Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hollywood's Golden Age of Television

This is an entry I wrote in November, 2009 as part of a Round Robin letter. I thought I would share it here. 

Today I’m “goin’ Hollywood.” No, not literally, but you can’t live in the film capitol of the world for 36 years and not be influenced by it to some degree. Watching old episodes of “I Love Lucy” recently has made me feel very nostalgic for the golden years.

I Love Lucy was the first adult TV program I remember watching when I was only 3 years old. We lived on Kentucky street in Joplin, MO in an upstairs apt. ~ just mom, dad and me. It would be 2 more years before my sister Ellen would join us. I had a little brown rocker that I used to sit in when I watched television and I can remember my favorite shows being Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo and I Love Lucy. :)

In a few short years, my favorite TV programs (in addition to Lucy) would be Andy Griffith and Dick Van Dyke. Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, I little dreamed that one day I would not only live in Los Angeles where these shows were taped, but would also on a regular basis be driving by the studio where they were filmed! My route to church every Sunday and during mid-week takes me on Cahuenga Blvd., right in front of the former home of Desilu Studios. Since 1974, the studio has been known as Ren-Mar and has been home to such shows as the Golden Girls and Seinfeld, among others. It’s a very strange feeling to drive by this “laugh factory” and think about all the great comedies that have been made there and that have brought such pleasure to so many people through the years. I sometimes imagine I can hear the laughter echoing across the sound stages, drifting past the guard at the front gate and passing down Cahuenga Blvd. There’s a sad sound to it of days long gone, but not for long ~ after all, I can always pop one of my Lucy, Andy or Dick Van Dyke DVDs into the player and relive them all over again.

I’ve met several interesting people in years past who have connections to Hollywood. The first one who comes to mind is Linda Wilson. I met her through our prayerline ~ she lived in Raleigh, NC and was a news anchor at a local station there. She came to L.A. for a brief time to work on a Billy Graham movie. She’d had experience as a producer and was working as an assistant on the film. I didn’t get to meet her in person then, but she later moved here and began attending my church. She would tell me of projects she had going, always trying to get a foot in the door but never quite making it. You see, being in her mid-40’s at the time, she was past the age Hollywood deemed acceptable for a woman to be of any importance in the industry. She later wrote for a couple of women’s magazines and did other assorted projects, but after a few years she and her husband moved to Ohio to assist family members who were going through some difficult times.

I met Rita in a prayer circle a couple of years ago. She was a costume designer who was out of work. I asked her a few questions about her job which she readily answered. I thought how glamorous it must be to have such an exciting career ~ on the downside, I’m sure it’s lots of hard work and having to be under constant deadlines would be major stress ~ but still, all I can envision is MGM, musicals and all those fabulous costumes!!

Well, I am going to put this topic to rest now and move on. After all, I don’t want to run a good thing into the ground! Let me leave you with this old photograph I came across on an Internet site showing fans lined up waiting to watch a live taping of the I Love Lucy show. I wonder which classic episode they were going to see filmed and if they had even an inkling that what they were about to view would one day become television history? I had to smile when I saw the older ladies’ shoes. I had flashbacks of my grandmother wearing those same shoes during the 1950’s. :)

Fans line up along Romaine Street to attend a
filming of "I Love Lucy."