Jo Anne Worley, actress and comedian, makes no bones about it. She loves to shop.
"Theater and entertainment are my avocations. Shopping is my real vocation," she said, adding a Worley howl for emphasis.
She proved her prowess the other day at her favorite store--Saks Fifth Avenue. She usually shops the Saks in Beverly Hills or New York. But on Wednesday she headed for South Coast Plaza. In Orange County for rehearsals of the Strauss opera "Die Fledermaus," which opens tonight at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Worley wanted to shop. Not that Worley needs excuses, but her excuse to shop was to promote her role as the decadent Russian Prince Orlofsky in the Opera Pacific production. So she shopped as the prince himself might.
Store executives had been warned and were on hand to welcome the celebrity, although several unsuspecting customers were startled as the large woman in false eyelashes, bright red cheeks and flowing black cape swirled through cosmetics, luggage and men's clothing.
The trouble was, surrounded by her favorite merchandise in her favorite setting, Worley kept getting waylaid by feminine enticements. And there was no keeping her from the costume jewelry department.
"I saved a lot of money here the other day," she said, bellying up to the jewelry counter. "Oooouuuhh," she squealed. "Good prices."
As she began pawing the baubles a salesman stepped forth holding up brightly colored necklaces.
"One hundred percent Lucite," he said, with obvious pride.
"I'll take it. Do you accept rubles or a credit card," said Worley, remembering her role.
After the transaction, Worley stashed her credit card into her bra, creating a stir in handbags nearby.
"I always put my card here. Then you don't have to keep going into your wallet."
Throughout the spree, Worley was asked about her acting and comedy career. Worley had put in a few years of off-Broadway and nightclub work before she was discovered at The Duplex in New York by Merv Griffin. He asked her to appear on his television talk show more than 50 times and it was on that show that George Schlatter saw her and signed her on to "Laugh In."
Worley since has performed in national touring productions of "Carnival," "Pirates of Penzance," "Mame," "Hello Dolly," "Once Upon a Mattress," "Anything Goes" and "Gypsy."
But, she insists, she'd rather be shopping. Saks has been her favorite store since she's had enough money to spend there. She also favored the original Bullocks-Wilshire store and can't wait to get back to the Price Club, a membership warehouse.
At the cosmetic counter, Worley wanted to see the Erno Laszlo line.
"Well, it's very good for your skin," she explained. "And it's very expensive."
"Oh no, it's really not," the sales clerk said.
"Yes it is," countered Worley. "Look at the price, $22 for a bar of black soap. But it is good for you. And Jackie Onassis used it, and Joan Crawford. 'Course, she's dead, so I don't know if that's a good example."
After storming through a few more departments, raising a few more eyebrows and dipping into her brassiere a few more times, Worley was off, in as much of a flurry as when she arrived. With her spree completed, it was time for rehearsal.