Ann Ault came to Japan in the mid-1960s with her father, Air Force Brigadier General Richard Ault (1917-2009), and it would be this experience that would launch a lifelong career in entertainment. It all started with a role as a nurse in the enduring cult classic The Green Slime (1968). From there, Ms. Ault embarked on an acting career that would see her perform in more than 300 commercials between 1975 and 1995, as well as acting turns in the TV series Hunter (1984-91) and the feature film Karla Faye Tucker: Forevermore (2004). After earning her bachelor’s degree in drama and speech from Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, Ms. Ault took the plunge and moved to Japan, which is the focus of this August 2018 interview with Brett Homenick.
Brett Homenick: Please tell us about your early life.
Ann Ault: I wrote a book in 2013 that is available in English through Amazon or Xulon Press that tells of all my life adventures (including show business). It’s called Hi from the Sky: On the Road to Happily Ever After!
It’s ironic because when I was a young girl, kids teased me and called me “fatty four eyes.” I was very shy. My sixth grade teacher encouraged me to read in front of the class, and I discovered that I had a gift of drama! I actually became an actress!
BH: What led you to Japan?
AA: My dad was in the Air Force, so we traveled to many U.S. states and countries (including Italy and Japan). I didn’t go to Japan until after college, and the two and a half years that I was there really impacted my life. My dad was a brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force and commanded Tachikawa Air Force Base and Kanto Base Command. My parents were very loving people and just embraced the Japanese people they met. I sent a picture of me talking to Princess Hitachi. (I actually sang for the prince and princess that night and on another occasion.) My parents exchanged Christmas cards with them for decades after that. When my parents passed away, I wrote to Princess Hitachi, and she very graciously replied. We exchanged a few cards for a while. What a lovely person!
BH: How did you adjust to life in Japan?
AA: I just loved it there from beginning to end of the two and a half years I was able to be there. As a military kid, I learned to adapt wherever we lived, but Japan absolutely fascinated me, and I managed to do a lot of things in that two and half years! I made a lot of friends, too. Of course, that was all the way back from 1966 to 1969. But I have one friend that I consider a very close tomodachi still. She and her husband live in California.
BH: What was your daily routine like, and what did you do for work?
AA: My daily routine was up and at ’em. Never a dull moment! When I first got to Japan, I started working as a program director at the Service Club for about a year, and then we also started a Kanto Players Theater group and put on several plays. (One cute musical called The Boy Friend, another show called The Man Who Came to Dinner, and also A Thousand Clowns.)
My background at that age had been four years in college and doing theater non-stop — a lot of musicals such as Anna in The King and I, Maria in The Sound of Music, as well as Miss Alabama contest and other singing gigs. It was just natural to have a theater group in Japan. But then I was hired to do a nightclub act at the Tokyo Hilton. I had a great time doing that show (full of musical numbers and had pretty good reviews).
That led to doing the same show at the Hong Kong Hilton (and another club in Tokyo). If I may say, it was a lovely show of fun and beautiful music with beautiful gowns. I also did drama radio theater for Far East Broadcasting Network. I also performed with the Tokyo International Players. (I played the daughter to Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons.)
BH: Do you remember how you got cast in The Green Slime?
AA: Of course, I started meeting people when I was doing all these things theatrically and singing, etc., and, to be honest, I don’t remember when I met the people from The Green Slime, but suddenly I was cast. I am in the credits, but I’m really not much more than a glorified extra, although they did have me as the captain’s girlfriend, and I was visible in a lot of scenes, especially the celebration party scene.
BH: About how long did shooting last?
AA: The shooting seemed to be about a week, but that was a long time ago.
BH: Do you remember from when till when you were shooting on set?
AA: We were on set from early morning on. And busy, but also plenty of time between shots for chatting and laughing!
BH: What do you recall about the studio sets and the special effects scenes?
AA: I remember being so curious about the monsters and the different shots that they took and the different sets which they efficiently set up. I do remember even back then being amused at the monsters as they flailed about, etc. I recently watched the film again (a friend sent me the movie just for fun), and actually even though it has become a cult classic and is funny in many ways, the acting, I think, was good enough to make it pretty compelling. Considering it was done in the late ’60’s, I think they did a pretty good job with the Green Slime monsters!
BH: What can you share about working with the three leads: Robert Horton, Richard Jaeckel, and Luciana Paluzzi?
AA: I was very impressed with the three leads. They were each very gracious and kind — sense of humor, too. Also very professional, and you could tell they took their work seriously and had their lines memorized!
BH: Did you socialize or interact much with the other actress who played the nurses, such as Linda Hardisty?
