My mouth is my weapon. I can destroy somebody with a flick of my tongue. I’ve got a sharp wit and a sharp way of talking. I’m not a hitter, but when I’m mad, I’m mad. I scream it out, then I’m done.
Nobody could believe it when I once used the men’s toilet at a petrol station. I was on tour. Our bus had stopped for us to get snacks and use the loo, but there was a huge line for the ladies’ and my impatience is really bad, so I refused to wait. I walked right past everybody, into the men’s, used a stall and came out.
Sex is one of the nicest, most natural things you can do. I’m 71 now, so it’s not as important as it used to be, but it’s a God-given gift. As my character says in Annie Get Your Gun, it’s “doin’ what comes naturally!”
I’ll never be too old to wear a jumpsuit. It’s always about following your instincts. As soon as you look stupid out there you don’t do it any more. End of story. That’s when I’ll hang it up and say: “Bye bye, thank you. It’s been a nice ride.”
When I was 15 and I’d been in the business professionally for a couple of years, my father said to me that it didn’t matter if I was playing for 10 people or 10,000, I had to remember that each person took money out of their pocket to see me. So if I didn’t give my best, I had no business being on stage. I’ve kept that lesson with me my entire career.
Being in Happy Days left me with good, lasting friendships. I email Henry [Winkler] and Ron [Howard] quite a bit, and it was a wonderful experience to be a new actress in such a family of fine actors.
Flying from Miami to London once, we came into a big storm. They made seven attempts to land – touching down and going back up again – then we had to go to Amsterdam. That was the last time I flew. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but I really did feel my number was up.
I didn’t think of myself as a pioneer. I was just being who I was, sticking stubbornly to my character, not caring that nobody had done it before me. I didn’t realise I was breaking down doors everywhere I went. Looking back, I see what I did do, and I’m very proud of it.
God made grandchildren perfect! I’ve been a great mum, but with grandchild you’re not totally responsible, so you only see the good. You’re more tolerant. You don’t have to shout and scream, teach them this and that. You can just enjoy them.
I didn’t see my mother when she was dying. She had stomach cancer, and I went to see her six or seven times during the process, flying over, flying back – then she got close to it, and I just couldn’t see her that way. That’s my biggest regret.
Having an Ego Room has kept me normal after 57 years in this business. It’s on the third floor of my house and it’s filled with awards, posters, stage clothes, and the red book from This Is Your Life. When I’m in the mood, I go in and enjoy it. Then I come out and shut the door. That’s how I exist in this business.