Jay Johnson has been a ventriloquist for most of his life and even had a local television show while he was still in high school. He’s appeared on dozens of TV shows including CSI, Empty Nest, That ’70s Show, and The Facts of Life.
In 2007, he won a Tony Award for his one man (and many characters) show, The Two and Only, following a successful run on Broadway. Still, Johnson will likely always be best known for his role on the landmark 1977 sitcom, Soap.
Soap follows the lives and families of two sisters, Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond) and Mary Campbell (Cathryn Damon). Jessica and Mary are quite close while their families can’t stand each other — the Tates are wealthy while the Campbells are not.
One of the most unique characters on the series is ventriloquist Chuck Campbell (Johnson), the biological son of Burt Campbell (Richard Mulligan), Mary’s husband. Chuck’s a nice quiet guy but he believes that Bob, his rude wooden puppet, is real and the two insist that he be treated that way. Though they all know better, just about every member of the family gets sucked into the fantasy at one time or another. Chuck and Bob have some of the funniest moments in the series and are two of the show’s most popular characters.
This is the first part of an interview with the talented Johnson. We discuss his early career, how he landed the role on Soap, the controversy surrounding the show, and a lot of great anecdotes about working with the rest of the extraordinary cast.
To learn more about Johnson and to see videos of his one man/many character show, visit his website. If you haven’t seen Soap (rent or buy it now!) or would just like to refresh your memory, here are a couple of fun videos.
|The introduction of Chuck and Bob (Jay Johnson).||Jodie (Billy Crystal) tries to help Chuck.|