You know Jennifer Runyon (Corman) as the sexy, funny, (supposedly psychic) blonde female student in the original Ghostbusters when Bill Murray’s character (Peter Venkman) tests her for mind-reading powers; and for her role as Gwendolyn Pierce in the TV series Charles in Charge. Maybe you even remember her from A Very Brady Christmas where she portrayed grown-up Cindy Brady! By the way - she’s also an ordained minister – I kid you not – read on!
In light of Ghostbusters (2016) coming out in theatres this week, I couldn’t wait to hear what one of the original cast members of the iconic film had to say about the new movie. Plus, what a better time, to place her career and life in the limelight with some amazing memories and never-before-published, behind-the-scenes photos, too!
“I support the new Ghostbusters 100%. Let’s give the ladies a chance, and I think they’re going to be hilarious. I think it’s awesome! I know you’ve got some pretty hardcore fans that don’t appreciate it and aren’t happy about it; but I think there’s always room for people trying new things. They are certainly very talented ladies, so I think it’s going to be amazing. My friend Robin Shelby is going to be in it. She was Slimer in Ghostbusters 2. I don’t know what she’s done in it. She hasn’t told me. She’s not allowed to talk about it, but I’m definitely going to go see it for my friend, Robin,” shared Jennifer.
Although you won’t see Jennifer in a cameo role in this remake of Ghostbusters, she had some really awesome ideas for how her original character could be woven into the story line of this movie, or a possible part two.
“It would have been fun to have a psychic [in this Ghostbusters]. Everyone always jokes that my character should have been in this one (or in a new part two) like on the TV in the background as a psychic. Someone could call in for a psychic [reading] and I’m horrible,” she laughs as she relays this in conversation, since her original character was dubbed as “psychic” by Peter Venkman, only as a way to hit on her, since she clearly did not have any mind reading abilities in the scene.
(We brainstormed on the possibility of her “grown up” character as a medium who all of a sudden starts receiving REAL premonitions, after her chronic past failure at predictions, and how that can play into the supernatural story line. We both agree it has a lot of potential and can supply an interesting twist to perhaps a future Ghostbusters sequel!)
“It would be fun if there was somebody who was supposedly psychic. Almost like Whoopi in Ghost – [whose character faked reading the future and suddenly tapped into the supernatural psychic realm unexpectedly] - not me necessarily – but one of the characters. That would be kind of fun,” added Jennifer.
Considering the role reversal where the trio of Ghostbusters is an all-female cast now, compared to the original all male team, I couldn’t help but wonder, what if all roles were reversed. I asked Jennifer who she would cast as her character in a 21st century version of the film.
“Put in Scott Baio, why not? And have Willie [Aames] be the other character chewing the gum. Willie and Scott - that would be hilarious – ‘Charles and Buddy’” – she half jokes, as she plugs her former Charles in Charge cast mates appropriately for the comedic scene.
(Admittedly, I like her choices; almost an ‘inside joke’ and a double-play on people who have crossed over her career path.)
Speaking of blasts from her past, she still keeps in touch with Susan Olsen since her stint on A Very Brady Christmas, as well as Nicole Eggert (Charles in Charge), and Willie Aames is her best friend to this day.
Not many people, never mind actors, get to have the experience of working with greats like Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, and Rick Moranis. Jennifer reminisces the following about her time on the set of Ghostbusters.
“The ease – it was not at all an ego-driven set. Everybody was so easy, laughing… there was lots of joking. Working with Bill Murray was just so amazing. He puts you at ease right away and really is very comforting when you’re in a scene. My favorite thing was just listening to the banter, the laughter, and them including us in it, which was great.”
While I could have zeroed in on any one of the former Ghostbusters cast for an interview, I felt drawn to Jennifer. Maybe it’s her relatability off-camera that I found interesting. (Her favorite color is red, like my moniker, but besides that, she loves to live her life as a mom, animal lover, and embraces the brightest moments of every day.)
Many may wonder what she’s been up to over the past 32 years outside of her IMDb page.
“Since Ghostbusters, I did a nice handful of work and was very blessed to be a working actress. I got married in 1991 [to Todd Corman, whom she met on a movie set in the Caribbean called Dreams of Gold where he was 1st Assistant director], and in 1993 we had our son, Wyatt; and once we had our son I kind of knew that I wanted to take some time just to be a mom. I grew up in a family where my parents worked, and we had housekeepers and nannies, (My mom and dad were radio people,) and I grew up with other people who were there every day. I didn’t want that for my kids, because I know all I wanted was my mom. I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to experience every moment. I didn’t want somebody calling me on the set going ‘Oh my God, Wyatt walked!’ I wanted to be the one, if possible, that experienced that first.
