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Atlantic City – Lunch

Back in the 70’s I was doing a live game show at Resorts International Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. While there I was asked to have lunch with a gentleman that I soon discovered was a very high member of a local mob family. Needless to say I was pretty nervous. During the lunch this gentleman (whose name I will omit due to safety reasons) asked me in his three pack a day voice, “How do you get those stupid people to say the stupid things you do on the Newlywed Game?” I responded, “Oh, if you and your wife were on the show I could get you and your wife to say the same stupid things!” He looked at me with steel cold eyes and said, “5 grand juries haven’t been able to make me talk, what the (blank) makes you think you can?”

Last time with the Rolling Stones

I really thought that Mick Jagger and I were oil and water so I was very surprised when the following year, we got a call asking if we wanted to do the Stones again. This time they wanted to play the larger Long Beach Arena, with a capacity of about 14,000. Since time has a way of healing and being concert promoters, we said yes.

Once again, our major problem was security and once again it looked like an armed camp all around the building. Jagger came to me before the show and said that it was important that they leave immediately after the concert to catch a helicopter shuttle to a television show in Hollywood.  We had a little car waiting for them inside the building to take them down a loading ramp with a motorcycle escort to deliver them to the waiting helicopter. I said, “No problem.  All you have to do is get off stage.” He assured me that they would do everything they could to make that happen.

The concert was crazy. Girls were screaming and running down the aisles, trying to get on stage. The police even pulled a young lady off a drainpipe that she was trying to shimmy up to get into the building. The music was incredible. But now came the test. We had the little station wagon backstage and the motorcycle police were outside the building waiting at the bottom of the loading ramp, but once again, Mick couldn’t resist hanging around the stage!

With the delay, by the time we got Mick into the station wagon, there was a huge group of kids outside the building. The driver of the car panicked, went down the wrong ramp and was immediately engulfed with thousands of kids. I remember looking down and seeing a mound of girls covering the station wagon with one policeman up on the top being mauled. The Stones were on their backs with their feet up against the car’s ceiling to keep the roof from being pushed down on them. I actually saw a little girl’s foot get run over, but she acted as if nothing happened. It was pure pandemonium. The police somehow finally managed to break the station wagon loose.

That was the last that I ever saw of the Rolling Stones.

Tex Earndhardt & JJ the monkey

My friend, Tex Earnhardt, is the big car dealer in Phoenix, AZ. Tex, like the famous Cal Worthington, does his own car commercials and is known throughout Arizona. Tex and his wife had a chimpanzee named JJ.  JJ was quite a character.  He wore a cowboy suit every morning, and would usually go out to the barn to help Tex’s his wife feed the horses.  One morning, while she was really busy, the phone rang with Tex shouting, “WHERE’S JJ?” After much searching, they found that the monkey in his cowboy suit, had walked across the street and opened the door of a house where a lady was breast-feeding her baby. She ran to the bedroom and dialed 911. Before the police came, JJ found a bottle of codeine cough medicine on the coffee table, chug-a-lugged it and fell asleep on the couch. Imagine looking up from your baby and seeing a chimp in a cowboy suit walking in your front door!

Crystal Cathedral float & An “Flashing” Angel

I was doing the Hollywood Christmas parade with former Miss America Lee Meriwether.  The famous Orange County church, The Crystal Cathedral, always had a float in the parade to publicize its annual Christmas program “The Glory of Christmas”.  It was always a beautiful float and was well received by the audience.  One year they decided to do something special.  They stung a cable across Sunset Blvd. and as the Crystal Cathedral float went by, an angel on the cable above was supposed to magically float across the blvd.  I heard the director in my ear say “Que the angel” and something went wrong, the Crystal Cathedral Angel went sailing across Sunset blvd, upside down, showing the audience much more than an angel was supposed to show.

Stephanie Edwards & a Confused Fan

Hi and welcome to more Short Stories about Big People.  I thought we would have some fun with the world of Television.  So hang on, here we go, with Short Stories about Big People.

As you probably know I have done the television commentary for the Rose Parade on channel 5 for the past thirty some years.  Each year I have the pleasure of sitting beside my friend Stephanie Edwards.  My favorite Stephanie Edwards story is when a lady walked up to her in a super market and said “I really liked your coverage on the Rose Parade. I watched the original and the re-run and I thought you were better on the re-run.”

