IF YOU'VE READ MY PASADENA PLAYHOUSE & GASLIGHT SQUARE/CRYSTAL PALACE MEMORIES you'll no doubt understand my love of Theatre, and the Stage, that manifested itself at a very early age. I had my first taste of it as an amateur magician, then later as a musician.
But, I had started acting in grammer school, really liked it, and continued it in high school. There was just really something about being "on stage" and having an audience that, depending on the script, you could make laugh or cry...just by what your character in that play did. And, they were right there in front of you so you could judge their actions & reactions immediately !
WELL, after high school, I forged ahead as a drummer with different groups and did very well. However, I was seriously drawn back to acting, gradually phased-out playing drums, and started to work in earnest with local little theater groups:
1. First there were THE CARROLLTON PLAYERS based in the Carrollton Subdivision in St. Louis. What a wonderful, fun group ! Most of the members lived in this subdivision, were friends, and had a clubhouse - The Carrollton Club - where we'd relax after rehearsals...especially on weekends.
2. After I proved my talents with the Carrollton group, I was asked to do some shows with THE ALPHA PLAYERS in nearby Florissant, another St. Louis Suburb. The Alphas were a superb, talented bunch of actors that I really enjoyed being a part of. And their Cast Parties were legendary !
THE THING ABOUT WORKING IN MANY DIFFERENT PRODUCTIONS, with various actors and directors is that, if you're good at what you do, when they're casting for a new play they may have a role that they want YOU to do. It's the same thing that goes on in Hollywood, and later I found out that the same logic also transfers itself to the Broadcasting Industry. I'll say this modestly, because of my age, experience, and, "type" that I was at the time, I was constantly working...sometimes doing two shows for two different groups at the same time !
SO, in this section of the WebSite, I'll give you a closer look at some of the roles I've played through the years and some of the memorable productions that I've been privileged to be a part of, and, again, I've done this in Chronological Order which makes it easier to follow.
In addition, all of the pictures, playbills, scripts, etc., come from my Private Archives , have been stored away for years, and are seen here for the first time.
PS: I'LL WARN YOU AT THE OUTSET THAT, depending on your age and knowledge of the Theatre, some of the Plays, Actors, Groups, Authors/Writers, and Places that are mentioned here may not be at all familiar to you. But each and every one was a viable part of the American Theatre, Theatre History, St. Louis & Little Rock History, and my own Personal History.
So, even though you may enter this Special Page without knowing the subject matter, hopefully by the time you've read through it you will come away with a greater understanding and knowledge of both it & myself.
"THE PLAY'S THE THING...ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE !", Wm. Shakespeare (1564-1616)
("Shakespeare and His Friends". John Faed, Artist; James Faed, Engraver. Circa 1850)
DIRECTLY BELOW IS A PIC from my Senior Class Play at Duchesne High School in St. Charles, Missouri: The play was "THE CURIOUS SAVAGE" and I was "Judge Samuel Savage". (A few years later I would repeat that same role for my former Drama Teacher who was doing the play at another school.)
In "OUR TOWN", the all-time Thornton Wilder classic, I was cast as the young male lead "George Gibbs". This show was with a group I truly loved...The Carrollton Players. I had first done "THE TORCH BEARERS" with them in the Fall of 1961; "Our Town" was presented March 23-24, 1962. I would, subsequently do "BORN YESTERDAY" & "THE DRUNKARD" with Carrollton.
SHORTLY AFTER I BEGAN WORKING with the Carrollton group, I was asked to join the Alpha Players and did "THE TENDER TRAP" & "LOVE IS CONTAGIOUS" with another of the great Community Theatre Groups that were staging some of the BEST shows in the area. The Alphas are still in existence today, a testament to the quality of members, casts, and, crews that continue in the new Millenium.
NOTES ON "THE TENDER TRAP" : I wish I had some pictures from "The Tender Trap" ! I played "SOL SCHWARTZ" and Sol has one of the funniest entrances & bits ever in Theatre History: Waking up from sleeping underneath an overturned-couch, after a party that happened the night before, completely disheveled and carrying his trumpet as the Third Act opens, and trying to figure out where he is !
AS NEW YORK CRITIC, PEYTON WISE, put it in his Review of a 2008 Revival Production of the show: "The ensuing action is very funny. Sol Schwartz, a jazz musician, has quite possibly the funniest five minutes on any stage in New York. "
I would love to see a few pix of that scene again from our Alphas Production. I loved playing "Sol", he's one of my all-time favorite characters !
