Bill Bixby’s Quotes

On the Acting Profession: ………..

The Milwaukee Journal….. Aug 15, 1965

"To me there’s only one position you can take as an actor. That’s to get into such a financial position you can afford to say no. Integrity is one thing, but you have to be able to afford good taste."

"I don’t care how small the part. Do you know I did a five minute bit on the Danny Thomas Show and that led to two years’ work? None of this would have happened if I hadn’t taken some small parts. I don’t see how you can sit around and starve to death waiting for just the right role."

"There’s something we haven’t mentioned here. This is a business. Phooey to the art form. You should use a businessman’s head when doing it. Not an actor’s head or you’ll starve to death."

"I’m not the party type. Just to go to a party and talk acting all the time is stupid."

TV Picture Life ……Sept.1964

"I learn about acting by watching real people. If I’m trying to interpret a new character I’ll find someone who suits that character and I’ll watch him."

Kansas City Star ……Oct 3, 1965

"I don’t try to be funny. I guess you’d call me an improvisational actor. I don’t realize I’ve been funny until after I’ve done it."

……Atlanta Constitution….. July 12,1965

On the 1965 film "Ride Beyond Vengeance":

"I can only do one picture a year during the ‘Martian’ hiatus. I was offered two comedies this summer but I decided to take the heavy dramatic role instead.

"If it hadn’t been for TV I wouldn’t have even been considered for the movie. But when I’m out with a genuine movie star, I notice the difference of the reaction of the public. They hold the movie star in awe, but they come right up to a TV personality and slap him on the back."

The Milwaukee Journal August 15, 1965 (added 8/25/06)

"I’m not giving you a lot of false humility. I feel I’m a good actor and I know my craft. But how would you feel if you ate pancakes every day for five years? I don’t want to be considered just a comic. I couldn’t get up on the stage and tell jokes.

"I’m sure I’m going to be criticized for taking a role this heavy. But I don’t feel I’ll be disillusioning people. You can’t make everyone like you. Maybe you can’t become a "star" unless you limit yourself.

"…You see, I don’t have any control over [stardom]. Suppose the public will take to me. The public will then make me a star. If not, I would like to direct.

"Certainly some of the better directors I’ve worked for were actors first. Slowly but surely it’s coming out that actors are not all petulant children. They have brains in their heads."


AUSTRALIA TV WEEK …..March 19, 1966 (added 2/6/02))…………..

"Hollywood is the land of instant everything.

"If you’ve been working for years to make it as an actor and you finally land a good role in a film, you are classed as an instant success -- even if you’ve spent 10 years being kicked out of producers’ offices.

"There’s another ‘instant’ case—instant stardom.

"This happens when you are cast in a leading role in a television series. As soon as the series is sold to a network, the studio press department labels the actor a star.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. How can you be a star when nobody has seen you in the role before? How can you be a star when there’s no way of telling just how popular you are with the public?

"C’mon, even when the show is successful, there’s no way of knowing what portion of the whole makes it popular.

"Let’s face it. A star is an actor whose name means box-office.

"He’s a man whom people will plunk down money to see in a performance.

"Richard Burton is a star. Jack Lemmon is a star. But a television performer? No dice. If you’re on television, you’re a personality—underline that—personality.

"Okay now, let’s get personal. I’ve been on ‘My Favorite Martian’, a highly rated show—for two years. After two solid years on the tube, am I a star? No! Not by a longshot.

"After two years I’ve finally reached the point where the name Bill Bixby is recognized. For the first six months we were on the air, I was "what’s-his-name?" to millions of viewers.

"Then, for another six months, I was, ‘you-know-the-guy-who plays-Tim O’Hara-on-My-Favorite-Martian’.

"Then people began calling me by name—the wrong name, but at least any name: Bill Bixley, Phil Bickerton, Pixley Bickler Pixie.

"I didn’t care.

"It took a year and a half of constant appearances in people’s living rooms before the public knew my name. It still hadn’t made me a star but it put me on the right road.

