It will take more than a few words in an article to highlight the fascinating life that Joan Benedict Steiger has lived.
Steiger has done it all: film, theater and television. Starting off as a dancer in her childhood years, Steiger studied at the Rome Opera Ballet School. It wasn’t until her teenage years that she realized she wanted to be an actress.
Steiger’s personal life is as charming as her career. She had the love of three great men: John Myhers, Rod Steiger and Jeremy Slate.
The Malibu Times had a chance to sit down with the woman who truly has a joy of living and has a positive approach toward everything in life.
Can you give us a glimpse of what a day on the sets of a popular soap opera like “General Hospital” is like?
General Hospital was the first soap opera that I had done. I started off with small roles and was promoted to the role of Edith Fairchild. Almost all my scenes were opposite Tony Geary. He was great to work with. My first day on set, everything was extremely fast. You have to be terrific with your lines and with taking direction. The thing with soap operas is that you have all these lines and you come in the next day and everything is changed. It’s great training. A lot of stars started out with soap operas. I loved it.
Did you enjoy working in movies, on television or on stage the most? And why?
That’s an easy answer: Stage. Once you’ve worked in the theater, there’s nothing like it ... You hope that you’ve left a memory with one person, an instant soul, there’s no experience like it. It’s that live feeling and it’s instant communication. I’ve done over 40 plays. I won the LA Woman’s Theater Festival a few years ago. It was the Eternity Award. I said I hope it’s not the casket award.
What is something that people don’t know about having a career in show business?
A lot of work. Stick to it. Dedication. Knowledge. Study. I was a member of four acting companies. I had some great teachers. It’s a matter of dedication and hard work. If you want to be a real actor, you must perform on stage.
Some people go through life and never find the special someone to marry. You have had the love of three special men. What advice do you have for the many women who are searching for love?
First of all, for a long lasting love you have to have many things in common with your partner or it will be a very dull life. Sex is one of the primaries, but you do have to talk once in awhile and hopefully you can have some interesting conversations about life. You have to have a common interest. Love of life, joy of living.
What is the best compliment you have ever received and who was it from?
It came from a child. Most of my life people have said you’re pretty. But this child kept looking at me and said you’re very pretty. I said that was a true compliment because it came from a child.
You’ve done it all, stage, film and television. Is there anything you wish you had done that you didn’t?
A Broadway show. I’ve done off Broadway. I hope it’s not too late.
What inspired you to write your memoir, “Brooklyn Baby?”
Someone said why don’t you write a book? People would always say what an interesting life I’ve had. From the time I was born, I’ve had a very unique life. I consider my life one of the happiest ever even though I’ve had some very sad losses.
What’s an interesting/unique fact about you that people don’t know?
I’m basically very shy. It sounds like a joke but it’s true. And I have a terrific temper, which I’ve never shown. I’m of Italian descent.
What is your favorite thing about Malibu?
It’s a sophisticated small town. I eat lunch at my favorite restaurant every day here in Malibu. I have my own table. It’s a wonderful town.
How was it having your portrait painted by Johanna Spinks?
It was delightful. I sat for two hours. I wondered how I was going to sit for that long. But we talked the whole time and drank tea. And she’s a delightful conversationalist. She did a gorgeous portrait in the meantime. I was honored to have her do my portrait.