Best known for her roles as the sick girl in 1980's hilarious film Airplane! and as captain's daughter Vicki on TV's The Love Boat, actress Jill Whelan will be doing her one-woman cabaret show aboard the RSVP Gay Cruise on Princess Cruise Lines from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, during Valentine's Day week, co-hosting ship entertainment along with actress Kathy Najimy.
Windy City Times: What did you love most about being on The Love Boat?
Jill Whelan: We got to travel the entire world and that was an incredible perk. And the cast was amazing, too. We were very luckywe all love each other and still get along to this day.
WCT: Tell us about your one-woman show, "Jill Whelan: An Evening in Dry Dock."
Jill Whelan: It is a show of music and stories about growing up in this business and my experiences. It's kind of like a musical memoir with talking. I talk about all of the different celebrities I got to work with and funny stories about them.
WCT: Give us an example of a funny celebrity story.
Jill Whelan: I was held at gunpoint at the Sphinx in Egypt with Debbie Allen; that's a pretty good one. We were trying to get a closer look at the Sphinx and there was a chain-link fence. Since we couldn't get in to see it, we ended up going through an opening in the fence and, all of a sudden, we feel this presence behind us. Lo and behold, there was an Egyptian soldier with an automatic rifle pointed at us. He didn't speak our language and we certainly didn't speak his language. Next thing we knew, Debbie got very urban on the guylots of neck-rollingand he just sort of backed down. She managed to back us out and it was fantastic. Thank God for Debbie!
WCT: What inspired you to take your one-woman show to the sea?
Jill Whelan: I was asked. It's just a perfect fit, obviously. Entertainment onboard ships these days, especially the way Princess Cruises does it, is nothing like it used to be. Everything is state of the art and it's just an incredible experience as a performer.
WCT: Why an LGBT cruise?
Jill Whelan: Because those are my peeps. I think the audience will really enjoy the show.
WCT: Do you find that you have a gay fan base?
Jill Whelan: I've never specifically looked to see whether I do or not. A majority of my friends are gay, so I hope I do, because that would be a wonderful thing. They have really good taste! [Laughs]
WCT: Are you excited to be working with Kathy Najimy?
Jill Whelan: So excited I can't even tell you! I believe Ann Hampton Callaway will also be there, whom I absolutely adore. It's just going to be so much fun!
WCT: What's next for you after the cruise?
Jill Whelan: After the cruise, I am going to continue with my tour. I have another show that I just signed the contract on, it's a network show that's going to be coming out.
WCT: How often do you get recognized?
Jill Whelan: Still quite a lot. It's funny; it depends on how I look. When I don't have makeup onand I look my worstis when I get recognized the most.
WCT: What are some of your favorite shows?
Jill Whelan: House of Cards. Just started watching Sons of Anarchy … I'm three episodes in and my friend just decided to tell me the end, which I could kill him for. Downton Abbey is a huge favorite. The Americans, Homeland, Modern Family …Real Husbands of Hollywood is hilarious.
WCT: You recently taped an appearance on Real Husbands of Hollywood.
Jill Whelan: I did. I worked with all of the ladies, I didn't work with any of the men. To walk onto this set and see all the ladies … really, one is more beautiful than the next. That's maybe a little easier to come by in Hollywood, but what's not easy to come by is that they have the comedic talent to back it up. These women are so funny and their timing is so incredibleit was such a pleasure to work with them. I'm so excited about the episode. It's coming out in the fall.
WCT: What are some causes that are personally near and dear to you?
Jill Whelan: I have a few[such as] Parkinson's, because my dad suffers from that. And my stepdad, who I am absolutely as close to, his side of the family suffered from pancreatic cancer, so that is another cause that is very near and dear to my heart. Any charity that involves children or AIDS research is also extremely important to me. My very best friend in the world, who my oldest son is named after, died in my arms of AIDS.
WCT: You've been vocal on Twitter about the Cosby rape allegations, including a mention that you know someone …
Jill Whelan: I do know someone. Obviously, we have to say "allegedly" so that people don't sue us, but I know for a fact that this is something that she told me about 20 years ago. The person [who] told me this story, she's a really smart womanshe is of note because she was married to someone very famous ... This happened before she was married to him. And he didn't find out about this until all of these allegations came out.
She's very successful in her career and she just kind of felt like, unless the tides turn and they need somebody else to come out, [she's] not going to bother. [She] doesn't need the ridicule and she's dealt with it on her own. But according to her, it absolutely happened to her. And I'm hard-pressed to believe that she wouldn't be telling the truth when she told me the very same story 20 years ago that's come out today with the drugs and the wine. And it's shocking. And there you have it.
See rsvpvacations.com/ .