The role of "Sol" was played both on Broadway AND in the 1955 Film Adaptation by the late, multi-talented JOEY FAYE.
I WAS ALWAYS VERY LUCKY in those days. It got to the point that I could almost pick-and-choose the plays that I wanted to do. In fact, while I was rehearsing "The Tender Trap" for the Alphas, I was ALSO rehearsing for "The Drunkard "with the Carrollton Players. Here's how close the production time-line was for those two shows: "The Tender Trap" was on stage October 19 & 20, 1962...the "The Drunkard" opened on October 25th !
Constantly busy, always doing one show after another, I was at the point that I decided to take the next step. The REALLY big one: After I did "Love Is Contagious" for the Alphas in May of 1963, I prepared to head for California and the PASADENA PLAYHOUSE that Fall.
THE PASADENA PLAYHOUSE WAS ONE of the most fantastic, and unique training grounds an actor could ever imagine !
Having had a long history of acting experience behind me when I got to the school in September, 1963, I wanted to hone & polish my craft...and the Playhouse gave you every opportunity to do that day-in-and-day-out. I won't repeat too much of what I said in the Pasadena Playhouse Section of this Site, but here a couple of pix, and memories, that are among my favorites:
The first play that we did that Fall was "THE MOON IS BLUE" which had been a Stage & Film classic.
Paired with me above in Novermber, 1963, was KAY PRICHETT a pretty redhead from Muskogee, Oklahoma. Kay was a sweet girl who's strong point was her dancing ability. She'd taken ballet & dance for many years and had excellent form.
Kay & I had all of our classes together, and I watched her grow as an actress during that first year. AND, by the time JACK WOODFORD, our speech teacher, got through with her you couldn't tell she was from Oklahoma...she sounded like she was from London ! Kay was great to work with and I hope she was successful in whatever course she pursued after we left the Playhouse.
Our Director was PETER GORDON, who was one of the mainstays of the Playhouse Staff at the time. Mr. Gordon was British, had done both Stage & Film work and, because he knew that I had previous experience as an actor before I came to the Playhouse, was easy for me to get along with as there was a mutual respect between us. In short: he was simply wonderful to work with and I learned much from him.
ALTHOUGH MOST OF US HAD COME TO THE PLAYHOUSE from all-over the U.S.A., as well as various Foreign Countries...some were actually native born Californians ! One of those was PAM BARTHOLOMEW .
That's us in the pic above, and Pam, as I had mentioned in the Pasadena Playhouse Section, was a tall, striking brunette. She was also extremely sexy and a very good actress. We had all of our classes together, and this scene is from Maxwell Anderson's "THE STAR WAGON" done in March, 1964.
We lost touch with each other after we left the Playhouse, but I sincerely hope that Pam reached some of her goals and had a good life through the years. I still think of her fondly and, again, this is one of my favorite photos from that time period.
ELLEN BAILEY Directed us in "Star Wagon", and also taught our Makeup Class. She was a wonderful lady, was skilled as a Director, and had a long and well-documented career with the Playhouse. She gave great guidance to all of us who were her students, and I was proud to have been in her classes.
Since the school itself closed many years ago, Mrs. Bailey has worked tirelessly as the official archivist for the Playhouse, and has had an ongoing relationship with the Alumni Association. The Pasadena Playhouse continues today as a working Theatre, presenting some of the finest shows & entertainment in the greater Los Angeles Area in its renovated, and beautiful, Main Stage complex.
THE PHANTOM OF THE PLAYHOUSE...
NO, I never personally experienced "The Phantom of the Playhouse"...but I always heard of others who did ! The Ghost of the Playhouse Founder, Gilmor Brown, is said to haunt the premises, roam the halls and, usually in a friendly way, sometimes let his presence be known.
However I was never involved in any of the incidents of overturned or moved furniture, strange happenings on the elevator, lights going off and on, or hearing footsteps in the halls...when no one was there to be seen. But the "Legend of the Phantom" persists and has merit as many will attest to !
The beloved Founder of the Pasadena Playhouse, GILMOR BROWN, is shown in this photo.
The "Haunting Image" seen above is used for illustrational purposes only, and is not an authentic photo of the Playhouse Founder himself haunting the other individual in the picture !
