05 Dec

"Some things I Regret, but would probably do again."

I have always been a prankster.  A few of them, I regret, but given the same circumstances, I would probably do the same thing over.  The crew at Channel 3, back in the early years, were always up to something.  Engineers seem to be easy and when Woody Cox was Chief, he always hired fellows who were into short wave.  We used to pass Woody's office and say, ''Ten Meters is Wide Open",  and watch him race to his radio.  It worked every time.  Troy, Billy, Bob and I would take paperclips and wrap them around a pencil, leaving a 'tail' and casually drop it under the control room console.  It never failed to produce pandemonium as the engineer opened the entire board desperately looking for where the "spring" come from.  We had one sweet guy who worked mornings, after a long afternoon nap, came bustling into work, thinking he had overslept.  He was totally confused when he realized the entire night crew was there. Troy, Billy and Bob evened the score one Saturday night when I was manning the Sports Desk.  I thought it would be neat to have the sports opening be with camera on the studio door.  I was to open the door and go immediately to the desk and begin my report.  I had no idea that they had taken a piece of pasteboard and had written, "MENS ROOM" on it.  So Billy had a close-up of that sign as I opened the door and as I walked to the desk, I heard hilarity break out in the control room.  I looked at the door, and walked over to the control room door, opened it as the  crew bailed out. Billy followed me all the way and back to the desk.  I simply did the sports report without flinching.  No one ever tried that again.  Harry Gilliam, General Manager, was constantly putting his night crew 'on the carpet', but I think he and his wife, Peg, kinda enjoyed to frivolity.  Speaking of pranks!  Do you recall Gregory Peck and Aubrey Hepburn's scene where he ran his hand into a stone lion's mouth and pulled it out with his fist inside the cuff?  That was not in the script and it was hillarious!  When I was playing the lead at the Point Theater in Ingram, Texas, summer of 1963, there was a scene in 'Brigadoon' when my character, Tommy, was sit in a rocking chair and begin singing, 'Almost Like Being In Love' to my leading lady.  The backstage crew had "pulled' the wooden rocking chair completely apart and 'gently' put it back together so that as I sat it would provide a Pratt Fall.  I noticed the entire off stage cast was hovering in the wings. I began my song standing by Fiona.  She was somewhat taken back, but we played the scene without a hitch.  One of the young boys who lived in Kerrville got even with me one Sunday afternoon. I was the guest of him and his family on their ranch and he invited me to take a horseback ride with him.  I was not an experienced horseman, but had been on horse before.  He saddled a very nice Pinto mare named 'Teacup' and off we go.  He had failed to tell me that "Teacup" never let another horse win a race.  We had been casually trotting out into the pasture when he struck his heeled his mount into a fast gallop.  I was mortified, lost a rein and was holding on to the pommel for dear life.  He quickly realized that I was in danger and brought "Teacup" under control.  I walked back to the ranch house.  Not funny! Not funny at all!  When the Director, who was from New York, heard about the two attempts at playing a prank, he came unglued. No one ever tried something again.  By the way, everyone who has ever been in a long-running production can tell tales of 'pranks', some didn't go over well at all.  We had a 'famous' character actor from Hollywood play our Sheriff in "TBLWHIT" during our run in Vegas.  The scene where the 'Watchhdogs' reveal that Gilbert has a house of Ill repute, the Sheriff climbs a set of stairs firing his pistol and all scatter.  Immediately there is a blackout and the Sheriff missed the top level and fell to the stage with a loud 'OOMPH!'  He was not injured, but the crew placed reflective tape along the edge from then on.  Another time, some of the men donned ballgowns with cowboy boot and wigs and played the ladies of the evening.  That didn't go over too well with our Producer. It was not repeated.  One thing I learned during the four-year-twenty-six-city tour was the onset of boredom.  We constantly fought it.

And that's what I get from My Box of Chocolates right here in My Corner Studio under the shadow of Kyle Field.

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