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Star Gazing

Corky Cummings


When Patti and I moved to California 43 years ago I
had visions that I would be like Lana Turner, and some influential Hollywood agent would spot me in a drugstore or some other unlikely place, and I would become a movie or television star. When reality set in and I realized the chances of that happening were below slim, I took another path and started auditioning for TV game shows. 

Patti and I once passed an initial interview for a game show that stayed on the air for about a week
called Hot Seat. We were called back to meet with the producer, but unfortunately our Texas accents didn’t appeal to him, and we were quickly dismissed. Other tryouts for The Magnificent Marble Machine and Family Feud also proved fruitless (I think our chances of appearing on Family Feud would have increased if Patti’s relatives had been better looking.). I always thought I would do well on Wheel of Fortune and I went to an open audition for contestants once. When I arrived and saw a stadium full of other hopefuls, I decided to continue solving puzzles at home only.

Although I never made it to Hollywood, I have been on the “fringe” because I have bumped into some
well-known celebrities around Southern California through the years. We were exploring Malibu one Sunday in the 70’s and happened upon a filming of a television show called Battle of the Network Stars. Some of the stars we “rubbed elbows with” were Suzanne Somers, Cheryl Ladd, Patrick Duffy, and Telly Savalas. 

Once on a trip to Beverly Hills we saw Carol Burnett in a Rolls Royce at a traffic signal. That same day we were in a parking garage off Sunset Boulevard, and I almost collided with Pat Boone because I turned a corner too wide. 

One evening at a Dodger ballgame I stood in line at a concession stand behind my all-time favorite TV character Barney Fife (AKA Don Knotts) from The Andy Griffith Show. I was tempted to ask him if he still carried a bullet in his pocket, but I resisted the urge because I was quite sure that he had heard that line from an endless number of people. 

Before Arnold Schwarznegger became a movie star and the Governor of California and was known only as Mr. Universe, I saw him at a Bob’s Big Boy in Huntington Beach. He had long hair and was wearing a T-shirt that accented his physique. I remember him as being quite friendly, probably because he had not really made it to stardom yet. 

I even ran into the loneliest man in town, the Maytag repairman, at the Hollywood Hamburger Hamlet some years ago. Jesse White was not a household name but he was a character actor that television viewers in the 60’s and 70’s would quickly recognize. 

Okay, when you reach the point that you are writing about the Maytag repairman, you know that it’s time to stop. Although the unexpected celebrity encounters were exciting at the time, I always remember what one of my good friends once said about movie and television stars---“They’re all just people."