However, owing to the closeness of many Hollywood Studios being just a few miles away, that could be a Phantom Stand-In, or, a Ghost-Double that was used in the shot.
IF YOU'VE NOT READ THE CRYSTAL PALACE/GASLIGHT SQUARE SECTION of the WebSite take a few minutes to do it. Gaslight Square was a viable part of the St. Louis Community at that time, AND was known WorldWide.
So, on my return to St. Louis in October of 1964, I was honored to be asked to be join the cast of "The Impulse Players" that was set to be an Improvisational Theatre Group opening at the famed Crystal Palace that Fall.
As I stated in the Crystal Palace/Gaslight Square Section, as an actor, this fulfilled a long-time dream of mine: Appearing on the same stage that The Smothers Brothers, Phyllis Diller, Lenny Bruce, Barbra Streisand, Louis Nye, and many others had performed on .
The Crystal Palace stage was "hallowed ground", and for me, no matter where I appeared after that, I always considered that the true highlight of my acting career...and a dream come true.
Above: That's TOMMY O'CONNELL with me in a pic called "Star Struck". Her comedy timing was great, she was very versitile, and was an excellent cast mate. Tommy & myself were the St. Louis Members of The Impulse Players.
This was a great crew ! We had a lot of fun together, bonded well, and we did some truly solid, comedic work during our stay at the Palace. Our Impulse Players group, shown here, consisted of Al Fenske, Dick Harlan, Marilyn Twito, myself, Tommy O'Connell, and, Bob Hilton. This picture is from our opening night: November 17th, 1964.
NOTES ON THE IMPULSE PLAYERS & GASLIGHT SQUARE :
IN 2004, I was privileged to be asked to share my experiences & memories of our IMPULSE PLAYERS History as a part of the filmed Documentary "GASLIGHT SQUARE: THE LEGEND LIVES ON".
The Interview took place April 4th, 2004, and the Documentary was released and had its Premiere on July 20th, 2005 at the Tivoli Theatre in St. Louis.
BRUCE MARREN, the Producer, along with LEAH GANZ, had previously done the Award Winning "GASLIGHT SQUARE: THE FORGOTTEN LANDMARK", and this new documentary was the companion piece that completed the project focusing on this world-reknowned, and important, part of St. Louis Entertainment & Dining History.
Take a look at some of Bruce's work, photo's, video's, et al, at his Website: http://www.brucemarren.com/page5.php
AFTER OUR SHOW CLOSED AT THE CRYSTAL PALACE, my old friends at the Alpha Players asked me to join them for a cute comedy: "WAKE UP, DARLING".
We did the show February 26 & 27, 1965, and I had the role of "Deerfield Prescott" who's a young, would-be playwright. This had been both a Broadway Play as well as a TV Special, and it was really great to work with the Alphas again.
That's my old friend and longtime Alpha Member, JACK SCHNEIDER ("Don Emerson") with me above. (Jack's wife MARILYN was also in the show, and was another tireless worker for the Alphas.)
Here I am in this scene putting the moves on "Gloria" who's in her negligee. Or, wait ! Was she putting the moves on me ? ! Hmmm...well, in the ensuing clinches, it turned out to be a joint effort that was a lot of fun !
NOTES ON "WAKE UP, DARLING" : Actually, in the scene above,"Gloria", who was played perfectly by the very attractive NANCY METENJIES, is trying to give young Deerfield a lesson in "The Art of Love" so that he can apply the same efforts to the girl that he's really crazy about. Nancy was another stalwart member of the Alphas, always involved and willing to help in any capacity...and she was a good actress to boot.
BOB MACEK, WHO HAD BEEN our Director at the Crystal Palace with the Impulse Players, formed the ACTOR'S WORKSHOP after that show closed.
He subsequently called me and asked me to be a Representative and a part of the group, and we started putting together our company in the early 1965. Bob was also a teacher, so he gave lessons & encouragement to many an aspiring young actor.
We actually had a Touring Company, and staged a really good play that was family/youth oriented and was called "TOM SAWYER'S TREASURE HUNT". We took it on-the-road to a number of places, and here's a photo of our cast from a show we did May 1, 1965.
I'm "The Sheriff" (in the center and to the right above), and was also the Stage Manager for the show. I stayed with the Actors' Workshop until the Fall of 1965.
