Saturday, 25 October 2014

She ain't no fluke - An Interview with Jennifer Runyon

I scanned the university noticeboard... Rooms for let, cycling tours around Norway, a summer in Africa.. No, that was not  for me, not after that summer in    Mexico - beautiful countryand amazing food...  But did my stomach like it? No it did not! 

Anyway what I was searching for was way different  to the usual stuff you would normally find on this   board, Oh yes, I was looking for something more… Something more… Something more paranormal...

Then I spotted it, it was scuffed and tattered, my god it looked like it had been there since the mid 80s! The advert called for volunteers for ESP experiments and was offering payment… Perfect, interesting and the extra cash would come in handy, mind you… only 5 bucks? That wouldn’t even get you a coffee and a muffin these days… But money is money and I wasn’t in it for the cash anyway. I ripped off one of the slips at the bottom of the advert with the contact details on them… 

Dr Venkman… Why did that name seem so familiar?

I was deep in thought when I bumped into someone, literally bumped into them! Books, note pads and pens went flying, I apologised and helped the poor woman pick up her things, she noticed my scrap of paper, picked it up and laughed, it was then when I realised who I had bumped into... None other than Jennifer Runyon!

Jennifer Victoria Runyon was born in Chicago in 1960 and has appeared in a myriad of TV programmes    and films, from Another world to Charles in Charge and was even a Brady in 'A very Brady Christmas'! She starred in the comedy '18 again!' with George Burns, but what I will most fondly remember her for is as the object of Bill Murray's affections in the start of 'Ghostbusters'.

I offered her a coffee by the way of an apology and we got chatting.

So, what was it like appearing in Ghostbusters? How does it  feel to be in such a iconic film?
 “Such a great experience, of course I had no idea while filming would become such a huge Box-Office success...
…I was just excited to work with Bill Murray.

Who wouldn't be? I thought...

And I bet people quote lines to you all the time!?  “I get that a lot from Ghostbusters especially... strangers have approached me saying "you're no fluke Jennifer" I'm always so flattered by that.”

So what were the guys [Bill Murrey, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis] like to work with... and for? “It was probably one of the most enjoyable days I ever had on a never stopped laughing which really relaxed me... Bill was so easy to work with...”

Dear old Harold Ramis, all the people I've talked who knew him and they all say he was a lovely guy, wso what did you think? 
“Harold Ramis was such a lovely and kind man...”

So nice...

And did you socialise with any them off set?  “I went to dinner with Bill Murray once..he sang opera to the whole restaurant...then we ended up at Union Station in downtown LA...
He somehow convinced the engineer of an Amtrack train to let us drive it...only Bill Murray could get away with that...”

I nearly spat out my coffee, I had heard so many crazy stories about Bill, about him turning up at peoples parties, pouring tequila or going up to people and just eating their food telling them "No one will believe you" and then just leaving.... I wondered if Jennifer believed them... So I thought I'd ask...

So do you believe the stories? “Yes I've heard the stories...and after driving an Amtrack Train and singing Opera with doen't surprise me in the least....”

And I know Bill Murray is famous for his ad-libbing, did he do much during your scene? “Yes he did ad-lib a bit...I think that's what made the scene so great.” 

And did your character have a name?  “No my character didn't have a name in the script...I was "female student" but he called me Jennifer while filming the scene”

A perfect example of Bills Ad-Libbing, I thought.

So let's go back to the beginning... How did you get the part? What was the audition like? “I got the call to audition for a Bill Murray movie… I remember a lot of girls being there...I didn't hear anything for the longest time...I figured I didn't get it...I was working on another show when the call came...I was so excited..”

I'm not surprised I thought!
So have you been to the Fire station in NY? “I sadly have never visited the fire station...definitely something I need to do.”

Now we all understand Ghostbusters now, but it seemed a crazy idea back in 1984... How was it described to you? “They were very secretive while auditioning... we were not told the story line
...I am trying to remember when I eventually
was given the script????” 

