I'm a mom, actor, singer, performer, radio show host, and professional sardonic individual.

I appear on TONIGHT's episode of Wife Swap along with Charo on ABC at 10 pm/9 central - here's a little sneak peek - and I'm going to be on The Real Husbands of Hollywood airing later this year.

Victoria's helping me out today. AMA!


Well, I hope you all tune into Wife Swap tonight! And I'm waiting to find out when I'll start carrying the bowling ball. And who's cooking me dinner, I'm hungry? And finally, take a Princess Cruise! And you can follow me on Twitter @WhelanJill!

Comments: 66 • Responses: 23  • Date: 

lula24887 karma

What would be incentive enough for you to carry around a bowling ball for one year?

JillWhelan5 karma


$5 million dollars.

dannyr6 karma

Reddit, time to get crowd funding! We have a goal!

JillWhelan3 karma

At least my arms would be in good shape with me at the end of the year! I'd bring my bowling ball on a Princess Cruise!

NorbitGorbit5 karma

which part have you tried for that you wished you had gotten, and which part were you glad you didn't get?

JillWhelan5 karma

That's a good question.

I think Patricia Heaton beat me out - I auditioned for the role of the mother on Everybody Loves Raymond. It's just that I'm not Italian, and I know that's what they wanted.

And I can't think of one I'm glad I didn't get. There are some reality shows that I'm glad I've turned down. There have definitely been a lot of reality shows I've turned down before. Wife Swap is the first one I've really done.

IKingJeremy5 karma

Did appearing in Airplane cause you to be more popular in school, or were the other kids jealous of your success?

JillWhelan13 karma

Well, when I did that show, it was kind of the beginning of my career, and I was still living in Northern California, going to the school I'd always gone to, and there was one kid in school who wanted to challenge me to a fight so she could tell her kids (one day) that she "beat up a movie star."

So I went out to the field where the fight was supposed to take place, and I faked a heart attack, and ran home.

That alone is the reason why I should be an actor. That kind of drama!

I wasn't the brightest bulb on the tree - faking a heart attack and then running home afterwards. But it worked for me at the time.

fanofmusic14 karma

Hi Jill, greetings from Canada. What was it like to work with Gavin MacLeod? Did you ever meet anyone else from 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'? Thanks very much!

JillWhelan6 karma

Hello to Canada! I love Canadians! And I love Toronto!

Gavin MacLeod is the nicest man in show business.

I really hit the jackpot, having him play my dad. We are still in touch today, in fact I spoke to him just last week. He truly is like my dad.

And from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I've been lucky enough to meet everybody who worked on it - and funny enough, the woman who played Gavin's wife in The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a woman named Joyce Bulifant, and she also played (coincidentally) my mother in AIRPLANE!

Isn't that crazy!

fanofmusic12 karma

Very interesting! Thank you so much! If you have time for another, do you have a personal favourite episode of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'?

JillWhelan3 karma

I think the episode about "Chuckles Bites the Dust" - that's probably my favorite episode. It's a tie between that one and the last episode of the show.

dannyr4 karma

Do you get any special treatment if you decide to hop on board a Princess cruise line? After all, you helped build their brand recognition worldwide!

JillWhelan6 karma

Yes I do! And I'm proud to admit it!

FadingShadowz4 karma

Hi Jill!

How was working with Leslie Nielsen in Airplane? And can you tell us of a fond memory of working on Fantasy Island?

Thanks for doing this AMA!

JillWhelan10 karma

Awesome! Thank you for asking! Leslie Nielsen was so funny in real life. I think he's pretty much known for walking around with a little hand-held whoopi cushion that made farting noises, and I remember one time, we were doing press for the movie AIRPLANE!, and Leslie and I got into an elevator that was loaded with Japanese tourists, and he used the fart machine, and they all got off on the next floor! And he was famous for that. But he was super-nice. And a great man.

Fantasy Island was so much fun - I got to play 4 different episodes on that show. I guess my favorite one was when I got to be the drummer in a band and my brother was Scott Baio. We looked so much alike.

