The Man Who Killed the Lone Ranger and Stole Betty Crocker's Cherry

Journal Entry - Saturday, December 1st. 1979

Up early for a run in the snow. It's hardly a western snowfall but it's enough to cheer me up. I'm definitely a winter person. Too bad Rachel isn't. In fact I don't really know what she is ? She doesn't like this...doesn't like that..hates her job and is on my case about way too many things. Hmmmm.

The show is still high stress. Mary-Francis cried twice this week. She and a guy called Rick Moranis sit beside me. Rick's a freelancer who comes and goes but M.F. is fulltime. She does stuff out of Quebec. There's a lot happening there and she's the only producer to handle it. Richard is pretty cool but M.F. puts the pressure on herself. Some bitch at AIH told her that she's not "smart enough".

I'm OK though. Harron likes me. Likes the way I write. I can hear his voice in my mind's-eye (if that makes any sense) so as I churn out the 5-part yellow sheet after sheet I hit the cadence of his read pretty well. More and more Richard is letting him do his thing -- which is good.

So, Morningside has become a kind of daily Don Harron-in-Concert type show. My little ghetto (information) takes up the first hour - Hour Two is usually features or some type of round-table...Hour Three - live music. This week we decided to do Woodstock - been 10 years now. We had Joni Mitchell on the show for an entire hour recently...she was great.

It's going to be a busy winter. Pierre Trudeau resigned last week...John Turner and Donald MacDonald are the front-runners to replace him so there'll be a Liberal convention to cover. Also there's talk of some sort of vote in Quebec. Richard said Starowicz is putting together a "special unit" from Morningside and As It Happens to cover it and wants me to go. We'd be based in Montreal (might be an escape from Rachel ????).

...by the way - the price of gas has gone up again. It's now 1.05 a gallon in Toronto and .98 cents a gallon in Calgary. It cost me almost 20 bucks to fill up last week.

Fuck, I'm broke.


Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

(EDITOR'S NOTE -: price of gas TODAY in Winnipeg ?? 1.16 a litre for regular unleaded. Approx 4.40 a gallon by my math).

Sometimes this business is wonderful. Sometimes you really DO walk with giants. And if you stick around long enough you might even get to call some of them "friends".

Got a call today from a friend of mine -- Tom Hope.

Tom is an 86 year old US soldier who lives in Buffalo. In 1942-43 he was a member of the First Special Services Forces ... AKA - the "Devils Brigade".

I did a 4 x one hour series on these guys a couple of years ago - "The True Story of the Devils' Brigade" - and got to know Tom well. Once we moved on from all the "I killed Germans with my bare hands" stuff ... his stories got pretty interesting.

Here's one of my faves.

Tom went to Hollywood after the war where he got a job with an ad agency. On his first day he was told to FIRE the Lone Ranger. The "Lone Ranger" was a popular radio show which Tom's agency financed. They wanted it on TV. But the ACTUAL Lone Ranger was a fat, fifty year old with, as they say...a great face for radio.

"No problem" said Tom.

After whacking so many Germans, putting a silver bullet between the Masked Man's eyes was easy.

Things were NOT so simple however when his agency won a new account - GENERAL MILLS.

"House wives, Tom". "That's where the money is, house wives" his boss said, and told him to come up with a campaign to sell instant MASHED POTATOES to Mrs. America.

So Tom Hope - the old Devils' Brigade killer created Betty Crocker. And how did Tom find Betty ? The wholesome face of post-war America ??

The casting couch. A really, really BIG casting couch.

His agency scoured the country and brought THIRTEEN HUNDRED (correct - 1,300) ambitious, eager, enthusiastic young actresses to L.A. for Tom to personally ....interview.

Day after day....week after week...the girls did their thing. After a while GI Tom simply couldn't handle all the...er, attention. So he did what any good NCO would do...called for re-inforcements, bringing six of his Devils Brigade pals to the rescue with fixed bayonnets.

For a month Tom and his buddies did their duty. Old Glory went up and down the flagpole so often their wood was practically worn out. Finally 12 Betty Crocker hopefuls were left standing - so to speak, and Tom Hope had to choose the face of post-war American mom-hood. The face every Boomer kid would grow up with.

How'd he do it ? Easy - he alone took ALL TWELVE Bettys to Vegas for a final round of hand-to-hand combat.

War is hell.

THIS little story is one of the reasons why I love this business (despite yesterday's melancholy).

You meet the most amazing people.

1 comment:

wcdixon said...

So true...and its bizarre but because of the intensity and even intimacy of shoots, you may find yourself considering people 'friends' you only worked with for a short period of time...and then never saw again.