Clouds heavy and dark
Rumble of distant thunder
Small bug seeks shelter
©2021 Annette Rochelle AbenHaiku 10/11/21 — Annette Rochelle Aben
• For a while, Ray Engle was the voice of old-time radio hero Sky King. He carried a gun and acted like a character out of the Old West. One day, when a director criticized his performance, Mr. Engle drew his gun, shouted, “You can’t talk to Sky King like that!” — and shot a hole in a wall of the radio studio.
• The hit TV series Knight Rider, featuring a car that had artificial intelligence and communicated using a human voice, started life as a joke. Brandon Tartikoff, an NBC executive, used to joke that he needed a TV series that starred a talking car so that the leading man wouldn’t need much talent at acting.
• Gypsy Rose Lee starred as Phyllis Diller’s nosy neighbor in the TV sitcom The Pruitts of Southampton. Ms. Lee could be difficult. Getting ready to do the show one day, she started to scream. The man doing her hair complained, “I haven’t even touched you.” Ms. Lee replied, “But you’re going to.”
• Alan Young got the part of Wilbur Post in Mr. Ed after George Burns, the show’s producer (Mr. Burns became a TV producer after his wife, Gracie Allen, retired from show business), said, “I think we should get Alan Young. He looks like the kind of a guy that a horse would talk to.”
• In 1984, Lily Tomlin was nominated for an Emmy for an appearance as Ernestine the telephone operator in Live … and in Person. Ms. Tomlin dressed as Ernestine at the awards ceremony — when she lost, Ernestine pouted.
• While taping an appearance on TV in a special produced by Norman Lear called I Love Liberty, comedian Geri Jewell ran into a problem: No one was laughing. She stopped and told the audience, “I’m sorry. I need help. I need a line. I need … someone to laugh.” This ad-lib made the audience howl. Fortunately, Mr. Lear came on stage and told her what the problem had been — for the first part of her performance the microphone hadn’t been working and so the audience couldn’t hear her. She started over again, and this time the audience laughed throughout her performance.
• In the days of live television, mistakes did happen. Ed Wynn once forgot his lines and couldn’t see the cue cards. He ad-libbed, “I must have something to say — otherwise I wouldn’t be standing here.”
• In the 1960s, the advertising company W.B. Doner and Company created a series of TV commercials that asked about Tootsie Pops, “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?” In one commercial, a young boy is advised by his angel side to keep on licking, while his devil side advises him to give in to temptation and bite the Tootsie Pop to get to the Tootsie Roll center quicker. The boy gives 187 licks before giving in to temptation and biting the Tootsie Pop. The commercial ends with these words: “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know.” This commercial was so popular that people wrote the Tootsie Roll Company about how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop. The company responded by giving the writers Clean Stick Award certificates.
• In the early days of television, everything was live — which allowed for the opportunity to make mistakes. In Columbus, Ohio, a man named Spook Beckman often did a commercial for Big Bev hamburgers, in which he took a big bite out of a hamburger, then said (after pushing the food out of the way of his tongue), “Big Bev — it’s delicious!” Unfortunately, the next thing the viewers saw one day was not the cartoon they were supposed to see. Due to a mistake at the TV studio, the viewers at home were treated to the sight of Mr. Beckman spitting the hamburger into a sink.
• Balanchine ballerina Allegra Kent appeared in a few television commercials, some of which were very successful, but she did not get every part she auditioned for. In one case, a sadistic producer told her that she did not get the part because she was “not nubile enough.” He also wanted her to recommend a nubile ballet dancer “aged 18 to 20.” Ms. Kent responded, “Oh, gee, I just can’t think of anybody that young, and you happen to be a tactless numbskull.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Television and Radio: 250 Anecdotes — Buy
BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC
Album: THE BAT BITES
Artist: The Bat Bites
Artist Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The Bat Bites are:
Merel: Guitar / Vocals
Mikey: Guitar / Vocals
Price: €1 for track; €5 for 13-track album
Genre: Pop Punk