Rite of Passage Sixteen –A Little Larger Than Life–
1960 I am twenty-six years old
Q. Do you think that you were helped by having to do a job in very humble circumstances?
To be on television nowadays is still a relatively exceptional experience that almost borders on being well known enough to be…famous, or at least not exactly humble?
My arrival on National Television in New Zealand was on Prime Time between Peyton Place and the Avengers and I appeared twelve times in one year.
Perhaps not, for a whole host of reasons! First of all there was no daytime television. The signal came on at 6pm and went off at 10pm…the number of sets in use was quite small.
I was rewarded for my efforts with the one time ‘talent fee’ of $25NZ (about $25 US in 1960) and this covered the food costs.
I had no ‘back kitchen’ or assistance. I shopped, prepped, and set out my ingredients and washed up after the show…in the men’s room sink!
Nothing about the experience led me to think of myself as somehow ‘famous’ or deserving of attention…well, perhaps in my own eyes…just a little?
It was enough for me to glance at passers by in the street to see if I was recognized.
I wasn’t, except by those who judged that first year’s content and awarded the brand new ‘Penguin’ (New Zealand’s Emmy Award). I was given the ‘Personality of the Year Penguin’ in 1961. I thought I might buy sunglasses or practice avoiding eye contact…but, both were unnecessary and I remained in my unknown…celebrity?
So…what about now?
I’m now back where I started –somewhat encouraged when I’m recognized because at this date I’m much more concerned with serving than being seen.
From my first show until now is a span of fifty-six years during which I have made 1,800 separate television ‘episodes’ and I can look back on each of these and observe one common desire…that someone, somewhere would be watching and that somehow the numbers would keep growing…they did!
Those days of very humble beginnings were wonderful because each measure of recognition was so amazingly fresh and I was much more than grateful because it was such a surprise. Everything about my life in those days was ‘humble’ because I was so unproven, especially to myself.
Now here I am today being surprised and grateful all over again as I blog about my life on this website. I know that I am amid one billion other websites being ‘surfed’ by three billion people. Simple division gives me an audience of three and I know that I have more visitors than that…so, in these ‘humble’ circumstances I am, once again, a grateful man in this, for me, unproven media opportunity.
Are you starting out in an unproven media opportunity…how does it feel to you as someone ‘out there’ gives you the ultimate blessing of…person-to-person attention?
This week I read Treena’s poem The Vase