Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Thursday, May 29, 2008



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 -

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.


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.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Seeing the picture of Barry Bonds wax body in the LA Times being removed from a San Francisco wax museum, I just had to visit my Hollywood Heads of Fame suggestion one more time. HHF was my idea of how to use the discarded heads of celebrities once they were removed from their bodies and stored on wax museum’ shelves.

Several years ago while shooting a story for a Fight Back! with David Horowitz story for NBC, our crew happened to be in front of the Hollywood Wax Museum. One of my producers went inside to ask if they still had my figure that was formerly displayed in the museum in the 60s. It seems they didn’t have the whole figure, but, like all discarded celebrities (discarded? Ugh), they had my head stored in a special room.

My HHF idea was to take all discarded heads and put them on lampposts along Hollywood Blvd. and call it the Hollywood Heads of Fame. Good idea? Well, so far no one from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has called.

However, how can they ignore this? Barry Bonds, baseball's all-time home-run king with 762 swats, has joined the ranks of the headless and his head is being put away forever to sit on a shelf basking in has-been celebritydom (sic); allegations of steroid use and perjury still hanging over his head.

In the 70s, I created along with Shelly Saltman, a TV sports game show called Pro-Fan. Each program featured a top sports pro as a teammate to a sports fan. Over the run of the show we had dozens of the top pros of the game. I got to know these guys and gals and I can tell you that stress is their main complaint. Trying to stay on top of the game. Some were taking pain pills or some other prescription drug for game ending pain all the time. Wouldn’t that pass as some kind of enhancement over the pros not taking any drugs at all? One thing that impressed me the most was the fact that all of the pros I met had great attitudes and loved their fans.

Then, there was Babe Ruth. His home run record was surpassed years ago but he remains the #1 icon for home run hitting. Why? Didn’t he also take a few enhanced drugs now and then? His choice might have been alcohol, but a drug none the less. His main attribute? The Babe was a jolly fellow. He always had a smile for his fans.

Alas, there belies Barry Bonds. Ever see Barry Bonds point to left field (or was it right field) and hit a homerun for the Gipper (different story?). Babe Ruth was a drinker. Barry Bonds was a doper. He was also a smart ass. He used a different finger when he pointed at right field. So, “off with his head!”

What do I think. I think we should never forget his record. He did it. Even though he had to become the incredible hulk each time he smacked a ball into bleacher heaven, he did it. You can’t just take it away by cutting off his head.

Bottom Line: I elect Barry Bonds to be part of the Lloyd Thaxton Hollywood Heads of Fame.

What do you think?

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Wonder what the picture above has to do with obits? Well, “stay tuned.”

I apologize for becoming such a procrastinator as far as my blog is concerned. The fault lies with deadlines. Or, more correct, the lack of deadlines. When a person works full time, deadlines are what drives us. As for me, I used to have to have a TV show ready (or not) to go at a the will of the clock on the wall. This “deadline” does not exist when you are writing a blog (You can write anytime you like, or not at all, if you like). You can let a blog just sit there and no one cancels your show. Although, it really makes for a dull clique.

The picture was taken about 30 years ago when Barbara and I were on vacation in one of the most beautiful spots in the world, Bora Bora. It was like I was on my own deserted island in the south pacific. Glorious! If you could back up a bit, you would be able to see Barbara taking the picture.

But, even then the deadline loomed. In two weeks, Barbara and I would be heading back to the real world of deadlines and our Marlon Brando experience would be a thing of the past. But I will always have this picture.

I was 50 years old and looked great. Advice: when you know you are lookin’ good, make sure someone is around to take your picture so you can not only seize the day, but hold on to the moment.

Have you noticed that deadline has the word “dead” in it? Also, it draws a line that signifies, “Stop, you have reached the end.” Time has run out.

In 2003, I wrote the book “Stuff Happens” with my dear friend, John Alston. Every now and then I take my own dog-eared copy out and review what one is expected to do when stuff happens. I first review the motto of the book? “It isn’t what happens to you that is important, it is how you respond to what happens. And, how you respond depends on how you live your life.” Words to face deadlines with.

Here’s an exercise for you:

Go to a cemetery (in the daytime please and skip the dead cat). Note that on the gravestones they have a name and a couple of dates. For example “Charles Swindoll, 1840-1932” and between those two dates there’s that tiny little dash. That dash (-) is supposed to represent Charles Swindle’s entire life. 92 years. What a put-down. That infinitesimal dash says nothing about the people he helped and nurtured. It says nothing about the children Mr. Swindoll might have raised or sired. It tells nothing about how he lived his life; the kind of person he was. Here’s the big question:


That brings me to the subject of this blog, “Deadlines.” Do you read the obituaries in the paper? Of course you do. Obits are interesting and sometimes very enlightening to read. What some people have accomplished in their lives is fascinating copy. Don’t you find it kind of sad when you read a tiny little obit about someone? That’s telling you that this person’s “dash” meant so little no one wrote anything down.

Don’t let this happen to you. How you ask? Easy. We call it


Yes, that’s right. You write your own obituary. NOW!

Come on. This is going to be fun. Take out a piece of paper and start right now. Gruesome? No way. This is life we’re talking about here. Not death (however there is a deadline of sorts). Start out by listing the people you love and who love you. Note the accomplishments you’ve made in your life no matter how small. Married? Raised kids? Job’s you’ve held. Charities you’ve worked on. Anything. Do you consider yourself a good person, a kind person? Write it down. If you feel your list is too short, add the things you want to accomplish in the rest of your life. Write it as if you have already done it. That’s OK. That is if you start doing it. If you want your dash to mean something, you have to start now. Then all during your life, take out your Do-It-Yourself-Obit and check how you are doing. Got the idea?

Start it now. Today. This minute. Do it whether you are young or old. What you are doing is writing about what you wish to be, and than doing it so it will become the true you. What you want your life to be, and then “living” that life. You are just filling in your “dash.” It’s in the book!

Had I done this earlier, I would have written stuff like. “Lloyd always wanted to go to Bora Bora and he did. I would have written that he (me) was asked to be a guest host on The Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson. Now, don’t laugh. That one really come true. I never was a guest host, but, I was ASKED.

Would you believe that I never saw this telegram? I found it years later in my agents file, unanswered. Am I kidding you? No. Stuff happens.

Now, writing you own obituary mean you must pick out the picture to go with it. Pick it now or someone might use your driver’s license picture, or your latest mug shot. Another exercise for you (no pun intended). Work on keeping yourself in the same shape as your picture. And work to stay as happy as you look in the picture for the rest of your life. Pictures don’t lie.

I’m just starting my own Do-It-Yourself Obit. OK, so I don’t practice what I preach. You can help me. I’m working on a very funny, but life long obit which will include a lot yet to happen in the future. I need your input.

First help me pick the picture. I will then write my obit in a future blog and just like the Wikipedia, you can make any changes you like. YOU CAN CHANGE MY FUTURE. You just might make me a better person.

Pick the picture you like and tell me why you picked it.

I like this one because, it is the most recent picture. It is from a clip of a new soon-to-be- released surfing documentary by film maker Tom Duncan.

This was taken for the back cover of Stuff Happens in 2003. I like it because it is kind of rakish. The photographer was Tama Rothchild.

This is the thumb of former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn doing an impression of me. My favorite, but for an Obit? You be the judge.

Hey, what are blogs for?

Incidentally, there is a deadline for this.

Stay tuned