On Their Way to the Top: Audrey & Judy Landers

Cover of Los Angeles Drive Guide, September 1986 Tucked away in a modest home high in the Beverly Hills, are two of the most beautiful and talented women to be found in this or any other city anywhere in the whole wide world. Talent runs in families, as the histroy of Hollywood proves: from brother and sister. Warren Beatty and Shirly MacLaine. to Father and son, Walter and John Houston, to the entire Carradine and Bridges clans, and on and on. However, possibly not since Lillian and Dorothy Gish have two sisters possessed such a wealth of looks and abilily as Audrey and Judy Landers. Best known to viewers as Val in A Chorus Line and Afton in Dallas, sister Audrey first achieved stardom on the hit daytime series The Secret Storm and Somerset. Judy, whose flair for comedy rivals Audrey's for dramatics, has co-starred in such light-hearted series as What Really Happened to the Class of '65, B.J. and the Bears and Madame's Place. Unlike many siblings in medialand, who attempt to place as much distance between themselves as possible. the Landers not only live together but work together, as well. Though they both maintain separate acting careers, they are planning an ambitious future in tandem that includes records. concerts and even a television sitcom (about, surprise! two talented, funny blond ladies who sing and dance). In early summer. LOS ANGELES DRIVE GUIDE editor-in-chief Hank Stine talked with the Landers about their present work and hopes for the future.

GUIDE: Many Hollywood siblings seem to axperience as much friction as friendship. Yet the two of you manage to live and work together.

AUDREY: We love working together. We do maintain very separate careers in some areas. Judy's film career is a totally different direction than my film career.

JUDY: And we've always played very different types of roles.

AUDREY: I that sense, we keep it separate. However, we live together and we really are best friends, and it's fun. Also, aside from the positive things about how much we enjoy it, we really do have great chemistry together. Judy is innately funny. She has this phenomenal gift. She can take an ordinary script and make it funny. And I don't mind being a straight man.

GUIDE: Judy, your sister's career took off earlier and bigger than yours. Did you ever feel jealous or threatened by that?

JUDY: No, I don't feel that way. I think it all stems from the way we were brought up. There was not a large age difference between us, we were only two years apart. But Audrey is the big sister. I always looked up to her. I respect her very much. I like the fact that she's successful. She deserves to be successful and I learn from her.

AUDREY: I started earlier as an actress. But Judy was a very successful gymnast. So she had that in her life to kind of even things out. While I was working hard as an actress, she was working hard as a gymnast.

JUDY: When we were growing up, Audrey was working on soap operas, and I wanted to be an actress, too, but I was really shy and very introverted. Then I found gymnastics and started to excell in it and that became my outlet for performing. I became a state champion, and that gave me the confidence to say, “What I really want to do is to be an actress.” So I went to my mom and my sister and they kind of showed me the ropes. So I don't feel overshadowed or threatened in any way. I think the tact that we love each other and care about each other really helps us--in this business, especially.

AUDREY: Also because the strength behind both of us is our mom. She's really our closest friend. We can confide in her about anything, businesswise or personal. And she's the same with us. We really are like peers. She can balance it out. She can be objective about our careers, individually and tagether-which is unusual. I think that's why she can guide us properly.

GUIDE: Does your mother have a show business background?

AUDREY: Many years ago, when we were babies, she was an actress. Then she started her own printing company and became very successful at it. But she has always had a flair for show business and loved it. I don't think she would argue if someone says, “Are you living vicariously through your daughters?” She loves it as much, or more, than we do.

Insert image of the Landers sisters GUIDE: In entering show business, do you feel you were fulfilling your molhers ambitions or your own?

AUDREY: I can't speak for Judy, because she started a little bit later, but when I was just a baby, I would go with mom to modeling assignments.

JUDY: I remember once when I was about four and Audrey was about six, mom had taken us into New York City. She had some kind of a meeting and we were waiting in the car far her. Audrey unrolled the window.

AUDREY: This is going to be embarrassing.

JUDY: She unrolled the window and stuck her head out and started singing. And I asked: “Audrey what are you doing?” And she said: “I'm waiting for a director to discover me.”

AUDREY: See, even then I knew. I think I did get the first taste of show business from mom. But she never forced me into it by any means. It was something I wanted to do. When I was eight or nine years old, I went and got a subscription without telling mom, to the New York show business papers. And I would read the casting calls. At nine, I found a job I wanted to audition for. And I went to her and said: “Mom, will you take me to this audition.” And she did, and I got the job with a local theater company. It was a musical take-off on the Wizard of Oz, and I sang in it--as the dog.

JUDY: Every day she had rehearsals and I was a shy little girl who didn't talk. But I sat in the audience and watched and by the end I'd learned the entire play by heart, every single person's lines, every song. So that kind of gave mom a hint that I wanted to do it, but I would never perform on my own.

GUIDE: We understand the two of you are cutting a record right now.

AUDREY: We're recording together. We really felt it's important to get the style that we'll be recording in solidified. We don't want to confuse the nightclub image with the recording image. Because in the past we've done that. We did Harrah's and the Sands and it was a terrific experience. But it's not the same style of music as we're recording. For instance, in Europe when we perform, it's all the recording style. It's more of a concert than a nightclub act. And that's what we want to be performing here, as well. We're recording the album now, and I think we'll be getting it out by the end of the year.

JUDY: We wrote our first song together when I was about 11.

AUDREY: We both studied piano and we both had a real good ear for music. Singing has always been a number-one priority for me. Judy and I wrote many songs together. And we're writing now for this album and recording for the first time together.

GUIDE: Any other plans to work together?

JUDY: We recently did a terrific two-hour Love Boat special and that really inspired us to co-create a project which we are trying to put together. I won't say too much about it, but it's very close to going. It's with the two of us, and there's a lot of music and dancing.

© 1986 Los Angeles Drive Guide
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