Karen Lynn Gorney first earned attention with her role of Tara Martin on the popular daytime series “All My Children.” But it was her role as Stephanie Mangano in “Saturday Night Fever” that made her a star. As the object of John Travolta’s affection (both on the dance floor and off), she was able to pull of the rare feat of making a tough girl also appear very vulnerable. Defying conventional thinking, she took more then a decade off, concentrating on theatre and music while also teaching. She returned to the limelight in the early 1990s and has appeared in numerous film and television projects, even reprising her role of Stephanie in the “Fever” video game. While preparing for her next project Ms. Gorney took some time to speak with Movie Mikes about her career:
Mike Smith: Both of your parents were in show business. Did watching their experiences steer you towards a career in acting?
Karen Lynn Gorney: I got into acting because of my shyness. I wanted to be a songwriter like my Dad. But I was too shy to really sing my songs! So Ma said I should study acting.So eventually I sang and played guitar- I’ve recorded 3 CD’s…two of my original songs. one of song’s my dad wrote. (NOTE: Ms. Gorney’s father, Jay, was a popular composer and wrote the music for the classic depression-era song “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime.”)
MS: How did you come to get the role of Tara Martin on “All My Children?”
KLG: Many many auditions, like everything else. Just showing up time and time again.
MS: Do you still hear from fans of the show?
KLG: Oh yes. All the time.
MS: You’ve reprised the role twice. Any chance of Tara making another return to Pine Valley?
KLG: If they asked me I would do it. (NOTE: Since our conversation ABC has announced that this will be the last season for “All My Children.” Hopefully that fact will guarantee an invite back).
MS: You have a BFA from Carnegie Mellon and MFA from Brandeis University in Acting and Speech. With that kind of training how hard was it to nail Stephanie Mongano’s accent in “Saturday Night Fever?”
KLG: I have a good ear, being from a musical family. It came really easily. Dialects are fun for me.
MS: In the famous poster for “Saturday Night Fever” you are featured in a red dress. However, in the final dance competition you are wearing a white dress. Were there other dance scenes shot or was the dress altered for the poster?
KLG: We shot me in every color dress under the sun. They kept dyeing them until they settled on what you see. Red sells. I think that’s why it was used for the poster.
MS: One of the most touching scenes in “Fever” is when Tony and Stephanie are sitting by the bridge talking. During the scene, as Tony’s eyes begin to tear Stephanie kisses him on the cheek. Years later it was revealed that Travolta had just returned to the set after the death of his girlfriend, Diana Hyland. Was it tough to get “back to work?” And what moved you to give Tony the unscripted kiss?
KLG: We hadn’t stopped work for that long and John came right back into it. The character kissed him not me. It seemed the right thing to do – he looked so pitiful.
MS: Was there any talk of Stephanie returning in “Staying Alive?”
KLG: Yes, but the only character from the original “Fever” that appeared in “Staying Alive” was Tony’s mother. Stallone wrote us all out.
MS: Your father, Jay, was a successful songwriter and you yourself have written and produced several albums. Any plans to record again?
KLG: Not right now. The three Cd’s I’ve done, the “Trilogy,” seems enough for now. If I start getting HAUNTED again by words and music in my head, I’ll have to do more- but for now, I’m good. I do have a suitcase full of stuff I haven’t put together and recorded!
MS: What are you currently working on?
KLG: A new play. Starting to take meetings on it for Off Broadway.
For fans interested in ordering a CD or original artwork, or just wanting to keep tabs on her career, please visit Ms. Gorney’s web site: www.karenlynngorney.com
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