If John McCook had one wish to make, he would like to be like Sid Caesar or Steve Allen.
John explains as we converse in his beautiful Beverly Hills home. “That kind of sketch work for me is a dream. That kind of silliness is great. I grew up on Steve Allen. I admire comedy actors like Harvey Korman and Tim Conway. But I also have a serious side of me, especially when it comes to my singing.”
Tall and bronzed (six-feet two inches, to be exact), dressed in white like a Greek God, John’s good looks cannot escape you. His charm is as effective as his appearance. Perhaps it is the California in him; Californians are known to be very friendly.
Born in Ventura, California, John McCook is a performer of many facets: an actor, a singer, a piano player and even a conductor. “Am I a dancer? One dancer in the family is enough.”
McCook is married to the statuesque Juliet Prowse. “We don’t even dance socially. Juliet won’t dance with me. And it’s not because she doesn’t want to; it’s because she knows that everyone will be watching her.”
John met Juliet while working on a production of Mame in Las Vegas. “We didn’t even like each other at first. We worked together for a very long time before we even became friends. I was married at the time, so my ex-wife and I and Juliet and her boyfriend would go out socially. Then the guy she was seeing at the time died and my marriage was on the rocks. We did a lot of talking and getting to know each other.”
“Juliet was putting together a new nightclub act for Vegas and also a summer tour for Sweet Charity. In her act, she needed a singer who could sing with her, who could do crazy sketches and who could stand up and do a solo piece as well. They hired me and shortly thereafter we started seeing each other.”
Juliet and John lived together for two years before they were married. Seth, their son, arrived a month later. “You see, Juliet was eight months pregnant and we had decided to go to Tahoe to get married after my summer stock; go home and wait for the baby. Well, we went to Tahoe, but Seth surprised us and came a day before the wedding, which we postponed for a month.”
“Seth was a difficult pregnancy for Juliet, not because of her age [she’s now 41, John is 32] but because of her dancing body. We love kids and may adopt another.”
John continues to talk about his relationship with Juliet. “We’ve really got a good thing. After four years of marriage, what I would like is for Juliet to phase herself down as much as she likes and for me to phase up so that we can reverse our roles. She has been the major breadwinner; she’s been making big money and I have been working steady but not making much money until now. I would like to become a viable TV personality in addition to my role on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS.”
Hazel-eyed McCook started doing the show a year ago November in a panic, to replace an actor who left after a day or two. “I think the part of Lance Prentiss is terrific. I love playing him, a millionaire jet-setter with my own plane, my own pilot, traveling around the world.”
“And working with Jaime Lyn is fun. In fact, the whole cast works well together.”
“I feel that the show was my big break because it brings me back to where I want to be. I was here ten years ago as a Hollywood actor. I was cute and I could read lines; I really didn’t know what I was doing.” [He was on contract to Warner & Universal]. “I studied piano, went to college for a year at Long Beach State, did some chorus work in San Diego and even worked in Disneyland for a while. You know the jungle cruise that they have, well I was a shipmate. And at that time Walt Disney, himself, would come around and check everyone out to see if you were doing a good job.”
John was eventually drafted and entertained the troops in the hospital in Fort Ore. He also did some musical theater: Barefoot In The Park, West Side Story, Tom Jones. “I also assisted my friend Melvin Laird who is a musical conductor for Telly Savalas’s night club act. I conducted the show in Tahoe during the opening week. Everybody who works with Telly adores him. He’s great. And he wants everyone to come and hang out with him.”
And according to Al Criado, John’s press agent, John is just as warm and friendly. “John’s a very down to earth guy, a good actor and a good friend. He makes a great appearance, I’m proud to represent him.”
And as versatile as John’s appearance, (he is the type of guy who looks as well in a pair of off-the-rack-jeans as in a tuxedo), his talents go as far.
With your looks John, you may have a rough time convincing us that you’re another Sid Caesar, but if anyone can do it, you certainly can!
This interview originally appeared in the March 1977 issue of Soap Opera Digest