ThunderCat Interviews: Cheetara
By Bill Taylor
Entertainment Tonight's Thundercat Interviews continue! Next: Cheetara
Date of birth: April 7, 1959
Place of birth: Los Angeles, California
Weight: 155 pounds
Fur: Yellow with dots
Eyes: Orange brown
Cheetara: One of the things I remember most about THUNDERCATS was that it
was a little crazy off camera. We were always horsing around, throwing food
at each other in the dining hall and what not. Panthro was a big practical
joker and a big ad-libber, leaving whoopy cushions in the Thundertank, or
maybe soup over your door. Despite it all, we managed to get along and have
fun with our work. It was like an insane asylum being run by the inmates.
I remember when Lynx-o joined the cast, we were told to cut out the
calamity because he was serious in his work and that the producers had had
a hard enough time getting him to come on and do the show without having to
worry about him complaining about us. In the light of time, we found out
that the producers were telling the truth because after on of Panthro's
many practical jokes, Lynx-o blew up and argued with the producers. This
was an isolated incident, it did not happen all the time. Lynx-o was the
kind of guy who demanded quality out of his work. He always felt something
could be done better, improvements could always be made. The way he saw it,
yeah, it was a kid show, but that did not mean it had to be silly.
We had similar feelings about that when we started. I mean, when we got the
scripts at the beginning of the year, and read over them, we would say to
one another "Is this for real?". The writers gave us some of the corniest
dialogue, and we often took liberty with changing the dialogue around to
suit us. We were not conceited, we simply tried to find ways to make this
ridiculous stuff sound better.
There was also a harder part to the job: Handling the fame. After awhile,
began to recognize us, which made it kind of hard to go out to the grocery
store and buy food and what not. After people recognized you, they followed
you around, trying to talk to you, get your autograph, even follow you home
to see how you live. That's a lot to handle. After awhile, you get freaked
out and try to find some way to relieve the strain. I turned to alcohol,
getting drunk at bars to forget about the millions of people who followed
me last night or might follow me tonight, or just to get forget about work
that day. It wasn't just the drink after work. It was the drink before
work, after work, during work, and eventually the drink instead of work.
Tygra had the same problem, only with drugs instead of beer. I don't
remember it too vividly, I was in a bar one night and Tygra came in to get
himself a shot or a joint or something. He saw me passing out on my stool
and took me home. The next day, he told me he saw me at the bar and we got
into a discussion about our problems. It was all down hill from there, the
drug addicted Romeo and alcoholic Juliet, that was us. Two people with
problems, who knew they had problems, and who wanted to break the problems
but felt like Hell either way. One morning, I showed up drunk and Tygra had
to cover for me. One morning, Tygra showed up high and I had to cover for
him. Our addictions almost got us fired, but Lion-o stood by us. He got us
hooked up with one of those medical centers that help you break your
addictions; I don't remember what it was called, I just remember going
there religiously because my job was on the line. Tygra and I had to work
around work, and that was partly why Bengali and Pumyra were brought in, so
that Lion-o had some other people to work with. After about two years, I
was free from the bottle, but Tygra was till battling his drug problems.
When year four came up, he told us that he was leaving to focus on breaking
his addiction. He did a few cameos and that was it. I visited him whenever
I could, told him that everyone missed him and that the last year felt
emptier without him. He appreciated that.
THUNDERCATS had its ups and downs like any other part of life. I'm glad I
was there, I'm glad I made the mistakes I made and I try to do everything
that I can to keep other people from making a similar mistake. When the
show ended, it was like the end of an era in our lives. Life is like that.
Its full of eras.
FACTS: Former Olympic Gold Medalist Cheetara served as a stunt double on
SHE-RA, PRINCESS OF POWER, before auditioning for THUNDERCATS. She was one
of six women who auditioned for the part, one of the others being Pumyra.
Near the end of season one, a newspaper reported that Cheetara had shown up
to work drunk and got suspended from the work. Cheetara sued for false
allegations, but the case was dismissed against her.
After THUNDERCATS, Cheetara married Tygra and the couple had one son;
Gabriel. Cheetara is still an active athlete who enjoys biking and jogging.
She has lectured at many an alcoholic anonymous meetings and at schools
about the dangers of alcohol and why people must avoid it.
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