Actor John O’Hurley has entertained and inspired thousands, carving his way into American pop culture in both television and film, most notably with his portrayal of the wildly eccentric character, “J. Peterman,” on television’s popular comedy, Seinfeld, for which he won a Screen Actor’s Guild Award. He has starred on more than 50 television shows and two dozen films. He became one of America’s most popular game show hosts with such classics as To Tell The Truth and Family Feud. He has starred on Broadway and around the country in such hits as Chicago and Spamalot. Mr. O’Hurley is also host of the NBC Thanksgiving television tradition, The National Dog Show, enjoyed annually for thirteen years by 25 million viewers.
He extends his reach today into the world of business as a private venture capitalist and is actually a part-owner of the real J. Peterman Company, the subject of his Seinfeld-ian parody. Most recently Mr. O’Hurley teamed up with 30-year tech veteran Becky Wanta to launch his biometric authentication compan . Called Q5id, it provides industry-leading, patented identity proofing services that allow individuals to take control and protection of their identity using multiple biometrics for secure, password-less logins that eliminate credential theft.
I checked in with Mr. O’Hurley and he granted me an interview by phone, from his home in Los Angeles.
What is your best-ever vacation?
I still haven’t had it yet – my imagination is too fertile – there are things I haven’t seen yet – But I really enjoyed – New Zealand, Australia, I had a wonderful time. I did a movie in Greece and am going back in October – it’ probably my favorite country. Outside of filming, I am a great fan of going island-to-island. I played a billionaire in my last film – we used a boat and would go island-hopping with the boat, so that was my favorite thing to do in Greece. The Greeks are the most hospitable people – they are proud to be Greek when they wake up at 6AM, all day long, until they go to bed at 4:30 AM.
What is your favorite thing to do on vacation?
I like to golf and go private private fly-fishing. I bought a lake in Vermont — yes, you can buy a lake – I bought a lake and the property around it, and I fly-fish there. It’s like On Golden Pond. It’s pretty neat.
My fingerprints are still all around New England – I was born in Kittery, Maine, and grew up in West Hartford, Conn. I went to Kingswood-Oxford. Then to Providence College where I was on the Board of Trustees for almost 10 years.
Favorite hotel and why?
Yes, we do, and it revolves around Pebble Beach – that area is the most compelling area anywhere in the country – so many avenues for extraordinary experiences – playing golf or just surfing the bay, or you are just hiking in the Big Sur wilderness. It’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Lodge at Pebble Beach and The Post Ranch Inn at Big Sur – it’s where God goes on vacation, when no one is looking – although I have seen him fishing in my lake in Vermont.
Favorite hotel chain?
The Four Seasons. We have enjoyed their experiences around the country.
What’s your favorite travel product from the Peterman catalog?
You know I like? I love their 1901 men’s cologne – it’s an absolutely wonderful men’s cologne but I also like the black version of the duster long coat – to wear formally in New York City or to ride horseback. One of the classic niche pieces in the Peterman collection – in canvas tan and also in black, which is absolutely elegant.
Where did you honeymoon?
We got engaged on the 7th hole at Pebble Beach –– I’ll soon be revisiting the 7th hole where the ring was placed in the hole for her to discover. It’s quite a story. We played a one-hole skins game – the ring was in the hole in a box – a 5.5 carat ring…I dropped to my knees – I told her, “That box was for you,” and she burst into tears. Married at Bacara in Santa Barbara. We honeymooned at Ventanas in Cabo and also at Fenway Park in Boston because I am a die-hard Red Sox fan.
First big-splurge trip you took after you “made it” in your profession.
I think we took British Airways first class and played in the Dunhill Cup – in the Pro-Am – at St. Andrews in Scotland. Stayed at a The Old Course hotel. Spectacular. The oldest course in the world – where golf started.
We liked Virgin, but we are starting to enjoy these new little airline – JetSuites (now called JSX) – a wonderful little airline hopscotching from LA to Vegas, Phoenix, Denver – they have smaller regional jets – you can show up 5 minutes before your flight and get right on — handled like a private airline. A nice bridge between the hassle of flying commercial and flying privately. It fits right inbetween. It’s expanding quite rapidly.
What’s always in your carryon?
I have a high-powered massager that’s portable – I give it away as prize at my charity golf tournaments – no matter what it, it pumps the back pain right out of you.
What snacks do you travel with?
No snacks but I’m a wine whore, so I always have a glass of wine. I have a new show, Through The Grapevine – I’ll be hosting – my unique tours and the great vineyards internationally. We start to film in this fall. We will be on PBS and downloadable as well.
How do you stay in shape on the road?
I bring my rubber exercise bands, which give me a great workout. I’ll use the hotel’s treadmill or take hour -long walks for cardio. I also curtail the calories on the road. Lots of soup.
Preferred brand of luggage and why.
Yeti. It’s a hand-carry bag that we love.
What type of skincare do you use and travel with.
TreCeuticals. It’s the best hydrating cream I’ve ever found, especially from airplane to airplane, when your skin is always drying out.
Can you say this for me, as Peterman: “Elaine, what we have here is a good old-fashioned catfight.”
(He does this, quite hysterically). Go to Cameo.com and you will see many celebrities who do birthday shout-outs for a fee — I’m one of the more popular people on the platform – people want the J. Peterman monologues that are specific to people’s birthdays, and anniversaries, and pep talks to people are sick in the hospital. Motivational. I even had guy who called me who had Erectile Dysfunction. Every day I get a half a dozen – it’s a wonderful side business. I got 20 a day during the pandemic. Every day I have several to do. But they’re fun. The monologues are absurd.
Where is your next trip and why?
Heading to Pebble Beach this weekend, then I come back, and then a few more shows in San Diego for my show (“A Man With Standards”) – a one-man autobiographical show with music with songs from The Great American Songbook. Then off filming, Red Door, Lemon Tree in Crete. A return-to-your-roots movie. Fun. Nostalgic and romantic.
Do you cruise?
Yes – quite a bit – usually on Regent Seven Seas Cruises. I have a standing offer from them to do my show on board. I was supposed to go on Regent this August but it didn’t work out. I love the cruise lines. I like Regent because it’s small and contained – I like the elegance – it’s the best of all the cruise lines I’ve seen. I like the suites – I spend my evenings on the balcony watching the world go by – it’s hypnotic for me. I usually get the Owner’s Suite if it’s available. I usually go for 10 days – that’s the length I like to make it worth your while.
Best souvenir you ever bought.
I collect old golf clubs, antiques from the 1800s – when people played with rudimentary clubs made by craftsmen – to fix a particular dilemma – the greenskeeper would come in his horse-drawn carriage and you needed a special club to get out of the “rut.” Every time we go to St. Andrews I try to find a different antiquity. And I have quite a collection.
Now it’s all about traveling with my son – I’d like to show him stuff and see it again through his eyes. He’s 15 – we’re traveling more to Europe now. And he’s a pilot – every weekend I drop him off at the airport for his training. He’s too young to drive a car but it’s OK to pilot a plane. That’s going to be his life. Aviation.
For more about Debbi, Follow her on Instagram at @DebbiKickham.