The video: “I Can’t Hold Back” by Survivor.
The girl-now-woman: Lee Ann Marie.
How old were you when you appeared in the “I Can’t Hold Back” video?
I believe I was 26.
Where were you living at the time?
Chicago. However, I was traveling quite a bit with dance companies and shows that I was appearing in.
What music videos, shows, or movies had you appeared in prior to that?
Close to the same time that “I Can’t Hold Back” was shot, I was cast in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as one of the German fräuleins. During the parade scene, I appeared on the float with Matthew Broderick dancing to the songs “Danke Schoen” and “Twist and Shout.”
Lee Ann is the one not getting fake-punched.
Lee Ann is the feathered fräulein on the right.
How were you cast in “I Can’t Hold Back”?
I was sent on an audition by my agent, Janet Lauer from Shirley Hamilton.
Do you remember what your reaction was when you were cast?
Surprised, delighted, and excited!
Were you a Survivor fan?
I wasn’t familiar with the band prior to being cast. After hearing their music, I was and still am a big fan!
Where was the video filmed?
The video was filmed at three locations in Chicago. The opening scene was shot at a bookstore in a neighborhood called Lincoln Park. The middle scenes were shot at a theatre called Park West and the final scenes were shot on the Chicago “L.” It was the video’s final scenes, inspired by Risky Business (filmed in Chicago), that brought the California-based film crew to cast and shoot the Survivor video in Chicago.
From what I recall, the video shoot was pretty close to being a 17-hour day. The call time was mid- to late morning on a weekday. Following hair and makeup, the bookstore scenes were shot through mid-afternoon. With travel to the second location and filming of the scenes at Park West, wrap time there went into the later part of the evening. It was the video’s final scenes, shot on the Chicago “L,” that made for a very long day. At midnight, the City of Chicago shut down and rerouted one “L” to be used solely for filming. The “L” scenes wrapped up somewhere around 3 a.m.
How did you feel making the video?
I felt extremely happy and very grateful to have been given the opportunity.
What was the hardest part of the shoot?
With it being such a long day, staying fresh, especially during the romantic scenes shot on the
When I heard that I was cast in the lead role of “Fantasy Girlfriend” in a music video for “a rock band,” I was petrified. I definitely had preconceived notions of what “a rock band” would look and act like. I could not have been more wrong! The guys were good-looking, friendly, humorous, down-to-earth, and very gentlemen-like.
Nothing that I was aware of.
What did you think of the video?
Before we began shooting, the director of the video, Bob Radler, played “I Can’t Hold Back” for me. I remember clearly how much I fell in love with it before the song even ended! And unaware that my fondness for the song or my gratitude for the opportunity could actually be amplified any more than they already were, Mr. Radler gave me a rundown of what the video’s storyline was going to be. I was ecstatic! I could not have dreamed up a better fairytale romance role for myself. I didn’t have to see the video to know that I was going to simply love it!
What did your parents think of it?
I’m pretty sure they loved it—in a parent kind of way. ;-)
What did your friends think of it?
They thought it was a great video! I don’t think I met a single person who didn’t love that video.
I did, but unfortunately, I don’t remember where I was. How did I feel? That I remember. I felt fabulous!
Were you ever recognized in public?
A good friend of mine called me after hearing a radio personality talk about me on his morning show. The Chicago DJ was Jonathon Brandmeier and he was telling his listeners that while watching music videos over the weekend, he fell in love with the girl in the Survivor video. He went on to say that he’d have no chance of meeting her because she probably lived in L.A. After hearing that, I sent “Johnny B” my headshot, phone number, and a note letting him know that I actually lived in Chicago.
Randomly one morning while on the air, Johnny B decided to call me. I was on tour with a dance company so instead of having a conversation with me, Johnny B chatted on the air with the person who picked up the phone—my mom.
He carried on a friendly “pigging”—I mean conversation with her—attempting to get as much dirt—I mean information—on me as possible. ;-) And at the end of his conversation with my mom, Johnny B instructed her to have me set up a time when I would be available to chat with him on the air.
Sure enough, Johnny B called and we chatted about the video, my career, and how, when, and where we should meet. By the end of interview, I had an invitation to meet him face-to-face at an advertised event that he would be appearing at and [which would be] attended by fans of his morning show. The invite opened the door for his fans to engage in this friendly new radio relationship.
In anticipation of our meeting, his listeners began calling in with their association and sightings of me, saying “I know Lee Ann,” “I went to high school with her,” “I pumped her gas last week” (shows how long ago that was), “I saw her shopping in Oakbrook”… Well, that was the beginning of a good two years of being stopped for my autograph and recognized in public as “the girl in the Survivor video.”
Any additional stories?
