Interview conducted by Rennie Cowan
Transcribed by Ginger De Los Rios
(Above) Tracy Roberts (Darla) and Sherman Howard (Lex Luthor) in the third season Superboy episode "The Bride of Bizarro".
INTERVIEW WITH TRACY ROBERTS
It was a hot afternoon in sunny California and I was going to use the speaker phone on my cellular to record the interview with Tracy Roberts (who now calls herself Tracy Lewis due to a marriage). I was thrilled and late in calling Tracy because of the time difference between California and Washington D.C., but she was all full of energy when she answered the phone. I sat underneath a palm tree with my water and turned on the speaker phone. Immediately a picture of the character of Darla flashed into my mind as I heard a not too unfamiliar voice...the actress who played Darla from my favorite TV show during my High School years (and my first two college years), "Superboy".
Tracy Roberts was upbeat and spunky, just like her character Darla had been on the show. And after three minutes of chit-chatting (and me trying to work a brand new digital voice recorder without the manual) we finally got into the interview. Tracy was a delight to talk to and immediately my nostaligic giddiness towards the series was boosted. For sure, the Superboy TV series was everything that was cool about Superman.
The interview was conducted on August 24th, 2010.
Rennie Cowan: So it's been about twenty years since the show has been on the air, looking back, how do you feel about playing a character that is a part of the Superman lore?
Tracy Roberts: It actually was a thrill and it was the best time of my life actually. I enjoyed it very, very much and I really loved working with everybody, the cast and crew are just really, really a great group of people.
R: I bet, I bet. So how did you get the part of Darla?
T: It's kind of a funny story actually, my husband and I actually owned some nightclubs back in the day, they were big, huge, disco-techs and we had huge competition, it was for the Chippendales actually. And the casting director for the show, her name was Ellen Jacoby, she happened to agree to be one of our Judges for the Chippendales contest. And that's when I met Ellen and she judged the contest and we had a good time that night. Two weeks later my Agent sent me to audition for Superboy and it was for the role of a nurse. It was a one-day player and I walked into the office and there was probably fifty or sixty girls there for that time-slot for the script. And lo and behold Ellen Jacoby walks by and she's like, 'What are you doing here?' And I'm like, 'I'm auditioning for the nurse.' And she's like, 'Oh no you're not, come with me!' And I was like, 'Okay!' So she pulled me out of the group and says, 'I want you to read this part that's just come about. It's gonna be Lex Luthor's girlfriend and I think you'd be pefect for it, so I'm gonna give you about twenty minutes to look over the script and I'm going to bring you in front of Ilya Salkind himself and I want you to audition for him.' So I said 'Okay' and I went in and read the script. I had a pretty good memory and could memorize a script in less than two minutes usually. [Laughs]
R: Wow, wow ... that's great!
T: Yeah, I had a pretty good memory for that. So I had it all memorized, I walked in and he was impressed with that. He was like, 'You couldn't have had the script for that long.' I was like, 'Well, no, but I'm good to go.' So I read for it and he was like, 'I think you're perfect for it.' He said, 'There's a scene in a strip club. Do you have a problem with that?' And I was like, 'This is a kid's show, how bad could it be?'... 'No, no I don't have a problem with that at all, um, but thank you for asking.' Then he (Ilya) says, 'I'd like to see you in something more...not so much a nurse.' Then he says, 'Can you go and change and call back then read again?' I was like, 'Sure I could do that'. I lived two hours away...so I drove two hours home, changed my clothes and drove two-hours back and read another scene and he said, 'Yeah I think you're perfect for the part.' And they just hired me.
R: Wow, that is great.
T: Yeah, it was fun! [Laughs] It was only supposed to be for one episode but then one episode turned into two and two turned into three and then it turned into three years.
R: That's great. Instead of finding another girl for Lex it's almost like, they already have you, and you did it so well, so it was just fun to play with the character I guess, and just keep bringing her back.
T: Yeah it was, and each year it got more and more fun. They let me have...well the thing that was great about Superboy, the whole cast and crew, they gave you so much rope, so much to play with. I mean if you wanted to add a line here and there, they didn't have a problem with it, and Lex and I used to just go way off the script.
R:That's great! [Laughs]
T: And they would just throw the script up in the air and go, 'Oh there they go, they're on one of their rants.' But they'd let it go and they'd always end up keeping everything we said and it was always just so much fun to do.
R: Yeah, I bet that made it better, you know. Because the script is written by the writers, but when you guys encapsulate that role, you just bring it to life and you got to say what works, you know? I mean if it's funny then, why not do it?
T: Yup, yup, every day it was that way. We'd always just say what we felt and did what we wanted to do and it just worked. Lex and I had great chemistry, we just did. We just bounced off one another and it just came very, very easy.