But it was a really fun show, and the cast was lovely. Ricardo Montalban was just an elegant man.

IKingJeremy4 karma

What is Nancy Reagan like?

JillWhelan10 karma

You know, my meetings with her were really short. There were a lot of people below her that I got to work with. But she was very nice to me. President Reagan was super-sweet. The most touching experience I ever had with a First Lady was with Barbara Bush. I was at the White House for a dinner, and it was just after the assassination attempt on President Reagan. And James Brady (who actually took one of the bullets in the head - the guy whom the Brady Bill was named after, for gun control) - his wife wheeled him through the grand ballroom, and she was coming towards me with him, and I froze, because it's the first time I'd ever seen somebody that I saw on television who worked in our government in person after such a world event. It was history, in front of me, and i froze, I didn't know what to do - here's a man in a wheelchair who used to be so vital, and now he's recovering from a bullet wound to his head. I started to well up with tears, and it would have been very embarrassing for me, and for him and his wife, and all of a sudden, I felt an arm around my shoulder, and it was Barbara Bush, and she said "Why don't we go get some punch?"

So she rescued me from that awkward situation. Which was pretty cool.

sski3333 karma

Hey Jill! Airplane is one of my favorite movies. I was wondering, what was filming it like? Were there any parts that made the whole cast burst out laughing? Also, were there any mishaps on set? Thanks!

JillWhelan7 karma

Great question!

The laughter on that set was after every scene. It was so fun and playful and it just seemed like going to work was not work at all. It was one of the first times I ever got to experience the luxury of really just playing comedically on the set. And our barometer was the crew. If they thought it was funny, then the bit was in.

There weren't any mishaps that I saw - however, that doesn't necessarily mean there weren't any, and they probably ended up in the film as happy accidents.

We were laughing ALL the time. It was such a fun place to be.

I wasn't on the set as long as I think some of the leads were, since I had a small role. We knew it was either going to be a huge hit, or a huge failure.

It was really the first film of its kind, other than KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE. So it was - everybody felt a bit like mavericks. This is not the way movies were done. It was the first time Leslie Nielsen played a comedic role onscreen like that. Everybody knew him as always playing a "heavy" or a bad guy.

So it was a bit like trailblazing!

sski3332 karma

Wow! Thanks for answering! This is the first time a celebrity responded to my AMA question! Anywho, thanks for being very thorough with your answer. Have a great day!

JillWhelan4 karma

Oh, thank you very much. You too!

VintageDrumBum3 karma

I know you like to cook, what's the meal a guy could make you that would make him get lucky later in the night? BJBuds miss you!!

JillWhelan6 karma

Hahahah! Well, obviously wine would be involved. But let me think.

I think if somebody were to make me dinner, good or bad, and it was somebody I was into... as long as there was not a ton of garlic & onions, I'd be good. And no tripe.

Do not make tripe. It's disgusting and it should never be a food.

bobfmbuf2 karma

Are you still in touch with any of the actors you worked with on The Love Boat?

JillWhelan3 karma

All of 'em. We are all still in touch.

IKingJeremy2 karma

Is there an interview question that you get a lot that annoys you?

JillWhelan4 karma

Not really. I don't mind answering questions.

todd38502 karma

Hi Jill, Thanks for doing this AMA.. So what is the weirdest thing about you that nobody knows?

JillWhelan4 karma

There are SO many weird things about me. I'm a theater geek. I'm double-jointed. I can do stupid human tricks with my tongue. And I suck at math!

beernerd2 karma

What is your fondest memory from working on The Love Boat?

JillWhelan4 karma

Probably all of the travel that we got to do. We got to travel the world. And amazing guest stars we worked with - everybody from Andy Warhol to Tom Hanks to Halston to Gene Kelly. It was super cool.

beernerd2 karma

Who was your favorite special guest?

