My first question concerns your role on the TV classic "Mr. Ed."  How was it working with the horse?

I didn't have any direct stuff with the horse when he was trying to talk, but obviously I witnessed it in some of the scenes I wasn't in. It's actually a pretty funny episode! Ed wanted to go on some trip, and Alan Young had some boyscouts he was taking camping. In the course of it, the wife also had some girl scout type thing.  They didn't have all of their uniforms, so we were supposed to deliver their uniforms to them. Ed was so ticked off that he didn't get to go on this trip, and he snuck into the campsite and stole all of our clothes. So we had to get into the girls clothes! 

Flip guest starred on many TV shows, including "Mr. Ed" (with Alan Young) and "Lassie" (with Jon Provost).

My next question concerns another TV classic, "Lassie."  Your character was also named Flip. Was this in tribute to you that they used your actual name?

I was not higher up in anyone's hierarchy to suggest using my real name. They just thought it was cute. Oddly enough, I just got a whole bunch of copies of my episodes from Jon Provost [Timmy from "Lassie'].  We were watching them the other night. I called him up and asked him, did anyone ever ask how I wound up as a farm kid in this rural farm village with the New York accent that I most definiteively had then?

You were also in the long-running sitcom "My Three Sons."  Rumors are that Fred MacMurray was not the easiest actor to work with, and, in fact, he would tape all of his scenes for the entire season in bulk, and then all of the scenes that did not feature him would be taped later. Was that the case? 

I didn't really have a lot of scenes with him, but that's a fairly accurate portrayal from everything I've heard. Whether it was him being difficult or whether it was simply the fact that he was a pretty big star, the essence of it was, 'if you want me to do a series'... and maybe he didn't really want to do it. Because it was quite a grind.  At the time you were doing probably 37 to 39 shows a year...And because he was a big enough star... certainly there's some ego associated with that.  But, you know, I'm sure that was just a negotiated thing.  'Look, if you want me on the nameplate, then..  and this is how I want to do it.'

Now, on to "Days." You were around for the first week that "Days" was taping, before it had ever aired on television. Do you remember how you got the role? Did you audition in front of the show's creators?

I don't remember specifically.  I think I did interview with the
Cordays. I had actually worked with Macdonald Carey before.  I believe "Days of Our Lives" was after I worked with him in "The Outer Limits."  So, whether or not there were any inroads there, I don't know.  But I'm sure I went for it like anything else.  That was probably a fairly active time in my career.  I wasn't being brought in for star power, obviously.  But people were familiar with me.

The first weekly cast chart for "Days" shows Flip taping his first episode (Episode # 4) as Steve Olson on 11/3/65, five days before the show premiered on NBC.

Do you remember the feeling on set when you started on the show? The pilot had just been picked up. Of course they didn't know they'd be on for 50 years...

Well, I was about 17 years old at the time.  So I don't remember all of it. One of the most awful moments is that I saw one of [the actors], as the scene faded out, they kind of broke character. That was mortifying. One of the bigger problems I think was that in California, of course, until you're 18 you require a teacher on the set.  So I'm not sure, in retrospect, because they were just starting out, that that they wanted to have somebody for whom that was an extra expense and restriction.

A clip from Episode # 4 of "Days", which aired on 11/11/65, featuring Flip and Charla Doherty (Julie).

Do you have any memories of Charla Doherty, who played your sister, Julie?

I remember her being cute.  I remember her being very short because I'm very short.  
As I watched it periodically over the years, you know, of course, her character went to Susan Seaforth. She was a much more imposing figure... Charla was kind of a cute little thing, and Susan Seaforth was, you know, quite a crush, quite a beauty.

Charla Doherty originated the role of Julie on "Days" in 1965. Flip played her brother, Steve Olson.

You just alluded to this, but do you still watch Days occassionally?

I don't follow
it. If I'm if I'm clicking through I may watch. I had a much better understanding of it and followed it, probably for a few years at least, while the people that I remembered were still in it I remember Denise Alexander was in it for quite a while, and of course Frances Reid and Mac. When I saw my character reappear, that was a little strange. And Marie Cheatham... this is just literally coming back to me as we're speaking. Those were some of the names I remember. It was interesting where I had moments of pause, if you will... obviously I've seen some of the books that are out about it, and every once in a while somebody I work with who is a big fan of it, who doesn't necessarily know my history... I would say, 'You know Steve [Olson]? I was the first.' For some of them it's like, 'Oh my heavens, I'm such a big fan of that show!'