R: Yeah, exactly, you and Sherman Howard are like by far...I mean when you look back on all the other 'Lex-Girls'; "Superman The Movie" had Mrs. Teschmacher, "Superman Returns" had Kitty, but then we look at Darla and Lex and there's really no comparison. You just did it so well and your character, just from the beginning of when you came onto the show, it was already exciting. Here you were already in a girl fight with Lana Lang and Lex is just laughing at it. And just the way you and Lex bounced off of one another. You're like, can this be real? He's constantly insulting you -- but you still loved him and you can tell he still loved you. I mean it was mad love, it was so believable; it was like the most unusual romance, you know? But it was great!
T: It really was and now that I think back...Well, it really truly was. I think of all the other girls that they had, Gene Hackman, and all the other Luthors that they've had, they (the Lex-Girls) really didn't even have that many lines. They really just kind of stood in the background.
R: I know. I mean it's not their fault, the writers just didn't --
T: No! No, they never wrote them anything. So that was what was great about this show, they actually made her interesting and they gave her the best scenarios, really. I always just took it a little bit farther.
R: [Laughs] And I can tell you right now, that the best episodes with Lex is when you're there. Those are just the best scenes. You go back to "Know Thine Enemy" when he says he's going to blow up the whole world and he's got this psycho-disc...you were terrified! So the audience could identify with it. You had that little wine glass, the booze in your hand, and you're just shaking.
T: Yeah, I got my little glass of Brandy. [Laughs]
R: That was hilarious.
T: And when I shot him, I mean if you watch it, I held the gun and really wasn't planning on shooting him. I just wanted him to turn the machine off and the actual firing of the gun was an accident.
T: I didn't mean to do it, but then she was like okay, now I did it, now I gotta follow through.
R: Do you mean, it wasn't written in the script? Or it was in the story but that it was an accident?
T: In the story. It was written in the script, you know, but if you notice the reaction it was like 'Oh Sh**!'
R: Yeah I know! It was like, she's so angry, it's like she wanted to, but didn't really want to, it's great.
R: And a lot of people compare you to Harley Quinn of the Joker. Because Harley Quinn is the Joker's girlfriend and that's also like a mad love; like a crazy romance, two people that make no sense but you totally believe this romance.
T: [Laughs] Yeah, I agree.
R: I thought it was just good storytelling; good character development. Of course like I mentioned before there's no comparison to any other Lex girl. Darla was the best. And she even got superpowers and went a step further and stood toe-to-toe against Superboy. She was like a Villain herself.
T: And that was a lot of fun. The best times were when I got to stand up to Superboy and when I got to stand up to Lex.
R: That's awesome.
T: When they made Lex the idiot and me the clever one, that was Christmas to me. I said, 'Really! I get to knock Hitler one? Awesome! [Laughs]
(Above) Tracy Roberts with super-intelligence and Sherman Howard behind her in the episide "Darla Goes Ballistic". Tracy is wearing the white dress suit (wardrobe) that she was actually able to take home with her after the series end. Tracy and Rennie have arranged for the costume to be donated to the Superman Museum in Metropolis, IL. There, fans can enjoy her legacy in person.
R: Yeah, that was great, I just loved it when she became a genius and she just calls Lex a 'Dumbo'. She's like, 'Whatever, Dumbo!' [Laughs]
T: Oh my gosh and that line, 'You're never gonna generate enough...dioxide...or what was it? 'Your structurals are all wrong, you're never gonna generate enough dioxide...blah blah blah...' That line was so hard! [Laughs] I can't remember it verbatim, but it was one of the most difficult lines to get out.
R: I remember it was a really fast line, really scientific, but you did it so well, you just did it straight. It was great.
T: I was very nervous when I did it, because I only had one shot at this. Because I had a reputation. I had a reputation back then for 'one-take Tracy' and it was just like, when it came my turn and I got up and did my thing, I did it in one take.
R: Oh that's awesome. And I know Sherman Howard's mouth must have just dropped, is she this smart? Is she really this smart?
T: That was a great episode, he did a great job writing that and he was involved in directing it a little bit too.
R: Oh that's great! Yeah, and you told me that "Darla Goes Ballistic", which I mentioned to you before, was basically Darla's stand-out episode. That's really the only episode that's just about Darla. And focuses on her.
T: Sherman came to me one afternoon and had the script in his hand and he said, 'I wrote this script for you. Because honestly all the episodes, they don't showcase you enough.' And he was very complimentary, and he said, 'You're so good at what you do, I just wanted to write something really spectacular just for you.' And I was like, 'Oh my God, that's so sweet! Thank you so much!' I mean that's just how great of guy he was.
T: And he sent the script to Ilya and everybody and they were just like, 'Oh this is fabulous, yes, we definitely have to do that!' And it was truly a wonderful gesture and gift on his part.
R: I bet, and it was so nice of him to try and put you in the spotlight like that.
