Andrea Howard is fondly remembered by Santa Barbara fans for her role as Veronica Gayley, the secretary of Peter Flint (a.k.a. the Carnation Killer) and one of his fatal victims. Click here to read a full character biography of Veronica. In November 2010, we caught up with Andrea to find out what she's been up to since her SB days, and to look back on her part as Veronica.
Capridge.Com: Thanks for giving us this interview! Let's start by going back. Where were you born and raised?
Andrea Howard: I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, but was raised in Southern California in an area known as Brentwood. I graduated from Pacific Palisades High School in 1964 (yes, I am that old!!) 63 to be exact now.
Capridge.Com: What is your birthday?
Andrea Howard: I was born on February 10, 1947.
Capridge.Com: How did you become an actress?
Andrea Howard: I actually got into the acting game kind of late. I had a very young first marriage (18 years old) and had two children by the time I was 21. That marriage didn't work out (duh!! too young) and so I was a single mother at the age of 25. My parents were in show business behind the scenes, and so I lucked out and got a production job at Universal Studios and planned to work my way up in production. While working on a pilot for a series, the producers suggested I was right for a part in the piece, but my boss said I couldn't do the role because I didn't have any experience. It wasn't until that moment I realized how disappointed I was that I couldn't have the part. I started acting classes that week and within a year started to get small roles in TV productions and eventually made the switch from production to acting. I ended up having a semi-successful 20 year career.
Capridge.Com: Can you tell us about your early career? It seems you appeared in a lot of TV shows and feature films.
Andrea Howard: I got some pretty wonderful breaks early on. I starred in a couple of pilots that unfortunately didn't sell, but I did do a lot of commercials as well as guest shots in TV episodic shows. Probably my most famous role was in Thank God It's Friday in the late 70's. It was during the disco era and it starred Donna Summers and the Commodores. And "Last Dance" won the best song Oscar that year.
I was considered a working actor for about 20 years, but got pretty much out of the business in the early 90's mostly because of a move to Northern California and then Seattle, and because I was now in my 40's – and a lot of work dries up for women especially after 40, unfortunately.
Capridge.Com: You were on Santa Barbara from 1984-85, how did the role of Veronica come about?
Andrea Howard: You know, I am not sure how the role "came about". I just got the call for a reading for a part on the new soap, and I must have been right for the part, so I got it.
Capridge.Com: It's difficult to get a new soap off the ground. What was it like to work on Santa Barbara during its early days?
Andrea Howard: It was a tiny rocky, as are all new shows. I had been a guest on The Young and the Restless, so I must say, because that show had been on the air for a very long time, it ran quite smoothly. That happens to a show with time. Santa Barbara had its growing pains, as would be expected. There was an undercurrent of more anxiety, with the production people as well as the actors. Everybody wants a new show to succeed, and like all new endeavors, you have to have trial and error.
Capridge.Com: Veronica had so many shades of grey. What do you remember about the character?
Andrea Howard: You know, it has been so long ago for me now, I don't honestly remember much about the character. I remember that Veronica seemed to be a character in progress. I don't think, honestly this character was created with a lot of big plans for the future. I think I remember she was more of a transitional character to progress the more important story lines the producers had in mind. That is why it didn't last that long, it was a means to an end. That is maybe why you picked up the "grayness" of the way she was written. It was, I remember, a little tough to play her, because she wasn't that well fleshed out on the page. I was never quite sure what they had in mind. And I must tell you it has been my experience in soap operas – the shooting schedule is so very fast and hectic – it is a very difficult arena to spend the time working out the characters within the very short schedule. I have enormous respect for long time soap actors, it is by far the toughest work for an actor in the business.
Capridge.Com: After six months on the show, what happened?
Andrea Howard: The character just ran its course. It was never intended to go for the long haul. And they needed murder victims for the show's plot!! [Laughs]
Capridge.Com: What have you been doing since quitting show business?
Andrea Howard: My husband (the second one, now going on 36 years) and I were both in the business, he a producer/director/editor, we both kind of ran out of steam for the business and decided to change up our lives in 1989. We moved out of "Hollywood" and up to Sonoma County and both went into real estate sales. Then in 1992 we moved up to Bainbridge Island, Washtington and I went to the Art Institute of Seattle to study interior design and my husband took those four years off to play golf and become the golf club president. (We had done nicely in the real estate business, buying fixers, fixing them up and selling them for many years.) I wanted to take my skill and make it better in the interior design field. In 1996 we went back to Sonoma County and developed a vineyard and winery and did that for a few more years, also a little real estate on the side. Got out of that business in 2005 and went back up to Bainbridge where I opened a bed and bath boutique on the island called Indulgence.
During that four years, my husband got into some real estate development – and then the crash. Oh, brother are we ever having a fun time recovering from that mess. So here we are back in Sonoma County – and you found the boutique my daughter and I have in Windsor. Business in retail is still a very big challenge, so we will see how this one turns out. Very challenging times we are living in, I am sure you know.
Capridge.Com: How is your life nowadays? Do you miss acting?
Andrea Howard: Actually, now I don't miss the acting. I did it for a nice long time, and I was really ready to move on. I had become so interested in the design thing, and I was going to school in Seattle and I did go out on a few commercial auditions, and was actually doing a Chevy commercial and kept looking at my watch because I wanted to get back to the drawing board. That's when I knew it was over. I had a new love. But I do appreciate the opportunities I had, the pretty darn nice career I had in acting. Most actors don't ever get to do the things I did get to do, and I am grateful for the experiences and the memories.
Capridge.Com: Any final words or thoughts before we close this interview?
Andrea Howard: I had no idea what was going on across the pond regarding things like Santa Barbara. And I so appreciate your appreciation. It's funny, I am sometimes recognized from that short term stint I did on Santa Barbara more than most of the other parts I played, a part in retrospect I didn't think had much of an impact in my career. I am glad you contacted me and gave me the opportunity to respond to your kind words and gestures.