Betty Dravis: Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Kat. It’s a pleasure to have such a fine actress and Hollywood “insider” with us today. I met you on Facebook, of all places–which isn’t as odd as it seems in today’s high-tech world. I related to what you said beneath your profile picture: “I believe in actors helping actors. When I find a good thing to share, I like letting people know! It’s all about the art…and giving from the heart!”
Since I feel the same way about authors helping authors, you hooked me up front. You sounded so interesting, I just had to look up your film credits and read your biography. Needless to say, your fascinating background intrigued me and I knew our readers would love to meet you. I hoped you would be open for an interview…and here you are!
As you know, my interviews are all about high achievers who aren’t afraid to dream big and to act upon those dreams to see them to fulfillment. Since you are so successful in all you do, you are the personification of the ultimate Dream Reacher.
I read that you were born in Chicago, grew up in St. Louis and moved to Escondido, California with your parents when you were a teen. I’m wondering how you went from being the “pampered daughter of a jewelry tycoon/businessman” to Hollywood where you eventually made your film debut in Holy Hollywood. You played a principal role as “Tyler’s mom” when that film was released in 1999. I bet that first role was thrilling. How did you feel at that time? Have you acted all your life, or just when did you get the acting bug?
Katherin Kovin Pacino: Thanks for inviting me to be part of your project, Betty. I read Dream Reachers and really enjoyed learning new things about various artists, some I know, some I don’t, but it’s a fun, informative, inspiring book.
About my parents, Arnold and Rozalind Kovin, they owned the Arnie Kovin Jewelry store chain, also Arnex Watches. And they did spoil me to some extent because I had all the luxuries, but they also taught me family values, respect for others and all I needed to know to succeed in life. I’m adopted and they loved me so much… I’m lucky. But no, my dad was not exactly a tycoon… He was a multi-millionaire… A very good, hard-working successful man…and Mom was all I could ask for in a mother.
Yes, those first years in acting were thrilling, but every time I go on stage or before a camera, I still get that magical feeling, that surge of energy. I love everything about acting and ever since I was a young girl I wanted to be an actress. I started out by playing extras and began getting better roles, so the Holy Hollywood role was not my first, just my first larger role.
Betty Dravis: Your second film followed three years later. In I Soldati—The Soldier in the U.S.–you did an impressive job in a supporting role, which happened to be the love interest of your own husband, Sal Pacino. Kat, I don’t mind telling you that my ears perked up when I learned you were married to the late father of the living legend Al Pacino. Since Sal was an actor first, is it safe to say that he encouraged Al to follow in his footsteps?
Katherin Kovin Pacino: Truthfully, Betty, he didn’t have to encourage him; Al always wanted to be an actor. When he was a little kid, he saw an old Ray Milland movie and ran around reciting some of the lines over and over. In fact, when he accepted the AFI’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, Al said, “By age three, I was doing Al Jolson. I found, in the theater, this place I could go to. I found this peace.” Sal said that even at three Al was a charmer and Sal supported his son in everything he did… They had a close relationship.
Betty Dravis: Although Sal passed away in 2005 and you’ve managed to get on with your life, I wish to express belated condolences. That was a sad time for you, but our readers would appreciate hearing about the fun times when you met Sal. I’m a sucker for love stories and am curious about how you met, where you met, and if there were any humorous little anecdotes from that time. I admit that I’m dying to know if you had much interaction with Al…as are our readers! Would you care to share, Kat? (How did you two get along? Was there any conflict because you are younger than he is? … Just little things like that…lol…)
Katherin Kovin Pacino: (laughs) Everyone asks me about Sal and Al, Betty, and I love talking about them too. It brings back some of the happiest times of my life. I was devastated when my husband passed away… I’m glad you asked me about the happy times because I’d rather think about the good times. Playing his love interest in I Soldati was interesting and fun. It seemed like an extension of our off-camera life because he was always so loving and supportive of me and such a joy to be around.
I met Sal through a mutual friend who had known him over twenty years. The friend was after me but I thought he was too young for me, so set him up with one of my girlfriends. That lasted about three days, but Sal and I lasted over twelve-and-a-half years. We clicked right from the first and were married in Las Vegas in the Little Chapel of the Flowers…a candlelight ceremony for close friends and family. Sal always joked that it was “love at first fright.”
Sal was in the insurance business for over thirty years and in addition to acting, he was a Union negotiator, which was fortunate for me due to the good benefits packages that give me more security, even now.
