The Great Terri
life is a three-ring circus
As a little girl in Chicago, she fell for a bozo -- the original Bozo, who camped it up on local TV as the star of the now-legendary Bozo's Circus. "I went on the show and won a stuffed toy, got my picture taken with Bozo and became the talk of the sixth grade." Terri Lynn Doss, now 22, smiles, fixing blue-gray eyes on the memory. "But that wasn't my first performance." In fact, she was a stage veteran. Dressing up as Cher, vamping for her friends while her mom sold tickets for a nickel, she had already become a star of the neighborhood talent-show circuit. "I was quiet in school," she says, "but at home, I loved singing and dancing."
Terri grew up in drag -- National Hot Rod Association drag racing, a circus of a sport in which spindly cars hurtle down dusty straightaways at jaw-dropping speeds. Her father ran the local raceway and doubled as track announcer. Her mother sold tickets. Terri and her brother ran the souvenir booth. "Every Sunday morning, we would get up at six and go to the track," she recalls. "Sometimes, I got to hand out the trophies after races. But what I remember most is coming home and shaking off all the dust that I had got on my hair and my clothes." N.H.R.A. hero Don "The Snake" Prudhomme was a family friend. These days, Terri doesn't require a snake-style parachute to slow down her Toyota MR2 on the Ventura Freeway but admits, "I love to drive fast." Except for that minor vice, she lives a sensible existence, working hard and steering clear of the fast lane. "I don't do the party scene. I'm a homebody."
Terri rolled into Hollywood two years ago, determined to try her hand at acting. Called to do a scene at director Richard Donner's home, she bumped into a shirtless hunk sunning himself on the lawn. "I said, 'Are you Mel Gibson?' He smiled. He's a wonderful man," Terri says dreamily. "I hope I can work with him again -- and soon!" Most of Terri's role in Lethal Weapon was cut, but she appears in Die Hard -- as the beauty Bruce Willis bumps into at LAX.
When the subject is men, Terri steers clear of current fashion. "I'm not into suits and ties, and I'm not really into workout guys with washboard stomachs," she says. "I'd rather be with a guy who has a beer belly. I think there's something a little egotistical about trying to look good all the time. I used to date a guy who was a mechanic. He wore scruffy beard, blue jeans and a T-shirt, never worked out -- and never knew how good-looking he was. That was what turned me on about him. He never thought about it.
"I want to act, and I'm going to work hard on my acting, but I want to put down roots, too," says Miss July. She grins at the prospect of juggling marriage, motherhood, and a film career. "People say you can't be happily married in Hollywood," she says. "We'll see!" Terri Doss has too much going today to worry much about 1990 or 1995. "I'll be whatever -- I really have no idea what I'm going to be, but I know one thing: I'm going to enjoy it."
Photography by Richard Fegley