Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Fans will certainly recognize the three talented ladies in the above picture. They are, of course, Mary Weiss, Mary Ann Ganser, and Margie Ganser; better known as the “Shangri-Las.” Who could ever forget … (sing along while I lip-sync)

“I met him at the candy store
He turned around and smiled at me
You get the picture? (yes, we see)
That's when I fell for (the leader of the pack)”

I’ll get back to the follow-up on this story right after these words from the sponsor (me).

Last night (Saturday July 29, 2006) I was a guest at the Canoga Park High School class of 1966 reunion. I don’t usually do personal appearances but this one I couldn’t resist. One, this group was having their affair at a location just ten minutes from where I live and second, of the about 100 or so who were there, almost three quarters of them actually danced and performed on the show. It was exciting to see the “kids” after 40 years. I have to say that the Baby Boomers of today sure look great. I can see why the new “middle-age” is now the 50s.

The wonderful part was that they were as glad to see me, as I was to see them. It was a reunion in a reunion.

While I was driving home from the event, I had an epiphany (I love the word “epiphany”). I suddenly realized how thrilled this Class of ’66 would have been if I had brought along a couple of their favorite artists from the show. Dynamite!

But, of course, there are a lot of hurdles. Too many of the 60s recording artists I would want to present are no longer together. The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, The Righteous Brothers, Sonny and Cher, The Birds, etc. Come to think of it though, I suppose a lot of the couples, who were high school sweethearts, are most likely not together anymore either. And, sadly, they most likely have no idea where some of their high school friends are today. It’s hard to keep in touch for forty years.

That’s why I’m always elated whenever I hear from one of my famous show guests. They were friends and one never wants to lose contact with friends.

To punctuate that statement, here is a delightful email that completely caught me by surprise:

“Dear Lloyd:

This is Mary Weiss, the original lead singer of the Shangri-Las. I just wanted to say hello. I have been hiding from the music business for many years. You are not going to believe it, but I decided to make a new CD. What a kick. I am going into the studio near the end of July – early August. It’s time to have some fun. What better than music?

I just wanted to check in and see how you are and what you are doing these days.
You always had such a great sense of humor. You always made me laugh. I have always remembered you fondly.

Best regards,


Mary Weiss, the leader of this pack, is the one in the picture with her hand on my shoulder. It appears she was laughing so hard at the time; she had to hang on to me for support. You will notice SHE is also making ME laugh. I think it was all that laughter that helped make the show a hit. As someone once said, we were in the business of making rock and roll fun.

I promise I will keep all of you Mouse Cliquers informed as to when Mary’s new CD is available. You can help give her a leg up as she begins her second career. She is a Baby Boomer just like you. And just like you, it is never too late.

But wait, as the commercial huckster on TV would say, “There’s more!” How about this comment that was posted on one of my recent blogs:

“Hey Lloyd:

I still sing lead with the Turtles and we do between thirty and sixty concerts a year. The first TV show that we ever did was yours and believe me, we were and still are the students. You were the best teacher I ever had and I truly believe that you were in large part responsible for the sense of humor that has kept me going in this business, lo these forty-odd years.

Howard Kaylan-The Turtles”

Well, you heard it here folks. The Turtles are still out there doing concerts.

Why am I bringing all this up? What would you think about getting it all together for all the middle-agers out there? We present your favorite groups or whoever is still left and do a big concert. It would be held in Monterey, California and then we could call it “The Baby Monterey Boomer Festival?” Then it goes on the road.

It is said that if you build it, they will come. If someone were able to build this baby, would you come?

Let me know by posting a comment on this blog … and …

Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


In the book “Stuff Happens – And Then You Fix It” there’s a story about a man in a friendly conversation who was going on and on and on talking only about himself. Realizing this, he suddenly stops. “Golly,” he says. “There I go. Everything is about ME, ME, ME. Why don’t we change the subject and talk about YOU for a change? (short pause) What do YOU think of ME?”

I feel that way sometimes when I read my own material. It is always about me. So I am going to change the subject, at least for this blog, and talk about something else. Stay with me. After I tell you my idea, I will go back to talking about me, me, and me.

In today’s LA Times (Sunday July 23, 2006) there was an article with graphics showing how obesity is not only one of the most unhealthy trends in America, obesity is causing major product adjustments in order to accommodate this “growing” trend. Notice I do not use the word “fat.” “Fat” is wrong. Obese (with a fat looking “O”) is PC (Politically Correct).

