Roberta Shore, a film and television starlet in the early 1960s — who now prefers going by her non-stage name, Jymme Frederickson — will be making her first public stage appearance in 25 years when she and her husband star in the Babcock Performing Readers' production of A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters" on Thursday.
Thirty-seven years ago, when she was 17, the then up-and-coming Hollywood actress said in a Deseret News article that her dream of success "is to marry, have 10 children, and live the rest of my life in Utah."
Two out of three isn't bad.
Now in her mid-50s, Frederickson — who shed her acting career (and her pony tail) years ago — said this week, "I was pretty naive then about the 10 children."
But she did, indeed, move to Utah (she's lived here for more than 30 years). She has also been married — first to Kent K. Christensen in 1964 in the Los Angeles LDS temple; then, following a divorce, to Terry C. Barber, who died in 1987 of a brain tumor; and now to former Salt Lake thespian and retired theater professor Ron Frederickson.
She also had two daughters — eight fewer than she originally predicted — by her first marriage, and inherited four more when she married Frederickson. Between them, they have 133/4 grandchildren.
The last time audiences saw Roberta Shore on stage, except for possibly one or two LDS Church stake performances, was in 1975, in "Wait Until Dark" at Pioneer Memorial Theatre.
Next week's Babcock Performing Readers show has a slightly ironic touch. Several years ago, Ron Frederickson, who retired last year after 26 years on the theater faculty at Emporia State Uni-
versity in Emporia, Kans., wrote his University of Utah master's thesis on Maud May Babcock, the Performing Readers legendary namesake.
Shore, who grew up in San Gabriel, a suburb of Los Angeles, was a busy young actress in the 1960s, including three seasons as Lee J. Cobb's daughter on NBC's Western hit, "The Virginian." She also played Francesca in the Walt Disney movie, "The Shaggy Dog," with Fred MacMurray and Tommy Kirk, and was Annette Funicello's bratty friend, Laura, on the Mickey Mouse Club's "Annette" series.
Her maiden name is Roberta Jymme Schourup, which was first changed to Jymme Shore, then changed again to Roberta Shore after Walt Disney thought that Mousketeer fans would think "Jymme" was a boy. (It's pronounced "Jimmy.")
When her Hollywood career was in high gear, Shore would spend many of her weekends flying all over the country to speak at LDS Church youth conferences, firesides and institute programs.
"I was raised in the church and was brought up as a very strict Mormon. My sister married a gentleman who was the 16th of 17 children, which is where I may have gotten the idea of having 10 children of my own," Shore explained just before taking off for California on a brief business trip. While there, she's planning on visiting her mother, now 83.
"She's going to outlive us all," Shore exclaimed.
One of Shore's daughters lives in Alpine, Utah, and the other lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.
When she was performing in the early '60s, Shore was engaged briefly to Mike Westmore, who was part of Hollywood's famous makeup/cosmetics family. "His mother was my hairdresser on the set, and he joined the church, but the engagement didn't work out. Some of his brother's children are still very active in the church, however."
She met her first husband, Ogden native Kent Christensen, when she was speaking at a fireside in Los Angeles and he was five weeks away from being released from his mission. "We started corresponding and had a long-distance courtship before we got married on Dec. 19, 1964. When I left 'The Virginian' to get married, that was something that was unheard of in Hollywood. The producers really didn't think I was leaving the show."
That next season, she made one more appearance — to marry a traveling minister played by Glen Corbett, which was how she was written out of the show.
In addition to her TV work, Shore has been listed with having uncredited roles in such diverse films as MGM's then controversial 1962 version of "Lolita," two big 1959 teenage hits, "A Summer Place" and "Blue Denim," and "Because They're Young."
She also had ongoing roles in "The Bob Cummings Show" and "Father Knows Best."
Shore says she doesn't miss acting as much as singing.
"I miss the music. Music was my first love," she said.
She was one of the first to record and perform Sy Miller's "Let There Be Peace on Earth." "He was my singing coach and he wrote it."
She also performed on a number of 45s and LP recordings on both the Dot and Buena Vista (Disney) labels, including one with Rex Allen Sr., who recently died. One of the studio musicians during that time was a talented young guitarist by the name of Glen Campbell. Shore also performed with costar Randy Boone on a "Virginian" album, which has become a collector's item.
In recent years, Shore has been making frequent personal appearances at Western memorabilia shows. "I've seen a lot of people I used to work with, and who I haven't seen in nearly 30 years, including James Drury and Tommy Kirk. I've also done some shows with Dale Robertson, Harry Carey Jr. and George Montgomery. It had been 32 years since I'd seen Tommy."
Shore noted that she also bumped into another LDS actress from the 1950s and '60s — Terry Moore — at one of the memorabilia gatherings. "Back when Mike Westmore and I were engaged, he was listening to LDS missionary discussions at (fashion designer) Rose Marie Reid's home in Los Angeles, along with Terry Moore's husband at the time."
Shore's husband, Frederickson, has also been stumbling into colleagues from his past as well.
In 1971 he had a featured role in "Born Yesterday" at PMT, which had Sue Ane Langdon as a guest star. The year before he also co-starred with her in PMT's "The Apple Tree" — a musical version of Adam and Eve; Frederickson played the snake. (Playing the snake in "The Apple Tree" may have looked good on his resume — he later played Satan in one of the LDS Church's early temple films.)
Just recently, the Fredericksons saw Langdon in Laughlin, Nev. "It's interesting to see how all of these friends from the past have aged," said Shore.
Frederickson himself was pretty well-known in local acting circles during the '60s and early '70s. In 1968, he was appointed — along with Ralph G. Rodgers Jr. and D. Gordon Paxman — to the general board of the LDS Church's Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association.
Frederickson is also directing the Babcock Performing Readers' version of "Love Letters." He previously directed two other Gurney plays at Emporia State University — "The Dining Room" and "Sylvia."
Asked how he and his wife would approach some of the questionable language in "Love Letters," Frederickson said, "I've always had a love of the theater, and I've also been very active and involved in the LDS Church. I feel it's important to honor the playwright's text, so there's a kind of ethical line on one side and a moral line on the other, but I think I've struck a difference between the actor and the character.
"Some playwrights are willing to make minor adjustments. When I directed Gurney's comedy 'Sylvia,' he provided alternative language that was far less offensive than the way the script is written. He is sensitive to that. David Mamet, on the other hand, may not be quite so flexible."
One of Frederickson's last directorial assignments at ESU was Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," which also just closed at PMT. "My student cast prevailed upon me to keep the language intact," he said.
He most recently portrayed Dr. John Buchanan Sr. in the Babcock Theatre production of Tennessee Williams' "Summer and Smoke," a role that involved some minor profanity, "and I chose not to make an issue of it."
Frederickson directed more than 70 plays and musicals at ESU. As a young man growing up and studying in Salt Lake City, he performed throughout the area, including the old Playbox and Theatre 138. He also appeared in several BYU films; he was Oliver Cowdery in "The Three Witnesses" and the reluctant home teacher in an LDS Church film that also features Mike Farrell (of TV's "M*A*S*H").
Meanwhile Jymme Frederickson — a k a Roberta Shore — keeps busy going on occasional business trips as a manufacturer's representative, a job once performed by her late husband, Terry Barber.
And, sometime in the future, the Fredericksons are considering the possibility of serving an LDS mission together.
"I'd love to go to Nauvoo," said Shore. "I've never been there."
"Love Letters" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Little Theatre of the U.'s Olpin Union Building. The performance is free of charge and will be followed by light refreshments and a reception. Free parking is available after 6 p.m. in the lot directly east of the building.