Nationally and internationally, the music video held a record-breaking #1 spot on the charts for, I believe, nine weeks. I had several career opportunities as a result of its success. I received a call with a request to come out to Paramount Studios for a private audition for the hit show Solid Gold. One of the dancers on the show was injured and they were looking to replace her. I flew to California and, just as they said, I had a private audition with the show’s choreographer and producers.
All went well till they told me that the replacement spot was for a dancer [who would need to] tumble. My gymnastic days terminated after my high school graduation so needless to say, I returned to Chicago to resume my career there. Soon afterwards, I was cast in a principal role for a TV commercial for WFYR radio station. The spot was filmed in only red and white, the style inspired by the then-popular Miami Vice.
Did you receive fan mail?
Not that I remember.
Did the video generate any controversy that you know of?
Not that I’m aware of. However, following the shoot, I was told that I would also need to be available for the next video that Survivor was scheduled to shoot, “The Search Is Over.” With the premise of “I Can’t Hold Back” [being] a fantasy [in which] the girl gets away, the storyline to “The Search Is Over” was going to be boy gets the girl. I was excited to be a part of the full-circle love story! [But] that changed [following] the release of “I Can’t Hold Back.” The band’s managers felt that the “I Can’t Hold Back” video was too much of me and not enough of the guys. So “The Search Is Over” video [is] very little storyline and mostly the guys playing in the band.
Did you appear in other music videos after that?
Yes, I appeared and danced in Linda Clifford’s music video “A Night Out with the Boys.” [MTN: I could not find the video online.]
Did you ever meet other women who were female leads in a mainstream ‘80s rock video?
No, I never did.
What did you do following school?
I had a long career as a professional dancer appearing in stage shows across the country and alongside such stars as Tony Randall, Rita Moreno, Joe Namath, and Soupy Sales. Upon studying acting, I appeared in many local and national commercials, industrial videos, and musical theatre productions that led me to become a member of Screen Actors Guild, Actors’ Equity Association, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
From 1979 to 1982, I had the pleasure of being a pro cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Bears and modeled in print ads for various products—workout equipment, apparel, furniture. With my love for the runway, I found a niche for myself as a petite model (I am only 5’4”) and appeared in runway shows at many of the well-known department stores including Neiman Marcus, Marshall Field’s, Carson Pirie Scott, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom as well as many on-camera fashion shows for Oprah.
Living in a town with one of the largest convention centers, McCormick Place, I represented hundreds (or maybe dozens?) of companies exhibiting there and throughout the country as a spokesperson and narrator for live presentations. That led to many appearances on QVC as I was selected as the spokesperson for a worldwide launch of a hair care appliance.
What are you doing these days?
With a marketing and design background, I incorporated and founded Lee Ann Marie Productions, Inc. Within my company, I have the pleasure of assisting clients with creative direction and growing their brands, including fashion and wardrobe styling for print, TV, and live trend shows. My communications experience continues in roles both in front of and behind the camera, representing companies as their spokesperson and video producer.
My design and art background have brought me to a current project in a commercial space rehab.
If you are/were married, what was your future husband’s reaction when he learned you were in this video?
The day I met [the man who became] my longtime boyfriend, he was encouraged by his friend to walk over and introduce himself and tell me that his favorite music video was “I Can’t Hold Back.” Well, he did walk over but he didn’t introduce himself or tell me that his favorite music video was “I Can’t Hold Back.” Regardless, it all worked out. ;-)
What did you think when you first heard from me?
After listening to what you had to say, I thought, “Wow, God’s pretty good with Divine Connections.” ;-)
Has anyone else ever interviewed you about this?
1985 magazine profile of Lee Ann...
and a young actor named John Cusack
Have you appeared at any fan conventions to sign autographs? If not, would you?
No, I never appeared at a fan convention. However, at the first concert Survivor performed following the release of “I Can’t Hold Back,” they informed the audience of my presence which led to me signing quite a bit of autographs that evening.
Would I appear at a fan convention to sign autographs? Yes, I would be delighted to!
No, I didn’t keep in touch with anyone but it would be wonderful to hear from them again.
Have you seen the reality show Survivor? Would you like to try it?
Yes, I have seen the show and I definitely would not like to try it. I’m also pretty sure that they would never cast me as I am not very good at roughing it.
How do you look back on the experience?
It was one of my favorite bookings throughout my career.
Anything you’d like to add?
When I was cast in the role, the video producer and director were not aware that I was a professional dancer. While filming the scene of me appearing through the puff of smoke (dry ice—of course signifying entering into a dream) to make my way up towards the band performing onstage, I broke into a routine that I choreographed. All were pleasantly surprised!
Next: Chicago, “Stay the Night” (1984).