THE SOUTHTOWN PLAYERS were one of the Premier Groups in St. Louis to work with. They actually had their own theater...converted from what had been an actual movie theatre.
To put it in perspective: most of the other little theatre/community theatre groups had to rehearse in community halls, church gyms, members basements, or anywhere they could before their plays opened. With Southtown all of your rehearsals were done right on the stage that you'd appear during the entire run of your show !
WELL, about the time I started working with my friend, Johnny Rabbitt at KXOK Radio, I also tried out for, and was cast as, "Stefanowski" in the Southtown Production of "MISTER ROBERTS", an Award Winning Play & Film, which was truly exciting for me !
This was fantastic ! It was just like being back at the Playhouse, or, the Crystal Palace...being able to rehearse every night on the same stage that the play would be done on. FURTHER, due to the amount of scene changes required for this show, which takes place on a Naval Cargo Ship in the Pacific during WW II, the group installed a revolving stage...cut into the the floor of the main stage itself. Talk about class !!
"Mister Roberts" opened May 6th, 1966, and as was the custom of Southtown, it ran through the 21st of May with performances for the general public, plus we did some special shows for various groups. All-in-all for this Production we did 11 Perfomances.
Working with Southtown was like doing a run on Broadway...you did so many performances that it made all of those weeks of rehearsal really worth it. PLUS, during that long period of time, you were able to fully develop your character into a solid performance that you were very proud of.
NOTES ON "MR. ROBERTS" : As I mentioned, when you worked with Southtown you did lots of performances...which was great ! However, during the long run of "Mr. Roberts" I somehow contracted a flu/viral infection that hit me very hard.
But, as you well know "the show must go on", so in days before a show I tried to get as much rest as I could so that I could get to the theatre and give my performance. A couple of nights I was not only in severe discomfort from the infection, but my temperature had risen to 100 - 101.
Well, since the revolving stage had been installed, some scenes took place on the "deck" of the ship, and that meant that the scenes that took place in the "bunk" or "sleeping quarters" were not being used as they were "revolved" out of view of the audience.
JUDY DAY was in charge of Makeup for the show, we had begun dating and she was really worried about my being ill. So, when I wasn't in a particular scene she took good care of me by making sure I got into one of the unseen-bunks so that I could lie down and rest till my next entrance.
She also gave me my medicine, gave me cold water to drink, a cool compress for my head to help with the fever, and stayed close-by listening for the cues so that I could get up in time to make my next entrance. Judy was truly fantastic and helped me get through that till eventually I was well.
By the way, "Mr. Roberts" has an all-male cast of seventeen (17) men, and Judy was a dynamite, super-hot girl...hit-on by almost the entire Crew ! But it was she & I who got together, dated for a long time, and also worked together that following year, 1967, during "Stalag 17". Above all though, I'll never forget her kindness & caring when I really needed it.
Ironically, we ran into each other again on June 20th of 2000 ! We hadn't seen each other in all those years, she looked better than ever, and we had a brief conversation about what I just mentioned above, and I was able to thank her again.
LEFT: Of course we wore Navy uniforms in "Mr. Roberts", but this my earliest appearance in one of those uniforms. However, my career was cut short due to age & height requirements, but I was allowed to keep the uniform which, as I remember, was wool and caused me to itch alot...especially when I pulled it over my head and it scratched my face.
Later, I asked my Mom if I could give it to a neighbor kid from down the street - who I didn't like very much because he had hit me on the head with a baseball bat - thinking it might itch him worse than it did me. She said it was against the law to do that and that the MP's, the Shore Patrol, or, somebody very large and important looking from the Government, would come and take me away to jail if I did.
Well, I didn't want to go to prison...who knows what they'd do to a little kid in there ! Maybe, they'd force me to eat BROCCOLI !! Even my Mom couldn't do that, so I didn't give it to the neighbor kid.
But that was all okay, because the very next year my Dad went to the Western Auto Store and bought me a BRAND NEW "Western Flyer" Bike...and all that kid down the street had was his dumb old baseball bat which, I forgot to mention, had cracked in half after it hit me on the head !
NOTE: The SOUTHTOWN PLAYERS THEATRE was located on Big Bend Blvd. at the site of the old Richmond Theatre, just off of the corner of Clayton Road in St. Louis.
AGAIN, WORKING FOR Johnny Rabbitt at "The Batcave", plus our Pool Parties & Dances, took up most of my time, especially after "Mr. Roberts" closed. But, by that next year, 1967, I was really anxious to get back on the stage !
