I remember watching Three Men and a Baby when it came out in 1987. I was 13 years old. It was right up there for me that year along with Dirty Dancing, Labamba, Throw Mama from the Train and Teen Wolf Too! Awww, those were the good ol’ days, weren’t they? For people of a certain age, it feels like the 80’s were just a heartbeat away (I am sooo dating myself in this post 🤣).
The story couldn’t have been simpler, three bachelors Peter (Tom Selleck), Jack (Ted Dansen) and Michael (Steve Guttenberg) share a New York City apartment that is a revolving door of gorgeous women; one-night-stands who come and go with the regularity of a traffic light until one morning their lives are turned upside down by the arrival of the one woman who won’t be leaving in the morning – a precious ten month old girl named Mary.
The film was the most commercially successful hit of that year, surpassing Fatal Attraction and eventually grossing $167 million in the US. The film won the 1988 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Comedy Motion Picture. For context, it made almost as much money as Lethal Weapon, Predator and Robocop in that year combined.
Baby Mary wasn’t actually played by one girl, she was played by twin sisters Lisa Blair and Michelle Blair Ontonovich from Kitchener, Ontario – my hometown. When they starred in the Hollywood blockbuster, Lisa and Michelle were just 4-5 months old and took turns playing baby Mary Bennington.
Being one of my fave movies of ‘back in the day’ imagine my surprise when someone at work told me that the ‘baby’ from Three Men and a Baby was working with us. I was like “isn’t she a little young to be working here?” Not immediately remembering that they would have aged as I did 😂
Michelle and I have been working together for 5 years, we both work at the same insurance company, in different role, which is how we became friends.
Not wanting to invade her past, I didn’t ask her too much about the movie, what she remembers from it (if anything) and what her experience has been since then. But, earlier this week I was struggling at home for my next ‘topic’ to blog about and Michelle popped in my head – I mean it could also have been that I had just seen her at work a few hours earlier lol. I asked her if we could hang out one night this weekend and talk a little bit about her 5 minutes of fame, as always, she was agreeable, cause she’s a doll!
Ironically, colleagues tell us we look alike. We both have long jet back hair. We both wear mostly black clothes and have similar body types – although I say Michelle is younger and much prettier 😉
In 2017, Three Men and a Baby celebrated its 30 Year Anniversary! I feel fortunate that Michelle has agreed to chat with me specifically about this, because everything I’ve seen online all repeat the same story over and over again. That, and their appearance on The Today Show in 2014 who did a program called Where Are They Now?
Video above: On The Tonight Show with Jimy Fallon, Tom Selleck discusses the 30th anniversary of Three Men and a Baby, how he got that pee stain on the movie poster —- yes, baby Lisa did in fact pee on Tom during Annie Leibovitz‘s photo shoot for the movie cover.
In order to prep for today’s chat, I re-watched the movie, admittedly I did look at it differently this time around knowing my friend was in it.
While sitting on my couch in our comfy sweats, she tells me that while off on mat leave, their mom, Geriann, was bored at home looking for something to do to pass the time – when she heard from a friend that there was a casting call in Toronto seeking twin baby girls between the ages of 3 and 6 months for what she thought was a “scene” in a movie. After their audition with Director, Leorard Nemoy (aka Spock), Geriann received a phone call informing them that the Blair twins were to star as Mary in the movie Three Men and a Baby.
Filming was shot on location in New York City with a few scenes being shot in Toronto – between the months of March and the end of August. While most of the exterior shots were shot in New York and on a soundstage, I was able to pick out some scenes that were identifiably Toronto — the swimming pool scene is actually the one at the John Innes Community Centre, I can see a shot of the exterior of The Royal Alexandra Theatre. In one scene I can see the old Canada Trust logo on a neighbouring tower, and this one I couldn’t immediately point out – but was able to with the help of some online research — Tom Selleck’s character is an architect, so there are a few visits to this construction site, which was actually the future Scotia Plaza.
Hired nurses were on set to assist with caring for the twins (one of them in the the photo above). In the stack of photos she and I go through as she reminisces – there are pics of them in the pool – she tells me that she and her sister had to take “swimming lessons” for the scene where the men take their daughter for a dip.
After filming wrapped and the movie was preparing to open at the box office, a week was spent with family in L.A. for press interviews as well as the premiere which Geriann and her then husband attended (Lisa and Michelle’s dad).
Being only 5-10 months old during shooting, it’s understandable that Michelle remembers only what she’s heard passed down from family about their experiences while being on set with Ted, Tom and Steve.
As she grew up she tells me that the attention from the film as a bit overwhelming. As she transitioned into adolescence she recalls it being cool that people would ask her questions about the experience – but admits the questions only came after people were told about her being in the movie – which totally makes sense – you’d never in a million years guess that she would have played that role (10 months to 15 years is a pretty big gap! )
I asked her if she feels any different having been in a HIT movie – she answers “no”, other than an annual residual cheque she says that “I live pretty much a normal life”. Which I can testify to – it took us a month just to be able to arrange for this time to sit down for a few moments (outside of work) and talk — and even then the loving mother of two (5 and 3) had to get home to her hubby, Ryan whom she married in 2010. I love that about Michelle, she’s the kindest, sweetest soul and she makes me laugh – plus we both love our beer. At work we count on her to help us with the administration of our claims and I always look forward to her daily drops by my desk to say “hi “and chat about nothing for a few moments, or borrow a tea bag (ahem – I think you owe me a whole box by now 😉). Insofar as career aspirations, she enjoys working in the insurance industry (which she has done since the age of 18) and plans to continue working in that field, maybe in a different role at some point.
The sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady was released 3 years later in 1990 – critical reaction to the film was mostly mixed to negative. The film only grossed US$71.6 million. A far cry to its original movie.
With that being said, I am posting this blog shortly and will see Michelle at work tomorrow.
Do any of you know of any friends and/or family members who have starred in or have been in a movie scene or commercial?