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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Larry Hagman, From A Distance.

I never actually met Larry Hagman, but I saw him quite often, from a short distance.
If you want to read a great article about him, go to Mark Evanier's blog.
Mark did interact with him, and has a great story to tell about him.
And it is quite complimentary.
It also explains how Hagman essentially shook the studio that made "Dallas", Lorimar,
by it's ankles, to get every last nickel out of them when he re-upped as J.R. when his contract was up.

My first awareness of Larry Hagman came in the mid-1960s, when my friend Allie Wolf
claimed to have spotted him in the baggage claim area at LaGuardia Airport.
And Allie made the huge-est deal possible out of this.
"I Dream of Jeannie" had been for about a year.
I had never seen it.
I had no idea who Larry Hagman was.
I only knew about Barbara Eden and her navel.
Allie, of course, was astounded that ANYONE would not know who Larry Hagman was.
Allie was often prone to seeing, or at least thinking he was seeing, celebrities in everyday life.
He once thought he saw Leonard Bernstein on the Q-44A bus, that went from the outreaches of Queens, along Union Turnpike, to Forest Hills, where one could catch the subway to midtown Manhattan.
He was positive it was Leonard Bernstein.
This was met with a resounding "Leonard Bernstein? On the Q-44A bus? He probably went
everywhere by limo."
Allie simply retorted, in his most self-assured fashion, "It was HIM!!"
Spotting Larry Hagman at least seemed a little more plausible.
My paths and Larry Hagman's crossed quite a bit.
We both lived in Malibu, where I'd seen him pushing his own grocery cart around Ralph's, the local supermarket, always graciously stopping to sign autographs.
We also worked at the same studio.
"She's The Sheriff" was also shot at Lorimar.
I'd always see the "Dallas" cast walking around the lot, or in the commissary.
So there was certainly proximity, but nary a word was exchanged.
Lorimar was reputed to be the toughest, most cutthroat studio in town to work at.
I still have some scars on my throat to prove it.
I'd often see Barbara Bel Geddes in the commissary.
She was the original Miss Ellie on "Dallas".
She left the show, and was replaced by Donna Reed.
When Ms. Bel Geddes decided that she wanted to return to the show, the studio
unceremoniously fired Donna Reed, and rehired Ms. Bel Geddes.
This led to Donna Reed filing a hefty lawsuit, which led to a hefty settlement.
I'd also often see Valerie Harper on the lot. "Valerie's Family" shot it's show in the soundstage right next to ours.
After some dispute or other, probably due to Lorimar not living up to something they
agreed to in her deal (I know that was the problem I had with my deal), she was
unceremoniously fired, and replaced by Sandy Duncan.
They changed the name of the show to "The Hogan Family"
That was decent of them.
She sued Lorimar for wrongful termination and won two million dollars.
Why do I bring all this up?
And what does this all have to do with Larry Hagman?
Well, Larry Hagman, we now know from several sources, was a sweetheart of a guy.
But he had his quirks.
And one of his quirks was that he was completely satisfied sleeping on an army cot in
his dressing room.
No fancy trailers required for him.
This gave the bastards at Lorimar all the ammunition they needed.
If any of their other well-paid TV stars had asked for a trailer during negotiations,
they were met with "Larry Hagman doesn't have a trailer. Do you think you're a bigger star than Larry Hagman?"
Needless to say, no trailers were given to anybody.
I know this because the above-mentioned bastards bragged about this often, in my presence.
I'm guessing that these other well-paid TV stars included Donna Reed, who was seriously ill when she was shooting "Dallas", and could have really used a trailer, and Valerie Harper, who was probably just jobbed out of one.
Maybe if Lorimar had acquiesced, Donna Reed's settlement might not have been so hefty, and maybe Valerie Harper might have been a little less persistent in carrying out her quest for the two million.
Thinking that all of this had to do with Larry Hagman sleeping on an army cot makes
me sleep a little better at night.

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My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel,"Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperback, "Mark Rothman's Essays" is still available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one, contact me at macchus999@aol.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

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2 comments:

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Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."