Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

TO BEARD OR NOT TO BEARD - THAT IS THE QUESTION


I have finally started on the DVD, “My Name is Lloyd Thaxton – So What,” and hope to have it out before the end of the year. I’ve been looking at clips for that last few months and I guarantee you are going to be blown away. Damn! That was a good show.


I have a problem. A respected friend warned me that, “When the DVD is finished, you will have to promote it. And that means the beard will have to go." His reasoning? No one will watch a bearded person on TV pitching anything.

That bit of constructive criticism reminded of the day I made the decision to step out from in front of the camera and become a producer. I had had a great run on TV, but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to go behind the camera and write and produce and direct (doesn’t everyone?).

The problem was that no one I talked to would buy the idea of me as a producer. After all, I was that crazy on-camera guy: the funny TV person, the Jerry Lewis of rock and roll. No one was supposed to ever take me seriously. I was expected to spend the rest of my life lip-syncing records?

One morning I took a hard look at myself in the mirror. Unfortunately, I was never able to look at myself in a mirror without making a goofy face. I started to laugh. “STOP IT!” I shouted. “THIS IS SERIOUS!!” I changed my expression to a studious intelligent looking frown and gently stroked my chin. “What I need is a beard,” I mused. “No one hires an on-camera person who has a beard. Only writers, producers and directors are allowed to have beards. It makes them look more educated. You know, "the producer look."

Think about it. How many TV hosts have you ever seen with beards? Alex Trebek started out with only a mustache. but in a few weeks, it was GONE! TV news producers pay big money to consultants to ensure that all their news anchors have that same TV news-reader look. The one rule that can never be broken? NO FACIAL HAIR (and that includes the female news anchors as well). Ever see a dance show host with a beard? Or, how about a candidate running for office?

FUGETABOUTIT

So, I grew a beard. No one would ever put Lloyd Thaxton in front of a TV camera again.

To test my new look I went to a producer job interview. They took one look at me and said, “You LOOK like a producer,” and I was hired on the spot.

This program we were talking about was not a Lloyd Thaxton type show or anything even close to it. It was a new local show for TV station KNBC in Los Angeles to be titled, “California Buy-line.” It would star KNBC's very popular consumer reporter, David Horowitz.

When the word got around that I was going to produce and direct a public service consumer show on a local television station, the whispered gossip was: He must really need the money. Are you kidding me? Take a guess at what you think they paid producers of local TV shows back in the seventies. $20,000 a week? $2,000? If you guessed $200, you win the cigar. Not much money, honey, but I was a PRODUCER!


This turned out to be the best career move I ever made. The show was an instant local hit. The great thing is that I was never told to do the show with the zany part of my brain tied behind my back. KNBC (and David, bless his supreme intelligence) gave me free reign to do what ever I wanted. You’ve heard of “The Power of One?” This was “The power of The Beard.”


Together we produced the very first consumer show with pizazz. I even got to do some cameo appearances as the bearded Dr. Freon, the product testing genius, the dirty-bearded Dirty Moore, the inventor of Dirty Potato Chips, and a host of other weird bearded characters.


We spent our shoot days giddily dropping trash bags from the KNBC traffic helicopter to challenge the manufacturer’s highly touted claims of unusual strength. Dr. Freon froze Timex watches and dropped wrecking balls on them.

We even had wrestlers strap watches to their waists to see if they could really “take a licking and keep on ticking.”


Geeta, the late great LA Zoo elephant (what a BIG sweetheart), mashed toy trucks, suitcases, unbreakable cola bottles and many other products, to challenge the outrageous claims of their indestructibility.

The show became so popular that after the first year it went national. It soon became the Emmy award winning “Fight Back! with David Horowitz.” We did the show for 18 fun filled years.

And, I owe it all to my beard.

Many of my contemporaries, who are still highly successful in the on-camera music-broadcast business, have long whitened their teeth, darkened their hair and would never ever be seen with even an iota of “FACIAL HAIR.” I salute their longevity. But, just because I have a new DVD that might require stepping back in the limelight as a host, do I really have to go that route?


To beard or not to beard? That is the question.

What would Hamlet do?

Stay tuned.

28 Comments:

Blogger Mike Barer said...

I would start by promoting the dvd through the blogosphere to see what results can happen.
You forget George Carlin. He did pretty well with a beard. I think the beard will work in your favor.

10:51 PM

 
Anonymous Arthur said...

Hi Lloyd,
Really glad to hear about the DVD. I am a little slow, will this DVD be of your early 60's work? REALLY? I did not know you had any tapes from that period, can you explain some more about the DVD Please? As for the beard, everything you said is true so 2 options:

You can use this as an opportunity to see yourself once more with OUT a beard. Why not shave it and just grow it back?

Or you can just go with the real sincerity (if you can fake that you got it made,ha,ha) if it is the real you people may respond to that! Real and true is so rare it may 'WORK' for you. Art

2:38 AM

 
Blogger Gary said...