"If it hadn’t been for the series, I may never had been known enough to be signed for the picture I just finished with Chuck Connors ‘Night of the Tiger’ (ed. Note: "Ride Beyond Vengeance" )

"I play a sadistic heavy—which may surprise any of you who’ve been ‘My Favorite Martian’ viewers. But the important thing is that the role is good and carries co-star billing.

"Back to the original point, is co-star billing synonymous with stardom? It’s a nudge in the right direction but the answer remains, ‘No.’

"Am I losing sleep over it? No. Why not? Because acting has little to do with stardom. And I’m tickled pink that my acting career is booming. Stardom will take care of itself."


Los Angeles Herald Examiner Sept or Oct (?) 1969: Source: Margaret Herrick Library, Los Angeles

"I have to get back in front of an audience from time to time to work out my comedy improvisations…The things the audience likes I keep and use. What’s disliked I discard forever."

"Luck has created much of what I have today, but at the same time, I haven’t sat still.

"You can’t be idle and have things happen. Some people say, ‘Why have you accepted so many small parts through the years?’ Well, my reply is that I try to make something out of a small role…"


unknown TV/movie fan magazine Sept.(?) 1968 …. (added 3/21/04)

"People who want to be celebrities deprive themselves of privacy so they can be celebrities…Then they beef…outwardly…because they don’t have privacy. Inwardly they really enjoy the adulation from the public. Most of the celebrities I know have press agents…so they won’t be deprived of their privacy!"

Movie World Magazine April 1971 (added 8/25/06)

"A light man comes to work with his lights, a gaffer comes with his tools, an actor comes with his emotions; and since that is what you spend during the day, you’ve got to take time to re-nourish your brain. All actors are insecure people. They need public recognition. But much more than that, they need private recognition."


The Mike Douglas Show …..(telecast March 1972)

MIKE DOUGLAS: Is it possible to play anyone but yourself in a series?

BILL BIXBY: Oh,yes! Oh, I think so. I would have to agree with the fact that most actors are schizophrenic. They are able to escape in other roles. Of course, many of your own personal manifestations go into that characterization…

BILL BIXBY: I try to play three killers a year. I mean that seriously. I try to go with anything that beats the image of Eddie’s father….to remind people that I’m an actor and Eddie’s father is merely a character that I play…


Movieland & TV Time …..May 1972 ……..(added 11/17/00)

"….The worst part of being an actor is that you’re forever faced with judgments that too frequently are rejections. An actor’s a nobody, a nothing, if he isn’t a hit. He has to keep searching for breaks, build up his confidence though it can be shattered by someone’s opinion. To be convincing, he has to make a role real to himself. But if acting becomes the main reason for living, that’s truly sad.

"….When I’m acting, I’m not lying. I’m only withholding the rest of myself that isn’t pertinent. Charm is something else. It’s a caring quality. Cary Grant is a master of it…."


Article June 30, 1972 (source: NYC Public Library for the Performing Arts)

"I just don’t believe that movie stars should trade on their image to influence the public about something as important as voting. If a big star wants to put his money behind a candidate, that’s fine. Or maybe they could stuff envelopes or do some of the boring, routine, but necessary jobs in a campaign….Frankly, I don’t think being an actor qualifies you to advise the nation on political philosophy."


Talking With a Giant …..(telecast Nov. 4, 1972)……………………………..

BILL BIXBY: …Have you found, as I have found, when you are just doing a scene, for example..a scene with one other student, just the two of you are working together—that the better you get…the more you concentrate on what you have to do…the more you have to give within your character--the more response you get from the other person-?"

"…The better actor you are, usually, the response you get from the other actor is better, because there’s more to work from. And the more you improve yourself, the better they improve—and all of a sudden you start looking at the other actor like they are making all the improvement, but they’re not—you both are."


Los Angeles Herald Examiner ….Sept 30, 1973

"This part {Anthony Blake, the Magician}gives me a whole new career. The previous series I did stamped me as an actor of light comedy. You know how this business is. It limits a performer, it makes him a specialist. That’s great if you want to be a star; bad if you want to be an actor. I’ve always wanted to be an actor.

"When I was Eddie’s father, I tried to get into at least three dramas a year. I didn’t care to be thought of as only a light comedy actor. Now that I’m in a drama, it’s my objective to be in three light pieces a year. What I do, besides my series, should be of a reverse kind."

