For years, Sally Struthers's commercials for Save the Children, with their heartbreaking images of children in need, were all over TV.
Struthers revealed Monday on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast that she stopped working as an ambassador for the organization and another, similar one after 35 years because of a terrifying experience. It happened once when she had flown into Uganda on a small plane to meet one of the kids she was sponsoring.
"They brought [the child] from his village, which was quite a few hours away. He had traveled to come meet his sponsor, to meet me, and I made some commercials with him, and I played with him and I brought him toys and balloons," Struthers said. "Well, a roving band of guerrilla warfare guys came out of the bushes and asked [him] where he was from, and he named his village, which was far away, and they decided that we had kidnapped him, and they were going to shoot all of us."
The priest, who happened to speak the same language as the men, instructed Struthers to back away, without turning her back to them, and they all survived. But it was a turning point for the All in the Family actress.
"I thought, 'I've been on so many little airplanes that could have crashed and in so many horrible situations.' I came back from one of my trips overseas with hepatitis." Struthers said. "I thought, 'What am I doing? I've got a child, a real-life child of my own, and I'm gonna make her an orphan. I can't do this anymore.'"
It was a relief for Struthers, who was already the butt of jokes on In Living Color, South Park and elsewhere for the ads.
"Besides, everyone in the world is making fun of me," said Struthers, who has extensive credits in theater and TV. "I could never understand that from the first time I found out some comic or another made fun of me and then a greeting card was on sale somewhere making fun of me. It dumbfounded me that if you're trying to help hungry children, you're fodder for horrible, cruel jokes. What's wrong with the world?"
Maron noted that the ads were so prevalent that, "You could not not see them."
"I don't think it was about the cause or necessarily about you, [but] it was inescapable," he said.
During the interview, Struthers also talked about her impression of former President Donald Trump. Referring to him as "the orange butthole," she explained that she was once seated across from him at a White House dinner, long before he was president. She asked if she could use the lobby of Trump Tower in New York for an art auction to benefit Save the Children. He said sure, and he told her to give him a call. Struthers said that when she did, she received a much different response. As Struthers told it, a woman left her on the phone for five minutes and then said, "He's not interested."
She had equally negative things to say about Rita Moreno, the actress who co-starred with her in a female, stage version of The Odd Couple in 1985. Struthers described Moreno as "just a mean, difficult human being."
Yahoo Entertainment has reached out to both Trump and Moreno for comment.
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