#84. A Conversation with Hope Juber

Some of you may recognize the title of this article as the name of an episode from the seventh season of "Roseanne", in which the cast pays tribute to the works of writer/producer Sherwood Schwartz. It is where I first learned of him. He created television shows like "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch", wrote for radio series "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet", and television shows like "The Red Skelton Show" and "Dusty's Trail". Schwartz started his career on accident, falling into his first gig by writing jokes for Bob Hope in 1938, and was recently honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

What follows is a conversation with Sherwood's daughter, Hope Juber, about growing up in Hollywood on legendary sets with big personalities, and the professional interactions she would eventually have with her father. Hope grew up in a time, and amongst people, that define our idea of classic Tinseltown... and here are a few of her stories.

JA: Let's start with a few of your favorite onscreen moments that your father was responsible for- are there any scenes in his body of work you are most fond of?

HJ: I always love the dream sequences on Gilligan's Island, and the performance segments, like The Honey Bees or The Mosquitoes- and I loved the whole Gilligan "Hamlet" episode. As for The Brady Bunch I guess the 'Davy Jones' episode, or the 'Time to Change' musical episodes were my favorites... except for, of course, the ones I was in!

JA: What was your experience growing up around big Hollywood productions like? Did you ever go visit the sets or interact with the people your father was working with when you were young?

HJ: When I was in elementary school, Dad was filming Gilligan's Island very close to the school I attended. After school I would walk down the hill to the set with my best friend, Carrie. Her Dad was producing Get Smart on the same lot, so we would alternate between the two sets.

With The Brady Bunch I was a bit older, pretty much the same age as Maureen, and the set was on a different lot. I went often, though, and spent lots of time with all the "kids".

JA: Who is your favorite character your father wrote for, and why?

HJ: Mary Anne. Probably because I had a great, special relationship with Dawn Wells... still do. She was very caring to me as a little girl and I always loved her... and for those outfits she wore.

JA: Do you have a fondest memory of being onset when you appeared in The Brady Bunch?

HJ: The frog episode was hilarious to film. There were a couple of takes when the other Brady kids were laughing so hard watching that they had to leave. I also loved filming the 'Slumber Party' episode, because I was friends with Barbara Chase (Florence's daughter) and Maureen, and it almost felt like we were getting to have a real party while we filmed. I thought my hair looked best in the one with Bobby in the back set, though... and at that age, that meant a lot.

JA: What were your thoughts on the tribute episode that Roseanne produced- which not only featured original cast members from Gilligan's Island, but your father as well.

HJ: I went to the taping of that episode with my family. It was most interesting to see my Dad have to be a performer. I had never seen him in front of the cameras before, except of course for interviews. I thought he did well, and the show was pretty funny. It just showed, once again, how ingrained into pop culture his shows have become.

JA: Speaking of Gilligan's Island, tell me about your experience working with him to bring the musical play to life.

HJ: The musical evolved over quite a long period of time. Dad was a fan of my comedy rock 'n roll group, The Housewives, so when he decided that he wanted to do a musical version of Gilligan, he asked me and my husband, guitarist Laurence Juber, who wrote the songs for The Housewives, to write the score.

A musical is very different from any other format of show. We all had to find the balance between book and score, which can be tricky. Some moments in the musical that began as scenes ended up becoming songs that drove the plot forward. Dad was used to writing scenes, and it took a while to adjust to integrating the two elements. It was a very exciting process, and I think we all learned a lot seeing it produced.

We had a number of workshop-type productions before we finalized the show. Most people think that because I wrote the score with Laurence, and he is a musician, that I wrote the lyrics and he wrote the music, but it wasn't like that. Sometimes I wrote the melody and he wrote the words, or we collaborated on both equally. There were a few songs in the show that I sang straight through the first time and we never changed a word or note, and others that took months. It happened pretty much any way it could happen.

JA: What do you know about the newly announced film from Warner Bros.? Will your family have any involvement, and do you know if any of the rumors about Michael Cera playing Gilligan are true?

HJ: This has been a long time coming. I know we all have wanted to see a motion picture version of Gilligan, and I am really happy that it looks like it is finally happening. I, myself, am not involved, but Lloyd and Dad have input. Michael Cera is one of the names that has been discussed, though I don't think anything has been set for the casting yet.

JA: What have been your thoughts on the motion picture remakes of shows your father worked on? Also, do you know his thoughts on the films produced so far?

HJ: I really liked the movie take on The Brady Bunch. I thought the tone and twist of the premise was fresh and funny. I especially liked the third one, The Brady Bunch In The White House. Mostly because I wrote it.

JA: Share with us one of your fondest memories spent with your father that comes to mind at this moment.

HJ: I remember coming home from school when I was a little girl, and seeing a few older men sitting on a couch in our front room. One of them I recognized as "Buddy" from The Dick Van Dyke Show, Maury Amsterdam. I loved that show, and I wanted his autograph. I went to my Dad and asked him if I could get "Buddy's" autograph. Her took me aside and told me that I could, but I had to ask the other men for their autograph first. I complained that I didn't want their autographs, I didn't even know who they were! I just wanted Buddy's. He told me that it was the only way.

So, I went with him to the couch and asked each of these guys for their signatures in my little purple autograph book... then I finally got to Maury Amsterdam. I was thrilled with his autograph! Years later I came across the little purple autograph book and opened it up. There were signatures from Jack Benny and Henny Youngman, right before the treasured one from Maury Amsterdam.

JA: If you had to sum up your life with just one word, which would you choose?

HJ: Fortunate.