Interview with Stunt Woman Marneen Fields

Marneen Lynne Fields

ED- The Eerie Digest has always been lucky enough to interview some well-known stars for all our readers to know about. We would like to introduce you to someone with unique abilities. Marneen Fields had started in this industry as a stunt woman. First discovered in 1976 by famed stunt man Paul Stader, she began training in his school to become a Hollywood Stunt woman. Marneen, you were first cast as a mischievous schoolgirl in ‘The Spell’. How exciting was this for you at the time?

MF-This was the luckiest day of my life. A day where some kind of supernatural powers were working perfectly on my behalf. I remember a woman calling me and reading me the scene over the phone as I took notes. I showed up at the audition location which took place in a gymnasium because my character had to climb a rope to the top without her legs. I was also to double the girl spinning on the rope, and do a back high fall while dangling from the top of the rope. The lady on the phone told me that I already had that stunt part. When I walked into the gymnasium there were about 300 girls there, and I was at the end of the line. I watched as girls tried to climb the rope. Eddie Foy III the casting director yelled out, “Is there any girl here who can do the rope climb?” Then someone said, “Paul Stader sent over Marneen Fields.” I couldn’t believe they were asking for me in front of all these other girls. I saw Eddie Foy III a few years back and he said, “He remembered me walking towards him, coming from the end of the line.” After I did the rope climb, he grabbed me and a few other girls and took us in to read for the parts. I couldn’t believe it, I landed the acting part too! My first line was, “Who’d want to take out that tub-O.” Paul Stader was a very powerful man who really believed in me as a young college gymnast turned Hollywood stunt girl.

ED- Please tell our readers about this first production.

MF- The most exciting part about working on “The Spell” starring Lee Grant and a very young Helen Hunt was that I was “Taft Hartley” into the Screen Actor’s Guild and was able to get my SAG card. That’s when you get your SAG card because you’re able to do something others can’t and that’s why you’re hired. I had studied some theater in college at Utah State so I applied that to my role in each scene. As one of the mischievous teenagers provoking the psychic girl who casts spells, my character screamed with all the other girls when the girl falls from the rope and hits the floor, but in reality that was really me screaming for myself, as I was the one who also did the fall from rope in another scene in a different leotard. The only bummer was when “The Spell” aired, my dialogue was in, you heard me speak, but the director edited my scene together as an off camera over another girl’s reaction shot. Stunt people have had a real hard time getting people to believe that they are good actors.

ED- Since that time you have appeared in over one hundred films and television shows performing stunts. Some of these were ‘The New Adventures of Wonder Woman’, ‘Fantasy Island’, ‘Man From Atlantis’, ‘The Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drew Mysteries’, ‘The Rockford Files’, and ‘Battlestar Galactica’. These were some of your earlier achievements. Can you give us an idea of what it takes to perform as you do?

MF- From 1976-1978 I considered myself only a Class One Advanced All-Around Gymnast turned Hollywood stunt girl, but by the end of 1978 and upon meeting actor, director, Victor French, my mentor, I always considered myself a serious and talented actress who was doing her own stunts. However, I was hired through the stunt area, and both are SAG contracted so stunts were always listed, although most of my work was Marneen in the nondescript character role of, for example, rape victim doubling herself. To perform as I did in those days was the skill and training of a professional athlete somewhat like what Rocky went through. I worked out hours daily on my own, gymnastics, jogging, bicycling, swimming, diving, you name it, and I trained at the stunt school on the weekends doing high falls, fight scenes, boxing, and fencing. I took precision driving courses, ADP scuba diver courses, ski lessons, karate lessons, everything. I could perform on a dime back then, and that’s why I was so successful.

ED- You are considered the top stuntwoman in Hollywood and have gone on to appear in ‘Terror Out of the Sky’, ‘The Ordeal of Patty Hearst’, ‘Supertrain’, ‘Beyond the Poseidon Adventure’, ‘The Howling’, ‘The Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge’, and ‘The Concorde-Airport ’79’. How has your training minimized your chance of an accident, and have you sustained many injuries in your career?

