The Last Time I Looked: (Stories, Real and Unreal) -

Chapter Two

May 14, 2013

1988 Sitcom ‘COMING OF AGE’

Alan Young, Glynis Johns, Phyllis Newman, Paul Dooley

Our series was filmed at Universal Studios, an active, sprawling place where open trams full of visitors pass by regularly. I was actually one of the sights they often pointed out. It was the studio and the "HOLLYWOOD" of my early dreams. We were filmed by three cameras simultaneously in front of two different live audiences every Tuesday. After the second audience left, usually around nine-thirty or ten, we would do pickup shots of scenes or moments that had either gone wrong or could be improved. We often worked eighteen hours, knowing that the next day we would get a new script and start all over again. It was a tough but interesting and provoking way of working. I loved the discipline, structure and regularity of the schedule. Everything about the production was of high quality.

The longer I stayed, the darker I felt. Most of the other women involved in the show -- actresses Glynis Johns and Ruta Lee, producer Emily Marshall, designer Sandi Culotta, associate producer Julie Newman and on and on -- were blonde...blonde and looked cleaner and better in the quantity and quality of the west coast light. My hair was too dark, my clothes were too dark, my stockings and shoes were too dark...there was nothing I could do about my thoughts, but I had to lighten up...literally. I streaked my hair, I went to a wonderful store in Beverly Hills called C.P. Shades and bought masses of cotton jersey separates in pastel colors, I bought white Nike's (white, a color that has never crossed my hips) and tried to fit in.

I continued to enjoy my work, but I'd come home dead tired to Room Service, a little TV (preferably "Entertainment Tonight"), learning some lines and bed.

The nine hour time difference between L.A. and Paris made getting a call to or from Adolph a daily saga. We would invariably reach each other in the middle of a "take" or a runthrough at the studio or an hour before a wake up call. I could have bought the Ford that I was renting out there if we had curbed the lengthy preambles to our conversations.

"Oh...Hi...Did I wake you?"
"No, it's fine, fine...I have to be up in three hours anyway."
"Oh dear!.......I'm so sorry but I get so confused...what time is it there?"

"Wait a minute, I have to put on the's still dark outside. Damn!...I forgot I have eyeshades on...Now they're I'm prying open my I'm splashing leftover Diet Coke on them...OOO...that's refreshing...that's better...O.K. let's see's six a.m., and my eyelids feel much, that's a joke...a plaisantrie...une blage...what time is it in Paris?" "It's...wait...LISETTE...QUELLE HEURE IS IT?...Merci...thanks...It's three o'clock."
"Where are you?"
"On the set."
"And who the hell is Lisette?"

It went on and on like that until we finally got to swap complaints, exhilarations, and news of our children and friends. The phone became my main social life.

Sometimes I would vary it with a solitary dinner in the teeny dining room, trying to read my New York Times under the dim lamp and one votive candle in the center of my table. One night, I discovered that you could actually turn the knob of the lamp and it got brighter. I thought my problems were solved since I was the only person in the room. Alas, the sweet waiter with the charming accent who I thought of as my new friend, told me sorrowfully that all lamps had to be set at the exact same Helen Keller level. I tried N.Y. razor sharp indignation: "Listen, no one's dropped as much money for food and drink here since the 'days of guns and roses'." Then I tried L.A. reasonable: "Hey, no problem...I'm sure we can make this work..." No soap, and what was worse... no light.

I tried to ingratiate myself from time to time with some of the music celebs. One day I was sitting by the outdoor jacuzzi and Carlos Santana was there with his young son whose name (I could swear on a stack of 45’s) was Sourdough. That’s how I heard it. Not only did Carlos do a fast backwards mambo to my cheery “Hello”, but even eight year old Sourdough stared me down until I mumbled “Adios” and left him to play in peace.

Click here to read chapter three.
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12:58pm 05/28/2013
Sue Gover
Remember one little ray of light while you were filming the series in L.A. was a wonderful dinner with Joan 'Rivers, Dorothy Melvin, Sammy Ledbetter and me. I had always wanted to get the two funniest women together and see what would happen. I remember a wonderful evening in an Italian restaurant in the Valley with many laughs and a good time.
12:10pm 05/28/2013
Penny Davis