To illustrate: My father, since at that time he was on television, would spend a good part of Saturday, lying in the backyard in a chaise lounge chair in his swimsuit, tanning. His excuse: He didn't like wearing the thick foundation make up that television required in those days. That could have been true. In any case, when he was tanning (with his little transistor radio next to his head) the kids were not allowed to bother him. Tanning time was sacred. On the off chance that one of us would get hurt playing in the neighborhood, we knew to avoid the browning giant otherwise we'd feel the wrath. We never went camping, or fishing, or to a sporting event. He generally disliked the popular New Orleans offerings: The Saints and Dixieland Jazz Music and he insured that his children (well, two out of the three) would not sound like New Orleaneans, much less "West Bankers!"
On the other hand, my father LOVED movies and for the most part, we went to a LOT of movies as kids. True, we had to suffer through some events like the re-release of GONE WITH THE WIND (which, when you are a kid, is pretty boring stuff except when the guy gets his leg sawed off), but we did see James Bond movies, and The Beatles HARD DAYS NIGHT & HELP, and Disney cartoons and live action movies, and horror and science fiction movies whenever they would open. See, my Dad, because he was a critic, NEVER PAID FOR MOTION PICTURES! For him they were free so he had no problem distracting his kids by taking us to the movies.
|My father, modeling a male wig for an advertising campaign.|
For us, the film started with a guy covered in gold, then there were the credits, then we'd sit for 10 minutes goofing around, and then the film would start over and we'd learn the events that would lead up to the guy getting covered in gold. Sometimes, Dad would pop in about 10 minutes BEFORE the film had progressed to the point at which we had come in and we'd have to beg him to sit down so our curiosities could be satisfied.
One of Dad's regular distractions for birthdays was THE COLISEUM theater on well, Coliseum street on the East Bank just outside of New Orleans proper toward the Garden District. The Coliseum was an old second-run (more like third or forth run) movie house that primarily showed Horror and Science Fiction Films. And since Dad didn't have to pay to get in...he would take my brother or myself and as many kids that could fit in our car and drop us off to see films like DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, or THE TOMB OF LIGEIA, or one of our personal favorites THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM.
|The Coliseum Theater in New Orleans. Probably isn't even there anymore...|
For those of you in your twenties, the "Old Fogie" has to remind you: There were no home computers, or the Internet. If you wanted information, the Public Library was your best option and that was limited. My father kept this cabinet for decades, adding photos from the Press Books he received.
Not only that, but he worked for the NBC affiliate so, one day he brought home three, matted, color, publicity photos of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy from STAR TREK and gave them to my brother (I believe he still owns them). I recall seeing these photos which were much larger and clearer than any photos I had ever seen and I noticed two things (yes, even as a kid): There were faint lines running down the midpoint of Mr. Spock's ears, and what was that netting on William Shatner's forehead? When I asked my father what that was, without hesitation he responded, "William Shatner wears a hairpiece."
What?! I thought. Captain Kirk is BALD??? It was one of the first lessons that my father would teach me about the illusion of Motion Pictures over the years. I don't think he was trying to take away from the experience, but I do think that he wanted his kids to know that HE knew (or thought he knew) how motion pictures were made (and boy! Did I find out later how wrong HE was!).
I would be remiss to mention this about my father and it is important to my development as a person and as an artist. He had a temper. Not only did he have a temper, he didn't know how to express it any other way than screaming and striking. It didn't take much to amp up Dad and have him go on a tirade that would end up with one of us kids getting slapped or having our hair yanked. Sometimes at the dinner table he would scream so loud and talk so fast he would BITE HIS TONGUE and have to leave the table with blood seeping between his lips. I'm sure he thought he had his reasons, but it didn't make it any easier growing up in that house.
All of this leads up to the one, important thing living with Dad did provide: He had a make up kit. No fooling. My father had a theatrical make up kit that contained grease paints, some crepe wool, spirit gum, a little nose putty and, of all things, blue liquid body make up (don't ask, I never did). I wasn't supposed to get into it, but every now and then, I would open the little bottle of collodion and paint a line across my cheek and watch it form a "healed scar" as it dried. This was my first foray into Make Up Effects.
If you haven't read my Facebook Note about the Christmas practical joke I played on my father, here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150118766582586