It's not easy choosing lively entertainment when you're a child. And that's why lovable characters like Mother Goose and her friendly goose Bertram are there to bring them to us! Becoming one of the top series that has made us smile during our youth, and making kids today jump on in and sing along, Mother Goose has solidified a spot in our hearts and our lives, and continually doing so. What better way to acknowledge the woman, who loved telling these stories to us, by talking with her. Featured here is an interview with Cheryl Rhoads—the woman who played Mother Goose on the hit family/children's series The Mother Goose Treasury! Enjoy!
Note: All questions and answers provided are presented in its entirety, unless noted otherwise. No parts of this interview may be copied, republished and/or claim ownership of this content whatsoever.
Prior to working on Mother Goose, what other projects/gigs did you work on or were a part of?
I was half of an award winning comedy team in Chicago, called The Fine Line, and we were brought out to LA by actor, MacLean Stevenson (who had been on the series, MASH) That lead to me becoming a series regular on an NBC variety show entitled THE MOTOWN REVUE with Smokey Robinson on Friday nights. Arsenio Hall was one of the writer performers with me on The Motown Revue - in fact it is on Youtube. I was also the only female staff writer on that show. Other writers included Ian Maxtone-Graham who became Executive Producer for THE SIMPSONS and Ron Richards, who became a writer for Jay Leno and The Tonight Show.
It seems different working on a kids show compared to content made for a wider, broader audience. Is there anything easy and/or difficult working on a show made for children?
I have always loved kids and enjoyed telling stories and the world of make believe in general. Although I haven't worked on many other kid specific TV shows, I always preferred family-friendly material to edgier fare. I also did work on one other series for children entitled "Alef, Bet, Blastoff" A series about two puppets named David and Rachel who learn about famous characters in Jewish history. They time travel with a character named Mitzvah Mouse. I played two characters, Mrs. Green the neighbor in the pilot episode and then later I played the Irish Immigrant in a show about The Statue of Liberty.
Lots of special effects were integrated in the scenes, making it difficult to know where the show may have taken place in. Do you recall where Mother Goose was filmed at?
Yes - we filmed at Studios sound-stage that were a part of Sunset-Gower Studios..but my mind is drawing a blank! I guess you will have to interview Will/Bertram. That goose was always helping me to find my glasses...now Bertram has to help me find my memory!
The credits show that four people constructed Bertram (Randall Simper, Kelle Schaefle, Juliann Smith and Steve Koch), and Will Ryan played as the voice for Bertram. Did doing scenes with Bertram pose a challenge of any sort? Or have you worked with puppets before?
Will Ryan and I have been friends for many years. Will is a larger than life character in real life. In those days he used to call me up using one of his many cartoon voices. So when I was working with "Bertram" and only hearing Will's voice pre-recorded coming from the puppet ...well, was kind of like having a phone conversation with Will anyway! :-)
A chunk of the cast members made recurring roles playing other classic characters from kids' stories. How was it like working with them, along with the cast behind the camera?
Everyone was really great! I loved the whole feeling on the set - really fun. I particularly loved working with the late Hal Smith, who portrayed Ole' King Cole. Hal had played Otis, the town drunk on The Andy Griffith Show and it was so fun to work with him! Again, Will and I already had been friends. I enjoyed getting to know Sharon Baird (who had been a Mouseketeer) I have fond memories of Bruno Alexander, Norman Merrill, John Lovelady, and Patty Maloney. And of course, Joe A. Giamalva who was Tom Thumb and well...he lived in my pocket...so that brought us into close contact! :-)
Do you, by chance, still hear from any of them?
I moved from LA to the Washington DC area about 7 years ago, so I haven't really been in contact with the folks from the series. But I have heard from Will Ryan from time to time. (As I said Will and I were friends long before the Mother Goose series came along.) And a couple years ago, I heard online from Joe at one point too!
Have you been recognized in public for your role in Mother Goose?
Yes, more often than one would think? Plus I have a cigar box purse with a picture of me as Mother Goose on it that I carry on occasion in the summer. Once, I was shopping at Macy's and a young salesgirl commented on my purse. She told me she thought my purse was cool and then told me she grew up on The Mother Goose Treasury Videos. When I told her I was Mother Goose, she looked at me closely (It had been over 20 years at that point) and she about passed out, she was so excited. Also I was involved in The Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC and two of the Cherry Blossom Princesses came up to me and wanted my autograph, because they both had been big Mother Goose fans. One told me that she even played the Mother Goose dvd for someone she had just had started dating. (That must have been an unusual for that guy!) But then she told me they had been dating for a few months, so it may have had a positive effect too!
Having read kids' stories and singing nursery rhymes, has it given you a sense of nostalgia recalling these tunes and stories as a child?
When I was a child, my dad read stories and sang songs to me every night before I went to bed. I would keep that poor man singing to me for at least an extra half hour with requests for encores! But, my dad also had a great sense of make believe and he would incorporate various character voices when telling stories. would tell me about "Breir Rabbit....AND Peter Rabbit and his nemesis, "Mr. MacGregor." And Dad would sing child specific songs, but he would also intermix them with old fashioned songs like Roamin' In The Gloamin' or Sweet And Low
Were there other producers who contacted you about doing another kids show, or was this the one and only time you've worked in one?
I did a special stage show portraying "The Queen Of Toys" in a specially written show for a toy convention. But other than that I have staged shows with children. I directed and acted in one with six kids and teens, plus six adults in a comedy show entitled, "Accompanied By Adults" that was staged at the Groundlings Theatre in Los Angeles.
Suppose you had a different role on the show. If you had to choose any of the female cast members you worked with, who would you think would have been a great choice for Mother Goose (even though you were the perfect fit for her character)?
Sharon Baird, who played Miss Muffett. However, at that point I was the right age as most of my friends had small children going to Gymboree etc. I know at first, the producers were concerned that I was young for the role, as up until then the traditional depiction of Mother Goose was more like GRANDMother Goose! But then it was ultimately decided that it was fine and perhaps more appropriate to have a younger Mother Goose, portrayed by someone who was the right age to have small children.
With Mother Goose being a big step-up in your show business career and a huge hit, have you acted/appeared in various other TV shows and movies since then? And what have you been working on up to this day?
Later on I was a regular character on a TV family drama series with Ben Affleck entitled AGAINST THE GRAIN that was also on Friday evenings. I also guest-starred on SAVED BY THE BELL, THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW, THE CLIENT, ANY DAY NOW and MARRIED WITH CHILDREN. I have appeared in various movies, a few of which have been LOVER BOY, AMERICANIZING SHELLEY, LIFE FINE TUNED, and THE FELLOWS HIP: RISE OF THE GAMERS
My reviews for the Mother Goose series are the most frequently visited pages out of all the other written reviews on this website thus far. Is there anything you like to tell all the fans, old and new, reading this interview?
I've been blessed that I have gotten to participate in many wonderful projects in my career. Still portraying Mother Goose is something I am always especially proud of. I am still acting, and I also have an acting school in the Washington DC Area. It is called THE CHERYL FELICIA RHOADS NORTHERN VIRGINIA ACTING SCHOOL. ( www.cherylrhoads.com ) We are located in Falls Church, Virginia. I teach ages 7 to 70, in acting and writing classes for kids, teens and adults. I have had over 4000 students come to my acting school in the past five years.
Huge thanks to Cheryl Rhoads for her time in answering our questions! For more Cheryl Rhoads, you can check out her IMDB profile page, and/or you can pay a visit on her website at www.cherylrhoads.com.