AA: The film was done 50 years ago. I do keep in touch with some old Japan friends, but not the ones in the movie. But it was a fun group, and I’m so blessed that I got to be in the show!
BH: What about director Kinji Fukasaku? Do you have any memories?
AA: The director was very kind, but very much concentrated in terms of going from scene to scene and keeping a tight schedule. Very efficient!
I tried to take a Japanese language course when I first got there, but it was so funny because when I would try to practice my little Japanese that I knew, I started to realize that everyone wanted to practice their English on me! So I gave it up.
BH: How was your Japanese at this time?
AA: I did learn the basics, especially how to say, “I don’t understand!”
BH: Was there a translator available?
AA: Rarely were there translators around, but I managed to get around anyway!
BH: I’ve heard conflicting accounts about who was in the suits. One actor who was on set remembers children being used as the suit actors. But others have said little people were used. Do you recall which it might have been?
AA: I don’t remember, but they did seem to be small people!
BH: Could you share anything else with us from the set of the film?
AA: It was just an altogether enjoyable experience with some wonderful professional people all working hard to make sure that this became the film that people still like to watch all these years later. It was such a great beginning for me in show business because I ended up doing a lot of other films, 300 commercials, TV, radio, nightclub acts, etc.
BH: What did you think of the finished film?
AA: As I said, it is just a film that people still like to watch all these years later. And I’m glad I’m part of that and had that experience.
BH: Did you work on any other TV shows or movies in Japan?
AA: I gave you a lot of what I also did in Japan, but in addition to this film, I played a nightclub singer in a film called Goodbye Moscow, Goodbye Stiliaga. (I remember I had to sing a song in Russian!) But otherwise, I didn’t do any other films.
BH: How long were you in Japan, and when did you leave?
AA: I came in 1966 and was there two and a half years! By the way, in addition to all the fun things that I was able to do in Japan, I also climbed Mt. Fuji! That story is in my book, too. I had to go back to California to continue to pursue my career. I actually sang my way back from Japan on the ship, the President Cleveland! I exchanged doing two different shows during the voyage home for my ticket on the ship. Enjoyed it immensely, but already miss Japan.
BH: Since returning to the U.S., what have you been involved in?
AA: I had a whole show business career that I shared about in my book, Hi from the Sky: On the Road to Happily Ever After! The book has a lot of pictures in the middle and shares about my adventures. I did a lot of theater, did a nightclub act in NYC with Michael O’Haughey. (He played on Broadway as the original Mary Sunshine in the original Broadway show Chicago.) We did the show for years in New York City and L.A.
In NYC, I had agents, did 300 commercials, theater, etc. and also found Jesus Christ as my Savior, which really changed my life! I did radio voice-over work, commercials, etc. When I moved to L.A. in 2007 (after seven years in NYC), I started an actors’ company called Actors Co-op. I also performed in Hollywood Free Theater and did showcases for agents. Right now, I live in North Carolina and am involved in writing and acting for a radio show called Christian Car Guy Theater. (Before that, I had done a lot of the voices for Adventures in Odyssey another kids’ radio show with Focus on the Family.)
One thing that is so important in my life is that someone gave me one of their favorite books in 2001 called Heart’s Desire by Patsy Oda. I read it in a 24-hour period and could not put it down. I called the lady who gave it to me and said this true Japanese-American love story needed to be a film! At that time in my life, I was getting into creating films, and before I knew it, I was suddenly in charge of a film. I talked on the phone with Patsy and Walter Oda when I first read it, and we’ve become best friends since then! If anyone is interested, the website for Heart’s Desire is http://www.heartsdesirefilm.com.
I’ve had a wonderful life, even though there have been the usual ups and downs. None of us are immune from those. But I thank God that I’ve been able to use the gifts and talents that I have been given, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m so grateful that I got to experience the fun of doing The Green Slime as a kick off for my career. What a fun experience! It’s so important to find out what is important first and foremost, and then everything else flows from that. The Lord lights up my life!
I love that line from the old musical Mame when Auntie Mame says, “Life is a banquet, and most poor fools are starving to death.” Regardless of the highs and lows of life, as it says in the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, “Your life is an occasion — rise to it!” There’s so much wonder around us. Find out what you were born to do and do it! But from my point of view, I found the Lord, and it is a comfort to know that He is behind it all!
I am so humbled and grateful that you asked to interview me, Brett It’s a time of change in my life, and it’s busy, but it has been such fun strolling down memory lane with you, dear Brett! God bless you and your readers, and I hope this was what you wanted. Let me know anything else that you might need, but this is probably the best I can do as I stir the old memory banks. I think I emptied them! Bless you!