Sunday, September 1, 2013

back to L.A. (again)

Back to L.A....1961

This time I had a traveling companion....let’s just call her Linda.  Linda with the long legs!  
She was fun...and a good driver and she detested the arctic cold off Lake Michigan and had never been west of St. Louis.
  We headed out knowing not what would happen and isn’t that the fun of traveling somewhere...especially when the mountains and deserts waited and the slots in Vegas beckoned and Hollywood was not far away.
We set up shop in the “slums” of south Beverly an area with a Beverly Hills address(needed for impressing my contacts) but much lower rent than on the north side of town!
I got a phone...called the exec I had talked to earlier about the Bob Newhart Show....then I signed up for unemployment right away (pretty good in California).
  Linda got a job at a car rental place (with her legs and problem out here) and we settled in.
Bob Newhart was shooting his first tv show for NBC out in Burbank....and using some Chicago personalities from his hometown.  
This would be the ONLY Newhart show that never made it to DVD..(despite winning all kinds of awards) I will never be able to see myself in my Dodger uniform with glove running into the set and catching a baseball in a fireplace!
That’s right....Bob was doing a skit about the Dodger’s new stadium being built at Chavez Ravine. There was one elderly lady who had refused for months to sell you can guess how Bob handled the his usual understated and warm manner.
They told me to run in on cue and a guy would drop a baseball down the fake chimney.  “don’t worry about dropping it” the director said...just pick it up...turn to the camera and hold the ball high and smile...then run back out”.
That was it...famous ball catcher on the NBC Network for about fifteen to twenty seconds!
The whole job took only one day for me but it was a gas.
Driving up to the NBC-TV gate and being checked out by the guard and being waved in when he found my name on the cast list.
Pulling into a parking spot a few about ten yards away from one with the name “Johnny Carson” on it.
Then...being able to chat with Bob and some of the other cast members like Joe Flynn of McHales Navy and hundreds of other shows...nice guy.
They did two takes...the first supposedly a “dress rehearsal” but if it went better than the “real” show... they’d just use it.
So...that was it.  I would try for more parts but you know Hollywood....nine out of ten don’t make it.  I didn’t.

Sinatra, again.

I found out the agency who handled Frank Sinatra’s financial dealings and made a cold call.  I was passed on to one of the execs there when I mentioned that Frank had called me to do an interview so they didn’t just dump me off the phone.  I got the guys name, title and address and said I’d write him about a deal I was thinking about.
I wrote the letter...outlining my idea of Frank buying a radio station in Las Vegas which would be THE Vegas outlet for the stars appearing there...and recommending we put the station in the Sands (Frank was a partner there) to showcase it.
So that they would know this was a serious recommendation I mentioned my management positions at stations in Peoria, Washington DC and Chicago.
About a week later my phone rang and the guy said they got my letter and it was interesting but not for Frank but “one of the other guys”.  and added...”he’s got a tax holding problem.” He said he’d would be in touch.
Ok...”one of the other guys” would mean:
Dean Martin
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Peter Lawford
Joey Bishop
Take your choice.  
I guessed Martin...who had his own tv show and probably the first dollar he ever made!  Sammy or Joey would be possible also...they were both doing well.

Well...we’ll never know who had a “tax holding” problem.  And I never ascertained just what that means.  Probably has something to do with a tax writeoff which could be a Vegas radio station.
     I may have mentioned in an earlier post about the radio-tv station in Peoria owned by Kerr-McGee Oil.  
     Senator Kerr put his son-in-law in as General Manager with one specific order:  Do not make a profit.  The broadcasting operation was a tax writeoff for the Oklahoma oil company. quarter things went just too well and we made a few bucks profit.  The ole Senator himself flew in from Washington and we could hear the battle behind closed doors.  Seems the entire Kerr-McGee corporation was out of whack because of the small profit made at WEEK AM  TV in Peoria!
     Just after that conversation about Las old friend Mac Richmond called me from Boston.  This call would change my life.
Mac said he was desperate for a news guy at his number one rated WMEX Boston...and how soon could I get there.
Well...I talked with leggy Linda and made sure she was in good shape...packed my bags and hopped into the car for the drive to Chicago and Boston.
So that was it for my “Hollywood years”.  And I would not become a member of Frank’s “rat pack”.  As I look back there is a bit of regret here...but things ended up working out fine for me in subsequent years so no real regrets.

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