It seems that because of these “Os” a whole new industry is being created out there in consumer land. According to the article, children’s car seats aren’t big enough anymore. A new “Husky” seat is being introduced. Oversize chairs (without arms) are now on the market. And, if that isn’t enough, coffins aren’t big enough anymore. That’s right; COFFINS ARE NOT BIG ENOUGH ANYMORE! New models are being introduced that are not only 4 inches wider; THEY ARE STEEL REINFORCED! - Solid proof that the burial industry is thinking way down deep. And, why not? They have always been the last people to let you down (Hello! The last people to let you down?).

Recently I have been pondering this huge American dilemma with the hope of coming up with a solution. If one can do this, there has to be a lot of money in it. When I was growing up in Toledo a “fat cat” was a person with a lot of money. Well, I have an idea that will make me a “fat cat” while everyone else becomes a “lean machine.”

The idea hit me this morning while I was looking through the cupboard for my cereal box. Way in the back I noticed four unopened boxes. When I pulled them out, I discovered they were the Girl Scout cookies I had ordered months ago. Thin Mint, Café Cookie, Lemon Coolers, and DoSiDos, a crisp and crunchy oatmeal cookie with creamy peanut butter filling. Yum! Yum!

I immediately conjured up those three smiling little girls sitting together at a little table in front of the local supermarket taking cookie orders. The goal? Raising needed funds for their local Scout troupe. It occurred to me, with all the one-size-fits-all problems in America, we shouldn’t be turning 10-year-old girls into street corner sugar dealers.

However, Girl Scout Cookie sales is such a tradition, such a warm and wonderful part of Americana, we can’t stop it without a viable, workable, philanthropic money making enterprise to take its place.

And that is what I did friends. I, me, me, and me, came up with the most brilliant idea of all time.

In the movie “The Graduate,” the character played by Dustin Hoffman was told by his father’s friend, “I got a tip for your future. One word. ‘Plastic!’” What a great tip. At the time, plastic WAS the future. Everyone who took this person’s advice got insanely rich.

So listen closely. Here is my tip for all of you. Three words:

“Girl Scout Salads.”

Is that brilliant or what?


Imagine this. Those three little Girl Scouts sitting at that same little table in front of that same supermarket. Their Mothers all standing behind them giving motherly advice. Instead of boxes filled with cookies, they have various types of packaged lettuce along with salad dressings of all kinds. All of this could even be packaged to look like cookies. Maybe they could have a lite salad dressing that tasted like cookies. Small detail. I’m sure that Paul Newman could come up with something.

I even have a slogan: “Lettuce all lose a little weight. Buy Girl Scout Salads”

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to get right on it. Prediction? Six months from now, I am going to be one “Fat Cat.”

But, I digress.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


One of the great pleasures of life is when someone comes up to you and remembers something you did that made a big impression on their lives. Especially when that person does it 40 years later. You might find this hard to believe, but that sort of thing happens to me quite often. Out of the blue someone will step up and thrust out their hand. I automatically thrust out my hand for a good ol’ handshake. However, in a “take-a-hike” sort of movement, they raise their hand to reveal fingers painted to look like people and burst into song.

If you were not a fan of the show you most likely have no idea what I am talking about. Fortunately in this latest incident, I have a picture to show what I mean. To explain as briefly as possible, one of the many innovations for presenting records on TV was the use of the Thaxton created “Finger People.” They were responsible for presenting hundreds of hits on The Lloyd Thaxton Show.

Well, it happened again just a couple of days ago. Check the date in the upper right hand corner of the picture. 7/14/06. This is 40 years after I presented the Finger People doing Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons singing their big hit “Sherry.” On this date (documented above, mind you) West Hollywood jeweler R. Zach Wagner was the star. The venue was a hair salon next door to his shop. The whole presentation was in cahoots with hair stylist, Jimi, who was cutting my hair at the time, and long time friends Eileen and Charles Olsen, who also have a jewelry shop in the area. On cue, Zach jumped in the room, said hello, and then did the famous hand thrust. Up popped his painted hands (shown in the picture) for a chorus of “Sherry, Sherry baby. Won’t you come out tonight?”

I loved it; every silly moment.

The next day, still reveling in this delight, I had an epiphany. I’m famous, I said to myself (actually I said it out loud). “I AM REALLY FAMOUS.”

Think about it. Thomas Edison is famous for giving people the light bulb. Alexander Graham Bell is famous for giving people the telephone. Lloyd Thaxton is famous for giving people the finger.

Life is good.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


I saw an ad the other day for the new “Smart” car. It reminded me that I had a life BEFORE I became “Lloyd Thaxton.”

