EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Lois Jewell, Drusilla On The Original Series
Lois Jewell has just two acting credits to her name, but one of them is Star Trek: The Original Series.
She played Drusilla, the beautiful blond slave assigned by Proconsul Claudius Marcus to Captain Kirk – in advance of Kirk’s impending execution the next day – in the episode “Bread and Circuses.” Jewell has been on StarTrek.com’s interview bucket list for some time, and we recently – and finally and happily – got to cross her off that list. Jewell spent nearly a half-hour speaking with us about her life before and after Trek, plus her memories of portraying Drusilla and her amazement over the fact that her one TOS guest appearance nearly 46 years ago – the episode premiered on March 15, 1968 – continues to be of interest to fans worldwide. Here’s what she had to say:
What were you doing in the days before you landed Star Trek?
JEWELL: I was a model in New York and in Europe. I did fashion modeling and cosmetic modeling and all that kind of stuff. I was with Eileen Ford (the modeling agency legend) and I made 80 commercials, and I had a lot of people telling me, “You’ve got to come to California and… blah, blah, blah.” I thought, “Well, maybe I should go to California.” I had a friend who was out here and he in the show Rat Patrol. He said, ‘It’s easy. Come on out. You’ll get a job right away.” So I came on out. We closed up shop in New York and came to California and I went with a modeling agency, just to make sure that I’d have bread on the table. I signed with someone for acting; I can’t remember who now, but I did the pilot for The Flying Nun. I did some other pilot, but that didn’t make it (which is why it’s not list on IMDB).
How did Star Trek come about?
JEWELL: I got a call for it. I went in and was interviewed, and I got the job. Lo and behold, I was in Star Trek. I don’t think I’d even heard of Star Trek when I got the role.
What interested you about the role?
JEWELL: I enjoy acting, and I wanted to work. It looked like a very nice part. It looked like a very decent role. So I went in and had the costume fitting. Then the next week, I went in and shot it. A lot of shows at that time were a half-hour long, but Star Trek was an hour, and they only had a week to film all of it. So they had to do a lot of things very fast, costume changes, rehearsing, shooting. I had two costumes that I wore. The whole thing transpired in one week.
You’d modeled before, but had you ever seen anything like Drusilla’s costume before?
JEWELL: Absolutely not. I was Drusilla the slave girl, and the first costume was gray and drab, and it was short. I had fishnet stockings that they wanted me to wear, and then I had this thing that I wore at the top. Then the next costume was the main costume, which I wore in my scene with Captain Kirk, with Mr. Shatner. That was a very exotic costume. It was made by the designer who designed everything for Star Trek. It wasn’t like they went, “Well, let’s throw this on.” It was designed and it was made, and they had to make sure, in the fitting, that it fit properly. And I wore that. I still get a lot of comments when I’m at the Star Trek shows about that costume. Everybody talks about that costume.
Well, you made an impression in that costume. You are still widely considered, if you ever look at the Internet, one of Star Trek’s most beautiful “babes,” to go with the term most people use…
JEWELL: Oh, am I? Thank you very much?
What do you remember of your experiences shooting the episode, working with Shatner, etc.?
JEWELL: They were all very pleasant and very nice. Everybody was accommodating. They, of course, wanted the scene to go as well as possible because they wanted everything to be as perfect as they could get it. I tried my best, and apparently it worked out very well. Mr. Shatner was very nice to work with. A lot of people ask me about that, working with him, and he was such a professional that it made it very easy for me to work with him.
Did you watch the episode that night it debuted in March, 1968?
JEWELL: Yes, I did. Family, friends, we all gathered around this huge color TV that somebody had. We just had a small TV, but these people in the complex where we all lived had a big TV, and so we all got together there and watched the show. It was fun. It was really fun. I had no idea what it was going to look like until I saw it, because I wasn’t invited to go to the rushes or anything like that. So when I saw it, I was flabbergasted, to be honest with you.