As luck would have it, I got a call from the Director of the next Southtown Play "STALAG 17", and he asked me if I'd come to the tryouts as he had a role in mind for me. Well, I was overjoyed at the possibility of doing another show with Southtown, and in truth, this was one of the best times of my life as everything that I was trying to accomplish, and was working hard at, was being rewarded with positive results. And you can't ask for more than that.
(Above pic taken at the St. Louis Zoo, Sunday, June 3, 1967, a week before "STALAG 17" opened. It's one of my favorite "casual" shots and was taken by my girlfriend at the time Vickie Benear.)
I WAS CAST AS "Harry Shaprro", one of the comedy leads, and another really good actor HARRY GORSUCH got the role of "Stosh"...my comedy counterpart. So, while a year earlier I was in the Navy (as Stefanowski), now I was in the ARMY ! Still in WW II, and this time in a German P.O.W. Camp. Harry & I got along great, worked exceptionally well together, and added comedy relief to the otherwise serious subject matter of show.
What fun we had ! And our entire ensemble of cast & crew was just remarkable. We put on one of the BEST staged versions of Stalag 17 you've ever seen !!
"STALAG 17" opened June 9th, 1967 and ran through the 24th, again with special shows included , our cast was so much "in character" that we could have taken this show on the road !
That's me, above, as "Harry Shapiro" giving my friend "Stosh" (Harry Gorsuch) a lesson in Phrenology: checking out the skull for signs of life & intelligence. By the time I got through, I think both Harry & Stosh were convinced it worked !!
After "Stalag 17", and working with Rabbitt for the rest of the Summer, even though my life was running smoothly, I had decided to make my move into Broadcasting...which I had always wanted to do. And, with fond goodbyes to family & friends, on September 10th, 1967, began on KLID Radio in Poplar Bluff, Missouri: Starting a career that I continue in today....all these years later.
YOU'RE IN THE ARMY NOW...
LEFT: Prior to having been turned down by the Navy at an early age (see "Mr. Roberts" info above), I had run away from home and applied to the Army.
That time I was caught by my parents, and the Army recruiter was given a stern warning about signing-up exceptionally short recruits under the age of three...even though when questioned they claim: "Oh, it's okay ! I'm a midget !!"
I was then immediately taken home, sent to my room without dinner (which was fine by me because I didn't like Broccoli anyway), and my uniform was subsequently given to an actual midget in a Traveling Circus named Private Dan. ("Private Dan" was the name of the midget...not the Circus.)
BY APRIL OF 1969, I had left KLID Radio, and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas to work at 50,000 Watt KAAY: "The Mighty 1090". KAAY was one of the Countries best-known, most-respected Radio Stations, and was a part of the LIN Broadcasting chain.
Subsequently, from April, 1969 to October, 1971 I worked the evening shift...doing double-duty as both On-Air-Personality & Music Director. That meant I was at the station from 3pm-Mid. which gave me no "free time" in the evenings. That also meant that if I wanted to act with any of the groups in the L.R. area it just wouldn't be possible as both rehearsals AND shows would take place in the evening.
BUT, that all changed in November of '71 when the Program Director moved my show to the Mid-Day time period...which left my evenings free ! So, when I heard they were casting for Neil Simon's "THE STAR-SPANGLED GIRL" at The Arkansas Arts Center, I went to the try-outs on the night of January 22, 1972, and won the role of "Andy Hobart".
IF YOU DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT "The Star-Spangled Girl" here's some info: NEIL SIMON'S name above the marquee in those days was almost certain to turn any project into "gold", so this was both a Broadway Play & a Movie. And there are only three characters in the show, so it's very intense as far as learning the lines, the blocking, the action...and the timing because it's a comedy.
My fellow actors' were SUSAN MOORE ("Sophie") and TOM CARLISLE ("Norman Cornell"). Susan was a pretty young blonde who did a great job; Tom was extremely energetic in his role as "Norman".
ALSO, working on the show as the Art Director, was a girl named SIDNEY. She was an exceptionally cute, sweet & talented artist, who was originally from New Orleans...and had one of the neatest voices & accents you could imagine. We bonded instantly, began dating at the time, and I've always valued our lifelong-friendship, and her kindness to me through the years.