My Hollywood career actually began pitching used cars on TV. The above picture might have been me doing one of my commercials …

“This car has been designed as the car of the future with many "smart" features that address today's crowded urban traffic and rising energy prices. Don't be fooled by its charming, futuristic look, the SMART will surprise you with its handling, its stylish, roomy interior for 2 passengers, and its innovative design.”

Actually, this advertising copy is not a 1957 TV commercial. It is from a recent press release for the brand new 2006 “Smart Car.”

The picture was actually taken in 1957 and shows me as the proud owner of my very own brand new 1957 BMW Isetta. Proof that I was truly a very “smart” person, way ahead of his time.

1957 was also the year I arrived in LA. After seven years, I had quit my announcing job at hometown TV station WSPD in Toledo, Ohio, packed up my 1957 Oldsmobile with all my possessions, including a wife and three kids, joined a contingent of millions of other Horace Greeley young men before me, and went west..

“Oh I'm packin' my grip and I'm leavin' today,
cause I'm taking a trip California way
I'm gonna settle down and never more roam,
and make the San Fernando Valley my home.”

Before I left Toledo I had devised my own unique job search criteria. My plan was to not ever think of myself as being unemployed. There is a job classification called “Head Hunter.” These are people who search for other people to head companies, i.e., CEOs, managers, etc. Taking the lead from that, I designated myself as a “Job Hunter.” My job would be “to find a job.”

Once in California, I got up each morning, put on my skinny suit and tie, had breakfast, kissed the wife and kiddies goodbye, and headed for Hollywood. At the time, there was only one Freeway to Hollywood and it ended right at the Hollywood city line. So, the trek was 15 miles of city streets each way. But, hey, I had a job to go to.

My office was a bank of pay phones adjacent to the lavatories in the basement lobby of a hotel next door to the Broadway Department Store on the corner of Hollywood & Vine. Couldn’t be a more “Hollywood” office than that. With a pocket full of nickels (Nickels?), I spent the day calling various advertising agencies, radio and TV stations and the production offices of the big three networks. My goal was to set up appointments and give my job pitch.

What has all this got to do with the smart-looking car in the picture? Well, I had to consider this about my “Job Hunter” job. It paid NOTHING. And, though gas was only about 28 cents a gallon in 1957, my Oldsmobile was the Hummer of its time regarding gas consumption. I knew that, just like today, the price of gasoline could be my Achilles’ heel.

That is when I saw the ad for the BMW Isetta. “50 miles to the gallon” it touted. That meant I could go more than five times as far as with my faithful Olds guzzler. I became the first person in my neighborhood (possibly in the entire Valley) to own the car of the future.

Every morning I opened the front door of my house and entered the front door of my car (yes, the Isetta did have a front door) and headed for my “office.”

I loved that car. It not only saved me a bundle in travel expenses, it was responsible for my first laughs from California audiences - my neighbors and my fellow commuters on the Hollywood Freeway.

Speaking of that, the top speed of the Isetta created a slight problem. The Freeway speed limit was 60 mph. The Isetta speed limit was also 60mph. Most cars companies like to advertise their “0 to 60 in 15 seconds” statistics. With the Isetta it was “0 to 60 in 15 MINUTES.

Here’s my worse case scenario: There was this one stretch of the Hollywood Freeway that I would always dread. It had about a one-mile long 30-degree dip that went back up a 30-degree incline before it leveled off again. In order to keep up with the traffic, I had to really push it to the limit on the downward dip in order to keep it going with the traffic on the up-hill climb. Going home one evening I pushed it up to about 70 mph going down hill. “Woweeeeeeee,” I yelled as the little Isetta’s engine screamed and the car’s skin buffeted like the space shuttle re-entering earth’s atmosphere.

And then all hell broke. In the middle of all this shattering cacophony of sound and fury, an eerily loud and very ominous bang was heard somewhere in the subterranean bowels of my noble craft after which everything suddenly grew quiet as a cemetery. I coasted to the sidelines in disgrace.

A quick inspection revealed that the transmission had been blown completely out of the bottom of the car and nuts, bolts and gears were all laid out neatly behind. Even though I can laugh today every time I think of it, it was quite humiliating at the time to sit there and watch the rest of the world go by in their supped up gas guzzlers.

But, there’s the happy ending to this story. The last laugh, you might say. My tiny car’s equally tiny transmission cost me just 59 dollars and change (paid for and installed) and I was on the road again. Proof that everything in life is relative.