So I left the business to raise my kids, and we left Hollywood, and we moved to Idaho and Oregon. We were gone for about 10 years and had our kids, and we moved to California 10 years later because our parents were getting older, and we felt it was time to come home and spend time with our parents,” explains Jennifer.
“When I came home, my kids were 10 and 12, and in-between I would work in their schools and teach acting, not to introduce kids to being actors, but doing all of the fun improv exercises with the kids because it helps them get over that fear of being in front of an audience and peers, if they have to give a speech or do a report. My hope was, this is a way to enlighten kids, showing them it’s ok to stand up in front of people; anybody can do this. I was doing that for many years. When my daughter (Bayley) was a junior in high school, and my son was away at college, I became involved in a group called Tilly’s Life Center (TLC).
Tilly is a friend of mine who owns a store for teens. She wanted to give back to kids and help kids who were troubled. She started this program with me, and a couple of other people, and we work with teens now. We started out at the Boys and Girls Club, and it’s a program to give kids tools to get through tough times: how to communicate, how to forgive, how to dream your biggest dreams – tools to help you in life. All of us would benefit from it, and a lot of us don’t learn these things until we are older. What a great opportunity to give it to these young kids so they can use it now. I’m actually teaching in high schools now – a program of self-awareness in Huntington Beach, CA, and we have other programs with other teachers. I sent two off to college, and I inherited 50,” she laughs.
On most days you can find Jennifer enjoying her coffee first thing in the morning with one of her vices.
“I can’t live without my coffee, that’s for sure. And I can’t live without my sugar free hazelnut creamer. If I don’t have it, I literally Jones. That’s the first thing I have to do in the morning. My favorite thing to do once I’m up and I’ve had a little bite to eat, usually a protein shake in the morning, is on most days I get to take care of things around the house and spend time with my husband.”
But, don’t forget about her spending time with Nova. She loves Nova – her son’s dog.
“She’s become the baby – a little pal in the family. She’s my grand-doggie.”
Celebrities, are, a lot like everyone else. Most people only get to see a very public side of them at events, or on TV or in a movie, but I truly feel it’s beautiful when they share bits of their private lives with the world, too. It allows everyone to relate to them on a familiar level. (Hey, we all sleep. We all eat… it’s nice to see a “real” side of everyone.)
Besides her beloved hazelnut creamer, Jennifer admits that some of her favorites are pizza (in Italy), her grandmother’s paprikash (She’s part Hungarian like me, so don’t even get me started on our shared ethnic food loves… this was a whole other topic she and I chatted about that could make for a separate feature in the future!) … and she loves Cheladas (Mexican beer – usually made with a light beer and clamato juice with a touch of lime juice, and sometimes salt and other spices.) Her current healthy craving: Persian cucumbers and hummus.
Did you know Jennifer…
- Is afraid of heights
- Is afraid of the ocean – not swimming in it – but being on a cruise ship out in the ocean
- Would love to live in either London or Italy for at least a year
- Loves country music beyond belief
- Would probably be a teacher if she wasn’t an actress
- Has a favorite childhood memory of living in Boston, where the woods was her playground. She and her friends had a pond that they ice skated on called ‘Show Biz’ and they would pretend they were figure skaters.
- Can legally marry people
…on this whole marriage thing… how in the world did she become an ordained minister?!? Jennifer explains how it all happened:
“One of my co-facilitators, who also works for TLC, asked me if I would officiate their wedding. I thought, ‘Why not? How sweet!’ Anybody can do it. You go online and find Universal Life Church, and you can be ordained, which means you’re legally able to marry people. And I did! And I just married my neighbors [in June] which was really cool. I’ve only done this twice, but how fun!”
Sometimes, in life, you don’t anticipate becoming or trying something new, just as she didn’t initially set out to officiate weddings.
“The one piece of advice I would like to say to everyone is never be afraid to try something new. The worst thing that can happen is that it’s not for you. But sometimes it works out and leads to better things,” shared Jennifer.
I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes, you fall into things, and you would never have these wonderful experiences otherwise.
You can catch Jennifer on radio on the Miller and the Man show on Wednesdays– and The Haunted Chronicles on Paramania Radio , too! (It’s pretty cool and coincidental considering her character was tested for psychic paranormal abilities in Ghostbusters years ago, and Paramania Radio deals with subjects such as UFO’s, paranormal experiences, spirit photos, and more!)