T: And he did! [Laughs]
R: Yeah! Wow, what a guy, that's chivalry right there! [Laughs]
T: That is. It truly is. And he was a very big man. I don't know if you realize this, Sherman Howard is like over six...I mean he's like 6"4.
R: [At same time as Tracy] Like 6"4, huh? Yeah, wow, he's tall.
T: And if you go back, even in the pictures, because I look at them and go, 'Oh my gosh, he was so big.' The scene in "Know Thine Enemy" where he has his hand around my throat....
R: Oh yeah, and he was like, 'I never loved you...'.
T: His hand covers...I mean if you look at his hand compared to my head, and my neck, it's huge!
R: And you're like, 'you never loved me!' Yeah, that was great.
T: And they had me standing on two apple boxes, every time I had to stand next to him, they said, 'Bring another apple box for Tracy.' You know, because he was so tall and I'm so short.
R: Yeah, wow. I heard that they even had to do that for Gerard a few times with Lex Luthor because they wanted him to look taller, because he's Superboy. And other times they would say just shoot it.
T: Yeah, he was a very big man.
R: And a terrific actor.
T: The one scene, I swear, in "Roads Not Taken" (Part 1) where he's up there and they're going 'Lex! Lex! Lex!' and he puts his hand up in the shape of an L. That speech that he did was phenomenal.
R: Oh wow, yeah it really was.
(Above) Tracy Roberts with Stacy Haiduk on the set of the two-part episode "Roads Not Taken".
T: It just blew me away, we all just sat there and when he was done everyone just started applauding. They're just like, 'That was the best!'
R: That's great. That was in my opinion, one of the best episodes, the whole, Roads Not Taken and Road to Hell storylines. They were the four best episodes, very good storytelling.
T: Yes. It's just very sad that they can't release those.
R: Yeah. I was talking to you about the lien.
T: People would love to see it on TV. I know they would.
R: Yeah, I know. It's just so surprising. You would think that Warner Brothers would want to put them in reruns and just milk it and let it roll for years. They're not doing that. Ilya Salkind told me that it's sitting in a vault at Warner Brothers, and so until Warner Brothers decides they wanna release it, it's just gonna sit there in some cold ice box or something.
T: Yeah, what is the deal? Are they trying to punish Ilya or something?
R: Yeah I know. I mean, there's like three different theories. Everybody pretty much knows that Warner Brothers put a stop to Superboy to make "Lois and Clark". The story that everybody's been saying is that Warner Brothers wanted to do their own show, their own Superman show, and Ilya's rights were about to end in the next few years anyway. Then they just figured Superboy's doing so well, let's just make our own show and let's make all the money.
T: So is "Smallville" the same creators as "Lois and Clark"?
R: No, those are two different producers. Deborah Joy Levine did "Lois and Clark" and Miles Millar and Alfred Gough did "Smallville".
T: But they're all owned by Warner Brothers, correct?
R: Yeah, but these guys just got options to do the character for so long and then were commissioned by Warner Brothers, and then they just went off and made them. That's basically what it was. Kind of like what Ilya Salkind did.
R: You were telling me that it was your Birthday when you filmed 'Bride of Bizarro' (Part 1 and 2)?
T: Yeah it was August 2nd.
R: Oh, that's so cute.
T: [Laughs] Yeah and I went to work and my Birthday just came and went, we worked literally from four...well, I got in make-up at five and I think I worked until about five or six o'clock that morning. It was the longest day of my life.
T: And I just went hell man, and then my family, they were like oh, happy Birthday! And I was like, yeah g'night! [Laughs] I'm going to bed, I'm tired.
T: Yeah, it was in a warehouse, it was very hot; we were all very uncomfortable and hot. There was a lot of special effects, a lot of areas that had to be covered and shot. It just took a long time. But they paid me well for it; I made a lot of overtime that night.
R: Yeah, that's what I was thinking. The good thing is that you get paid overtime.
R: Did they have a cake for you on the set of Superboy?
T: Umm, I don't remember if they did or not. I don't think so, because I don't think I told anybody it was my birthday.
R: [Laughs] You were afraid they were gonna give you the day off or something and you were like, 'Noo, I wanna do Superboy!'
T: I didn't think they'd give me the day off. I just didn't bring it up, I didn't mention it.
R: Well that's good.
T: I know they probably would have, definitely because they were all good that way.
R: Yeah, well that's great. And that was another good episode with Darla because you got to see Lex make a Bizarro Darla.
(Above) Tracy Roberts doing a sit-down of the script with Director David Grossman of the third season two-parter episode "The Bride of Bizarro".
T: Umm hmm, yeah that was fun.
R: Yeah, it kind of looked like you a little bit, in kind of a strange...Bizarro way.
T: Well, the make-up artist was fabulous. The guy that did the make-up on that was a genius. He did do a great job. Even the one of Lana looked like her.
R: Rob Burman, yeah.
T: They did really, really good.