Jon Provost (Timmy from "Lassie"), Flip Mark, Jay North ("Dennis the Menace") and Angela Cartwright (Linda from "Make Room for Daddy") pose with their mothers at Jon Provost's 13th birthday party in 1963.

After Days, you only stayed in the entertainment industry for a few more years. What made you decide to transition careers and leave show business?

Like most teen and child actors at the time, I just didn't make the transition.  There really were very few. People like Jon Provost and Stanley Livingston and Larry Mathews...we just didn't make the transition.  About the only one that really did from that time frame was Ron Howard, and he benefited a great deal from the fact that he was involved in the daily hum of production, and he learned the craft.  However, I did not have any of the real trauma and challenges that many of the child actors of that time did.  I did an autograph show out in Burbank at the Beverly Garland Hotel.  And the night between the two days we did it, Laurie Jacobson, who you may know was Jon Provost's wife, and she's a writer as well, arranged to have a party. We had it at Stanley Livingston's house and in attendance was Jon, myself, Paul Petersen, Larry Mathews, Jeannie Russell from "Dennis the Menace", Susan Gordon who was in "The Five Pennies." It was quite an evening; it was a lot of fun - we laughed and we reminisced. We took a wonderful picture on the couch, and you know, I looked around and thought, there has to be 150 years of 'has been' here! In the course of that I talked to Paul Petersen.  Paul runs an organization called A Minor Consideration.  It's a wonderful program, and it deals with child actors who have had some real trauma in their lives.  He's doing it with Tatum O'Neal. And that night I talked to Paul, and I was familiar with the organization. I said, Paul, it's a great organization, what can I do to help? But, I said my problem is I have no point of reference to any bad experiences during my 17 years.  I'm an only child, but my parents made sure I did not get out of hand.  Most directors of child actors want absolutely nothing at all to do with the parents of child actors.  And yet, in the years that I did TV, like on "Fair Exchange", the director and [series stars] Eddie Foy and Audrey Christie used to come over to our house for dinner, because my mother's chopped liver was legendary.  We'd sit with Eddy while he reminisced about Broadway and whatnot.  That's part of probably why I didn't get very screwed up - my parents just wouldn't allow it. My mother, who obviously spent most of the time with me on shows, was very candid.  She always enjoyed what I did.  She had done some acting in her youth. One of my favorite stories about her is, back in New York, there was a TV show called "Your Hit Parade", and what they did was they counted down the top songs of the week.  And I did the week that 'Tom Dooley' was the number one song - I sang it along with [the show's lead singer] Dorothy Collins...and - I just can't sing! My mother used to tell the story, and I remember her telling it - she said if they had come to me after the dress rehearsal and said Mrs. Mark,  we're sorry he's just too terrible, I would have told them you're absolutely right.  But that's just the way she was... it was never, how dare you would say something like that about my child, he was on Broadway, how can you say he can't sing?  She would have said, you're absolutely right, he's terrible.  If you want him just to look straight, and that way, and that would be totally reasonable because he really can't sing. But to this day, I don't do karaoke just because I'm not going to subject anybody else to my voice!

Flip poses with Jon Provost (Timmy from "Lassie") in more recent years.

One last question, maybe you can just bring us up to speed on your life today. You are now a 911 operator.

I have a great wanderlust as a result of school and I was really on the periphery of the travel industry for a majority of my life after the Hollywood and New York years.  And, so, I became a travel agent.  Then, I became a flight attendant, and I flew for five years with Northwest.  I then went on to run several flight attendant programs.  I lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  As I was going to get laid off from the travel agency that I was working for in 2000, my first wife passed away from cancer.  And every day I had helped her.  I mean I couldn't fix it, but I helped her. And I said, 'I need to do something where at the end of every day I at least feel like I help somebody.'  So, I applied to the city of Phoenix to be a 911 operator and I'm just about getting ready to finish my 14th year. So my life really is three fairly distinct periods there.  There were the TV, Broadway, motion picture years, which ran from about seven til my early twenties.  The travel years went from about 1972 until l I left the travel industry in 2000 and, and then this. I guess really, if someone has three distinct careers, and almost every one of them is something that people say 'Wow, that must have been pretty interesting!'...I guess I'm pretty lucky!