We opened our run of "The Star-Spangled Girl"on the Arkansas Arts Center main stage March 1st, 1972.
Above: That's me, as "Andy" trying to control an "out of control" "Norman" (Tom Carlisle) in one of our strategic scenes in "The Star-Spangled Girl".
NOTES ON "THE STAR-SPANGLED GIRL" : LATER IN THE SHOW, when Andy & Norman have a karate-style fight scene, Tom got so "energetic" that he missed one of our choreographed moves, actually hit me hard in the head, and knocked me out on Opening Night which resulted in a trip to the E.R. for me right after the show !
Sidney rushed me to the Hospital, and then got me back home after a day or so, because I had to stay there for tests & observation. Live-Action Theatre at its B-E-S-T !
(In September of 1972, I left KAAY/Little Rock to work in Detroit at WDRQ-FM.)
THE THEATRE GUILD OF WEBSTER GROVES WAS, and still is, one of St. Louis' most-respected theatre groups.
Like the Southtown Players (not in existence for many years), TGWG has its own theater. Actually, more than that, it has an entire building which was at one time an historic house/mansion in the St. Louis Suburb of Webster Groves that the group turned into their own theatre complex. And, in turn, it's one of absolute best groups to work with, and the stage/theatre area is excellent and extremely intimate. A great way for any actor to "bond" with the audience.
SO, AS THE STORY GOES, I left WDRQ-FM/Detroit in July, 1973, and had returned home to St. Louis to work at WDRQ's sister station KSLQ.
Again, missing my acting "roots", by the Fall of 1976 I had heard that The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves was having tryout's for the great comedy classic "MY THREE ANGELS", went to the audtion, and came away cast as "Paul Trochard"...who, before the end of the show, meets an unenviable fate. "My Three Angels" opened on January 7th, 1977.
My fellow cast members in "Angels" were all great to work with and, as it happens working with a group like this, new friendships were formed. The show was well-attended, got great reviews, and was a worthy addition to the roster of shows that had been presented at the TGWG.
THE THEATRE GUILD OF WEBSTER GROVES was really a wonderful group to belong to ! Everyone gave more than 100% to the show, the sets, the tech portion, and, anythng else that was needed to put on a great show...and my appetite was whetted to continue working with the TGWG on their Spring shows which were two One-Act plays.
THE ONE-ACTS THAT WERE to be presented were Tom Stoppard's "THE REAL INSPECTOR HOUND", and, William Saroyan's "ONCE AROUND THE BLOCK". "Hound" was a rollicking farce of a British comedy, and "Once Around The Block" was a Saroyan slice-of-life mild comedy.
Having looked over the scripts, I found characters in both shows that I'd like to play. So at the tryouts I read for both Director's and, luckily, they liked my readings and I was cast in "Hound" AND "Block".
"HOUND" was a fantastic, fun show to do...lots of action, and Monty Python-esque puns, word plays, and silliness. The most fun was that I played the title role of "Inspector Hound"...complete with a Sherlock Holmes costume, Deerstalker Hat, AND a Meerschaum Calabash Pipe (that I still own !).
NEXT UP WAS Saroyan's "ONCE AROUND THE BLOCK". I was cast as "Phillip Judah", a writer, and WAYNE COTE' was "Jimmy London".
"Phillip" is a well-traveled, world-weary, writer & screen writer whose available "little black book"of female companions is well known to "Jimmy". Jimmy is his neighbor in their New York apartment complex, and an aspiring writer who seeks Phillip's advice on writing and women.
Saroyan has long been one of my favorite authors/playwrights, so being able to do this rarely seen one-act of his was a pure pleasure !
WILLIAM SAROYAN has been forgotten by many through the years, but he was a Pulitzer Prize Winning author who crafted such classics as "The Time Of Your Life", "The Human Comedy", "Hello Out There", and "The Cave Dwellers".
He had also Premiered at least one of his plays at the Pasadena Playhouse, but I always appreciated his work, his writings, and the truly "human" touch that he gave his characters, long before I studied there.
Above: That's "Jimmy" (Wayne Cote') getting some advice on writing & women from me, as "Phillip".