Your only credits are The Flying Nun, Star Trek and that other show you said didn’t make it to series. Why just the three jobs?
JEWELL: I didn’t like the parts that they were offering me.
What kinds of parts were you being offered and what kinds of parts were you seeking?
JEWELL: I was looking for parts that were a little more – a lot more – than crawling around on the floor without any clothes on or being completely nude or having sex with everyone. I guess they thought from that role with Mr. Shatner that I was willing and able, but I was not willing.
One film you passed on was Slaughterhouse Five, right?
JEWELL: Correct. Where did you hear about that?
Just from doing our research in advance of this chat with you.
JEWELL: Oh, really? I guess I must have told somebody and they put it out there. Yes, I was up for it. I can’t remember who they used, but she became a star. Anyway, I was one of the people who went up for it and I thought, “I’m not even going to read for this piece of crap.”
Valerie Perrine ultimately did the role…
JEWELL: Yes, that’s who it was. And she became very famous after that.
Your acting career effectively ended in 1968 after your episode of Star Trek. So, what have you been up to since then?
JEWELL: For a while, I fooled around looking for various different jobs as an actress. I did a little more modeling. And then I just decided to step away from it. I retired, so to speak, and my husband said to me, “Why don’t you make a business for me, and manage it.” And that’s what I did. We’re still in business together.
What is that business?
JEWELL: My husband is a fantastic caricature artist, and he entertains at parties and events all over the United States and in Mexico and in various different places. I take care of all the business things. The business is called Caricatures by Ted Jewell. He has drawn President Reagan and a lot of celebrities. We live right next to “Hollywood,” and we’ve had a lot of celebrity parties that we’ve done.
When did you realize that Star Trek is a phenomenon and that you, with just this one role in this one episode, were a part of the phenomenon?
JEWELL: Well, I was told that there were a lot of actors and actresses out there making money signing pictures, and I thought that was a lot of nonsense. I thought, “Well, I don’t want to be a part of that.” But there were a lot of people out there making money doing it, even if I wasn’t interested in it and didn’t pay any attention to it. Then, to make a long story short, my husband and I worked Majel Barrett’s parties. She wanted him, the caricaturist, to work her parties. I always work with my husband and make sure things are going right and that if they want to talk to him they talk to me, so that he can continue to draw these people at the party. We did all her parties for years. Of course, she had a lot of Star Trek people there and she even had men there who’d actually walked on the moon. My husband actually did one of their caricatures. Anyway, we were downstairs one night and Ted was drawing his caricatures. Also there was a friend of mine, who was a magician and had written a biography of Gene Roddenberry, and his name was David Alexander. Gene had left notes behind when he passed that he wanted this particular person, David, to write this biography. He was a very good friend of ours and he was at this party, and he was talking to Richard Arnold, who (was Roddenberry’s assistant and) was at the party, and he said to him, “By the way, do you know who that woman is downstairs, with the artist?” The guy said, “Yeah, that’s the artist’s wife.” David said, “No, you don’t have that right. That lady was Drusilla on Star Trek.” He said, “Oh my God, we’ve been looking for her for years.” He was downstairs in five minutes, and he tried to convince me that I had to come and sign pictures and talk to the fans. So that’s how it started.
It’s several decades later and you still do the occasional convention appearance. How do you enjoy meeting the fans, telling the old stories, posing for photos and signing autographs?
JEWELL: I have very much enjoyed it. It was like another door opened up in my life that I didn’t even know existed. I just enjoy pleasing the fans. If the fans are there and they want me to sign pictures for them, then I’m very happy to do so. I also signed trading cards. There’s a company that does cards for several shows, and they do a lot of them for Star Trek, so they sent me 1500 of these little tiny training cards of me as Drusilla to sign. Then they sent me another 1500 that was the character in cartoon form. I never knew that there was a cartoon version of Drusilla. I’d never seen it, but they sent me cards of that to sign, too. They paid me, of course, and the cards are available in packs. So that was very interesting and an added, new thing. I have a few of the cards sitting around here.