As for Al Pacino, yes, Betty, he’s a living legend—an enormous talent–and we are extremely proud of him. Since he became so famous, he is always so busy that we don’t see him as often as before. When his father was alive, we all got together for private family events: dinners, birthdays, anniversaries…things like that. But after Al’s phenomenal success in the Godfather trilogy, the studios had him hopping from one box-office hit to another. I respect his privacy, but he won’t mind my sharing that he still keeps in touch as much as he can. Whenever he’s in a show or wins an award or something, he always sends tickets…and we bump into each other at social events, at the Sheraton-Hilton and other places. He’s just too busy to keep close touch with anyone, really.
Al and I always got along fine and there was no jealousy… Sure, Al is older than I am–this month marks his 70th birthday–but that was never a problem between us or anyone in the family. I was his father’s fifth wife, so Al was always understanding and accepting of that. He and his father were close, as I said before, and accepted each other’s life choices.
Betty Dravis: Now that the big, important subject of Al is out of the way, I admit I’m more curious about you, the independent Katherin. Let’s talk about your movie and TV career a little more, and then I’ll get into your other interests in and outside the entertainment industry. Tell us about the role of Lady Catherine in your last movie in 2005. And what is the favorite role you’ve played and why you liked it so much?
Katherin Kovin Pacino: It’s an odd coincidence that you should ask about my role as Lady Catherine, Betty. That was the part I played in the documentary Bolivar: Path to Glory and it’s my favorite role. It was made in 2005 by Bob DeBrino Entertainment and was set in Venezuela. The reason I favor that role is because I got to act with Sal again and traveling to Venezuela to shoot was like having a family vacation while doing what we both liked best—acting! Venezuela is a scenic wonder and seeing the country and meeting Venezuelan stars was the frosting on the cake. With that film we had the best of both worlds. He was excellent in the role of General De Miranda, but sadly, it was our last movie together. We worked well together…
Betty Dravis: That does sound like a dream role and a dream vacation, Kat. I enjoy seeing husband-and-wife teams in movies. Two coupless that come to mind are Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, not to mention Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I’m glad you had the pleasure of acting with Sal and have those beautiful memories.
Now, switching subjects… If I recall the facts, Mickey Rooney played a cameo role in one of your films. Since he’s also a living legend and beloved throughout the world, can you share any behind-the-scenes stories of him and his interaction with the cast? I and our readers would appreciate your sharing more of your former connections and adventures along the way, but we’ll get to those later.
Katherin Kovin Pacino: Well, Betty, Mickey was easy to work with, very nice and supportive and a lot of fun to be around. I admire him so much. It’s hard to believe that he’ll be ninety this year and he’s in another movie, Johnny Blue, which is in preproduction. He’s led a fascinating life, and according to Hollywood lore, as of 2007, he’s the only surviving screen actor to appear in silent films and still continues to act in movies into the new millennium. His debut was in the movie Not to Be Trusted at the age of four. That astonishes me.
Betty Dravis: Wow, I didn’t know that, Kat. That is amazing! No wonder he received the Lifetime Achievement Oscar! You must have met a lot of important industry people in your life, but do you have one that stands out above all others? And who are some of the people who had the greatest influence on your life?
Katherin Kovin Pacino: Sal, of course, my current husband Bill Lashbrook and my parents were great, positive role models for me. They stand out above the crowd, but as for classic stars, I’ve been most impressed by Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler. Both have outstanding talent and have tackled other ends of the industry too. It’s awesome what they’ve accomplished.
Betty Dravis: Kat, I know that you’ve done a variety of important things in your life. You have worked as a makeup/fashion/image consultant to companies such as Merle Norman, Revlon, Clientele, and have done makeup promos for Estee Lauder, Borghese, and other famous lines, as well. In addition to that, you’ve worked for public relation people such as the late Irving Zussman in New York, also as an entertainment business manager with Martin Licker, CPA (who handled names such as James Caan, Gary Sinise and several other celebs).
I enjoy working with famous, accomplished people because they’re so stimulating, so that must have been exciting. I admire James Caan’s acting ability and was captivated by his role of Sonny in The Godfather. What a blockbuster trilogy of movies that was! Did you have any personal dealings with Caan or any of Licker’s celebrated clients?