Besides, my “job hunting” job paid off and I ended up doing car commercials for the next year (for pretty good money). I continued using my little smart looking car until I had put aside enough funds to purchase a brand new all-white Ford Thunderbird Convertible with white and red leather seats (I did mention “pretty good money,” didn’t I?).

I have to think that it was my love for my little Isetta that made me so convincing and successful at selling cars on TV. So good, as a matter of fact, that I was later able to sell myself as a TV dance show host.

There is a line in Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks’s famous “2000-Year Old Man” routine. Mel, as the old man, is asked what his job was 2000 years ago. His answer, “Hitting a tree with a stick.” “Hitting a tree with a stick? What kind of a job is that?” asks Carl Reiner. “Hey! 2000 years ago, hitting a tree with a stick was a good job.”

50 years ago, “Job Hunting” was a good job; especially if you happen to have had a smart little car like mine.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


A fan asked me some time ago why I grew a beard. If you are interested in my reasons, stay with me. If not, I will understand. I will understand that you are a person with absolutely no curiosity. Actually you could ask Al Gore the same question and you would most likely get the same answer as mine: to change the perception of who I am.

After being in front of the TV cameras for over 25 years (1950-1976), I made a big decision. I would no longer perform on camera and, instead, concentrate on producing and directing. Having written and produced all the shows I was on, it wasn’t too big a leap.

This, of course, was years after the Lloyd Thaxton Show ended. Up to just lately, I have been blaming the demise of the Lloyd Thaxton Show on The Vietnam War. Actually it was the fact that in the late 60s the Vietnam War caused music to take a devastating turn. A new element, “DRUGS,” as in, “Sex, DRUGS and Rock & Roll” was the culprit. Everyone in music but me was changing. One critic of my show wrote that by 1967, “the ‘Lloyd Thaxton Show’ was starting to look like ‘The Lawrence Welk Show.’” It was a cruel but very astute observation.

A one and a two and a …

It was stuff like this that guided my own decision to scuttle the LT show and make some changes in my career. I tried hosting games shows for a few years but found little satisfaction. Compared to the Lloyd Thaxton Show, it was an easy gig. But I missed being my own boss and not being in complete control of my on-camera persona. I decided to break the mold and go behind the camera.

The problem was that no matter what I did, I was still “LLOYD THAXTON!” Everyone only saw me as that bizarre nut who stuck his lips through cutout album covers and synced Sammy Davis records. I was given the impression they were afraid I might have the “Finger People” do the directing (not a bad idea).

I decided I didn’t want to be Lloyd Thaxton anymore. I had to think about how I could do this. Then it hit me. Nobody hires an on-air personality who has a beard. Right? Ever see a game show host with a beard? Ever see a news anchor with a beard? Well, there is that one exception to the rule, Wolf Blitzer, but he can get away with it. His first name is “WOLF!” And his last name is close enough to one of Santa’s reindeers that he could grow antlers and get on TV.

That’s why I grew a beard. So no one could ever recognize me. And besides, beards tend to make you look more intelligent.

And, it worked. In 1976, with beard in full bloom, I was hired to produce and direct a local show on KNBC Los Angeles titled “California Byline” with David Horowitz. What was wonderful about this is that David (who bought the beard routine right off), and KNBC (who saw the wisdom inherent in bearded people) gave me full autonomy to do what I wished with the show. I was my own boss again. It was the combination of the wisdom of the beard combined with a little “Identity Fraud” that did the trick. They never knew who I really was.

This was a good decision. I adding my own uncontrolled zaniness to David’s carefully controlled consumer expertise and it wasn’t too long before we changed the name from “California Byline” to “Consumer Byline,” and then finally to “Fight Back! With David Horowitz” (produced and directed by Lloyd Thaxton). And, like The Lloyd Thaxton Show” before, which also started as a local show, “Fight Back” went on to become a number one nationally syndicated show. I stayed “with it” for 18 years and it was one of the most satisfying experiences of my career.

I owe it all to “The Beard.”

I was asked not too long ago to host a TV pilot. However to do so, I was told I would have to shave off my beard (they referred to it as “facial hair.” Ugh!). I passed. I have grown too fond of my “facial hair” to abandon it.

Suggestion: As you read my future blogs, think of me with my beard. You’ll be amazed at how much more intelligent my writing becomes.

Stay tuned*

*Have you figured out by now what my blog sign-off “Stay tuned” means? Though most of you would associate this with staying tuned to a particular radio or TV show (or blog) that is not it. I say, “Stay tuned” as you would expect a fine sounding piano or guitar to be. Life is too sweet for you to ever get out of tune.