WE OPENED our night of One-Acts on May 6th, 1977, actually 34 years ago TODAY...the day that I'm writing this ! Call it "coincidence" or "serendipity", but ironically that's the way this turned out through no concious effort on my part at all. I just looked at the Calendar and that's what it shows: MAY 6th, 2011 ! JK
WILLIAM SAROYAN was from Fresno, California, and of Armenian descent. He had a younger cousin named ROSS BAGDASARIAN, and sometime in the Summer of 1939 they collaborated on writing a song entitled "Come On-A My House". The song was published but never got much recognition.
Then, in 1951, MITCH MILLER, head of A&R for Columbia Records, picked that song out for one of his young singers, twenty-three year old ROSEMARY CLOONEY, to record. She didn't like it, didn't want to do it, but was told that she'd be in violation of her contract if she refused.
She was rewarded big-time though because after it was released on June 6, 1951, it proceeded to the top of the Billboard charts, stayed #1 for eight weeks, became a Million-Seller, and jump-started Rosie's solo career !
By the way, ROSS BAGDASARIAN, would later change his name and give us one of the longest lasting, best remembered Christmas Novelty Songs EVER ! Ross became "DAVID SEVILLE"...and, do I have to tell you ? Yes, you got it ! It was Alvin & Company with "THE CHIPMUNK SONG" !!
HERE'S A BRIEF RESUME' OF SOME OF THE SHOWS THAT I'VE DONE...
"The Curious Savage"...Judge Samuel Savage
"Teahouse Of The August Moon"...Colonel Wainwright Purdy
"The Torch Bearers"...Teddy Spearing
"Our Town"...George Gibbs
"Born Yesterday"...Eddie Brock
"The Tender Trap"...Sol Schwartz
"The Drunkard"(Melodrama)...Will Dowton
"Love Is Contagious"...Harry Turner
"The Moon Is Blue"...David Slater
"The Star Wagon"...Stephen Minch
"The Merry Wives Of Windsor"...Master Page
"The Brick and The Rose"...Tony
"The Impulse Players"...Multiple Characterizations
"Wake Up, Darling"...Deerfield Prescott
"Stalag 17"...Harry Shapiro
"The Star-Spangled Girl"...Andy Hobart
"My Three Angels"...Paul Trochard
"The Real Inspector Hound"...Inspector Hound
"Once Around The Block"...Phillip Judah
Some Other Shows Would Include: "The Milky Way", "The Good Woman of Setzuan", "Tonight, We Improvise", and, "Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back"
NOTE : Being the "Ultimate Archivist" that I am, I still have my Original Scripts for almost ALL of these Plays packed away in my Archives and go over them from time-to-time. The memories are vivid & warm, and bring back to life some of the best times of my life.
THROUGH THE YEARS, I've been asked many times by aspiring young actors about my characterizations, methods, and formation of building the role I have into a "living-breathing", believable character on stage.
In truth, there are no easy answers...but there are some basic principles that I've always followed :
1. If you haven't studied acting in a special drama, theatre, or, scholastic course, you will have a rougher time of learning what you need to know in the "basics"of Theatre.
Seek out an acting coach, work with Community or Little Theatre Groups, check-out night courses in acting & speech. In short, get yourself into the company of those who've already learned from their craft and can help you.
2. Acting Is Believing. Period. Read the words that your character is given within the context of the script and read the script 2 or 3 times. Your character will tell you who he, or she, is and what their motivation is. It's really that simple. And, once you learn and understand that concept, you'll be able to breathe life into it, and actually become the character.
Next, memorize your lines as soon as possible, and, once you've been able to put the book away and get it out of your hands, concentrate on the words & cues your character shares with your fellow-actors, and the blocking given by your Director. You'll come away with the final molding of yourself into the character you're playing, and, bring life to the complete persona of your role.
("ACTING IS BELIEVING", a book by Charles McGaw, Kenneth L. Stilson, and, Larry D. Clark is a great source for aspiring young actors'...find a copy, read it, and learn from some of the best who truly know what they're talking about !)
3. One of the founders of the School of Method Acting, or, "Acting Is Believing: 101" is CONSTANTIN STANISLAVSKI. If you've never heard his name, well, remember it now and seek out some of his great books that will teach you much if you really want to learn your craft.
Of course, there are others to choose from like Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagen, Nina Foch, and, Elia Kazen but Stanislavski is one of the best...and from him you can learn some true basics that will help you in your career.
4. Study Theatre History. It started centuries ago, even before the times of the Greeks & Romans...there were probably some Cavemen who were as good as Gene Hackman, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, George C. Scott, or, Humphrey Bogart in their day. The more you study the history of your craft, the better you'll understand your place in it today.