Katherin Kovin Pacino: Believe it or not, Jimmy Caan never came up there. However, I did meet his ex-wife, his son Scott (now an actor himself), his brother, and his fun-loving aunts, whom he helped support. They came to the office about every two weeks for their “upkeep” check. It felt like Godfather all over again! (laughs)
I also met Gary Sinise, who since then has made a mark for himself. He was such an earthy, nice guy… It’s no surprise that today he ships supplies to the men fighting abroad for our country! And I met Jeff Wald who was totally very rude, to say the least. I remember that I answered the phone one morning, and he greeted me with: “F*** YOU!”… Since he represented some of the biggest names in show business, I expected more class from him. This was the same guy who was married to Aussie singer Helen Reddy of the “I am Woman” fame. That song was number one around the world, so I guess that went to his head…or was it the coke? That marriage ended in divorce and he married Candy Clark of The Blob. That ended in a divorce just a couple of years later, too! Gee… No wonder… Are we surprised? (laughs)
Betty Dravis: What goes around, comes around, Kat…but we don’t always see it. It’s always rewarding to see the nice guys like Gary Sinise go on to achieve their dreams. I always admired him and was happy when he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Role in Forrest Gump (1995). In fact, he has won an Emmy and so many other awards, it’s hard to keep track of. Wow! Go, Gary!
And then there are the jerks like Wald who was so rude to you. I understand that he has a son by Reddy and that marriage lasted fifteen years, but he only lasted a year with Clark. I guess we can speak of his addiction since it’s reported in his biography on IMDb (Internet Movie Database). His former addiction to cocaine is public knowledge. I also read that he has cleaned up his act and is once again producing. I have no idea if he still manages any big names, but among his former clients were Sylvester Stallone, George Foreman, James Brolin, Tom Skerritt, George Carlin, Elliott Gould, Donna Summer, Flip Wilson and Marvin Gaye, and musical groups such as Deep Purple, Chicago and Crosby Stills & Nash, to name only a few. I suppose success like that could go to anyone’s head. Since everyone deserves a second chance, I’m glad that he ultimately overcame his addiction and has made a come-back. Hopefully, he has learned respect for others during the rehab process.
You know, Kat, that Clint Eastwood was my first big celebrity interview when I was a young, starry-eyed journalist, and he was a class act; treated me like an equal, like a lady. He influenced me to dream big and act on my dreams, as he did. He’s awesome. Have you ever run into him around Hollywood?
Katherin Kovin Pacino: I never met Clint, but came close to it once. I was invited to meet him at a luncheon, but I was married then and was always careful to consider my husband’s feelings, so I had to decline.
Betty Dravis: Kat, the people with whom I’ve discussed this interview speak very highly of you; the first words that come out of their mouths are: elegant…gracious…lovely. In my short time with you, I have to agree with them. You are all that and more! I’ve also come to see a lighter, more playful side to your nature. I know you don’t wish to be thought of as perfect, so to add to your mystique and send our readers away with smiles on their faces, can you share your most embarrassing moment, onstage or off, with us?
Katherin Kovin Pacino: That’s a hard question to answer, Betty. I honestly can’t think of an embarrassing time in the context you mean, but there is one big embarrassment that still bothers me. And it is not the “laughing matter” kind of story. I can’t give too many details without embarrassing others, but I can say that the head people were having trouble booking a hotel for an important industry event and I offered to help. I booked the place for them only to find out later the hotel didn’t have the proper speakers and camera equipment. It was a big mess, but once again I stepped up to the challenge and it all worked out.
Betty Dravis: OMG, I thought you would come up with something like you spilled a drink on a lead star when you were an extra or you tripped onstage…something in retrospect that would be laughable… But you came up with a real whopper! That would be embarrassing, Kat, but at least you found a solution.
I don’t mind admitting, Kat, I’m intrigued by your acting career, but am also impressed that you played a big role in starting the West Hollywood International Film Festival (WHIFF) with Martin DeLuca, an Argentinean filmmaker and photographer. I have a photo or two to share with our readers from the recent awards ceremony, but I’d like to hear more about WHIFF. When was it founded? How you got involved? The latest buzz, please…
Katherin Kovin Pacino: The Festival is only two years old, but the idea for the Festival was a collaborative effort and I worked hard to help put it together. It was exhilarating work and I was happy to serve on the board of directors for a time. I stepped down when my other commitments got too heavy, but I took part in this year’s awards ceremony. It went great this year, so I hope they make it and it becomes bigger and better.
