Marion, Mariette & Memories

Beloved actress Marion Ross, whose theatrical roots began in San Diego, returns June 6 for Love, Loss, and What I Wore, an evening of theatre, fashion, and fundraising to benefit the North Coast Repertory Theatre. Ross co-stars with Emmy-winning actress Mariette Hartley in the play, written by Nora and Delia Ephron and based on the best-selling book by Ilene Beckerman. Ross’ longtime friend, the fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, is among the associate producers of the play, directed by David Ellenstein. In a series of monologues, five principal actors reflect on the clothes — from prom dresses to purses — that mirror pivotal experiences in their lives.

Speaking from her home in Woodland Hills, Ross reminisced about the blue “’50s dress with a nice small waist and a full skirt” that she wore during her 11 seasons on Happy Days, the TV series that made her a star in middle-age alongside Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, and Tom Bosley. “We had such a successful show. I feel very fortunate to have had a life with so many colors in it.” She adds with a chuckle, “But what happened to that small waist?” She is most proud of her role as Jewish-Polish grandmother on the short-lived TV series Brooklyn Bridge, for which she received critical acclaim. “That’s really acting,” she says, “when you disappear into the character.”

Ross, who owns a home in Cardiff, graduated from Point Loma High and San Diego State. She acted in school plays and performed at the La Jolla Playhouse and Old Globe before heading off to Hollywood at 22 under contract with Paramount. “I’ve been a hardworking girl all my life,” says Ross, who has played scores of roles on both stage and screen. Now in her 80s, she has a book in the works. In fact, she’s already looking forward to the book tour. “I love talk shows because you can tell stories,” she says. “And all actors have stories. I’ve worked with some wonderful, interesting people in my lifetime.” Noel Coward, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Tony Curtis — just to name a few. 858.481.1055, northcoastrep.org      Andrea Naversen