I've often said that should I ever write my memoirs, the title would be "Living On The Periphery". All my life, I've always been on the very edge of anything significant in the world, never at the center of it. And probably that's a good thing - keeps my name out of the police blotter that way.
My best example? When the Iranian hostage crisis broke, I was working for the Savak, the Shah's secret police - but as a cashier in a NYC restaurant that they owned. Woop-ti-doo. (Although it was unnerving to one day read an article in "New York" magazine about how one of my bosses used to wire the genitals of prisoners and another of the bosses once raped a woman in the embassy while her husband was left cooling his heels downstairs in the lobby. After that, I would panic if I heard my name crop up in their conversations in Farsi.....)
I may not be the one in the headlines with important court cases, or starring in TV sitcoms, or hobnobbing with the legends of the music biz, but I'm friends with those people.
Like I said, I'm on the periphery.
This is probably my first example, at least the earliest documented one*:
I'm sure most of you have seen that video at least once in the last week, or at the very least a snippet of it during the news - that's the late Davy Jones of Monkees fame as the Artful Dodger. He had been nominated for the Tony Award for that role, but lost to David Burns of 'A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum'.
Before the death of Davy Jones, the main reason this video was of notice was because it was from the February 9, 1964 broadcast of 'The Ed Sullivan Show' - the same night in which the Beatles made their debut on Ed's show.
And yes, there is a peripheral connection to me with that clip - the moppet in that snippet playing Oliver is Ron Kroll. We used to go to St. Joseph's School together in Meriden, Connecticut, until one day he was off to the Great White Way to be a part of the "Oliver!" cast. And eventually, in time for the Sullivan broadcast, he had been elevated to the title role.
Years later we were acting together on stage in the Platt High School production of "The Odd Couple". I was Murray the Cop, Ron was either Vinnie or Roy. One thing I remember from that production was the backlash before we opened - a lot of people were upset that we weren't doing a musical. With a musical, there would have been more student participation. But the teacher who used to direct those in the past had stepped down, and Antia Madzik, who took over, wanted to start off with a play to get the basic experience first.
Here's a couple of pictures from the high school yearbook about that show.....
That's Ron, sitting at the piano next to Miss Madzik. As for the other picture? That's me with our Cecily and Gwendolyn Pidgeon sitting on me. It's not part of the play, but at that point in the photo shoot I wasn't concerned with veracity.....
So that's my connection to "Oliver!", Davy Jones, and the Beatles. Not even worth playing the degrees of separation game with that one. But I'm still friends with Ron, reconnected through Facebook, so that's what really counts.
Oh, and by the way, this is my 7400th post for Inner Toob since I started blogging in 2004!
* When he was nine years old, the late Phil Hartman lived in my hometown. I would have been just a baby in the carriage at that point, but who's to say we didn't pass each other with our Mommies at some time in the supermarket?