R: That's awesome. So what did you think of seeing you as a Bizarro on screen?
T: [Laughs] Well, what I first thought was I'm gonna get blown up. They are going to blow me up. But it was cool. I was like 'Oh God, that's great!'
(Below) Watch a clip of the scene where Tracy Roberts (Tracy Lewis) is made into a Darla Bizarro by Lex Luthor in the season three two-parter episode "The Bride of Bizarro":
R: [Laughs] I really love that homage to Frankenstein when she looks at Bizarro and screams.
T: Yeah, that was great.
R: That was a classic scene.
T: It was.
(Above) Sherman Howard with the "almost" Bride of Bizarro...aka Darla Bizarro.
R: And the way you played it, you played it like you were really freaked out at this Bizarro that was you and you were just like, 'What in the world is that?'
R: That was really funny, and really good. Oh yeah, we were talking about your hair a little bit the other day and your hair was really long, and curly, and beautiful in season 2. It was big, like big 1980's hair, but by the third and fourth season they changed everything and went retro and had filmed at night and all this was with the film noir. They gave you this Marilyn Monroe look that I really liked.
(Above) Tracy Roberts on set of the third season episode two-parter "The Bride of Bizarro".
T: I loved it. I was so happy when they did that. I was like oh, this is awesome. It took a little bit longer for those wigs and weaves, because they had to make me a hairline.
R: Oh, wow.
T: If you notice in a lot of the hairpieces it shows my forehead and there's a hairline there. So they actually had to weave and make a hairline and they had to glue it on everyday and unglue it every night and then tease it into the hair. It took a little extra more time for those wigs, they were a little more involved, but I loved them! I thought they were great. What I'm sending you in the package are pictures of my hairdresser and wardrobe lady.
R: Oh, okay, cool.
T: Actually not wardrobe, they were make-up and hair; I got pictures of them and David Pinkerman was the make-up artist.
R: Yeah, your hair and wardrobe always looked really, really good in season three and four.
T: I was glad they got rid of the long hair because that was hot.
R: Oh, I bet.
T: It was very long, and not only that, my face got lost in all that hair.
R: [Laughs] It was really like the Eighties and the style too back then.
T: Yeah, it was really funny, they went from that long hair to the really short hair to when I was the Priest. There's really no way anybody can get all of that hair underneath this little, tiny, brown wig. [Laughs] They're like, 'Ahh, that doesn't matter.' So I'm like, 'Okaayy...."
R: Yeah, I guess they figured you were supposed to have been a strip club girl so maybe, I don't know...it was just a character trait or something they were trying to do. Or maybe it was the makeup people going overboard, you know? [Laughs]
T: And it's funny because we actually shot that at a strip club.
R: Oh really? Wow.
T: I've never been in one before, but they have a lot of the staff there.
T: They pulled the wardrobe out and the top piece they had for me was way too small. I was like, 'Nahh, no, no, no....this is not happening.' [Laughs] 'Yeah, we can't, I'm not getting in that.' [Laughs]
R: You're like, 'This is Superboy!'
T: I'm like, oh my God, what do we do now? And so they took me into the club and the girls, the actual girls that worked there, took me in the back room and said, 'Oh, just pick out whatever you want, anything that fits.' And I said, 'Oh...okay.' And one girl actually lent me that leopard top.
R: That's amazing. Wow. The club and all that looked real.
T: Oh it was. It was a real club. And then they took me on the stage and go, "C'mon, we'll show you a few moves. Do you know anything about stripping?' 'I'm like ummm....noooo I don't. No I don't.' So they go, 'Okay, well, we're gonna show you how to work this pole!' and I'm like, 'Okaayy....'
R: That's funny! I never knew that. So tell us about that red car, that nice red car that you pulled up in when Lex got out of the electric chair.
T: The Ferrari! Yes, the red Ferrari. I really, really wanted to drive that car, because they peel away, and they wouldn't let me do it. And I'm like, 'Oh c'mon, really? I really wanna drive this car, it's so hot!' And they're like, 'No, no, no ,no. The owner of the car is standing over there and he said a stunt driver and only a stunt driver. And I'm sitting in the car with the car actually running and I'm like, 'Darn!' [Laughs]
R: Oh man, that would have been so fun to actually drive it.
T: They actually pushed it on a crane and then they cut it and then we got out of the car and the stunt guy got in the car and they just shot it speeding off.
R: Yeah, yeah....wow. I always assumed you guys just took off and you were the driver. It's just trick photography they always do.... Let's talk about "Darla Goes Ballistic". So you said that Sherman Howard wrote that for you, because he said that they don't see what he sees in you.
T: Right. And he felt that I deserved to be showcased. The great thing about the script was that it showed every emotion. I mean it went from being crazy, to being bitchy, to being intelligent, and then to being upset and crying. I got to do the whole crying scene. It was up and down emotions, which was lots of fun for me to do. It was challenging, but I love that kind of stuff.
