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People Top 5
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- December 11, 1995
- Vol. 44
- No. 24
Red Hot in Blue
In the Funky Smoke-Shop Hit Blue in the Face, Mel Gorham Takes the Tobacco Road to Success
More like a force of nature. "It's like Hurricane Mel," says Billy Baldwin, her costar in Curdled, a thriller due next fall. Gorham, who at 36 has two marriages behind her (the first, at 17, to hairdresser Steve Berman, and the second, at 21, to Ralph Gorham, who founded and owns Bison Motorcycles), inherited her nonstop exuberance from her parents, now divorced, whom she describes as "Lucy and Desi—in reverse." Her father, Sandy Schnier, 67, a retired journalist, has spent a lifetime in amateur theater. Her mother, Cuban-born Emma Netsch, 60, is a retired manicurist and sometime nightclub singer. The two got together when Schnier visited pre-Castro Havana in 1956. They settled in Coral Gables, Fla., where Gorham, an only child, grew up and got into acting. She majored in drama at the University of Miami and after graduating in 1981, headed to Manhattan and the stage.
Getting a breakthrough role took time. Gorham had parts in 32 shows, mostly off-Broadway, before landing a role in Blue's 1995 prequel, Smoke. Now, besides Curdled, NBC has signed Gorham to star in a sitcom next fall as, yes, her own wacky "Cuban-Jewish" self. "Hopefully," she says, "I'll become America's next sweetheart."
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