MF- Training, preparation, warm up, rehearsal walk through, safety awareness, and relaxation and visualization exercises will always minimize your chance of an accident. I was never injured badly while performing a difficult stunt for a film or television show. I did however have many close calls, lots of bumps, bruises, cuts, sprains, burns, etc. Little things always go awry, you’re performing in small spaces at very high speeds with explosives, fire, and environmental obstacles or hazards while hitting your marks for camera. It’s hard to predict until after the fact what could have been prevented because you just can’t know all the possible variables involved. For example, in “The Man with Bogart’s Face” I was in the passenger side of an open jeep as we smashed it through the side of a wooden shack at high speed. I was doubling Michelle Phillips of the Mammas and the Pappas. I was looking backwards shooting a gun as my side of the jeep hit the beam to cause the shack to collapse, and special effects men set off an explosion at the same time. Kind of like when they blow the casinos up on the Las Vegas Strip. The shack shattered into a million splinters and they flew into the back side of my body and rump hitting me like little nails. “Owe!” One huge splinter just missed my back and ruptured the seat I was sitting in! If I’d been sitting forward it would have riveted me right through the chest. I remember having to stand with my pants pulled down for a half hour while the nurse plucked splinters out of my hip, rump, and thigh. Believe me when I tell you, I’ve had a guardian angel sitting on my shoulder. Personally, I was too sensitive by nature for stunt work, that’s why after my car accident, I’ve focused on the acting and music, they are more my true calling.

ED- Television has also been your venue with such shows as ‘The Fall Guy’, ‘Murder She Wrote’, ‘The A-Team’, ‘Police Story’, ‘Matlock’, ‘Dynasty’, and others. Tell us about some of your experiences with these.

MF- As an actress, I think of myself as stunt actress, turned bit part television actress, turned character actress, turned co-starring actress, turned lead actress and lead singer. I’ve worked mostly on television series like listed above. I haven’t traveled all over the world or the United States, most of my Hollywood career happened in California at all the big studios on the sound stages or the back lots. It was very thrilling for me as a young stunt girl to double some of the most beautiful women in the world like Priscilla Presley in “The Fall Guy,” Kim Cantrall in “The Hardy Boys,” Jane Seymour in “Battlestar Galactica,” Linda Hamilton in “Murder She Wrote,” Melanie Griffith in “She’s in the Army Now,” Pamela Sue Anderson in “Nancy Drew,” Shirley Jones in “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure,” and Michelle Phillips who I mentioned, and the list goes on. I’ve been a very lucky girl with a blessed, unusual, and surreal life.

ED- In the movie, ‘The Gauntlet’, you were the girl punched off a moving train by Clint Eastwood. In 1979 your career goals changed when you met the late actor/Director Victor French of ‘Highway to Heaven’. Tell us about this new life experience for you as your goals switched to acting.

MF- From the second I met, the late, actor, director, Victor French it was phenomenal. Victor and I were true soul mates in every sense of the word. Time stood still when we were together. He was the greatest actor’s director I’ve ever met. His inspiration for the craft was highly contagious. He was very theatrical, intelligent, charismatic, and fun. He held the craft of acting in the highest regard. To me he was Chechov, and my becoming the greatest actress in the world was all that mattered. It was a tragic loss when he died so young. I’ve missed him dearly through the years. I’ll always been grateful to him for teaching me the craft of acting. Oh, and he was my boyfriend too for part of that time. Victor has been quoted saying, “Marneen Fields is the best acting student he ever had.”

ED- In the late 1980’s fate dealt you another hand as you experienced a near fatal car accident. Please tell us about this period in life and how you became involved with songwriting.

MF-Driving home one day I was hit on my driver door by an uninsured motorist in the rain who was traveling at high speed while running a red light. It was a near fatal car accident the whole left side of the car was missing and I somehow squeezed myself into the gear shift area. I was unconscious and delirious for days, and in neck and pelvic traction for one year. It took me one year to turn my head to the left again, or to lift my arms to hang laundry. The accident then resulted in a horrific series of abdominal operations where I literally lost my career, my ability to have children, everything. I fought for my life for a decade and a half never dreaming I’d ever get on my feet to perform or do anything ever again. I lived in heights of excruciating screaming pain daily for year on end barely able to walk into the kitchen. Although it looked like tragedy, it was a blessing in disguise. They say give thanks to God for all things in your life good and bad. So, thanks be to God that a near fatal car accident by an uninsured motorist nearly destroyed my life and career overnight because I was able to realize my true calling. I’ve learned, when you’re on the wrong path, God will step in and take drastic measures to set things right. My true calling was singing and I was supposed to become a songwriter. I’d been writing and singing pop love songs since I was a teenager and had boxes full of lyrics and a closet full of pop songs I’d learned to prove it. After my accident and the resulting, numerous abdominal operations, and a daily, looming fear I’d die any minute, I got serious about doing what I’d always wanted to do with my life, and that was sing. I was born to sing and write love songs.

ED- Tell us about the extensive education that you undertook to advance your career in music and some of the songs that you had written.

