I missed out on the Golden Age of Radio: Jack Benny, Fibber McGee, W.C. Fields and so many others. I tried to bring back some of that imaginative writing—and the great characters—in the many thousands of radio spots I wrote, directed, and sometimes performed on during the past half-century.
In PART ONE, I mentioned the influence that old-time radio had on my writing and performing. PART TWO has more award-winning fun for you, including a radio commercial that could never be made today, and a guest shot by the hilarious Paul Lynde.
When asked by a reporter if he was as mean as his reputation, Butkus replied, "I wouldn't ever go out to hurt anybody deliberately. Unless it was … like a league game or something."
When word got around our building that Probert was there to shoot a commercial, the offices emptied and the lobby filled with hundreds of people hoping to get a glimpse.
A wild-haired, black guitarist plugged his instrument into a massive amp, held it upside-down, and launched into a series of ear-splitting sounds totally alien to an unsuspecting audience of teenyboppers.
The hero of Super Bowl III, the man who dated Raquel Welch, the guy who wore pantyhose in a TV commercial, was afraid to sing for us.
“There’s only room for one hero in this family,” my father announced. “And that’s me.”
Did I really have a casting couch and endless women? Are you kidding? I was with the same company for ten years before I got my wobbly chair fixed, never mind a couch. However, there were moments …
I was escorted to a small, private dining room ... where Francis Albert Sinatra was already seated at the head chair.
When Billy chose Tiger Stadium to stand in for Yankee Stadium in his 2001 HBO movie 61*, I felt destined to be a part of it. I got cast as a "Specialty Extra"--for one day.
All eyes inside were focused on the limo’s tinted windows. The two of us went in, up to the counter, and a blond teenage girl who will never be the same again.
A live show I wrote and directed for a local Anheuser-Busch distributors' meeting included a quartet of Hooters girls brought in to liven things up. They did.
I knew my boss and I knew my client. Before they would ever let me perform on their commercial, I'd have to audition every singer in every band, choir and theatre group in Michigan. And Ohio. And Illinois. Canada was close by, too.
I directed Tim in a TV spot for Action Auto. When the shoot was over, he told me that he was moving to California. His comedy special for Showtime became the basis for Home Improvement.
On the phone, Mr. Feld agreed that it was an unlikely alliance. Protective of maintaining the Circus’ family image, liquor seemed the last product he’d want to get in bed with—so to speak.
After a couple of rehearsals, Mort positioned himself at the “video assist” monitor so he could see what the film camera sees. I was off to the side taking notes. Mort called “Action!” And that’s when the trouble began.
We shot the spot, cleaned Soupy up, went to the studio kitchen for lunch, and there we decided that the big finish wasn't big enough.
"Jon, we've been given an assignment that's an exact match for your particular talents. We're sending you around the country to campaign for Big Boy." I could only think of one word: Oy!