5. This goes back to something I mentioned in #1, and if you've followed me this far, here IS one of the best kept secrets of a consumate Professional in the field of Acting: Learn how to use your voice to the best of your ability...and how to speak correctly !
Take a course in Speech at a college, a university, or, take private lessons if you can. There is nothing that will truly ruin a potential career faster than an aspiring actor who cannot read the words of his or her lines or speeches correctly , and can't be understood when they say them to begin with !
6. In partnership with #5, as my magnificent speech teacher at the Pasadena Playhouse, JACK WOODFORD, would say:
"Having trouble with a word in your script ? Okay, look at the word. Break the word down into syllables. Now, say the word using those syllables...then say the word, using what you've just learned, in a normal manner. " Presto ! Now you've said it correctly...congrats !!
NOTES ON THE ABOVE: Here are two blatant examples of words said incorrectly: Listen to a Weather Forecaster on any TV or Radio Station and I bet they pronounce the word TEMPERATURE wrong. There is no such word as the one you'll hear them say: "...right now the tempachur is 62 degrees."
NO ! There is no such word as "tempachur" or, "tempacheer". The word is TEMPER-A-TURE. Remember what I said above about breaking the word down into syllables ? Works doesn't it !
Here's the other example I'll bring up: The month of FEBRUARY. It is not FEB-U-ARY ! Again, use the syllables to help you, and it becomes FEB-RU-ARY. Easy enough...but, others who are lazy, or more importantly never took any lessons in speech & diction, don't hear what they're saying.
So, again I call on Jack Woodford who'd tell you:
"Once you learn the basics of proper speech, to speak correctly, and use correct pronunciations, you will establish an "English Ear"...you'll be doing it right, and will notice instantly when someone else is doing it wrong !"
( BTW: Shakespeare would be proud of you ! )
MY THANKS TO JACK WOODFORD...
Jack Woodford was a long-time member of the Staff of the Pasadena Playhouse. I had classes with him for both Speech & Phonetics, and I learned more from him about "how to do it right" than you could ever imagine.
He was a kind, caring individual, who taught you how to achieve perfection in diction & speech. Others would never have the patience or understanding that he possessed in getting you to be "the best you could be".
Jack Woodford not only knew how to do it, he proved to you that you could do it, and gave you all the help and encouragement you needed every step of the way !
I personally put into practice everyday the methods & principles that Jack Woodford taught me...and I constantly thank him from the bottom of my heart.
He was a wonderful professional and a great human being who helped me learn the rules of speech , and lay a foundation for perfection in that area of communication that has shaped & guided me in both my careers as an Actor, and, a Broadcast Professional for all these years. He truly helped me more than he could ever know.
AND, AS A FINAL NOTE: ALL of the abilities, speech patterns, techniques, and, empathy for the 'human condition' that I learned as an Actor, have been used by me during the course of my career in Broadcasting.
I've learned how to apply those important basics & ideas to my Radio Shows, Commercials, Interviews, and, in my Special Programs "The Breakfast Serial" & "The Hall Of Fame Legends Series". What you have to remember is that Radio, if done correctly, is an Art Form on its own, and is truly "The Theatre Of The Mind".
Accordingly, now maybe those reading this will understand that if I've achieved success as a Broadcaster since my career began in1967, it's always been based on my roots and experiences as a trained Actor...and wanting to share all of those feelings, emotions, and that knowledge, with my audience: "If it wasn't for them, there would be no need for me."
The "Art Of Communication" transcends all boundries of time & space...and is a part of the daily life of each and everyone of us.
SPECIAL : If you, a relative, or, someone you know, is seen OR mentioned on this Page and has worked with me in any shows, plays, or, groups in the past...I would REALLY love to hear from you !
As I always say: "You never do this alone." All of the above individuals and groups that were pictured and mentioned on this Special Page were an important part of my career...and my life.
Theatre is a "shared experience" for all involved in every production: the actors, directors, set builders, costume departments, makeup specialists, tech & audio crews, publicity departments, house managers, ushers, clean-up crews, et al, have all been a valued part of every production I've done.
I humbly & sincerely thank you, each and everyone, for making my career, and my life, better because you were a part of it.
JK eMail: email@example.com
NEXT: RABBITT TRACKS: JK WITH JR