Wendie Malick Reflects on the ‘Unexpected’ Success of ‘Hot in Cleveland’: It Was a ‘Delightful Surprise’ (2024)

As a guest star on the new Apple TV+ comedy Shrinking, Wendie Malick goes toe-to-toe with Harrison Ford as his doctor. “I told him he was like an old pair of jeans — which I mean as the highest compliment,” Wendie, 72, tells Closer. “We were very comfortable going back and forth. We got along really well and had a blast.”

Whether she’s playing a doctor on Shrinking, a six-time divorced former actress on Hot in Cleveland, or any of the other characters Wendie has brought to life over the years, she always looks like she’s having the time of her life. “Anytime there’s an opportunity to try something new that will stretch me, or scare me, I say yes,” the two-time Emmy nominee says. “I am sort of a gun for hire, not having a series of my own [right now]. So, I go and play with different people. It’s quite fun and very engaging.”

Let’s start at the beginning. Did you always want to be an actress?

"It was either an actress or a veterinarian. I always had a huge love of animals. I now live with a miniature donkey, three horses and a dog. We’ve had a much bigger menagerie at various points. I have always adored animals, but I was never very good at math and science, so that sort of made the decision for me. But I did put on plays as a kid and direct them and write them and star! It was pretty clear that was the direction I was heading in."

Are there any other performers in your family?

"My grandmother was an opera singer, but then got married and had kids, so she gave it up. She used to sing when she was massaging my arm — she had these magic fingers. It was cute how she would sing while she rubbed my arm. And my mother is such a character. I’ve stolen shamelessly from her and her friends. My dad did amateur theater and played saxophone in a band. I guess I come from theatrical people."

What do you consider your big break?

"Dream On. I had been working, but playing either the villains or the judges or divorcees. There was one season where I murdered three husbands! But when I got that gig on Dream On, they found out that I had a good sense of humor and timing. I went from being the straight man to a character actor. That was one of the greatest gifts anyone could ever have given me. I am still so grateful."

Wendie Malick Reflects on the ‘Unexpected’ Success of ‘Hot in Cleveland’: It Was a ‘Delightful Surprise’ (1)

You were also on Just Shoot Me for seven seasons. Do you keep in touch with the rest of the cast?

"I just had lunch with Laura San Giacomo the other day. Rico [Enrico Colantoni] and I see each other whenever I’m in Canada. I recently got David [Spade] to cohost the Environmental Media Awards — I’m on the board. We feel like we’ll be family forever. Losing George [Segal] was really tough for all of us."

He was a wonderful talent.

"What a truly delightful human being! We used to do the New York Times crossword puzzle together every morning. After a while, he started looking at the obits, and he would say, 'Oh, they’re calling my class.' I just thought, 'Oh, that must be so hard when you get to the age where you start to lose your friends.' But there is no age for that. It just starts to happen."

What was it like to be a part of Hot in Cleveland, a show with all female leads?

"It was so unexpected! And it was pretty wild that Jane [Leeves] and Valerie [Bertinelli] turned 50 on that show, I turned 60, and Betty [White] turned 90. The idea of four women of those age groups being able to carry this show just seems so completely outrageous. We didn’t think it was going to fly. But after that first table read, we all looked at each other and thought, 'Oh my god, this just might have legs.' It was a delightful surprise."

Wendie Malick Reflects on the ‘Unexpected’ Success of ‘Hot in Cleveland’: It Was a ‘Delightful Surprise’ (2)

Can you share a memory of Betty?

"One of my favorites is — we’re sitting on the set one day and a young woman who worked on the crew came over and said, “Oh Betty, Betty! I wanted to show you my baby!” And she said, “Oh great, I can’t wait to see.” And [the woman] showed her phone, and it was a real baby. Betty said, 'Oh, it’s a human baby.' She was so disappointed it wasn’t a puppy or a kitten! She preferred four-legged creatures to two!"

You recently did an event for Next Tribe, a travel and events company for women 45+. What resonates for you about them?

"I think that company is such a great forum to remind people that we are not our mothers or our grandmothers. So much of [aging gracefully] is your attitude. I believe that people who are comfortable in their own skin are really beautiful — and so much less superficial. It’s all going to sag as we get older. That’s just part of life. But if you’re lucky enough to find something you love and people to love, there’s no reason for you ever to stop getting up and looking forward to every day."

Is that your secret for being so vibrant?

"If you use whatever gifts you’ve been given to the max and have gratitude for every day — that’s kind of my secret sauce. I start every day with a morning gratitude ritual, often when I walk my dog first thing in the morning. It’s about being grateful for what remains."

You’ve been married to your husband Richard Erickson since 1995. What’s your secret for happiness?

"As he says, he tries to create a world from which I can do my life. He’s a builder and built our ranch. He creates beautiful spaces. He’s a very quiet, a more introverted man, and probably much smarter than me. When we’re in a balanced good place, I always say he makes me think and I make him laugh."

What’s on your bucket list?

"I want to go to Costa Rica. And I’d love to go to the rainforest, maybe in Brazil. I’ve been working with Artists for Amazonia to bring more attention to the fact that we are losing the rainforest so quickly. So many of the indigenous people there are so inspirational. We all need to do more, and we need to act quickly."

Wendie Malick Reflects on the ‘Unexpected’ Success of ‘Hot in Cleveland’: It Was a ‘Delightful Surprise’ (2024)


Who is the female Dr. in Shrinking? ›

And TV Insider has the exclusive first look at Wendie Malick's guest star role in the series. Malick plays Dr. Julie Baram, neurologist to Harrison Ford's Paul Rhoades (she's also guest starring in the Night Court reboot.

What is Wendie Malick most famous for? ›

Malick is perhaps best known for her “Just Shoot Me” character, Nina Van Horn (1 Golden Globe and 2 Emmy noms). Other television series: “Hot in Cleveland” (Peoples Choice Award and SAG nom for Best Ensemble), “Dream On” (4 Cable Ace Awards), “Frasier”, “Big Day”, “Good Company”, “Rush Hour”.

Who did Wendie Malick play in Frasier? ›

Frasier (TV Series 1993–2004) - Wendie Malick as Ronee Lawrence - IMDb.

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