My season in Hollywood.
My cousin Don lived on Cherokee Avenue in an apartment just off Hollywood Boulevard. He was a postal worker at the Hollywood branch of the Post Office. At that time, I was in high school. Some weekends I would take the bus from my home in East L A to the downtown bus station and transfer to the Hollywood bus. During one summer vacation I bussed to Hollywood and decided to see some TV shows. Using my cousin’s apartment as home base. So, one weekday morning I found the ABC television office on Vine Street and picked up some free tickets to a taping. I was really interested in seeing how they produced and videotaped a TV program. So, one set of tickets was for the old “Queen for a day.” A program where four women would emotionally describe their sad story. All in hopes that the jQFAD people would provide any number of things or services women were in desperate need for their families or themselves. But some might wonder why an eighteen-year-old boy would go to the trouble to see such a TV program live. The QFTD host was an old guy named Jack Bailey a shortish man with black swept back hair and had an interesting sense of humor and knew how to interview each Queen candidate. Each woman had about three minutes to relate her predicament and request. Hanging over the main stage was a neon lit APPLAUSE sign and flashed when applause was desired by the producer/director. There were intermittent breaks here and there where commercials would be inserted by the local TV stations when the program was aired.
But anyway, after the women were interviewed and made their tearful requests the audience would be asked to applaud for each woman as Bailey held his hand over her head. An applause meter was used to register the loudness or intensity of the applause. The woman that garnered the loudest applause was the winner or Queen for the Day. I could only conjecture that someone or someone’s did some book or phone research to see where goods or services could be found and awarded to the winner. But in addition, the winner would get a host of kitchen ware and appliances.
Then later in the early evening I had tickets for another pre-recorded TV program. My cousin came with me for this showing. It was a rehearsed drama of “Divorce Court.” Several of us were asked to come in and be part of the courtroom gallery. Others were asked to sit in bleachers behind the courtroom sound stage. We were told by a gentleman to never ever look at the camera. There was a camera trained on the gallery where we sat The older man playing the part of the divorce court judge was a gentleman often seen on the local Channel 7 KABC. After going through the drama, we were told the airing of this program would occur two days later in the afternoon. So, on that day I made a point to watch “Divorce Court.” Just to see if I could see myself. Unfortunately, I did see myself. I must confess I have a poor sense of ‘Wardrobe.’ I was wearing a brown V-neck sweater over a white crew neck T-shirt. The Okie look I often wore to school. So what image was I projecting on television? The poor brother of the husband? Or an escaped lunatic curious to see people get divorces?
All in all, it was an interesting experience. Now I know how it was done. Discovering that TV work was not for me.