As the years go on, there tend to be many forgotten actors and actresses who were a noteworthy part of the entertainment scene in decades past.
One such name is Joyce Hyser, who was best known for appearing in 1980’s classics Just One Of The Guys and L.A Law.
If Twitter and Instagram were around back in that time, Hyser’s profile would have exploded even more, considering who she was associated with outside of the studio as well. Hyser is now 64 years old, but will remain immortalized as a younger woman through her cinematic work.
Joyce Hyser was born in New York City on December 20, 1957. Her father was a small business owner who ran a jewelry store. Hyser’s mother worked as a nurse at a hospital in the city.
Hyser started studying ballet at the age of seven with her aunt who had escaped from Russia and was a former Bolshoi ballet dancer. She was very dedicated to her dancing and had a clear vision of becoming a professional ballerina. However, her ballet career ended abruptly at the age of 16 due to a knee injury caused by wearing toe shoes too early. This was a devastating blow as she had always been very driven and knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life.
After her ballet career ended, she decided to channel her creative energy into acting. She studied with several different people and attended an experimental high school in Philadelphia called the School Without Walls. She graduated high school when she was very young and deferred her college enrollment because she didn’t feel ready yet. She was a free spirit and wanted to maintain her independence. She moved to Colorado, hitchhiked to California, and then returned to Philadelphia to go back to school.
However, she became disillusioned with the idea of becoming an actor and decided to pursue a career in nursing. She started taking a course to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and worked at Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children in Northeast Philadelphia. However, she fainted during a surgery and decided that nursing wasn’t for her. She then decided to go back to acting and moved to California to study acting.
She started getting small acting jobs and was able to sustain herself. She worked as a cocktail waitress and sold flowers in restaurants. She also mentions that she was in acting classes with several actors who later became famous, including Patrick Dempsey.
Joyce Hyser’s Early Career
Her first known acting credit took place in 1980, and it was a pretty impressive way to make a debut on the big screen. Hyser was cast as Brenda Weinberg in “The Hollywood Nights” film which featured some legitimate star power. Tony Danza, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Wuhl and Fran Drescher were the leads of that movie, making Hyser’s introduction to the industry about as exciting as it could get at the time.
She would play a role as Belinda in another star-studded comedy/musical in 1984 called “This Is Spinal Tap.” It included the likes of Michael McKean, Rob Reiner, Fred Williard, Billy Crystal, Ed Begley Jr., and many others.
Just One Of The Guys
With a solid background as a complementary actress, Joyce Hyser got a chance to be the lead in the 1985 film “Just One Of The Guys”. It was a pretty memorable part, as Hyser, then in her late 20’s, played high schooler Terry Griffith, who was obsessed with becoming a journalist. The only problem was, her character’s dreams took a big hit when the school decided to pass up her article for an internship at the local newspaper, in favor of a boy’s. Griffith was convinced that her piece was more deserving than the others, and believed that she didn’t get the spot because she was a girl.
In order to prove a point to herself and society, she poses as a male student at a nearby high school, hoping to secure the internship in a most unconventional manner. Hyser’s character gets a little more than she bargained for, as a girl at the other school is smitten with her persona as a boy. She also has a male best friend that she starts to develop feelings for, while the friend thinks she actually is a boy. It’s meant to be a lighthearted film, albeit one that pokes fun at and highlights legitimate differences within gender expectations.
Hyster mentioned in an interview that she had a no-nudity clause in her contracts but made an exception for a scene in “Just One of the Guys” after the director, Lisa Gottlieb, convinced her it was necessary for the film.
Despite having entrenched east coast roots in the early part of her life, Joyce Hyser arguably had her second most prominent role come as a recurring guest on L.A. Law. The show was a legal drama centered around a law firm that handled a variety of cases, and focused on the personal lives of the partners of the firm.
One such lawyer was Victor Sifuentes, who was played by actor Jimmy Smits. During the middle of the show’s run in 1989-1990, Joyce Hyser was brought in for ten episodes as Sifuentes’ girlfriend named Allison Gottlieb. The final episode she appeared in was called “The Pay’s Lousy, But The Tips Are Great”, which aired in 1990 on NBC.
Why Did She Quit Acting?
Hyser said she quit acting after a particularly disheartening audition for CSI. She felt disrespected and deflated by the audition process, which involved a long wait and a lack of communication from the casting team. She described the experience as soul-crushing and said it made her question whether she wanted to continue navigating the difficult business side of the industry. After this experience, she called her agent and told them she was done with acting.
What Is Joyce Hyser Doing Now?
Joyce says after she quit acting she found her newfound passion for writing, revealing that she’s currently engaged in this pursuit. She mentioned her collaboration with an exceptional writing partner and hinted at the possibility of their work appearing on both small and big screens in the near future. While she hasn’t completely abandoned acting, she clarified that she’s taking a much-needed, extended break from it.
Joyce Hyser and Bruce Springsteen
As Hyser was laying the groundwork on her acting career, she dated one of the most popular musicians of the last 40 years in Bruce Springsteen.
Joyce recalled how she met Bruce in a interview she did with Chris Mayek:
How did you meet Bruce Springsteen?
From one of my teachers in high school, I think I had mentioned that I went to a progressive high school, and I used to keep a Journal for English credit, and she was a student teacher, and she would read my Journal. So we became really super close, and her husband was his tour manager.
When I was in LA, they were there to do some shows, and she invited me to come by the hotel they were staying. That was that.
Joyce went on to say that she didn’t move the relationship further because she didn’t want to just be known as someone’s girlfriend
For me, honestly, it was just like I had gone from being kind of this very ambitious, driven, knew where I was going, kid, to what I felt was I just I didn’t like the idea of being somebody’s girlfriend. And it had nothing to do with him at all. Zero.
It was just my perception and my unhappiness and feeling as if instead of being Joyce Heiser the actor I had become, Joyce Heiser somebody’s girlfriend. I had a very difficult time with that and trying to find myself. And that’s really what that was for me at the time. It’s just a great relationship with an incredible person who was always really supportive of me.
The two were together for about four years, before Springsteen would end up meeting and marrying Julianne Phillips, his first wife.
Hyser maintains that her and Springsteen are still friends to this day. Hyser was also linked to movie star Warren Beatty as well.
Is Joyce Hyser married?
Hyser would end up finding her match later in life, marrying Jeff Robinson. It is unclear when they exchanged their vows, but it may have taken place in the 2000’s. It does not appear as if Hyser has any children.
Hyser serves on the board of the Harold Robinson foundation, which is named after her father in law.
The organization is focused on making a difference in underserved communities. They organize neighborhood events and camp retreats for children.
She can be found on social media as Joyce Hyser Robinson.