After kissing a lot of frogs and dealing with her parent’s dysfunctional relationship, actress and writer Melanie Chartoff finally got married at the age of 65. She is the author of Odd Woman Out: Exposure in Essays and Stories and goes full-out on her tumultuous love life and passionate ambitions to make it on stage and screen.
You may remember her as one of the stars of Fridays, an ABC weekly late-night comedy show that aired on Friday nights. Or, as the voice of Didi Pickles in the cartoon series Rugrats. It was one of my daughter’s favorite cartoons.
Adding writing to her accomplishments
Melanie Chartoff has also segued into the writing arena and has published her works in magazines, newspapers, and journals.
Her new book, Odd Woman Out, is told in vignettes that switch back and forth between various episodes in her life. She originally performed them on stage in a one-woman show. As an improv artist and teacher, she weaves her words imaginatively in this heartfelt, and thoroughly entertaining book.
A not so normal childhood
Melanie spent her early life in Connecticut with her Jewish, by culture, family. Her father was a prankster and into gambling. He would often ridicule her mother, herself, and her sister thinking he was being funny but they didn’t take it that way. Her mother worked, enjoyed classical music, and was quite a character herself.
One evening when Melanie was 4-years-old her mother was frustrated that her husband was gambling. To prevent him from betting on a football game that was on TV, she stripped off all her clothes in front of her two daughters and began singing lyrics from Gilbert and Sullivan. Her annoyed father pushed her outside into the snow, locked the door, and went back to his football game, while Melanie and her sister sat terrified.
Starting her career in the theatre
Melanie Chartoff became immersed in theatre as a teenager and sang in a Yale University undergrad production of Three Penny Opera when she was 16-years old. She studied drama in college, and in her senior year began to audition and perform on stage in Manhattan. Her father kept telling her to “get a real job” until she landed a role in the soap opera All My Children, giving her career some legitimacy with him.
Finding the elusive Mr. Right
Throughout her long acting career, she has lived in both New York City and Los Angeles. During that time, she dated a myriad of boyfriends who never seemed to work out.
Maintaining a long-lasting relationship is hard to do for most aspiring thespians who are trying to pursue an acting career. It’s an unpredictable profession and there are plenty of temptations.
Melanie Chartoff’s stories reveal the pain and frustration she endured, as well as her many accomplishments. They are told in a light and humorous way that makes you want to keep reading. She relates the challenges of aging out in both her profession and as a woman looking for love.
Time after time, a potential suiter would either not fit the bill or her insecurities would prevent her from tying the knot. In one instance, she dates a charming and good-looking man, who turns out to be a narcissistic alcoholic and sex addict.
Melanie Chartoff tells it like it really is.
Working as an actor is not always as glamorous as it seems. Melanie Chartoff’s book deals with balancing her career with her relationships, dealing with aging parents, her biological clock ticking, childlessness, an accidental pregnancy, and working in a career that isn’t conducive to getting older.
She has also released an audio version of her book, which I recommend because you will be able to listen to her perform each story as she did in her one-woman show.
I interviewed Melanie Chartoff in the video below and we go more in-depth on her life and her book. Please watch and enjoy.