Betty Dravis: We’d all like to hear more about your new projects, Kat, but now I’d like to ask you a lighter question. If you could spend the day with one person besides your husband–someone in history, a favorite author, a public figure, a character in a book, etc.–who would you choose and why?
Katherin Kovin Pacino: I have always admired Shirley MacLaine. I’ll never forget her role in Some Like it Hot…and all the huge roles that followed. Her breakout role was the one following–The Apartment, a melancholy comedy with Jack Lemmon–but I have always liked her later roles too. She was hilarious in Steel Magnolias. She has a lot of talent but I like her zest for life and would like to spend a day with her. I could learn so much… The closest I ever came to her was when I was an extra on a set.
Betty Dravis: I like her, too, Kat. Her role in Steel Magnolias was also one of my favorites…and she was superb with Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment.
But moving on, you now split your time between Hollywood where your career interests lie and Marin County, near San Francisco, where your husband Bill Lashbrook grew up. Both places are breath-taking areas, vibrant and alive with talent and natural wonders. You’ve shared with me in our chats that Bill is a successful businessman and interested in Shakespearean acting. What line of work is he in and how is he involved with the Shakespearean community? He’s such a devoted, supportive partner, working with you in many capacities, but I’m also curious about how you met. Guess I’m just a romantic at heart, so I hope you don’t feel this is too intimate to share. If so, we understand.
Katherin Kovin Pacino: Exactly, Betty… Bill is a successful businessman but is now venturing into public speaking and is interested in consulting. He’s very charismatic and alive with energy, so he’ll succeed in whatever he sets his mind to. We work well as a team, so I’ll help him as he helps me. We both enjoy Shakespeare and attend some plays and lectures whenever we have time. Bill was never in film, but enjoys stage acting…classical acting. He’s a Shakespearean actor of the old school and will be the first to tell you it was more of a hobby than a career, but it brought him many years of pleasure.
But now to satisfy your “romantic nature,” Betty, I’ll share how Bill and I met. (laughs) As with Sal, we met through a mutual friend. It was shortly after Sal passed away and I lucked out in love again. Bill is wonderful and we’ve built a happy life together. We both have a great love of theatre; whether on camera or onstage, it’s our great passion, so we work on most of our projects together. Currently, we’re both interested in voiceover and would like to find a good teacher.
Betty Dravis: Voiceover is cutting-edge at present, I believe, Kat. It’s a coincidence, but Chase Von, my co-author on Dream Reachers, recently interviewed Joan Baker, a fascinating woman who is one of the most sought-after voiceover teachers in the industry; she’s also an author and has some awesome credits. Have you ever heard of her? She’s based in New York, but may have a branch in LA. Anyway, she’s on Facebook, too, so you might want to send her a message to ask her. At any rate, she could recommend someone in the LA area. But first check her astounding website on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/joanthevoice. She has photographs with actor Will Smith and others you may know.
Now that brings us to more of your current projects, Kat. I hear that you have a lot of things in the works…from writing books to producing your own movies. It’s rumored that you’re helping develop a WWII movie too. I’d love to hear about those exciting endeavors. The versatility of actors blows my mind. It’s inspiring to me that you have such multi-tasking abilities and dare to venture into the writing and production end of the industry. I can see why Bill calls you the “Atomic Blonde.”
Katherin Kovin Pacino: (laughs) Well, I do keep busy, but that World War II movie is off the table at present. As far as my current and future workings, I’m attached to several IPs (Intellectual Properties), one written by American playwright David Mamet with William H. Macy, as an associate producer; also associate producer of a comedy Tall Order of Love by J. Porrazzo; and am acting in J. Porrazzo’s The Queen of Hollywood. Also, since I’m a spokesperson with Prince Ali of Afghanistan on his record Party All Night and am also a background recording artist on that record, you can see why Bill calls me “Atomic Blonde.”
I also have other future attachments that are hush-hush at this time, and I have plans to write several children’s books and a “How To” book about romance… the do’s and don’ts, you know. Katherin (laughs as she refers to herself in first person) is still showing the ladies–and men—the proper application of makeup, the skills to put together a wardrobe, and the correct use of color/Image. Since I was brought up in that background, those skills come natural to me. I enjoy “paying it forward,” as they say.
