Sally Struthers' performance as Bess Houdini is probably my favorite. Perhaps it's just my rampant nostalgia for The Great Houdinis (broadcast during the first year of my Houdinimania), but I've always seen in her performance the real Bess -- her toughness, her showbiz savviness, her wit, her delicate health, and her heartbreak over losing her Harry.
Below is an excerpt from a November 7, 1976 Chicago Tribune interview with Sally on set of All in the Family ("Feeling Stifled"). I'm always struck by how frank actors were in interviews from the '70s, and this one is no exception. But what I like best is Sally talks in detail about how she created her Bess, and in particular how she dealt with the age changes. Okay, she makes a few errors (Houdini's real name was Ehrich, not Nathan), but we'll forgive her. Because she's Bess!
For the full story of the making of The Great Houdinis, check out my post from 2011: Making the great Great Houdinis.