UPI/NBC NEWS HOLLYWOOD
Side splitting hilarious is the 1971 teen fanzine “Spec” which must be short for spectator. My friend Babs gave me this rag and it brought back memories of my very short stay at the UPI Hollywood International Bureau in 1963 in the Los Angeles Mirror Building.
UPI frankly didn’t know what to do with me so they shuffled me off to the Hollywood desk where I worked with a young woman who was a student in broadcasting at USC. One of her instructors was John Thompson who she referred me to and that bit of kindness landed me a job as a go-for editorial assistant at NBC News where Thompson was news director. (He was later fired for some improprieties; the details escape me.)
Working on the Hollywood desk got me out of firing range of Vernon Scott’s paper torpedoes. REMEMBERING UPI’s VERNON SCOTT
Paul Scorvino portrays United Press International Hollywood reporter Vernon Scott in 1964 in the Warren Beatty movie “Rules Don’t Apply.” I worked with Scott at UPI in the Los Angeles Times Building on Spring Street in the summer of 1963after completing Coast Guard boot camp.
Scott was manic at times, throwing waded up balls of copy paper at me across the office that he would rip out of his typewriter in the course of knocking out his column.
“Rules” deals with an eccentric billionaire corporate deal maker who may be crazy and fears that his enemies may want to lock him away in an insane asylum. Sound familiar?
More than a movie about Howard Hughes, it’s about “sexual puritanism in the late 1950s.” Much of the story may be fictional but the character “Mamie” could be Mamie Van Doren who Hughes discovered at the Miss Palm Springs beauty contest and cast in “Jet Pilot.” Ms. Van Doren was not acquainted with sexual puritanism, according to her autobiography.
I definitely was not up to the challenge of fabricating a piece on Ricky Nelson who was recently married to Mark Harmon’s sister and they were expecting their first born. These features were distributed by mail to newspapers worldwide. Since the Nelsons did not allow interviews, I needed to make up something benign out of thin air. I had difficulty rewriting a news release let alone make up some garbage about them shopping for strollers and diapers. As if I really cared. I did a quick count from the marriage date to when the little cherub was due and said to my coworker, “there’s our story.” She was not amused. I did not last long at Hollywood UPI.
BOWL & PITCHER
Nestled in the bends of the Spokane River amongst the huge rock formations was the heavenly Bowl and Pitcher Park where we celebrated July 4th with cap guns and a picnic. It was a kid’s wonderland which I looked forward to every summer until we got the lake cabin which was a different kind of July 4 .
Although Gramps didn’t observe dietary laws, he avoided eating pork. And Mom warned us kids that we weren’t to say anything about the canned pork and beans. So at the picnic I left slip that I wasn’t supposed to say anything about the p-o-r-k. We had a good laugh about that one.
The park was down river from the famous Natatorium Amusement Park where summer brought rides on the Jack Rabbit and dodgem cars. I also lived the “nut house” fun in he dark ride and the Merry Go Round with the huge clown’s head where you could throw the silver rings. I was too nervous to grab for the brass ring which would bring you a free ride.