I continue to be quite attuned to governmental, political, health issues; am no less concerned than I have been, though I’ve presently spared you by refraining from writing about those matters here. With President and Vice President candidates in both of our major political parties being officially nominated these weeks the campaigning will soon become intense.
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Continuing tale of incidental experiences to my unusual job training week .....
The previous two posts explain the point of the story I’ve been telling about my strange on-the-job training experience in production for a TV station’s talk show with which I became associated. Memories triggered prompts me to follow up by adding some subsequent experiences. Despite the unusual introduction to my new position, my working relationship with the show’s host and the rest of the staff was quite positive. Years after the show ended and we had all long-since scattered across the country most of us lost contact with one another.
The program’s host and I had become friends, so after he left the show, he wrote me from wherever he traveled round the country, always remembered my birthday, years later had dinner with my husband and I in our home when we ended up moving here to Southern California. My friend had also moved to Los Angeles pursuing his entertainment business career, adding acting and movies to his repertoire.
He even taught a class at a local college on how to survive in the entertainment business world, stressing to aspiring novitiates the importance of accumulating a financial reserve to survive unexpected termination of employment and occasions of other inevitable time periods when there would be no work at all.
He advised keeping possessions to a minimum since belongings moving costs could be expensive, especially if you were going coast to coast for periods of time as he sometimes did. For example, he bought only paperback books (more lightweight for shipping) in a day when hardbacks were usually the most prevalent. Unfortunately, in those days a couple years could pass before new published books were released in paperback form hampering getting the latest best sellers right away.
His correspondence to me was often signed with a name other than his own. Instead he signed what he considered unusual sounding names he liked to collect or those of former guests who had appeared on the show such as local Trudy Rella, an inside bit of memorabilia few others could appreciate as I did. She had been a nationally treasured folk singer in her European home country of Austria or Czechoslovakia but was generally unappreciated in the U.S. A rare unusual name he liked to hear the sound of rolling off his tongue that I recall was Duard Farquhar a talented professional dancer/teacher in the area.
Earlier he had asked me to type copy (remember typewriters before computers?) for a book he wrote condemning the use of words with “wise” tacked on to the end – such as “weather-wise”, “book-wise” that he would ridicule by saying “wise-wise....” -– for being grammatically incorrect. He was determined to eliminate this “wise” usage but despite his efforts the idea never seemed to gain popular traction. In fact, “wise” being added to many words may have proliferated based on my listening to media folk and others talk today. The book was never published as far as I know.
That my host friend had begun acting was an interesting change in attitude since privately he used to complain about the acting profession when name artists performed in our city. When requests to appear were made to the actors they would plead they couldn’t get up that early to guest on our talk show which began at 9:30 a.m. despite the free promotion they and their show would receive.
Our host’s rationale was that even internationally known musicians, playing sometimes until 2 a.m. or later in the morning at city night clubs, almost always would welcome appearing on the show, even singing at that early hour or performing a tune once they heard the high professional competence of our talented musicians playing.
Actors performances ended hours before the musicians’ gigs, so our host didn’t view their plea of needing rest viable since they could go to bed earlier. All the actors had to do was just come to the TV station the next morning and talk for a few minutes on the set to freely promote their play, themselves, or whatever, he would say. He belittled them in private to staff, since how could they not want to be on his TV show?
Our budget like most TV stations other than those at the major networks didn’t allow for a token fee to be paid artist guests or even pay for their transportation to the studio – no limousines here, just city cabs they had to hire for themselves.
We had no Green or any other color Room where artists alone or with an entourage could wait in private. There were no beverages, snacks, even water, hot coffee or tea, other than what some station departments brewed for themselves. We had no budget for such luxury though in the early years a sales promotion contract allowed us to give away some expensive products like washing machines, refrigerators, dish washers and many other items to select studio and viewing audience members.
Instead, show guests had to wait in our other smaller studio with metal folding chairs, no TV monitor. Staff periodically traipsed through that studio to the control room and other offices. I basically had to shepherd the guests with little or nothing to offer for their comfort. I might add, all were very gracious considering, but they may have been used to such conditions. So much for the glamour of TV.
We had no makeup and hair staff to enhance an artist’s appearance, either. One of our setup boys (as these often Univ. college students were called) sometimes practiced his drama school makeup application skills on guests in some situations but he typically didn’t work during our show times. Any other on-the-air talent had to apply their own makeup if they wanted or needed to use any. As TV matured so has what is considered necessary staff and guest preparations for TV appearances.
My friend usually had me or others apply different black substances he was trying for effectiveness to a bald circle on his hair-thinned scalp to prevent the glare that occurred on camera from the intense set lighting. Artists were often secretive about such use in those days, but in more recent times most are open about hair loss issues, also wearing toupees, wigs. Subsequent years such makeup has been refined for the ease of use and benefit of many males with a similar issue who appear on camera as other technical changes have also occurred. Our current President seems to cope with his hair issue in a rather unique manner.
I’ve managed to write on this topic much longer than I expected and still haven’t arrived at the end of my tale. This is because I’ve triggered more memories, so contrary to what I expected I’ll be continuing this story for another week for any who may be brave enough to still be following this saga.