I suddenly realised that I was going on and on about Ghostbusters when she had done so much more! I also noticed that I was nealy down to just the froth on my Cappuccino.

I know I keep talking about Ghostbusters, sorry... “No worries, I love talking Ghostbusters”

You played regular characters in both Another world & Charles in charge? “When I got the part I was so excited...I was nervous because 
I had always had a little crush on Scott Baio..."

What washe like, did he live up to your expectations? "He was great.. he ended up becoming like a brother to me...I learned a lot from working with Scott and Willie Aames...Willie by the way is one of my best friends...we do a radio show together with Susan Olsen called F.L.U.I.D. Amazing after 30 years Willie and I are working together again...”

Now you played two different characters in Murder she wrote, only a couple of years apart.. Did you ever question that? Did you ever wonder that people would realise? Is this a common thing to happen? “Murder She Wrote did this quite often...I wasn't the first to do multiple episodes...I remember someone telling me Angela liked bringing people back...
she was wonderful by the way...”

You were in 18 again with the incomparable George Burns, what was he like? “Eighteen Again was another one I had such a positive experience filming...I loved the cast and crew..George Burns was so dear...always telling amazing stories and singing little tunes... "

And was that cigar always burning?
 "...yes he had a chair that followed him around with an ashtray attached and a cigar always lit...I adored him.”

As a very attractive girl in Hollywood, you must have had some attention from actors?! Do you   have any good stories? “You are very kind, but I really was very shy. I never felt comfortable with the whole "Hollywood"   scene. I was pretty much a homebody when I wasn't working...oh dear...that sounds so boring and  sad..LOL...”

No, it sounded rather sensible I thought! 

Your dad James R Runyon was a DJ, did you have an interesting childhood? Were you surrounded by music royalty? Did he ever want you to go into the music biz?  “I never got to meet any music royalty..but my Mom and Dad certainly did... they met the Beatles back in the day...but I was too young to appreciate how cool that was...the cool part about my parents being DJ's was listening to them on the radio every morning while getting ready for school...”

And you have some pretty big named in-laws? It must be excellent at weddings & Christmas?! Have you worked with your husband or in-laws? “Yes Roger Corman asked me to do a movie for him called Carnasaur, I was 4 months pregnant with my son at the time..I didn't tell him..I wanted so badly to do the movie. I also did a movie for my father-in-law Gene Corman called A Man Called Sarge, we shot the movie in Israel and had such a great time...the cast was wonderful...”

So you must get loads, but what is your best piece of fan mail to date? “I'm not sure I have a favorite, I'm always so touched someone took the time to write to me...”   

And what would your dream role be?  “My dream role..hmmmm...I always wanted to be in a western...I love westerns...”

I tipped the last bit of foam into my mouth and checked my watch... I was going to be late for my lecture... One... or maybe two questions and I had to go!

So, going back to Ghostbusters just for a second, do you think Peter Venkman and the student did meet up at 8 o'clock?  “I like to think they did...but I believe he got tied up in the library investigating ...”

And lastly, are you afraid of ghosts?  “No...I've had a few experiences...I'm fascinated...”

thanked Jennifer, grabbed my briefcase and dashed out of the cafeteria, that was fantastic, what a coup... Jennifer Runyon... Wow! I was going to be late I knew it, I was going to get in trouble and miss some of the lecture... But hey, call it fate, call it Karma, I believe things happen for a reason... And anyway my students could wait another 10 minutes...

For more information on Jennifer go to:


  1. With all these Ghostbusters interviews you are spoiling us...

  2. I had such a crush on you. Up the creek.

  3. They just re-released bluray of the first and second. Looking forward to seeing it and you on the screen

  4. I went to see Ghostbusters just to see Jennifer on the big screen. BEAUTIFUL!!!

  5. I was so envious of Donavan Leich(sp) because he got to kiss this beauty in The In Crowd.