R: Right, you were very emotional in that episode. You did a really, really good job with that.
T: Well thank you.
R: It was very intense.
T: I thought, 'I know you could do this.' And then I got to destroying the lab, that was whacked!
R: The Psycho Kinesis powers, so tell me one thing, I've always wondered, at the end of the episode you hugged Lex, and the last shot was you winking at the computer, and the computer went out. So it made us think --
T: Yeah, I left you guys hanging!
R: Yeah, it made us think that you kept your powers. That you really still had powers.
T: Uh huh, that's what they wanted to do.
R: So that means it could have built you up to be like a real super villain.
T: You know actually, there was talk and they were actually discussing of doing a spin-off when the show ended of Lex and Darla.
R: Wow, wow...that's interesting.
T: That would have been a blast, but it never came to be, but there was some talk about doing a spin-off. But it just never happened.
R: That is so interesting, that is the first time I have ever heard of that. That's amazing. That would have been really interesting to watch.
T: Yeah, yeah!
R: It would have been a lot of fun to see it too.
T: It would have been where Lex would encounter other Superheroes, you know? Kind of like what they did with Iron Man with Robert Downey Jr. and at the end they throw in the Hulk.
R: Right. And you probably would have had your powers and you would have kept using your psycho kinesis or whatever.
T: That's right.
R: I kinda had the feeling that they were building up to that. When I saw that scene, I was like, oh, she's gonna keep her powers. [Laughs] She's just fooling them all.
T: Yeah, everybody was like, oh, what's that all about? And I was like, sorry I can't tell you, then I'd have to kill you.
R: [Laughs] Also, another funny scene in "Darla Goes Ballistic" is when you were doing all the food and you were preparing dinner and started humming "I Dream of Genie". How did that come about?
T: Oh, that was my bad. But it worked out, it was hilarious actually. I loved "I Dream of Genie". I was a big fan, loved the TV show.
R: That was a great show.
T: So, I don't know, they put all this stuff in front of me and the whole aerosol can with spraying under the armpits, they just thought that was hilarious.
R: That's funny.
T: I was like, 'Well, you put it in front of me, you didn't think I was not gonna use it, did you? [Laughs] So I'm sitting there and I just started going...(HUMS "I Dream of Genie" theme song) and then the Director said, 'Wait! Hold it! Tracy, what are you doing?' I said, 'What?' He said, 'No, no, you cannot do that, that's a big no, no. That's going to cost us money...' and I'm like, 'oh, I'm sorry, my bad, I didn't know. And he's like, 'I kinda like it though. I actually like it a lot.' He goes, 'Okay, I'll tell you what, we'll shoot it once that way, and then, we'll shoot it again, without it and then I will run the numbers and see what it's gonna take for me to get the rights to use that song.' And they ran it and they ended up getting it and using it. So, that's how that came to be.
R: That's great, so it was your idea, then.
R: That's great. That was pefect timing when you did that. I mean, I think that got a laugh out of everybody when they saw that.
T: Yeah, the whole crew thought it was funny. But everyone who saw it said, 'Oh that was so cool you started humming that.' And I was like, yeah, I thought that was pretty good.
R: Yeah it was really funny. So going back a little, you were telling me that during your Girl Fight scene with Lana that the Director was getting frustrated because you guys were laughing so much and just really playing around with it. I mean, just acting like two girls having a blast on the set, just playing around with that whole scene. Can you tell us about that?
T: Yeah! Well, I did my own stunts, but they said they can bring somebody in to do the fight scene and I said no. So they brought the stunt guy in and he taught me how to throw a punch and kick and hit. And there was actually one time where I take a hit and I went flying over the couch. I did a back flip over tghe couch and the Director was like, 'Oh my God, did you used to be in a lot of barroom brawls or something? You just did that really well!' And I was like, 'Nahh, I used to wrestle with my Brothers all the time. So it was easy for me.'
R: Yeah, you said you had two Brothers.
T: But they ended up cutting the part where I flipped over the couch, because I was in my skirt, and every time I flipped over the couch you could see my underpants. [Laughs] That didn't work out.
R: That's funny! And you said that you and Stacy were just cracking up laughing.
T: Well we were laughing at Lex Luthor because after Luthor broke us up he got in between us and sat in there between us and that's when he was like, 'Oh! The Lovable Lana and Delicious Darla...' whatever it was...'just one big happy family!' and when he started banging his feet up and down on the floor laughing, we would just bust out laughing every single time, and I think we probably did it twenty-five times. And if you go back and rewatch it, you'll see Lana's face and you'll see that she was just ready to crack... They cut it just before she bust out laughing again. That was fun.
R: Yeah, that was a real funny scene and totally unexpected too. I mean, she's just like, 'Well, she's just your type, Lex!' and you just bust in there like, 'Listen, Chick!' And then WHAM! Right in Lana's face!
