THE TURNER SISTERS
It’s one thing to have one family member achieve success
in show business, but to have an entire family do it is really
something special! Such is the story of The Turner Family.
put, Debbie Turner (class of 1974) appeared in one of the most
beloved films of all time; 1965’s The Sound Of Music in
the role of Marta Von Trapp.
Prior to this film classic, Debbie had appeared in numerous
commercials, primarily for Mattel’s Barbie. In addition,
she has appeared in episodes of many television programs including
the original Fantasy Island and The Dukes of Hazard. She also
had a small role, with Michele, in the film North Dallas Forty.
Debbie followed her sister, Pat, into the entertainment field
at a young age. Having done so many commercials prior to “The
Sound of Music,” she describes her interview for the role
of Marta as a “piece of cake.” So, at the age of
7, along with the rest of the cast, she was off to Austria for
filming. The film was directed by Hollywood legend Robert Wise.
During filming, she fell through a screen being used to soften
a background leaving a substantial hole in it, but Debbie was
unhurt. “I don’t think he ever forgave me,”
Debbie says good-naturedly of Wise.
Recently, Debbie appeared in a British TV documentary, The
Sound of Music Children. She has also appeared on the Oprah
Winfrey Show, The Today Show and several times on local programs
in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area where she and her family have
resided for many years. In addition, there was a recent “Where
Are They Now” article in People magazine about the Sound
of Music cast.
In 1998, Debbie and the rest of the cast were honored by the
Austrian government with the Mozart Medal and two years later,
by the Governor of Salzburg by being named Ambassadors of Salzburg.
Debbie says they “were treated like royalty. It was really
quite remarkable and sooo cool!”
Debbie has ventured into other areas of the arts more recently.
She currently is a floral and event planner/designer. She and
her husband, Richard, have four daughters. Visit her website
who regularly watched the classic late 50’s to early 60’s
sitcom, Leave It To Beaver, will very likely remember the character
of Linda Dennison. Linda was played by our own Pat Turner (class
Pat appeared as “Linda” in five episodes of Leave
It To Beaver, including “The Party Invitation,”
“Beaver and Poncho,” “Ward’s Problem,”
“Her Idol” and “Beaver’s Poster.”
She also played the part of “Alice” in the “Pet
Fair” episode. Most of these episodes are always ranked
among the top favorites whenever a survey is taken.
In addition to Leave It To Beaver, Pat appeared in Cecil B.
DeMille’s The Ten Commandments when only six, and a number
of commercials into her teen years. Regarding The Ten Commandments,
Pat tells us that she and all of the other kids in the film
had to stand on tables to have their makeup applied (making
it easier for the makeup tech's to do their jobs.)
“I also remember the nasty disposition of the camels
who liked to make noise and spit at people who came too close,
and the woman who did the sensual dance (although at age 6,
I didn't view it as ‘sensual’.) I just thought it
was really cool, probably because she was so nice to us and
very clearly remember the sandals she wore. That may have been
the beginning of my passion for shoes! Most everyone on the
set was nice, although Mr. DeMille was a little scary to a 6
year old. Mostly, he would shout orders from way up high somewhere.”
As for her personal life, Pat married Kurt Betzler (class of
1966.) They have a son, Brett (class of 1987,) and two daughters,
Nicole (class of 1990,) and Kari who attended high school in
Irvine and is an aspiring actress, too. Now divorced, Pat keeps
busy working toward her Bachelors Degree in English to enhance
her love of writing. She has had some poetry published and was
named in the World of Poetry’s Who’s Who of Poetry.
Pat also works as an executive assistant to the CFO of a homebuilding
firm in Newport Beach, CA.
Michele’s (class of 1970) credits are not as familiar
as her sisters’, she has enjoyed some success and kept
very busy as an “Entertaining Alumni.” Michele,
who was a Song Girl and Homecoming and Prom Princess in 1970,
appeared in numerous TV commercials from a very young age and
into her teens. She was also selected as one of the Los Angeles
Rams cheerleaders. On TV, she has appeared in numerous well-known
programs including Charlie’s Angels, Chips, Starsky and
Hutch, Love Boat and Fantasy Island. While in her twenties,
she had small roles in the films North Dallas Forty and Have
Plenty. More recently she costarred with Brazilian actress Sonia
Braga in Money Plays. Her most recent screen appearance was
with Gary Oldman, Skeet Ulrich and Ed O’Neill in Nobody’s
Baby in which she played O’Neill’s wife. About that
part Michele says, “I play Ed’s wife, Paula Pinkney,
who drives a pink Pontiac, with pink lips, pink top, snakeskin
pants, leopard pumps … very Peg Bundyish. It was so much
fun.” Michele also appeared in the late 70’s as
a contestant on Match Game, winning $1,000.00!
Today, when she’s not teaching skiing at a popular ski
resort in Utah, as she’s done for over 25 years, Michele
continues to acting in TV commercials (over 500 to date!) as
well as some stage work, including a stage production of The
Odd Couple. She has done countless voiceover's, industrial films,
print-ad modeling and nearly two dozen infomercial's. She is
in the process of obtaining her personal trainers license. “I
love working out with weights, it keeps one very healthy,”
adds Michele. She and her husband, Jim Wilson, are the proud
parents of sons Wyatt, who is 12, and Hunter, who is 10. Michele
has lived in the mountains near Salt Lake City since her college
days, but returns to Southern California quite frequently. Michele
says, “I get to enjoy the blue skies and fresh air. It’s
a very healthy lifestyle.”