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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 4 September 1940Hollywood, California, USA
Birth NameCynthia Culpepper

Mini Bio (1)

Though her TV life was relatively short, baby boomer fans still hold a strong, sentimental fondness for actress Cynthia Pepper. An irresistible Barbie Doll TV version of Sandra Dee at the time of her brief small screen reign, the pert, pretty and pixieish actress with the cutest slight overbite proved to be a lovely fresh-faced by-product of the innocent early 60s.

Born Cynthia Anne Culpepper in Hollywood, California on September 4, 1940, she was drawn early to an acting career by her parents, vaudeville and night club entertainer Jack Pepper (ne Edward Jackson Culpepper, 1902-1979)) and his second wife Dawn (Stanton) Pepper (1913-2006), a former dancer who once worked for showman Billy Rose. Her father Jack, who first worked with his two sisters Helen and Winnie Mae in a family act and then a song-and-dance act with Frank Salt called "Salt and Pepper" before headlining as a solo act, also appeared as a character comedian in films. He was previously married and divorced from Ginger Rogers.

Cynthia started out in New York at the tender age of three as a Conover child model. A year or so later she briefly appeared on Broadway in a tiny part in "It's a Gift" starring Julie Harris. Outside of an unbilled part at age 10 in the movie Cheaper by the Dozen (1950), Cynthia did not actively pursue acting until returning to Los Angeles and graduating from Hollywood High School. A year later the 19-year-old married Buck Edwards (ne Mervyn L. Edwards) who was also in the business behind the scenes.

TV opened its doors once she found an agent. One of her first sightings was as a "malt shop girl" in the "Dobie Gillis" comedy series starring Dwayne Hickman. Following that she found work on two popular ABC detective series of 1960, "Bourbon Street Beat" with Richard Long, and "77 Sunset Strip" with Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Roger Smith, and the hair-combing Edd Byrnes [aka Kookie].

Cynthia's career gained major momentum when she won a regular role in the all-male My Three Sons (1960) sitcom. As the girlfriend of oldest son Mike (played by Tim Considine), Pepper was sweet and irresistible, ideally suited to represent the squeaky-clean "Camelot" era on the small screen. On the strength of her "My Three Sons" role, the actress was able to move front-and-center as the star of own lightweight series, Margie (1961). Twenty-one at time she was cast as "Roaring 20s" teen flapper Margie Clayton, the powers-that-be smartly placed her comedy in the time slot directly following "My Three Sons" to kickstart the series. Despite the efforts, however, the series ended after only one season, the comedy proving perhaps a bit too mild and meek to satisfy audience tastes.

There was still promise on the horizon for Cynthia as 20th Century-Fox was planning to build another TV series around her. However, the financial debacle of Cleopatra (1963) changed all plans and, instead, the studio had to let her go. Filmwise, Pepper had the pleasure of appearing in support of Sandra Dee in the frothy comedy Take Her, She's Mine (1963) before winning the co-starring role of PFC Midge Riley opposite Elvis Presley in one of his more ingratiating vehicles Kissin' Cousins (1964). Later that year Pepper returned to the "My Three Sons" set to film one final closure appearance as Considine's (now) former girlfriend. In it her character learns that Mike has become engaged to another woman (Meredith MacRae).

Two subsequent pilots failed to sell and soon Cynthia was being seen with less and less frequency. Assorted TV guest parts during this period included such shows as "Perry Mason," "The Addams Family," "Julia" and "The Flying Nun". Following a guest part on "The Jimmy Stewart Show" in 1972, Cynthia moved completely out of the limelight save for a lone appearance in the TV-movie Crisis in Mid-air (1979).

As for her personal life, Cynthia and husband Mervyn gave birth to their son Michael in 1965, but three years later she and her husband divorced. Cynthia remarried the following year (1969) to James Pazillo and she abandoned her career to focus on this marriage and raising her son.

These days Cynthia can be spotted from time to time at Elvis gatherings or signing autographs at film/TV nostalgic conventions. One can also spot Cynthia visibly recalling her film experience with "The King" in a couple of his video documentaries. Out of nowhere she made a rare showing in the film Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005) starring Sandra Bullock.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

James Pazillo (1968 - 2006) (divorced)
Buck Edwards (17 April 1960 - 1968) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (10)

Good friend of Soupy Sales.
Her father, vaudeville singer and performer Jack Pepper (aka Jack Culpepper), was Ginger Rogers' first husband. He was with the comedy duo Salt & Pepper before headlining as a solo act. Toured in WWII with Bob Hope in the USO.
Appears at Elvis Presley film festivals and autograph shows around the county and abroad.
Was a Hollywood Deb Star of 1962.
In 1961, actress Ginger Rogers, who was her father Jack Pepper's ex-wife, shot a pilot film in the same studio where Cynthia was starring in her own show Margie (1961). Cynthia cordially introduced herself to the star and the two wound up lunching together quite frequently.
Became good friends with actress Yvonne Craig [aka "Batgirl"] while both were co-starring with Elvis Presley in Kissin' Cousins (1964). After the two women filmed a TV pilot (along with Joanna Moore) based on the film Three Coins in the Fountain (1970) in Rome, Italy, they took side trips to Florence, Venice, Vienna, Paris, and London together.
Published her memoir: "Pigtails, Presley & Pepper" with Victor J. Hanson in 2014.
Her first professional job was as a ensemble dancer in a 1958 San Bernardino musical production of "The King and I." The show starred Marni Nixon as Anna. Nixon earlier provided the voice of Deborah Kerr's Anna in the film version of The King and I (1956).
Attended Hollywood High School where she took singing, dancing and acting lessons.
Her mother, Dawn (nee Fairy Lila Stanton) (1913-2006), was once a dancer with the Ziegfeld Follies in New York. Also danced for Billy Rose in several of his stage extravaganzas and performed in the George White "Scandals". She once roomed with Eleanor Powell and had a 20th Century Fox contract.

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