I'm with Arthur and his first comment, Uncle Lloyd...SHAVE IT....you can always grow it back!
I remember in the mid 80s that JOHNNY CARSON even grew a beard and tried it on air...people found he just wasn't funny with a beard and within a VERY short time, he shaved it off.
Remember when the Smother's Brothers grew their moustaches? People stopped watching them, because they weren't funny anymore, but mostly Tommy, so he came on the show one time a short time later, and Dickie ripped off Tommy's then-fake moustache and people LOVED it....then Tommy tried ripping Dickie's off, but it was REAL...people laughed and accepted it since Dickie was more "the straight guy" and Tommy was "the goofy one".
Yep, I say shave it....who knows? You might like what you see (without laughing in the mirror) and keep it off! Your family may not take you serious anymore, though.....HA HA HA
NEXT!
Gary

4:39 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am remaining anonymous until this facial hair problem is solved.

Best argument for the beard: You can't teach an old face new looks.

To Mike: George Carlin is not a TV spokesperson. He is a comic (and one of the funniest).

To Arthur: Lloyd has hours of great stuff from the 60's LT Show.

To Gary: Johnny Carson proves Lloyd's point. What works, works.

Lloyd says, "Keep those cards and letters coming.

LT

11:09 AM

 
Blogger Mike Barer said...

Orson Welles and Sebastian Cabot made the beards work in their favor. I think for some people in gives a warm fatherly look. I think another word would be professorial.
Walt Disney and Walter Cronkite had/have mustaches.

1:23 PM

 
Blogger Gary said...

By the way.....look at Lloyd's picture at the top of his post. Remember Geoff Edwards, the game show host from the 70s? THAT'S WHO THAT PICTURE REMINDS ME OF!
Ah yes, Orson Welles and Sebastian Cabot. Two very "heavyweight" actors. Lloyd is a heavyweight in the industry, but not THAT kind of heavyweight.
I thought of another TV dance show host who tried facial hair for a while. DICK CLARK! I have old footage of him in about 1968 with a moustache and it just didn't work! Sorry, LT....the fuzz has got to go. Not only that, you just might have to wash those gray's away, too!! No offense, but people are going to want to see you as they remember you....well, maybe not younger, but more youthful looking, anyway.
*sigh*.....oh to be a star in La La land....
One more question, Uncle Lloyd....what does your family think of the possibility of your "new" old look?
NEXT!
Gary

5:48 PM

 
Blogger Geno said...

Lloyd,

There is nothing wrong with your beard. You look great wearing it, or naked-faced, either way.

-- Geno

10:57 PM

 
Blogger THE ROCK RELIC said...

Brother, if ya feel good with the whiskas, KEEP 'em! (I was told that by my late daddy ... or was it my CATS?? I'll haveta check ... [y'see? "Whiskers"? "Whiskas"? ummm ... let's move on])
Actually, it was and is the personality of one wily coyote (here, I refer to your new email) that made the grade ... not the hair or lack of.
Should we forget about the great Wolfman, whose mane and beard were trademarks? Does Willie still look as he did back-when? But he still packs the house! How about my ex-wife?
On second thought ...
Chief, we stand with ya no matter what ... 'cause we know that, beard or (gulp!) bald, LT is #1!

10:12 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uncle Lloyd:
Beard or no beard, SO WHAT! Can't wait for the finished product. Just forget about the curly perm. Okay?

10:48 AM

 
Blogger John said...

You can put me down for a DVD, no pitch required so it doesn't matter whether you have a beard or not.... As a matter of fact, when it's ready I'll "plug" it on our high school reunion website at:

www.venicehighschool1966.myevent.com

Keep up the good work. A longtime fan....

John Pitcock

1:50 PM

 
Blogger ModGirl said...

Oh boy oh boy OHHHH BOYYYY!!!!! The LT DVDs are coming!!!!! Okay, let me get myself composed here...

(*Ahem*) Speaking strictly for myself, it doesn't matter if you lose the beard or keep the beard and dye it the most garish shade of purple you can find, just so long as you get those DVDs out to your adoring fans!

Seriously though, you do seem to be in a quandry about it so I'd say do what YOU'RE comfortable with! This obsession with youth is just stupid, and when men dye their hair is usually LOOKS dyed, so if you do decide to go that route be sure to get a good stylist (I'm sure your wife would offer the same advice.) So if YOU feel you need a "younger" look for the camera, maybe try the salt/pepper thing? Sans moustache? And then you can always go back to what YOU'RE comfortable with.

Hope this female perspective helps -- a fan forever,

ModGirl (SO WHAT???)

8:02 PM

 
Blogger ModGirl said...

P.S. When I said "salt/pepper" I was thinking of your natural haircolor (a dark blond?) with some highlights, NOT making the base color shoe polish black!!! Which I'm sure you'd have the good sense to avoid :)

And now that I think about it some more, you could defintely pull off your natural haircolor with NO highlights. Maybe try that look without any facial hair. Just get someone who knows what they're doing with haircolor.