T: Yeah, and Lex was like, 'Well maybe Darla, can show Lana, some of our naughty tricks.' And that's when Lana said, 'I can just imagine what kind of tricks she does.' And that's when the fight broke out, and that's when she was like, 'Listen, Chick...'.
R:Ilya was telling me that that he was so glad that nobody tried to censor that, because it was two girls side by side Lex Luthor and he told me it was kind of like a threesome in Superboy. So he had to be really careful with where he went with that.
T: Yeah. Well, it worked out.
R: Yeah, it was exactly like you said; this is a kid's show. How far can you go?
(Below) The classic girl fight scene between Darla and Lana:
R: That's great. Oh, so tell us about your life now, about what you're doing and your family.
T: Well, when the show ended we were living in Orlando and my husband was in the hair business and he had hair salons that he owned in Maryland. And I guess had leased the space from the Landlord. He called and said I'm not renewing the lease to these people, if you want to come and if you want to come and have your salon back. So my husband asked me, do I wanna go? And I said my contract's up, sure! It was a change of scenery. And then I got pregnant with my Daughter Falon, and when we moved to Maryland I just wanted to concentrate on raising my girls. So now we have hair salons here in Maryland, and I work in the salon, and like I said, I've just been raising my daughters. I've been a full-time Mom.
R: That's so wonderful.
T: And my Daughter Falon said, now that she's older, 'You should get back into acting.' And I kind of have an itch for it and I would kind of like to do that actually. So I'm literally directing my career.
R: That's awesome. It's great that your Daughter kind of pushed you a little bit and you're still wanting to act.
T: I actually did do a small film. It's a small part for an independent film company. And there's a little bit of action, a little bit of running involved. And we had to work in front of a green screen. It's the first time I've done anything in twenty years and I just forgot how much I really do love it! [Laughs]
R: Wow, that's really great. I'm sure the fans would love to see you back on the screen again.
T: I'd love to get on another show like Superboy!
R: Yeah, that's the same thing Stacy (Haiduk) was telling me. She was like, 'Oh my gosh that show was just so much fun and I don't think there will be another like it!'
T: It really is better than movies. It's like a sitcom where everybody comes together every morning and we're all together every day and we work together year in and year out. You just become one big family. Whereas if you do films and movies, you make a movie and move on, but when you're doing a sitcom, and you're together for that many years you're just a big family. It's a big part of your life.
R: That's great, great.
T: I would love to have that again, but I don't know.
R: Yeah, those were probably some of the best years of your career.
T: We'd all get together and have picnics and barbecues and it was just fabulous.
R: That's awesome.
T: If I could do that another time in my life I'd be happy, but at least I can say I had it once.
(Above) Tracy Roberts (Tracy lewis) shocked at seeing a Bizarro of herself in "The Bride of Bizarro" Part 1.
R: That's right! And you have all of those memories to share. So, you said your Daughter Ashley used to go on the set with you?
T: Yes, I'm actually sending you a picture in the package. It's a picture of my Daughter with Stacy and Gerard. They're holding her on the set.
R: Oh, that's so cute!
T: Ashley used to love to watch them hooking Gerard up to the wires to make him fly. And I'd tell her all the time, 'Now Ashley, you cannot tell people how Superboy flies. That is a big, big, no no. So if your friends ask you in school...you don't know! [Laughs] Tell them that he just flies. So she says okay and then one day they had the day when the parents go in and talk about their jobs at school. I think Ashley was in the third grade, maybe. I actually wore the white "Darla Goes Ballistic" suit to the classroom. [Laughs] They gave me a tape to show the actual episode. And I forgot these were third graders, I didn't think they would think this was for real. And they watch the show and I'm shooting lasers out of my eyes and I'm blowing things up. And when the show was over they all just slowly turned around and looked at me like in fear.
R: [Laughs] They were shocked.
T: They were like, 'Oh my God!' And Ashley was great because Ashley said, 'And you don't wanna to make my Mom mad!'
R: [Laughing] They're like, 'Oh, you're not going to do that to us are you?'
T: And the Teacher was like, "You need to tell them that you really can't shoot lasers out of your eyes.' And I said, 'Why? That takes all the fun out of it?'
R: That's really cool! And you said the white dress from that scene in "Darla Goes Ballistic" that you actually kept it?
T: I have it actually. I took it out last night and I've been dusting it off. Yeah, that was the one outfit I wanted to keep. They told everyone you could have one piece of clothing when the show ended from one show, it doesn't matter. And I told them that was the one that I wanted and they just gave it to me and let me keep it.
(Above) Tracy Roberts in one of the classy black dresses, dawning the retro 1940's look.
T: Yeah, their wardrobe selection was fabulous. My favorite other than that one suit was the one from "Body Swap".
R: Oh that one was beautiful.
T: It looks like a gown but it's not a gown, it's actually a pants suit.
