Easter Sunday this year as I was channel surfing TV, I happened to catch a 1948 flick, “Easter Parade”, a Fred Astaire – Judy Garland all-time hit. Watching one scene in particular, that of Jules Munshin preparing an imaginary salad for Garland and Peter Lawford took me back to Christmas vacation of 1947 when two of my college roommates and I witnessed the scene being shot at a studio on the MGM lot.
The back story on how three university types were admitted to the studio goes back to one Brother David, a missionary at the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation at Nixon.
Brother David, whose real name was Gareth Hughes, had been a silent film movie star before he assumed the trappings of the cloth. I first met him when I enrolled for an English Lit. course at the university and was surprised to see him as the instructor in the classroom.
English was my minor and journalism my major and the two complemented each other. So much so, that when I had a J-school assignment to write the obituary of a famous person I immediately thought of Brother David.
When I first approached him with the idea, he immediately invited me out to Nixon for a weekend interview session. Once there, he produced a number of his Hollywood scrapbooks some of which showed his name on theater marquees on which his name was above John Barrymore.
When I asked him why he left Hollywood when sound was about to take over and he possessed a mellifluous Shakespearean voice, he replied that he had to get away from the craziness of Hollywood and felt that he should do something more meaningful with his life.
All in all, the interview went well and was culminated in a couple of weekend sessions. After that, my roommate and I would often drive out on a Saturday or Sunday where Gareth would entertain us with rare Hollywood stories while supplying a little adult liquid refreshment.
At one of these sessions I happened to mention that following graduation I would like to take a shot at being a Hollywood writer. He said that if I wanted he would contact a gentleman at MGM, Howard Strickling, who had been his publicity man and was now in charge of public relations for the studio.
On a subsequent visit he informed me that Strickling could get us on the lot for an interview and possibly watch a film being shot. We informed Gareth that we would be going to LA for the Christmas break courtesy of one of our roommate’s families who lived in Los Angeles. Gareth said he would phone Strickling and get us a date for us to visit the studio at any time. A week later he informed me that the deal had been set up and he gave me the date and the time to visit MGM.
The interview with Strickling went well and we were then escorted to the soundstage to watch the filming of the “Easter Parade” segment.
NBA PLAYOFFS. Like most round ball aficionados, I have been watching the NBA playoffs for as many games as I can find on TV. Having been involved with basketball for some 40 years as a player, coach, referee and city league commissioner I have had the opportunity to participate in and watch thousands of games. From the earliest days of BB to the present transmogrification of the sport, basketball has developed into a full contact sport with which the referees do not seem to be able to cope.
A few examples of what has gone on during the playoffs include a player being tackled by a defender and the defender given the ball out of bounds because the opponent was charged with traveling. Another was an offensive player using the basketball to hit his opponent in the chin knocking him to the ground and the defender being charged with a foul. Probably the most hilarious one occurred when two players, one on each side, seemed to be having an innocent chat while moving down the court and each were given a foul by the dimwitted referee.
Perhaps the most egregious conduct on the court that is never whistled is the practice of allowing the defender to grab, hold and push his opponent with no fear of retaliation.