JillWhelan5 karma

Oh gosh. So this is really hard because there were so many different kinds of guests. I loved Ethel Merman, she was a big Broadway star and I was a huge Broadway fan, but then again, Andy Warhol was incredible to meet, and actually, a year or so after he was on the show, I was in New York, and one of his assistants saw me out shopping, and she invited me to come back and see Andy. So I went back to the Factory, and spent a few hours with Andy, hanging out, he gave me a tour, signed some posters, and it was incredible!

I stil have those posters.

Tom Hanks was also really amazing. It was the same time that he was doing BOSOM BUDDIES. He was there for seven days, on our set, shooting.

Olivia de Havilland, who played Melanie in Gone with the Wind... she was pretty awesome...

I got to dance with Ginger Rogers, that was pretty cool. And I really loved meeting all the old legends - Milton Berle. And I worked with Sammy Davis Jr (not on Love Boat) but i sang with him, and I sang with Frank Sinatra once, I worked with Jerry Lewis, just some incredible ones. Just amazing.

Just a few weeks ago, I got to work with Stephen Schwartz - I got to sing the song he wrote, "Popular," with him at the piano. I work with Princess Cruises as their celebration ambassador, and it's a really fun gig, and right now, we're waiting for Stephen to finish mounting four shows exclusively for Princess Cruises. And they're Broadway-caliber shows, with dancers, singing, music - and the show is free, all you have to do is pay for your passage on the ship! The first show is called "Magic To Do," which is one of the names of the songs that Stephen wrote for PIPPIN, one of the other musicals he's written. And that show will start in October, I believe, on the Crown Princess.

And if you want to know more about it - you can go to http://www.princess.com/

IKingJeremy2 karma

What motivated you to become an actress?

JillWhelan2 karma

I just love being able to perform and to take on a role that's different from who I am. I love to make people laugh, which is why i love improv. And to express myself through music and song.

Frajer2 karma

How was your experience as a child actress?

JillWhelan2 karma

Amazing. I was incredibly lucky to work with the amazing cast that I got to work with. They are some of the funniest, most generous people that I know. And I learned so much from them. And just the opportunity to be able to travel the world like I got to do? And sing for 3 presidents. I got to be a guest at the White House on several occasions. I got to be at the Palace in Monaco - I mean, some incredible experiences that have happened because i was an actor. I got to ride Arabian horses at sunset at the Pyramids at Giza - pretty awesome.

IKingJeremy2 karma

Was the "Wife Swap" experience about what you expected?

JillWhelan6 karma

Well, I really didn't know what to expect. And I guess it was not what I expected, because I expected it to be much more intense (in a bad way). But when I found out it was Charo, I was so much more relieved, because I knew she would take good care of my sister and my kids.

And I knew they would have an amazing time! She's amazing, she really is amazing.

It's a seven-day experience. The time both flew by and dragged. Not being able to tuck my kids in at night made the time drag, I missed them. But i knew they were in very capable hands with Charo!

AmblinFan262 karma

Since you're on The Real Husbands of Hollywood this season, I have to ask: how long did it take for you to break out in laughter?

JillWhelan3 karma

It was like, immediately. EVERYBODY on that show is so wicked talented!

I worked primarily with the women, and they are a triple-threat. One is more beautiful than the other, they are hysterically funny, and they're incredibly good at improvisation and physical comedy as well. It was just so much fun to be on that set.

FadingShadowz2 karma

Can you talk about your involvement in the Just Say No campaign?


JillWhelan4 karma

Well, basically I went around the country, and I talked about the Just Say No campaign, and peer pressure, and all the things that teenagers are subjected to when they're getting into their middle school / high school years, how to cope with it, stuff like that. It was Nancy Reagan's program, and I was one of her "foot soldiers" so to speak. I met a lot of politicians, and that was really fun. I somewhere have a picture of me and Dan Quayle.

Free_Tokes2 karma

Was Gavin McLeod really a member of the Illuminati?

JillWhelan4 karma


You know what, your guess is as good as mine, but I've always suspected it.