Hope this helps.

8:19 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mitch Miller ["Sing Along with Mitch"] got by with a beard in the early 1960's.

7:39 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the beard? Go with the flow...It doens't really matter, IMHO. Aren't we '60's type the ones who liked a whole lotta hair?

You could go in between with a moustache. Of course, if you de-beard, you'll have to decide on sideburns, or no sideburns. It's starting to sound like a can o' worms!

From another woman's perspective, I personally like your current silver fox look and the beard.

I'm very curious as to where you got the picture of - shall I call him - "Bin Bush"? LOL!!

Looking forward to the DVD & the hairy decision you'll have to make.

2:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Thaxton,

This is indeed wonderful news! I wanna be the first on my block to obtain these long-awaited discs of desire.

Thanks for the continuing fun and frolic!

So very sincerely,

Warren

3:55 PM

 
Anonymous I'm waiting ... said...

Hi Lloyd,

I can't wait. It's been 41 years since I saw The Lloyd Thaxton Show.
Bob

3:58 PM

 
Anonymous rockinradio.com said...

Lloyd,

All I can say is ITS ABOUT TIME!!!!!
Whenever, and I do mean, WHENEVER I mention your name to folks, the first sentence out of their mouths always is:
Hey, when is that guy gonna release some of his shows on video??? Swear to God that's all I hear when your name is mentioned.

CONGRATS! It should sell millions!

Musically,
Randy

4:06 PM

 
Anonymous billy strange said...

Dear Lloyd,

I think the DVD is a grand idea. I promise to buy one. (If it ever comes
out!)


INSTEAD of the BEARD .... Use the very first picture on your blog .....

BUT ..... WITH LONG DANGLY EAR RINGS!!!! That's more your style.


Love ya, Gal.

Billy

4:11 PM

 
Anonymous annabelle said...

What EXCITING news, Lloyd!! Can't wait to see all
those shows I loved watching. Congratulations on this
endeavor!

4:21 PM

 
Anonymous Anne Alogy said...

Lloyd, Baby Boomers have grown & changed since those days of yore; Why not let people see your personal growth & change?

I think your video will be fantastic.

It'll be like a great time-warp.

1:45 PM

 
Blogger Mike Barer said...

Will this be availble through Amazon? Could you rent it through Netflix?

2:21 PM

 
Blogger garyb558 said...

I heard Bobby "Boris" Pickett died on Wednesday. Uncle Lloyd, I know Bobby was on your show a time or two.....any stories that stick out in your mind about any of those times? R.I.P. Bobby.
Gary

4:22 PM

 
Blogger Screenwriter. said...

I suppose it all depends upon how you're going about presenting the DVD.

If you're going for a 'still got the gold' angle then I'd say no beard to sidle gently into the whole media circus and seem like you were never away.

Then again...

If the theme is a retrospective holiday release in the 'this is my legacy' genre which could work well commercially, then I think the beard could work in your favor.

Think about it: who is everyone's favorite guy?

Santa.

Does Santa have a beard? You betcha! Don't forget that guy's been doing his thing for ages now and we still love him!

7:26 PM

 
Blogger Omar Cruz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:12 PM

 
Anonymous The Keyboard Owl said...

Huh? What? Eh? Hello???

4:09 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Lloyd Thaxton--
I live in the wilderness of the Canadian Rockies without tv, electricity, etc., but I like playing around with my transister radio before I get up in the morning. The other day I caught the final moments of the Rawleigh James show, where a man was talking and she said it was you, Lloyd Thaxton. Wow, that woke me up!
Turn the calendar back to about 1962 or 3 or so. I was a student at Long Beach City College, also a fireman for the Union Pacific Railroad, a surfer down at Huntington Beach, and a wild rocknroll dancer.... Which is how I ended up on your show, maybe about 3 or 4 times. Practically forgot about it until that radio show--thought I still dance wild whenever I can (usually in my cabin to a casette tape--less embarassing at 63, though my kids actually like to watch my feet go....)
I left the city after getting my degree, joined up with the Blackfoot Tribe, raised my kids with their mom's culture, and with wilderness living. Wrote lots of books to support my family. You can see them on my website: goodmedicinefoundation.com
Just finished my autobiography, a new version. Version 1 was "Shadows of the Buffalo," published 25 years ago by William Morrow and Co. of New York.
If you ever have a reunion show, let me know and I'll come back down to a part of the world that I otherwise never see.
I'm in town at the moment, writing this at the home of my youngest daughter, Star. I can be reached by email (whenever I come here, 50 miles from home) at canadiancaboose@yahoo.com
All the best to you in your continuin endeavors, from a friend of long ago, Adolf Hungrywolf
p.s;. was your producer named Sam Ashe? The name just came to mind.

5:26 PM

 
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