R: Yeah, that was really cute, I liked that too. That was good.
T: That was so 1940's looking and it has kinda like the Jayne Mansfield look going on. I just thought it was fabulous. I loved that.
R: Yeah, and you had the Marilyn Monroe hair, it looked really good, I liked the whole retro look of it.
T: Yep. They were really, really good with wardrobe, every day I couldn't wait to see what they were gonna put me in.
T: I wasn't real fond of the Priest outfit.
R: Yeah, or the nun outfit.
T: Yeah. Well the Priest outfit they had to make me look like a boy, so they had to bind me. They took ace bandages and wrapped them around my bust line and just squeezed them tight until I couldn't breathe. I had to walk around with that for eight hours and they kept saying, 'Are you ok?' It was my first day on the set, I wasn't going to complain, I was like (out of breath), I'M FINE!'
R: Boy, I bet you were like, 'Oh, I'm going ballistic over here!'
T: Ha ha, it was worse than a corset.
R: So you were in 12 episodes of Superboy, out of all I counted. Out of all of those episodes, which one was your favorite?
T: Well definitely my ultimate one was "Darla Goes Ballistic". I just love them all so much, but my second favorite, as far acting in it goes, was "Know Thine Enemy". Oh, there's so many, I enjoyed them all. I just enjoyed every one of them.
R: Yeah, they're all so good.
T: There wasn't one that I didn't even dislike a little bit. Like, 'Oh, I wish they didn't make me do this.' There just was nothing. They were all so good. And Stan Berkowitz who was the writer, he was awesome too. He wrote a lot of the Darla shows.
R: It's the same with me. People always ask me, what's your favorite episode? I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, there's so much that I love.' But I just always say "Roads Not Taken" Part 1 and 2 and "Road to Hell" Part 1 and 2 because I love that whole playing with the characters and that 'What if?' aspect. It's just so much fun.
T: Yeah, I like "Know Thine Enemy" [part 1 and 2] a lot because Lex Luthor got a little empathy for a change. People actually felt sorry for him.
T: And the robot that they made of him at the end with the teardrop coming down, you know, when he said, 'I never loved her' and Stacy touches his finger and sees the tears on his face and says, 'Yeah, right, Lex' whatever...I don't know, I thought was just a really brillant story about his life.
R: Right, it was. The robots were really cool. I thought they looked real too. He even had his eyes blinking [laughs].
T: The special effects in that show were incredible. That's when they introduced the hologram for the first time.
R: Right, right. That's what you were telling me. It was totally cool and I had never seen that done before.
T: I know, I was like, I wanna be a hologram. Can you make me a hologram? [Laughs] They said, 'no, just Lex', I was like, oh man! They also split the screen when they did the robots. It was all done with split screen and it was the first time they ever did that.
R: Wow. Wow....
T: Shooting a split screen takes a lot. You have to stand in for both parts and both times. I loved it. I never left the set during that show. I just wanted to sit and watch the makings of that entire thing. Usually you go to your trailer, you hang out, and then when they call you, you go back in, but that particular show...the Director was so great. He was just really good at his job and I just loved sitting there watching the making of the whole thing. I was enthralled with all of it.
R: Yeah, the directing was really amazing. I mean with the flickering lights they had in the background and even the photography (canted angles). It looked like there was some kind of special lens used, like a wide-angle lens. It looked really good, all the camera angles and everything.
T: Yep, yep....
R: I think his name was Brian Spicer, the Director.
T: You're exactly right, that is who it was.
R: Yeah, people always mention that those were two of the best episodes of the entire series and I would agree.
T: They were a little dark, you know, but sometimes you need to be a little dark to understand what's behind these dark characters.
R: Right, right. Exactly.
T: It's like when Heath Ledger played the Joker this last time. It's like, Joker's done, retire him, no one else can do it like he did it.
R: Yeah, exactly.
T: You got a sense of the Joker's life for the first time, through Heath Ledger and his portrayal of him. And that's what I mean about "Know Thine Enemy". You got a sense of what Lex's life was like for the first time.
R: Right. And Ilya Salkind even said to me that he was the best Lex, you know, out of anyone he has ever worked with.
T: Oh, I agree, 100%. I mean, I love Gene Hackman and who was that other one who did Lex Luthor?
R: Kevin Spacey.
T: Yeah, Kevin Spacey. Sherman's Lex outshined both of them, and I love those two actors.
R: I mean they're all great actors you know Sherman Howard just brought it to life, it was just so good (his Lex).
T: He was very, very three-dimensional.
R: Yeah, that's a perfect way to describe him. A lot of people say he was a little like the Joker in a way.
T: A little bit, yeah.
R: But he was just terrific, and of course you guys together. Like I said, nobody even compares to you as far as Lex-Girls go. You and him together were really fun to see on camera and on the show.
