Hi there! It’s so nice to meet you. I wanted to write this biography so my fans could get to know me a bit better. For those of you who don’t know my films, I hope after reading this you will want to see them.
I was born Linda Kay Lowry in East St. Louis, Illinois… not Cahokia, as most other biographies state. I did, however, live in Cahokia, IL, for the first 11 years of my life.
What can I say about those early formative years? I was extremely shy, until I got up one day and gave a report on the spider. You see, I was already preparing for my future in horror films. I received such an overwhelming response from my classmates that I knew I wanted to be an actress. I also played the trumpet from the age of 5 on, coached by my dad, who has played the horn all his life. I won a great many medals in contests playing the trumpet with my knobby knees shaking. Aside from the music, a handful of school plays, and skits that I wrote myself, Cahokia definitely lacked culture.
At age 12, we moved to Burbank, CA, which was quite a culture shock for a girl from the Midwest. But, I immediately immersed myself in the drama department at Burbank High School and started getting roles in plays like “Sorry Wrong Number,” “Portrait Of A Madonna,” and “The Music Man.”
My mother, Jean, was instrumental in my early training as an actress, spending hours going through each nuance of the characters. For a little girl from Cahokia with no background or training in theatre, I was already making a name for myself. So, you can imagine how disappointed I was when my Dad was transferred to Decatur, Georgia. Having to start all over again was world shattering to me. But, start all over I did. I organized a drama club at Southwest Dekalb High School and was chosen out of thousands of people to attend the Governors Honors Program… a program for gifted people in their field. I acted, directed, and produced countless plays, finally winning a scholarship in speech and drama at the University of Georgia.
In 1968, after 2 years of college… doing everything from Shaw to Pinter to Shakespeare… I worked two seasons of summer stock with John Belushi in Bloomfield, Indiana. I then took a little detour from my career, married my first husband (who I had met doing Pirandello’s “Six Characters In Search Of An Author”), and gave birth to my son, Ian… a beautiful 10 pound (ouch) baby boy.
My husband and I moved back to Georgia and I became a Playboy Bunny at the Atlanta Playboy Club. I have to tell you that I was one of the worst bunnies ever. It is not a glamorous job, as many think. High heels, tight costumes that cut off your circulation, holding extremely heavy trays with one arm while you do the bunny dip, bending backwards and killing your back, and always having to keep your tail brushed. Because I was so thin, they called me Bunny Mia (after Mia Farrow) and had me play bumper pool. Leaning over the table gave you more cleavage.
My bunnydom didn’t last very long… and while performing this duty, I was learning to be a brand new mom. Even though I loved being a mother, I felt my dream of becoming an actress had come to an end. However, not one to be deterred from my goal (I was pretty ballsy in those days), after two years of a rather unhappy marriage I packed up my things and my son. With only $40 in my pocket, not knowing a soul in the very Big Apple, I moved to New York City to do what I knew I was meant to do… ACT!
This was a most difficult period of my life. Being a mother, working full time as a bartender, taking acting lessons, and starting my modeling career was extremely time consuming. But, I prevailed. One day, in 1970, I was at an audition for a film entitled “Joe” (Susan Sarandon got the part). While I was waiting, I met a young man embarking on his first film project. He told me they were supposed to start filming in a couple of days and had just lost their lead actress. The director was Lloyd Kaufman, and Lloyd asked me to do the role of the “Dream Girl” in his fi1m, “The Battle of Love’s Return.” I accepted. Our working relationship was so wonderful, Lloyd later asked me to star in “Sugar Cookies.” “The Battle of Love’s Return” started out as a short and later was extended to a feature length film. I enjoyed working on this movie because I got to play several different characters. This was quite challenging and I realized that this was my definition of true acting… playing someone other than yourself.