Betty Dravis: Yep, Katherin is showing us all how to be more glam, that’s for sure! Actually, I’m beginning to think I have a Wonder Woman on my hands. That’s an intimidating array of projects in the works, Kat. You also have a second Facebook page called Kat’s Meow that gives people tips on where to get the most bang for their buck; from quality clothing to inexpensive bling to fine dining, you point them in the right direction. I enjoy reading the comments on that page and the opportunity for your fans to share their tips too. That’s a fun, interactive site.
Since I love writing, I’m very interested in the books that you plan to write. Be sure to keep us informed when they’re released and when any of your movies premiere too. Writing must run in the family; I understand your brother has also written a few books recently. Since our readers are not only interested in the entertainment industry but also in books, I’m sure they would like to hear more about him. The buzz around LA is that he also owns a popular restaurant. The scoop, please, Kat…
Katherin Kovin Pacino: Of course, Betty… I love spreading my brother’s good news. His name is John Adam Kovin and he’s written two books: How to Play the Game of Life and Win and Taking God to Bed With You: The truth they don’t want you to know about God, sex and the way the world really is.
John also owns a restaurant, Chili Addiction, on Restaurant Row. It’s located at 408 N. La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills. His chili is to die for and he also serves a concoction I bet you haven’t heard of—french-fried sweet potatoes. (laughs) I tried them and they’re delicious. If you ever get down here, Bill and I will take you to dinner. You’d love my brother; he’s a real go-getter.
Betty Dravis: OMG, we all love chili! But french-fried sweet potatoes? I can honestly say, Kat, my friend in Maine told me about them, but I’ve never tried them. They do sound yummy, though, and I’ll take you up on that dinner offer when and if I get to Southern California again. That’s very kind of you and Bill. By the way, does Bill call your brother “Atomic John?” (laughs)
Kat, I appreciate your sharing so openly with us about your life. I enjoyed learning more about your brother and Bill’s family too. Bill shared that his daughter, Jessica Lashbrook, owns Marin Feed and Tack in the quaint, colorful township of Fairfax, near San Rafael where my son lives. When I tell Bob and his Patty how gracious you and Bill are to me, I just know they’ll be dropping by Jessica’s business to say hello.
It’s been a delight getting to know more about you, especially your new endeavors. I’m sure our readers will want to know even more about you, so in closing, is there anything you’d like to add? I think you’re seeking a new agent, so I hope any who read this will get in touch with you. You have so much to offer with everything you do. You’re an exceptional woman; not only are you a talented actress, you have the necessary business acumen. How can interested parties get in touch with you? I know you’re easy to find on Facebook, but do you have any websites or links you would like to share with us?
Katherin Kovin Pacino: I’m glad for this last chance to add a few things, Betty. Since we first talked, I do have a new agent. I’m excited about that; his name is David Brown and he’s one of the best in the business, in my opinion.
I also forgot to mention two projects that are dear to my heart: I have a part in a documentary Sudan Hope. Les LeMotte is executive director on that project. As you might know, he’s also an award-winning songwriter. I also have an acting role in The Tim Brooks Story, a movie about the first African-American cowboy. Musician Ben Rombouts and Rodney Allen Rippy, the child actor who is so famous for his Jack in the Box commercials are affiliated with this film. I look forward to working with them.
I don’t have a website yet, but I can be found on Facebook on the Internet, as you said, Betty. That link is:
And for my biography, photos and film credits as listed on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb), please visit this link: www.imdb.com/name/nm1178989
Link to my photo gallery:
And finally, The Kat’s “MEOW” Facebook page:
Betty Dravis: Thanks again, Kat, and best of luck with your novels, producing those movies and with your acting. Please keep in touch and let us know when any of your projects go live, when your next red carpet event takes place, etc. Inquiring minds want to know! (laughs) It’s been a pure delight working with you on this interview. You are, indeed as elegant, gracious and lovely as your fans told me.
Katherin Kovin Pacino: The pleasure is mine, Betty. Thanks for inviting me. It’s been fun and I look forward to meeting you in the near future. I’ll keep in touch, via email and Facebook, of course. Xo
ENDNOTE: I had the pleasure of having dinner with Kat and her husband Bill Lashbrook on April 10th in San Rafael. My son Robert, his girl-friend Patty Carrillo and her mother Roma Vargas joined us. We had a delightful time: chatting, eating laughing. I hope you don’t mind my adding a few photos of our party that evening. (My website: http://bettydravis.com )