that background, Marty suggested that he go to film school and even made a call to NYU to help get him into the school.
51 min – He didn’t graduate as his partner Gary was diagnosed HIV+ and that turned his world around. He thanks show business for saving his life because one of the upsides to being a child actor is that you live a very worldly life. It’s not hidden. So even though he hadn’t come out yet, he knew he was gay so when Aids hit in the 80s he knew one of the first people to ever die of it when they were still calling it gay cancer. He paid attention to all the safe sex talk. “Education saved my life and it was because I was in show business.” Following losing Gary, 1992, he went on a spiritual walkabout to figure out what life was about. Which lead him to Sedona, Arizona. From the moment he set foot in Sedona it felt like home.
57 min – World Wisdom Days, His partner Jerry Gilden wanted to do a project together and they decided on world wisdom days. He wanted to bring together incredible minds together to talk about the wisdom to the world. Norman Lear was the keynote speaker in year 2 and together with Mackenzie moderated an Evening with Norman Lier.
59 min – Biggest lesson learned from Norman – 96 and still producing television. Book of world records as the oldest living working producer ever in show business. He just signed a 2-year development deal with Sony. Glenn asked what his secret is and he said laughter, he surrounded himself with funny people, joyful stress, always have to laugh.
60 min – Once settled in Sedona he felt that he let go of who he thought he was. It is such a healthy place to be. Reinvention. Sedona Now TV – showcase for visitors, everything to see and do in Sedona. ABC15 co-hosts a segment about Sedona and they call him Mr. Sedona.
63 min – Return to acting with Sacred Journeys 30 years later. He missed the art of acting. Audrey Hepburn – “Never seek fame, if you are an actor you are an artist, and be the artist first, only be the artist, the business side of show business is never your problem.”
Norman talking about creativity and being true to yourself, Glenn realized on stage that he was going to act again. The film takes place in Sedona and Glenn stars with Mackenzie Phillips, Steven Wallum (Nurse Jackie) and Matthew Kosto. Directed by Tracy Boyd (Descendants, Downsizing), written by Michael Colucci.
70 min – New One Day At A Time stars Rita Moreno and Justina Machado. Glenn made a cameo this season with Isabella Gomez who plays Elena. Mackenzie Phillips guest stars in 4 episodes. Showrunners Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce.
74 min – Glenn shares his Why? and talks about Sedona Vacation Villas
Golda Meir “Be the person you want to spend the rest of your life with”
Al Pacino “Never believe your own press.”
Audrey Hepburn – Never seek fame, if you are an actor you are an artist, and be the artist first, only be the artist, the business side of show business is never your problem.
I would add that today an artist has to be very aware of the business side of show business. The days of only being an artist are gone, but I loved hearing how Audrey educated him on classical music in the record store.
Norman Lear – 96 -the book of world records as the oldest living working producer ever in show business. Glenn asked what his secret is and he said laughter, he surrounded himself with funny people, he worked a lot at some times having 10 shows on the air, but he called the stress, joyful stress, you always have to laugh.