Shortly after completing this fi1m, I was called in one day to audition for David Durston who was directing “I Drink Your Blood.” The movie was already cast, but David thought I was so beautiful and had such a unique look that he put me in the film anyway. A very special role was established for me, even though it was never actually written in the script… Carrie a mute hippie. Many fans have asked me about the scene where I cut off the woman’s hand with an electric carving knife. I wanted to play the innocence and curiosity aspect rather than the horror. That has always been one of my favorite moments on film. It is so horrific and graphic, and yet there’s a beautiful simplicity to it. Much of that credit goes to Joe Mangine, the main cinematographer on the film, even though he was not given credit. His lighting and camera work along with David’s direction make this film a really unusual experience to view. Doing this movie changed my entire life. It was my first introduction to “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.”
We were in Sharon Springs, New York, for about three weeks and I had a lot of time to reflect on my life. This film opened up a whole new world to me, one that I had heard existed but had never experienced. And the look on people’s faces when I tell them that I played a mute hippie on acid with rabies that cuts off a ladies hand with an electric carving knife is PRICELESS. I recently saw a screening of this film with a full house at the Beverly Cinema in Hollywood, and this once X-rated film has now become a very funny cult classic. It has also been released recently in the DVD format with the director’s uncut version. Check it out. It’s a treat.
In 1973, I did “Sugar Cookies” and I’m always asked about the relationship with Mary Woronov. Mary is a delightful lady and a very interesting actress. It was a terrific experience working with her and I’m only sorry that I never had the opportunity to work with her again. The lesbian relationship we created was simply a creation and the nudity integral to the plot. This was the first time I had to do extensive nudity. It was difficult in the beginning, but after a while, you simply become a prop. I enjoyed this role because, once again, I played dual characters. Alta (who is truly a bitch) and Julie (who is truly a doll). I find this film interesting to watch and I love hearing the many comments and reviews. Some think this was my finest work and some my worst. I’d love to have your opinion.
I was reading backstage, one day in 1973, and I saw that George Romero was casting his new film, “Code Name Trixie.” George is, of course, famous for his classic “Night of the Living Dead.” They were looking for a sweet, young girl who goes quite crazy, and the film eventually became known as “The Crazies.” After several days of grueling auditions and going quite mad, I was cast as Kathy. It was a wonderful experience working for George. He is very easygoing and always interested in the actor’s ideas. People have often told me that one of their favorite moments on screen is my death scene. I am shot by the soldiers and simply say “Oh!” When George first asked me to do it that way I was reluctant, because I wanted to have a long, dramatic, drawn-out death. However, I realized after seeing the film, that the simplicity and purity of that one sound was far more powerful. I loved working with George. We stay in touch and have been talking about doing another project together. Blue Underground has released a beautiful DVD of “The Crazies.” There’s a wonderful 15-minute interview on my career, titled “Cult Film Legacy of Lynn Lowry.” I’m very proud of it and I hope you get a chance to view it.
I had promised myself that before I was 25 years old I would go to Europe. My next film afforded me that luxury. In 1973, Radley Metzer contacted me about “Score.” This was to be shot on location in Yugoslavia. I really wasn’t interested in doing another sex film, but I was assured that this had been a very successful Off-Broadway comedy and was to be shot in a classy and tasteful way. It was really an adventure taking a 17-hour ride to Yugoslavia and changing planes 3 times. I learned a very important lesson on the journey. Never discuss with other actors what your salary is. I don’t remember how it came up, but it was discovered that I was making a great deal more than anyone else. Claire Wilbur, who had done the Off-Broadway production, was insulted and this caused a riff between us that, unfortunately, lasted throughout the entire production. Love scenes are difficult enough to play in the best of situations and she made it virtually impossible. But that’s what acting is all about and, in the final analysis, I believe we both come across beautifully. This is one of the funniest roles I’ve ever played, but, while making the film, I really didn’t find it very funny. Many fans have asked me why the men’s love scene is so graphic and the women’s is so soft. Cal Culver and Jerry Grant did this scene on a closed set and it was supposed to be simulated sex, just like the women’s scene. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw the film for the first time and realized I was in an X-rated movie. I was not happy about this discovery at all. But, as the years passed and I had the opportunity to see it with a predominately gay audience, it became apparent that it was loved and thought to be quite hysterically funny. I recently had lunch with Radley and he is as elegant as ever. And, I must say, Cal and Jerry were the dearest spirits I have ever known. They are missed by many.
