David Bruce: The Funniest People in Television and Radio: 250 Anecdotes — Auditions, Autographs, Bathrooms

Auditions

• David Hasselhoff starred in Baywatch, which was a huge international hit. Earlier, he had struggled as an actor, and so he was kind to struggling actors. Often, after a first scene in an audition he knew that he could not use a particular actor in the TV series, but he would allow the actor to do a second scene anyway. Why? He says he did this “because I knew they’d practiced, because I knew how much it hurt me when I got rejected when I first started.”

• Early in her career, Lucille Ball wanted to be a showgirl. During one audition, producers lined the women up in a line, then walked down the line, looking the women over. Lucy knew that some of the other women were better endowed than she, so she stuffed her bodice with toilet paper. Unfortunately, some of the toilet paper was sticking out of her bodice — this did get Lucy noticed!

Autographs

• Diana Rigg, who played the very sexy Mrs. Emma Peel on The Avengers, once declined to sign an autograph for a fan by saying, “I’m sorry, but it’s illegal to sign autographs in the street.” (It’s not, of course.) It was Ms. Rigg’s mother who answered fan mail from overeager youths by writing, “My daughter is much too old for you and what you need is a good run around the block.”

• A woman was a little too much obsessed with soap opera Another World star Paul Michael Valley. Once Mr. Valley fell and hit his head on a fireplace mantle on the set. He was put on a stretcher to be rushed to the hospital when a woman handed him a pen and asked for his autograph, saying, “I know this is a bad time ….”

Bathrooms

• An English lady — Miss Jean Marsh, actress (star of Upstairs, Downstairs) — was given a crash course in American euphemisms before coming to New York City for the first time. Her mentors told her that in American polite society, one does not use the word “toilet.” Instead, one uses such phrases and words as “ladies room,” “powder room,” “restroom,” and “lounge.” She arrived at a television studio in New York City, where a man was to give her a tour. But first he asked her, “Before I take you on a tour of the studio, would you like to use the facilities?” Miss Marsh replied, “Oh, no, I’m not mechanical at all — I’d be afraid to touch anything!”

• When Robert L. Mott was working for the Captain Kangaroo Show live on TV, his sound effects room was located next to the building’s only women’s restroom. The flushes from this bathroom were very loud, and Mr. Mott understandably did not want the sound of the flushes to be heard on the children’s program; therefore, before each show started, he put an “Out of Order” sign on the door of the restroom. One show, he had just turned on the microphone for a sound effect on the show, when a woman screeched, “OUT OF ORDER! OH, F**K!”

• When Tracey Ullman was 13 years old, she heard a knock on the door. When she answered it, she discovered a woman, who asked to use the bathroom. Tracey led the woman to the bathroom, which turned out to be a mistake because the woman was a bag lady who locked the door, then proceeded to take a shower, wash her hair, and shave her legs. Finally, Tracey’s stepfather picked the lock and was able to get her out of their home.

• In the 1960s, Ethel Winant was the head of casting for CBS, and as head of casting, she was a powerful woman at a time when few powerful women existed in television. In fact, no women’s restroom was close to her office. Whenever she needed to make use of a restroom, she went to the men’s restroom — and left her high heels outside the door so her male co-workers would know not to enter.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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