T: Well thank you very much! We had a great time doing it [laughs]. And I'm so glad that you guys are out there. The website I think is fabulous and I'm glad there's something out there where people can actually go and see bits and pieces of it at least. Everyone that I've ever shown the show to, the one's I have here, said 'god, this is actually a really good show!'
R: Oh for sure!
T: And it was. It was aired a lot. In the D.C. area, in this area, a lot of people know me and say they remember the show because it aired twice here. It used to air on Saturdays and Sundays.
(Above) Tracy Roberts (Tracy Lewis) is not impressed with Superboy as she watches him fly down into Lex's lair in "The Bride of Bizarro" Part 2.
R: Yeah, that's what I heard. In different parts up in that area it aired more than once.
T: Yeah, well, you guys keep pushing and try and pull together and get Warner Brothers to see the light.
R: We sure will.
T: Keep working on that, and we appreciate you doing that so much.
R: Yeah, that's what we're campaigning for -- me, Superboy Homepage, and also there's another Superboy TV series fan, she's a huge fan, her name's Ginger and she's doing everything she can to help me for the website.
T: She's funny, she keeps popping up on Facebook, she's funny, I like her.
R: Yeah, yeah, she says the funniest things. She's really good at analyzing the characters.
T: [Laughs] She's great, I've been very entertained by her actually.
R: Oh, yeah, her question was, how did you handle the insults on the show, I mean, Lex Luthor was totally demeaning you.
T: Oh yeah, he came up with some stuff. I think one time I looked at him and asked, 'How do you come up with, "The mind of an amoeba" Really?' Or, 'You stupid Cow!' I'm just like oh, okay... OWW! [Laughs] But it helps me feel the feelings that I felt as Darla, with all the words and lines that they were saying.
R: Right, yeah, it kind of made you sympathize with Darla, you think, gosh! She's just so nice, she just loves Lex no matter what he does.
T: Yeah, but it also made it a lot more fun when I got to insult him back! And when I got to get my little digs in on him, I just reveled in that.
R: Yeah, and in "Road to Hell" you were kind of the alternate Darla that was smarter than he was. I mean he was still Lex, but he had this stuttering problem and you're like, 'No, not in a mm...muh...muh..minute!' That was funny [laughs].
T: Yeah, that actually broke up the crew, they all laughed at that one. Everyone laughed on that because that wasn't written in the script.
R: Oh, so it was just spontaneous? You just did it?
T: Yeah! I remember he started stuttering and I started stuttering back, we both bust out laughing then we're like, 'all right, we're ready, we're ready...' But a lot of that stuff would happen because we would play off one another. We just had fun and actually became the characters when we were on set.
R: That's really funny. Because that was a funny part. That's one of the lines I remember when Darla gets to kind of have her fun with Lex a little bit and get her revenge.
T: Yep. and I did too. Oh, and the last line. That was another one of my things. I always had to have the last line.
R: And you did too. I always remember that.
T: If Sherman said 'Bye', I said 'Bye'. He'd say 'I'll see you in a bit.' And I'm like, 'Yup, in a bit!' He'd go running off and I would just chuckle and go, oh this is great! And he said, 'You always have to have the last line?' and I said, 'Yes, I do. You know that. That's my bit, that's my thing. I have to have the last line.'
R: That's awesome, I love that. So now every time I watch an episode, I'll have to listen for your last line [laughs].
T: There you go. Whenever Sherman left there was no way I was giving him the last line. I said, nope, I have the last line [laughs].
R: That's great! Okay, do you have anything you would like to say to the fans before we close the interview?
T: Yeah! Thank you so much for watching and thank you so much for being so supportive. And I'm glad I was able to make you laugh and cry and just feel good about things and I'm glad it was entertaining for you. I hope I get the chance to do it again one day, and please, please, please keep on trying to get those DVDs released! And if there is anything at all that you want from me, you can call me, email me, I'd be happy to help you out with anything.
R: That's great!
T: I'm happy to do it. Like I said before, you keep us alive. People would have forgotten about us by now if it weren't for all of you.
R: You were just such a standout character; you're totally memorable from the Superboy TV show. No one's going to forget about Darla and Lex. And a lot of fans of the series are just so passionate about it. I just never forgot about it, and truly loved it. 'Superboy' went off, then 'Lois and Clark' came on, then 'Smallville' and though I like 'Smallville' a great deal as well as the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, the Superboy TV series has this special place in my fandom heart I guess you could say.
T: That's great. I'm glad that it does.
R: Well thank you for everything. Thank you for doing this interview. It's been such a pleasure talking to you, Tracy, as always.
T: It's been my pleasure as well.
R: Thank you from Superboy Theater.
SPECIAL THANKS to Ginger for taking the time to transcribe this interview which was one hour long. Also, I want to thank Tracy for doing the interview -- it really turned out to be a great conversation which was being recorded from my speaker phone outside and underneath a palm tree in sunny California. Thank you so much.