Though She Plays a Lawyer on 'Night Court' , Markie Post Can't Help Feeling Guilty

Night Court’s Markie Post, a self-proclaimed worrywart, is at it again. Because she has not battled drugs, because she has not drowned herself in drink, because she did not come from a broken home, Markie is worried that people will think she has not suffered enough for her art. Let the record show she has. Exhibit A: When she was a freshman at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. in 1969, the jocks voted her the biggest snob on campus. “I cried for days,” says Post, 35. “I had never been actively disliked before.”

And you thought that she hadn’t suffered.

There is no evidence of anguish, however, on the set of Night Court. Harry (Judge Harry T. Stone) Anderson and John (Dan Fielding) Larroquette, her outrageous co-stars, have only swell things to say about Post, who plays pristine attorney Christine Sullivan. They are in a good position to judge: She is the fifth woman with a lead role in three years. (The others were written out of the show because of script or contract difficulties.) “She’s brought happiness to the set,” says Anderson, sometimes at her own expense. “We have a rough set,” allows Larroquette. “But Markie had no trouble fitting in. She’s smart enough to know when we’re fooling around.”

The show’s producers had wanted Post for the role earlier but she was under contract to ABC’s The Fall Guy (she played a bail bondswoman). When she finally jumped to NBC this season, Post was elated. “I don’t wish Ellen [Foley, her immediate Night Court predecessor] any ill will but I always felt it was my role,” she says.

Night Court differs sharply from her three years on The Fall Guy. That was real suffering: “It was not a happy set. I felt like an outsider, a prop. I didn’t even know about Heather Thomas’ drug problem until a few months before it came out. I felt like I was nothing, a zero, and I’m prone to feel that way anyway. I don’t need help.” Now, “I’m a character, not a function,” she says. A $400,000-a-year character (for five years), at that.

Post is stretched out on the cushy white sofa in the two-bedroom Toluca Lake, Calif. cottage she shares with second husband Michael Ross, 30. In beige stirrup pants and a pink knit pullover, the 5’6″ blonde looks fetching. But “I’m no sexual siren,” she insists. “I see prettier girls than me in the grocery

store every day.”

The truth is, like many chronic worriers, Post has never had much to worry about. Her “Norman Rockwell” childhood, as Larroquette calls it, began in Stanford, Calif., where she was the second of three children. (The family later moved to nearby Walnut Creek.) Her father, Richard Freeman Post, is a physicist noted for his work on nuclear fusion; her mother, Marylee, is a poet. With such accomplished parents, Post felt she could never live up to their expectations. “I couldn’t be as charming as my mother or as smart as my father,” she says. “So I decided to be bad. I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t drink, couldn’t smoke and didn’t have sex. I flunked at being a rebel.”

In college she discovered acting and found a husband, fellow drama student Stephen Knox. “I fell for him because I had never met a man with real angst,” she explains. “He was charismatic and cynical. I married him out of passion; I had never had a sexual experience before. I was Snow White and he was James Dean.” They split up after nine months.

To start fresh, she transferred to Pomona College briefly before returning to Lewis & Clark, where she graduated in 1975. Her first job after school was writing game show questions (“Don’t ever play Trivial Pursuit with me”) and selecting prizes for The Price Is Right. Along the way she found herself with a weight problem: She kept losing it. She dropped to 98 pounds from her normal 110. “I turned down dates because I dreaded sitting in front of a plateful of food,” she says. She managed to cure herself. “I said, ‘Enough is enough.’ Slowly I began to regain my appetite.” Her health restored, she found an agent and landed bit parts on shows like Fantasy Island, Barnaby Jones, Hart to Hart and The Love Boat.

In 1980 she met Ross in an acting class. “I thought Markie was a huge phony,” he says. “She had just completed a reading and was sensational. People were giving her compliments and she was saying, ‘Oh, really? Oh, do you really mean that?’ I thought she was playing little Miss Shirley Temple.” Post was not overly impressed either. “I only asked him to do the scene with me because another guy was hitting on me and I wanted to get rid of him.” They married one year later.

You would think that with a solid marriage and a hit show, her worrying days would be over. Not so. “I worry about everything,” she says. Including her future. “Of course I’d like children,” says Markie. “But I have to get over my impression that being pregnant is like popping corn. You expand and expand until you pop.”

Now that’s something to worry about.

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