Hippies & Dogs

I knew a couple that were really like Chip and Buffy. They were a truly young yuppie couple who were real animal lovers and who drove a top-down Mercedes 450 SL. One night at a stoplight in Glendale, California, two lost Golden Retrievers appeared. Being good animal lovers, they put the dogs in the back seat and took them to an all-night veterinarian and promised the vet they would come back the next day to find the dogs’ owners. They picked up the dogs on a hot 105-degree day. CalTans was doing work on Brand Boulevard so they were stuck in a traffic jam, with the top down, and the two dogs in the backseat. Suddenly, people started honking, pointing and laughing. Much to their dismay, my two yuppie friends looked in the backseat to see the dogs “shall we say” being romantic. The top on the car was stuck and wouldn’t go up and the traffic was so bad they couldn’t move. So they just sat there checking their Rolexes.
And they weren’t even their dogs!

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Michael Landon, Flower Children & A Country Bumpkin

Hi and welcome to my blog, which I like to call Short Stories about Big People.  I have had the privilege of meeting some very special people.  One of them was my friend Michael Landon.

When Michael Landon was doing “Highway to Heaven” for NBC, I went to him on behalf of my youngest son, Corey, who was trying to break into the stunt business.  I had no trouble setting up a meeting with Michael.  At that meeting he told me that he was not using any stunt men on “Highway to Heaven” because it was such a benign show, but if he ever needed one, he said he’d let me know.

I sort of fluffed it off and didn’t think any more about it until a year later when I got a call from Michael and he said “Bob, I need a stunt man.”  Evidently they had decided to put a little excitement into “Highway to Heaven” and started incorporating some action into the plot.

What I found most amazing was he called me even though he knew hundreds of stunt men from working on “Bonanza” and “Little House on The Prairie” and yet he fulfilled his promise by calling me.  Corey went to work for Micheal and was the on-screen double for Micheal for a short time until other commitments came up.  Corey suggested my older son, Trace, would be perfect for the job.  Trace not only became Michael’s double, but worked as the stunt coordinator on “Highway to Heaven.” Both boys actually worked on the last pilot Micheal produced shortly before he died.  It was called “Us.”

Micheal Landon was one of the classiest people that I have met in the business.  The world is much less with out him.

Two weeks after the Beatles left town in 1965 we booked a Hollywood Bowl Concert with Bob Dylan who, at the time, had a hit record on the charts “Like a Rolling Stone.” At this concert, I saw hippies for the very first time.  We were in the middle of the Viet Nam War and the whole anti-war drug culture was about to arrive.  They came in buckskin, tie dye, cleavage to the moon, and the entire audience smelled like musk.  I thought I was on another planet.

The nice thing about these flower children was that they were sooooooo mellow we probably could have done without security except for the guy that came to the backstage area right before the concert.  He was holding a buckskin fringed jacket demanding to see Dylan.  He was giving security all kinds of trouble.  This guy in his three-joint slurred voice said “I wanna see Dylan!” I said, “Why?” He mumbled “I stole his jacket from his dressing room in Seattle and I wanna give it back to him!” I went to Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, and told him the story.  His eyes lit up and the young troublemaker was invited backstage and treated like a hero for bringing back what he stole.  I guess crime does pay!

Country music is full of humorous characters, one being a concert promoter from North Carolina.  I could fill up two or three columns telling stories about Carlton Haney.

The Merle Haggard group drove 700 miles one night to get to a Carlton Haney date in Philadelphia.  It seems that Carlton had booked a series of Haggard dates but forgot to advertise the Philly date.  Needless to say, it wasn’t a sellout.

After the Philadelphia debacle, Carlton called Fuzzy Owen, Haggard’s manager, trying to book more dates.  Fuzzy told Carlton that Haggard didn’t want to work for him anymore.  Carlton got mad and said “you tell Merle Haggard he’s an SOB!” and slammed down the phone.

What Carlton didn’t know was that Fuzzy was taping the conversation.  So when Haggard confronted Carlton about calling him an SOB, Carlton emotionality denied it.  Merle said “Carlton, I’ve got it right here on tape.  You called me an “SOB!”

Carlton’s classic response was, “Merle Haggered if that tape say anything other that whaat ahm telling you raht now, that tape is a liar!”  Well there you have it some more Short Stories About Big People.

I always like to leave you with something to think about… Thomas Edison once said “I didn’t fail, it just didn’t work 10,000 times”.

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