Philadelphia Inquirer Sept. 30, 1973

"I started in broad comedy, pure slapstick, then progressed from situation comedy to situation realty. When you do more serious stuff, you’re ‘taken seriously’. That makes me laugh because comedy is harder."


.. (added 5/15/09)

 TV GUIDE Dec 1, 1973

"I’m not a comedy person. I’m an actor. I don’t want to be boxed into one kind of vehicle. I want to reach into new areas. I want to confront an intellectual exercise to stretch my acting muscle. The only way to grow is to risk failure. Be unique! Not a copy! I’d rather be copied."

QUOTE from 1973 in a TELEVISION CHRONICLES #5 article on "The Magician" (added 7/6/04)

"…Doing a television series is something like living with someone. You must like his character in order to assume his identity."

GIRL TALK Magazine, June 1974

"Why did I choose acting? Because instinctively, it felt right. As a result, I find myself in a minority of people working at a job I dearly love. I get up in the morning and I get to go to work. I drive to work with a passion, that’s a lovely state of affairs. I really, really love it. I love directing, too. I love working on the stage. I love doing TV, because it demands the most in the minimum amount of time—that’s a test of your mettle."

 (added 6/1/09)


Cincinnati Enquirer July 9, 1975 interview with Tom McElfresh (added 4/16/01)

Bixby tries to go out to {do} theatre at least once a year. "For my artistic muscle exercises," he said. In front of a camera, "you can get totally self-oriented. Especially in comedy. You can use every actor’s instinct, but there’s no audience to let you know if your instincts are right and your timing is true. On film, a technician in an editing room can tighten up reactions or lay in a laugh track but he’s on your side and the laugh is meaningless. If a live audience finds you faulty, its members sit staring silently, a terrifying feeling." 

Los Angeles Herald Examiner Feb. 16, 1977 (added 12/29/00). (photo:R.Baily Chicago Tribune 1978.)

"I only take parts I want to do. Things that are unusual for me, that will make people say, "I didn’t know he could do that!’"



 A 4 minute Chicago TV interview with Bill Bixby from March 1977 YOU TUBE




ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT (telecast Dec 23,1983)

"Some guy stood next to me, and said, ‘Well, I was in a high school play once. I could’ve done that!’ And there was a temptation…like I said, this was early on in my career…to grab the guy and say, ‘Good! Stand here on this mark—I’ll give you ten minutes--here—you learn these four pages—I’ll give you ten minutes more and put a camera here and I don’t want you to think about the fact that thirty million people are going to see this! Now don’t you think about that!’"

PM MAGAZINE (telecast Dec. 27, 1983)

"When I started in this business, if …if you did a commercial, they went, ‘If you do a commercial, you’ll never be an actor!! You know that! You’ll never be on television! They’ll never let you in that--oh,no, Oh no!! Don’t do commercials-ugh! Boo! But if you do television—and you’re on a television show--you’ll never get in a movie! And if you do any of that stuff, you’ll never get on a Broadway stage!!’ And that’s what I started with—this image of—‘My God!! I’d better not take that (commercial)-’—Well, no! I’ve never believed that. I’m an actor. If you give me the gig, my job is to perform."

"The personal things that happened to me in my life seem to emotionally translate to some of (my) characters. It may have been someone else’s lines, but since the feelings were real. I think people identified with the reality of those feelings."


Los Angeles Times March 25, 1984 (source: Margaret Herrick Library, Los Angeles)

"I’ve always tried not to have ‘family shows’ but shows that the family could watch. ‘Eddie’s Father’ communicated to two generations. Teenagers who watched ‘Martian’ became parents during Eddie’s Father’. From there it’s been a natural flow. I’ve had a privileged kind of momentum and an awful lot of luck.

"The key to an actor’s success is for the audience to like him as a person. People will accept a character as exotic as the Magician or the Hulk as long as you don’t talk down to them."




/My Favorite Martian/ /The Courtship of Eddie’s Father//PBS’s "Steambath"//The Magician/

/The Incredible Hulk//Goodnight Beantown//On Directing// /On Television//On Public Recognition/

/Some Personal Thoughts/  


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