At this point in my life, I decided to really take my craft seriously and began classes with Warren Robertson, who was somewhat of a guru in the acting field. He showed you how to get in touch with your emotions and plug them into the character. I benefited a great deal from studying with him. My instrument was fairly stiff and had a lot of blocked fears. I could do hysterical Tennessee Williams’ characters but couldn’t do something as simple as Neil Simons’ “Barefoot In The Park.” I couldn’t relax enough to enjoy myself on stage. I studied with Warren for 5 years and, although much of the work was painful and difficult, the results were well worth the effort. I was hired for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (I had always dreamed of doing Shakespeare) for the role of Rosalind in “As You Like,” a rock and roll version (I had always dreamed of being a rock star) and the role of Elmira in “Tartuffe,” by Moliere. It was an exciting and fulfilling experience. I also was cast in some commercials in Anniston, Alabama… one for UCB Bank and another for Estee Lauder. But, the most remarkable reward from the Alabama experience was my relationship with Lester Shane. He shared with me more about acting than any other person in my life. I was predominately a method actor and Lester showed me how to add fantastic technique to my work, allowing me to play characters that were nothing like me. He taught me how to make magic and to shine on stage. He is the reason I am such an accomplished performer today. We collaborated on several plays in New York, as well as writing three film scripts. Lester is also my dearest friend, and we remain in close contact.
I did quite a lot of modeling in New York during the 70’s. I was represented by the Wilhemina Agency. My best remembered picture is the beautiful shot that J. Fred Smith took for Playboy. It was so lovely. The artist Rosamond built her whole career on my image. She took the picture, made a few changes, and painted a lithograph. This portrait was immensely popular in the 70’s and 80’s and her other works bear a great similarity to my picture.
I was a close second for the role of Allison in the daytime soap opera “Peyton Place” and, in 1974, the same producers cast me in “How To Survive A Marriage.” I enjoyed soap opera work, but it’s quite grueling. You’re on the set at 6:30 a.m. and you have to learn a new script every day. It’s very much like doing a play, only all in one day. It was exciting having Brad Davis as my boyfriend, Armand Assante as my co-worker, and F. Murray Abrahms as my boss. These actors made the show a creative and challenging experience. I started out as “the bad girl” and ended the series as a heroine. That was great fun. I also starred in an NBC Easter special with Lee Richardson, “The Gathering Of One,” playing his daughter.
I did many plays during these years and was a producer of The Production Company with, Sheldon Epps and Norman Rene. I did several Off-Broadway works, including “Kennedy’s Children,” “Hedda Gabler,” “The White Whore,” and “The Bit Player.” But, my personal favorite was “Summer And Smoke.” This was directed by Lester Shane, at the Manhattan Theatre Club. The production was so successful that it was held over by popular demand. My heart lies in the theatre and this was the most productive, creative, and exciting period of my life…. UNTIL NOW!!!!!
In 1975, Ivan Reitman called me from Canada and told me they wanted me for David Cronenberg’s “They Came From Within,” aka “Shivers,” to be shot in Montreal. This was a most thrilling experience, working with Cronenberg and visiting Canada. It was a hard film to make, though. Night shoots, dealing with the parasite, and working with certain actors proved to be difficult at times. But, the end result provided me with my favorite cinematic moment of all my films. I was not supposed to be in the last scene of “Shivers” that takes place in the swimming pool. But, after they had flown me home, David decided it would be a brilliant choice to have me give Paul Hampton the parasite. When I come up out of the swimming pool, I play a beautiful, sensual, very scary nurse Forsythe. That is my favorite image of myself. And, of course, I have David to thank for that. He was a magnificent director and I loved working for him. I had always hoped there might be a “Shivers 2,” since no one really knows what happens to us. Any fans with ideas please e-mail me. Who knows? We could make a movie.
