The above picture is of ten year-old me looking into the future (circa 1937). I may look like a future don for the Toledo Mafia, but to me, my neat attire was merely a costume for some future role in TV (possibly lip-syncing a Frank Sinatra record?). One thing I did know at the time; I was meant to perform on TV. All I had to do was wait for it to be invented.
I title this effort, “How To Get Your Own National TV Show” because that is the main question I have been asked over the years from fans, students, audiences and emailers. For the next series of blogs I will outline a life driven by the sole desire (main ingredient for success) to be able to someday stand up in front of a TV camera and announce, “Welcome to The Lloyd Thaxton Show.”
In the process I also hope to dig intro some interesting history of my life (at the least, it was interesting to me). Perhaps this could even be inspirational to young people who have the same desires as to a career in show business. I did it and I can’t even sing, dance or act. I would be a joke on American Idol. But I persevered. And, I have to admit, got just a little bit lucky.
I would hope, as I write this that you give me comments along the way by asking questions about what you personally would like know. Your input, like any observer, during any performance, is invaluable.
This is the introduction and first chapter. I will keep writing until I run out of things to say, or – just run out. Hey, this could be the do-it-yourself obituary I promised to write. The filling in of that dash between the dates on a tombstone that represents a person’s whole life.
Think of it as me getting my shit together.
If you have been reading this blog, you already know that I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, “The Glass Capital of the World.” Toledo was the home of the Owens Corning Glass Company. At one time they even changed the name of their baseball team from “The Toledo Mud Hens” to “The Toledo Glass Sox.” I’ll tell you how bad that decision went over. As bad a name as it was, Mud Hens was preferred over Glass Sox and after a couple of seasons they went back to “The Toledo Mud Hens.”
I had two older sisters, Georgia and Betty. They were wonderful sisters, more like second and third mothers. It was through Betty that I learned that TV would soon be coming to Toledo. How did I know that? In 1940 Betty bought a brand new beautiful all wood Zenith Model 12-S-471 Console Radio.
Picture from Phils Old Radios - http://antiqueradio.org/welcome.htm
With its sleek styling and black "robot" dial, this large Zenith console typified a great design period in radio history.
But more important, this new beauty had seven buttons to set for your favorite radio stations.
AND ... IT EVEN HAD A BUTTON FOR "TV!"
That’s right. A button for watching (?) TV.
The promotion went like this, ““Your 1945 Radio Here Now! Television Sound Connection—which means you can buy Zenith for the future with confidence. When television comes . . . you will be ready for it.”
But, where was the screen? Were they kidding us?
No, not at all. You see TV was on it’s way and this was a hedge against obsolescence.
Fearing that customers would quit buying radios while waiting for TV to arrive "any day now," manufacturers provided an audio connector in the back that would, in theory, permit you to connect a TV receiver which used your radio for audio amplification. In practice, this never happened. When TVs arrived in the late 1940s, they naturally included their own audio amplifiers. It was the "TV" button that was obsolete.
The “TV” button may have been a useless come-on, but I have to tell you, that button was magic to me. I used to sit in front of that console, push the TV button and dream. I imagined a screen on the front of this radio with singers and dancers coming right out at you. I had seen some experimental TV at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, but, this was real. A “TV” button right in my own living room.
That was when I made the decision. I had to be on TV.
It took awhile but I got there. How, will be coming up in the next chapters.
As I said in the Introduction, I need your comments along the way. Give me some stories of your first brush with television. Or what you would like to read about re: How To Get Your Own National TV Show.