Many people come to California with hopes and dreams of becoming a star. Some from as far away as Florida, Kansas, or New York … all over. But some only have to walk out their back door. This was the case with actress Beverly Randolph.
Born on August 10, 1964, in California, Beverly came from a family who was already established in the business of filmmaking. Beverly began her acting career at a very early age. She and twin sister Kim, shared roles in 1965′s SHENANDOAH and a very special flavor. Later, she graduated from University High School in Los Angeles, California in 1982. With television commericals for Knott’s Berry Farm, Kodak, K-Earth 101 FM Radio, and Cap’n Crunch, it wouldn’t be until 1983 that Beverly landed a role on the television show, QUINCY, starring Jack Klugman.
However it would be her next audition that would bring her to the big screen in the 1985 Cult Classic horror film, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, that made Beverly a star, and a well-known name in the horror film industry. Beverly was also offered another role in the film, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, directed by Gary Goddard, however she turned it down to persue other interests outside of the film industry. In 1988, Beverly married the Assistant Art Director from the film, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Soon after she and husband Clayton Hartley would move thier family to Wisconsin in 1989. While living there she persued flying lessons and is now a Certified Licensed Pilot, (VFR – Visual Flight Rule Certified) flying single-engine planes. She received her license in 1991. Although Beverly has taken a very long break from her acting career to focus on family life, it has not detoured her from attending horror film conventions, and sitting on the panel with other cast members from the now cult classic film, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. She has attended conventions all over the world, meeting and greeting fans, signing autographs, answering questions.
She has also worked on several documentaries such as… RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD: THE DEAD HAVE RISEN (2007)… THEY WON’T STAY DEAD: A LOOK AT RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (2011)… RESURRECTED SETTINGS: THE FILMING LOCATION TODAY (2011) … and MORE BRAINS!: A RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD DOCUMENTARY (2011). In 2010, Beverly did one more film called, UNDERGROUND ENTERTAINMENT: THE MOVIE. Today Beverly still works the convention circuit, and remains very close friends with her LIVING DEAD co-stars, Jewel Shepard, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews, and her closest friend, Linnea Quigley. Even though she has not performed in front of the camera for quite some time, Beverly has said she would like to return to acting now that she feels she has a better understanding of what to expect from the film industry. Her loyal fans are waiting to see Beverly on screen again, but in the meantime she will always be our favorite survivor from that now cult classic film of the 1980′s…RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. I hope you will enjoy my exclusive one-on-one interview with actress, BEVERLY RANDOLPH!
Your family is well known in the Hollywood community. Your mother is a production designer, and your stepfather a camerman. Was it always your goal to work in the film industry as well?
Yes, I guess so. My twin sister and I started early when they asked my mother if we could be in SHENANDOAH, the movie with Jimmy Stewart. We were babies at the time. We also did a bunch of commercials and things. It didn’t seem to be such a big bridge to cross as it might be for some who’s family’s are not in the business.
Your mother worked on many big Hollywood films including, THE GOONIES. Tell us about your trip to the set?
THE GOONIES set was really something to see. They were filming on the ship one day, on a sound stage at Warner Bros., in Burbank. I was sitting on the side of the ship that they were not filming on, watching. Sitting across from me was Michael Jackson, and on his lap was actor Emmanuel Lewis. That was an interesting day. My mother would laugh and say that the construction crew would go down the water slide at lunch time. She still has coins from the set. I still don’t know if SHE took that plunge in the water…ha ha !
When your stepfather worked on the TV show, SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, you once said you had a crush on actor Lee Majors from the show. Who else caught your eye back then?
Oh gosh…The guys from the, BIG VALLEY, and, The PONDEROSA, TV shows. Also actor George Hamilton…Story: My grandparents use to take us to a restaurant called,”The Luau”, on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. It was a wonderful place with water running through it, and magical drinks with dry ice, an incredibly tasteful Tiki atmosphere. The waiters in their short jackets and bow ties, my sister and I loved it. One day we were walking down the street to go to that restaurant and this gorgeous man was walking toward us. I asked my grandmother if that was a prince and she said “no dear, that is George Hamilton”. From then on I was certain that one day I would marry him, prince or not. I’ve still yet to meet him!
After doing several films and commercials when you were younger, you landed a role on the TV show QUINCEY, with actor Jack Klugman. Sadly Jack passed away in Decemeber, 2012. What fond memories can you share with us about working with him?
I remember him to be very kind. I was walking down the studio to the stage one early morning, and this limousine pulls up next to me. The window rolls down, and it’s Jack Klugman. He says, “hello dear, are you on my show today”? I told him that I was, he offered to drive me the rest of the way. I declined the ride, but he was very kind, and always said nice things, and smiled.
What was it like in Hollywood for a young actor in the 1980′s?
I guess it was a colorful time! A lot of wild big hair and brat pack types. Cocaine and casting couches. I was able to avoid those too though…thank heavens. It was a good time. As you have me reflecting back, I realize that it was a good time indeed. Lots of shoulder pads and dance clubs! Horror was not taken as seriously as it is now, but it seemed that for the young actors at that time, horror movies and soap opera’s, were big goals! If you got one of those, Oh MY!