MF- In the early 1990 while recovering from more surgeries. I met a composer named Martin Reedy Leggett, and again my destiny changed from meeting Martin. I began a short lived songwriting collaboration with him where we put my lyrics to his music. Marty and I both could not believe what an amazing rock vocalist I was when we recorded me singing the songs. When Marty and I went our separate musical ways because he got a bigger gig, I got serious about becoming a real singer and composer. I started taking piano lessons, voice lessons, music theory, music composition, song writing classes, music software programs, audio video engineering, live performances, concerts, dinner shows, weddings, studio recordings, and workshops everywhere. For the past nineteen years I’ve had my nose in a music book from Berklee School of Music Instructors, Dick Grove School of Music, Seth Riggs, Alfred’s School of Music, Gloria Rush, Caesari Vocalises, David Mellor, the list is so extensive I can’t begin to list them all. My music bibliography is well into a couple hundred at last count. 2011 will see me release my first music book, “Lyrics First, an Allegro Approach to the Craft of Songwriting.” It’s a quick reference guide that teaches all the secrets and shortcuts I’ve learned along my journey to becoming a POP songwriter. As a songwriter, I’ve written 65 pop-rock songs, mostly about love, heartbreak, inspiration, and God.

ED- Today you are the CEO of Heavenly Waterfall Song Publishing & Production Company and employ many singers, actors, models and more. Tell us about your company and some of the work that it has produced.

MF- I opened Heavenly Waterfall Song Publishing in 2002 because I was producing a lot of music videos of live performances I was doing, but I wasn’t ASCAP yet, only a member of The Musician’s Union Local 47. In 2005, I wrote, produced, directed, edited, and did the film score for the short film, “ Celebrations of Life,” An art gala featuring the works of artist John Clemmer. A series of more live performance music videos and CD recordings followed. Heavenly Waterfall officially launched in 2007 even though many projects had been coming out of me in this capacity really since the 1980s, producing video-taped actor’s showcases of plays I was in. In 2009 Nearly 400 actors, singers, and country dancers submitted to be country line dancers, kid and adult stuntmen, cheerleaders, kick boxers, and lip sync singers in the music video production of my #1 song, “I’m Gonna Be a Hollywood Stuntman.” The song hit two #1 spots on the country-pop and country charts on soundclick.com beating out 47,000 other bands. In 2010 the song also landed somewhere in the Top 26-100 in the KiisFM Wango Tango competition. I’m in the process right now of distributing the song through CD. “IGBHS” is the title track to a screenplay I’m writing entitled, “Johnny Hawk.” A film about a young Metis who leaves his small town neighbors of North Dakota to move to Hollywood to become a Hollywood stuntman. In 2010 I’ve also had two instrumental tracks hit the #2 position on the POP Instrumental Featured Artist charts on the soundclick charts beating out over 1 million other songs, “Release My Love,” and “I’ve Never Ever Stopped Loving You.” Each of these songs are available through AmazonMp3 for .89 each under my name. I’m in the studio at the present time working on my first original songs CD entitled, “The Blue Veil Project” A compilation of heartfelt memories. In 2010, I’ve also created, produced, directed, edited, and starred in an original sitcom, “Diva at the Beauty Salon.” The sitcom is based on true life experiences that I’ve had in my thirty-three year career in the entertainment industry. 2011 will see me release another quick reference guide titled, “Client Analysis Through an Actor’s Eye.” A laminated guide of my article on art that’s ranked 5th. best on the web through Associated Content, “Transferring your Photo to Canvas.” My children’s Christmas book, “Mine and Casper’s Best Christmas Ever.” I’ve also written, produced, directed, and editing a series of music videos including, “I’ve Never Ever Stopped Loving You” starring Wayne Crescendo Ward of the Paula Abdul video “Straight Up,” as the solo dancer in the park with the guitar and cane ALA Elvis and Gene Kelley, and my “Special Man” music video. In November 2010, Heavenly Waterfall Song Publishing & Productions finished production on trumpeter/composer, Keith L. Hall’s original song CD “How Did We Fall in Love?” With Randy Fosburgh on lead vocals. And the single cover release of the Tom Jones classic, “Delilah” with Christian Etter Johnson on lead vocals. Available on CDBaby for digital download. There is much more going on here at HWSP&P, and we’re looking forward to a great 2011 as many of these projects launch and go public. I also have a labor of love screenplay that I’m pitching, “A Lost and Found Gem.” My mom, Ruby Marie Farris Fields true story of homelessness while battling schizophrenia and multiple cancers for nearly nine years. As SAG actress, Marneen Lynne Fields I’ve ranked for over a decade the #1 female on the imdb from my home town of Minot, North Dakota just under Josh Duhamel. I’m in the top 150-200 of SAG talent in the world in my age group. I audition For many television and films on a regular basis also. Here’s the link to my imdb page
http://www.imdb.me/marneenlynnefields

ED- Marneen, you have achieved much in your life and have become the success that most entertainers only dream of. We want to thank you for your time with us and sincerely wish you the best of luck in all that you do. Please promise to keep in touch with us.