FROM 0 TO 80 IN 30
It all started a couple of months ago when I was asked to speak at LA’s downtown Jonathan Club, a very old and prestigious men and women’s social club.
When my wife, Barbara, told her aunt my speech was titled, “The Life Of Lloyd Thaxton," her aunt said, “I hate to be blunt, but what’s so astounding about the life of Lloyd Thaxton?”
Blunt? Yes! But, a very good question.
I considered the invitation quite an honor, especially after I read the list of former speakers which included Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Richard Nixon. Wow! That previous list does make my life seem somewhat less than “astounding.”
I looked up some pictures of these great men just to see how I would compare. This painting of President Clinton was quite intimidating. He looked so … Presidential.
The picture of a young President Nixon shows a man of great … eh … potential. Oh, what stories he must have told.
I was beginning to get a little nervous. Do the words “So What” strike a familiar note?
You see, I had never really done a formal speech before. You know, like, sitting at a head table, being formally introduced, standing up, and walking to the dais to face some of LA’s top business executive men and women. The topic, “The Life Of Lloyd Thaxton” was their choice. What could they possibly be expecting?
I finally looked at a picture of Ronald Reagan. He, like me, was in show business, but he still managed to look presidential. Especially with that American flag draped all around him.
No way. I'll never be able to pull this off. Then I looked again at Reagan.
Fade to a few days before this momentous event. While sitting around during a break in the editing of my DVD at Research Video (CLICK HERE FOR THEIR WEBSITE), One of the younger editors asked me if I had ever done TV in the 50s. That question started an hour of Thaxton story telling. I discovered that I had experienced a lot of fascinating and funny behind-the-scenes stuff that was totally unknown to the majority of TV audiences.
It was on the way home that I had an epiphany. I realized that that little editing room bull session WAS my life and the telling of those stories was my speech. I was now ready to trot.
Being a breakfast affair, most of the club members had day jobs to go to, so they gave me thirty minutes.
I re-titled my speech: “The Life Of Lloyd Thaxton: 0 to 80 in 30 minutes.”
I really can’t prove whether or not the speech was a success, however last week I was invited to speak again. This time it was to a full house at the LA Rotary Club (LA5) lunch (can a dinner be far behind?). It was there that I realized most of the members of both clubs fell into the 49 to 60 year old category, which just so happens to be the average age of the Lloyd Thaxton Show fan base. They were highly successful men and women who unselfishly spent a lot of their time working with many different charity organizations. Yet, they all seemed so young and vital and refused to “act their age.” I am beginning to love my new career.
I don’t know whose quote this is, but it surely is a good one: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” I ask myself this question almost every day. It’s what helps keep me “Old Fogy” proof . I think it was at the Berlin Wall that President Reagan said "Ich Bin Ein Fogy"(but, don't quote me).
Along that vein, I recently received this email and picture from Larry Tamblyn of The Standells.
“Well, the reviews are in: The general consensus is that the Standell’s accapella rendition of the national anthem (in four part harmony), performed at Game 1 of the American League playoffs, was pretty damn good for a bunch of old rock & rollers.
"From left to right are all of the original Standells, Gary Lane, Dick Dodd, Tony Valentino, and me. The anthem came complete with a well-timed flyover by four F-16's, followed immediately by a performance of Dirty Water. Aside from performing before a wild crowd of 36,000, one of the biggest thrills was meeting the four pilots afterward (along with many pilots who just returned from active duty in Iraq). One of them looked young enough to be my grandson!”
The Standells were guests on The Lloyd Thaxton Show 45 years ago and here they are still bringing audiences to their feet.
I wonder how old these guys would be if they didn’t know how old they were?