Your big screen break came in 1985 with the film, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Tell us some of the challenges you had working on this film?
Well, it was cold and we had a lot of night shoots. We were forever dirty and wet. Most of the people working on RETURN were incredibly nice people. Just a few made it rough…Dan O’ Bannon was a bit of a tyrant. Some had no problem with him, others did. I don’t like talking about him now that he has passed away, but he admitted that he was a bit difficult, which was nice to hear. It made me feel much better, and removed the sour memories for me.
In RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, the late Mark Venturini played the character named SUICIDE, the tough punk gang leader. What was it like working with him?
I describe Mark as a big teddy bear! Working with him was great. He was a very kind fellow and nothing like his character. We often say that our,” cast personalities”, are our,”true personalities”. That Stanzi Stokes cast us perfectly. Mark is the exception, perfect casting, opposite personality.
It is customary when I do my interviews to select a question summited by one of my readers. Roy Ramirez of Grand Forks, North Dakota,has two questions for you. First: In the film RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, were there any changes in the original script reguarding the scene with you and Ernie, where you’re both trapped in the attic while Freddy was trying to get in? We would all like to know if your character survived? Second: Is it true that the costume you wore in the film was the same clothing actor Miguel A. Nunez Jr., who played SPIDER in the film, wore to his audition for, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD?
Of course I survived! (haha). I hope that I eventually stopped sobbing and killed that bad boy. Yes, there was a change in the script. Don Calfa asked the director if he could do a mercy killing on me if my boyfriend Tommy came through the hatch. So this is why he holds the gun to my head. It was a scene from the movie STAGECOACH, that inspired Don. Everyone loved it, so that is what we did.
That fabulous costume I had was indeed inspired by Miguel. I don’t know if he ever wore it to the many interviews we had, but I do remember he wore it one day. The costumer kept putting me in all these little skirts and shirts, I never really liked any of them. I think it was Dan who finally asked what I wanted to wear and I pointed to Miguel! “I want to wear that”! I think they looked at each other, and there were conferences. I think I had to explain why and what my thinking was. When they finally agreed, Miguel was kind enough to go to Beverly Hills and pick up all of my outfits for the film. So sweet of him. They had shoppers and he didn’t even have to do that, but he did.
In 1991 you became a licensed pilot. What motivated you to pursue this?
Actually I didn’t plan on pursuing it. I use to always watch planes fly over and ask my husband where he thought they were going, and I guess I talked a lot about flying. So, on my birthday my husband drove me out to the airport and said, “Happy Birthday, you are going flying today, and take a lesson.” I started crying and asked him how he could do this to me! I was terrified and wasn’t going to go in. He said, “Okay, that’s fine, I’ll go tell them.” Looking at all the planes sitting there I changed my mind, took the first lesson, and it was everything I imagined it to be, and more. I had no idea you could turn on airport lights and runways from your plane! That you could accidentally fly into government airspace, (oops), and have fighter jets escort you to safety with, “have a nice day miss”! Or fly over a mountain top, and find out that there is a beautiful lake on top, and a convent! Oh the things you can see from the air !
I understand you enjoy being part of the Horror Film Convention circuit, along with your fellow cast members from the film, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Considering this was a film from the mid 1980′s, do you feel this generation of horror film enthusiasts have embraced it as much as the original viewers when the film was on the big screen?
I think the newer generations have embraced it even more! I don’t know if it’s because of all of the zombie shows and films that have been made over the past ten years, but it feels as if RETURN is even more popular than it was back in the 80’s. We have multiple generations meet us at the conventions. It’s a funny thing these conventions, they are extremely addictive. It’s like coming home and everyone is happy to see you. It’s very flattering, and such an honor. I think we are all a bit let down when it’s over, and exhausted.
You are married to Clayton Hartley, who was the Assistant Art Director on, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Have you ever considered working with your husband on a film?
Oh yes, in a heartbeat. He is an easy man to work with
Is there ever a chance we’ll see Beverly Randolph on the big screen again?
I keep saying now that my son is grown and doesn’t need me, I am going to go back and get started again. I always seem to be just a bit too busy to go do it…perhaps I am nervous about it. I hear it is difficult to start again…I am not fond of rejection.
Are you able to share with us any of the upcoming projests you may have in the near future?
I have been working on getting financing for a, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD: PART 2 if you will, with the original cast and crew. It’s been very difficult! So, I hope that it is, “upcoming and in the near future.” And, we are still distributing our documentary, MORE BRAINS. A,” Must Have”, if you are a diehard RETURN fan.
Since this interview Beverly has given me a little update. She recently auditioned for, and has landed a part in the upcoming film, PARK, along with actors Felissa Rose, Dee Wallace, and Sean Whalen, just to mention a few. Beverly says,” the role kind of came out of left field, thanks to Felissa”! The director is Harrison Smith, and filming starts in June of 2013. Congrat’s Beverly!!! Looking forward to seeing you on the big screen once again! I want to thank actress Beverly Randolph, for taking time out of her busy schedule to do this interview with me. I wish her all the best in the future. I hope all of you enjoyed taking a little peek into the life of Beverly as much as I did. Until next time … see you at the movies.