In 1976, I received a phone call from Jonathan Demme telling me that he wanted to cast me as the female lead in his film “Fighting Mad.” The only catch was that I had to buy my own ticket and fly to California to persuade Roger Corman that I was the girl for the job. So, that’s exactly what I did. I remember going back after the interview was over to tell Roger one thing I had forgotten. I think it was pretty silly when I think back on it, but I told him I would work my ass off for him, and I do believe that’s why I was cast. This was my first mainstream film playing a leading lady and I believed things were really going to open up for me. It starred Peter Fonda and was shot in Arkansas. Peter was quite a personality at the time after having done “Easy Rider.” He carried a gun for protection. One evening, when we were having dinner, two rednecks came over to the table and insisted that he have dinner with them. Peter promised to meet them another time and from that point on stayed in his trailer. I have been asked recently why I didn’t go farther in my career. I made a critical mistake at this point in my life. Instead of moving to California, I stayed in New York to pursue theatre and I’m afraid I missed a great opportunity to move ahead. But it’s never to late. One of my biggest disappointments is never working with Jonathan Demme again. We actually became quite good friends and he promised to use me in his future productions. I’m sorry that has never come about, but I’m hopeful that, one day, he will fulfill his promise to me.
In the next couple of years I did two more soaps, “Lovers and Friends” and “Another World.” Both were for NBC. Neither was a very exciting role or experience, but it’s always great to work. I finally moved to California in 1980… and everyone was on strike. My timing was absolutely the worst. It was very difficult to get an agent, much less an acting job. Through my own contacts, I managed to meet Lynne Littman and was cast in the PBS show “Once A Daughter,” about a young woman whose mother is dying of cancer. My mother was Pricilla Pointer and it was a very powerful role.
I did get an agent who called me one day with an audition for “Cat People.” I only have a three-minute scene, but I was paid more for this than all my other acting jobs put together. One reason for this was that I did my own stunt work. This was my first (and last) big Hollywood movie and the brutality of shooting this scene was surprising. I had to fall on my knee so many times before they were able to get the cat paw under the bed to work correctly that I could hardly walk. The same was true of the fall down the stairs. I was cut by nails that were left in the carpet, rug burned from the fall, and bruised so I could hardly move. The indifference and insensitivity from the people in charge was amazing. But that’s HOLLYWOOD!
I did a few things after that… a TV movie “Shoot First,” “A Cop’s Vengeance,” “Disney’s Wild Side,” a role in “SOB” (that was mostly cut out), a lovely role in an Ivan Passeur film, “Pretty Hatties Baby” (that went into litigation and was never released), another soap opera called “Generations,” a short “Mr. Man Works Out” (directed by John Pleshette), and ALWAYS. ALWAYS. ALWAYS. THERE WAS THEATRE. I never stopped learning and creating wonderful roles on stage, and, I must say, I believe I’m the best I’ve ever been.
For the next several years I worked as a teacher, training people how to act in commercials and TV. I enjoyed working with young actors, showing them some of the things I had learned. I came out of retirement in 1995 to do “Compelling Evidence,” in Atlanta. That’s where my family lives, so I got to mix business with pleasure and working with Donald Farmer was terrific. He is a very kind, generous director, who really allows you to be creative under his guidance. I just completed “Philosophy In The Bedroom” with Donald and am slated to do another film with him in April 2004.
For the past several years, I have been pursuing a career as a singer and I now have a jazz trio that works at different clubs around LA California. Please check my Current Events page for listings of my singing performances. My newest endeavor is working with a big band. We are hired for wedding and other events. Be sure to call if you’re getting married and, if you come to see me, don’t be shy… tell me who you are.
I also have been working as a physical therapist for over ten years and have my own practice. This occupation is extremely rewarding to me. There is no greater gift than helping someone to feel better, except, perhaps, helping people to feel and experience emotions through acting. I am doubly blessed because I’m allowed to do both.
Well, my friends, I hope this answers your questions about who I am and what happened to me. I am enjoying being a cult film star and having my work recognized by all of you. The new releases of “I Drink Your Blood” and “The Crazies” have brought me back into the limelight again. I was at the Chiller Convention in New Jersey in October, 2003, and I was overwhelmed and touched by all the lovely people who appreciate my acting contributions. This evening, January 29, 2004, American Cinematech is screening “They Came From Within” aka “Shivers.” They invited me to come and answer questions about the film. It’s always fun to see these films, but the real pleasure is meeting all of you. Hope to see you soon.