The Show Business – The Early Years
When you write every day (trying desperately to be liked and not lose your audience because they come to your site and don’t see something new – even if this is only in my head) you tend to sometimes write things that seem to be written with only the criteria that there be something written to fill the space. Now for the most part this works for me as I have been designed for what I call, “Short Attention Span Theatre” I am not someone who does well reading full novels filled with long chapters. I remember the first Anne Rice vampire novel I read (due to the peer pressure of everyone around me having read it) I remember there were long passages describing the surroundings like the curtains, it bored the crap out of me but I’m a “once I start it I have to finish it” kind of guy so finish it I did. Well this past weekend I got the idea that for this week I would write something different, I would write an episodic blog that would fill the week with related storylines that could eventually all be put together as one big chapter for that book I’ll never write. But what to write about? What would be the frame that would hold my digital pictures that would appear for a day and then change? Well it was rather easy, it would need to be personal and need to be something where I had a lot of material to choose from. I started in theater at the age of six hoping to make it to Broadway and it only took me to my thirties to get to dinner theater (the lowest form of show business). So welcome to a day, a couple days or a week of The Show Business – The Early Years – Don’t Get Me Started!
I don’t know what started me thinking I could be in show business other than the fact that from the time I could stand, I would stand in front of the television either singing or dancing (much to my brother’s dismay) trying to get everyone’s attention. In kindergarten we did a presentation for our parents that was titled, “When I Grow Up” and was to be a peek at what we thought we would do when we became adults. While there were plenty doctors and nurses (girls dressed in all white with comfortable shoes) and even one boy who made a hat out of construction paper that had a giraffe on it (he wanted to be a zoo keeper), I was wearing a white dinner jacket, shirt and tie and black pants with patent leather shoes. I was the emcee for the event and even rendered my own version of “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” (singing over the voice of the original on the record – this was before Karaoke versions of songs were available) complete with umbrella twirling. I’m not sure if there was a specific career in mind other than the fact that I wanted and was being groomed to be one thing, a star! My mother had raised me on it from an early age. You see, from an early age growing up in Philadelphia she had hidden movie magazines in her closet and dreamed of going to such romantic places such as California and Las Vegas – playgrounds for the celebrity set. So I guess that’s where I got the idea to be in show business originally but it wasn’t long before I was clipping out audition notices from the newspaper and begging my parents for an agent!
The first real role I got that wasn’t in a school I was attending was the role of “Tiny Tim” in a production of A Christmas Carol at Arizona State University. We had moved to Arizona in 1971, I was seven years old and I remember going into the audition being quite nervous. The director was a kind looking man who to my recollection looked a bit like Pat O’Brien from the old black and white movies I lived to watch. A shorter version of the actor but that unmistakable Irish, short man with rosy cheeks and a kind face. I don’t remember what I did for the audition. I mean let’s face it, when you’re Tiny Tim all you have to do is look sickly, walk on crutches and deliver the one line, “God bless us, everyone.” But whatever I did in the audition it must have been enough as the director came out and told my parents and me that although he was casting his son in the role, he felt my audition was so good that he had decided to split the role between his son and me. Wow, I thought that was a true testament to my talents (when in hindsight he probably just didn’t want his son to miss so much school for the rehearsals and performances). So alas, it would come to pass that I would make everyone in my house crazy constantly saying at every meal and every chance I got, “GOD bless us, everyone.” “God BLESS us, everyone.” “God Bless US, everyone.” Before finally settling on “God bless us (dramatic pause) EVERYONE.”
To be around a bunch of college kids at the age of seven was a unique experience. You had to act like an adult because everyone around you was taking the whole thing very serious. I liked the environment and it would make for a work ethic that remains with me to this day. While I loved being on stage and hearing an audience applaud, I loved the rehearsals more. The working really hard to get it right, the inside jokes, the closeness you get to a group of people because you’re with each other so many hours every day and having all that work pay off by an audience’s applause was just icing on the cake. I learned a lot about theatre from that first production. I learned everything from stories about “theatre ghosts” that haunt theatres to putting on makeup (heady stuff for a kid that was dying to get into show business). I cried when it was over, giving me my other lesson about theatre. It doesn’t last, it only exists for that brief period of time and even though later on there was the invention of video cameras, it doesn’t capture the thrill and immediacy of live theatre.
I continued on doing theatre around the area, was in a kids singing group that sang for over 200 performances (one being for President Nixon prior to the ugliness) and at around ten I was lucky enough to be cast in a pilot for a new television series they were filming in Arizona. I would be one of the kids from an old western town waiting for the new schoolmarm to arrive, thing was that everyone thought it was going to be a woman but it turned out to be a man (Jack Cassidy and since Dick Van Dyke was filming his show at the time at the same studio I got to meet him too.)One scene had my “mother” scrubbing my ears getting me cleaned up for school as I lamented, “Can’t heard to learn if’n ya rub my ears off.” The pilot went exactly nowhere but for three weeks I was a television star (if only in my own mind). I remember the day I went back to grade school my mother had forgotten to give me a note so my home room teacher made me go to the nurse to get a note allowing me back into class. (I guess this was because the only possible explanation was that I had been sick while I’d been out in the teacher’s mind). The nurse (who hated me – for good reason that I’ll go into in a later entry) Mrs. Comfort (seriously this was her name) couldn’t get a hold of my parents so she wrote me a note to get me back into class (I still have it). On the note Mrs. Comfort wrote, “States he’s been making a movie.” The disbelief and disdain seem to leap from the 4x6 note even to this day. I loved it. The Show Business – The Early Years – Don’t Get Me Started!
Tomorrow’s Installment – The High School Years
Read More Scott @ www.somelikeitscott.com
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