Thursday, June 30, 2016

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part LXVI

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

April 1965. I was busy hanging out with Barre Dennen and Carole Gister at the Kleine Konditorei ...
... and talking about the agencies and art directors I was seeing.
Paul Bartel, Fred Fagan and I had recently seen Gian-Carlo Menotti's opera, "The Saint of Bleecker Street," at the City Center.
A couple weeks later, Fred invited us to his house to hear (and compare) his recording of it.
A few weeks earlier, I met Ronnie Welsh for lunch at the Blue Ribbon German Restaurant near Times Square. Ronnie had been a professional actor since he was 12 and most was replacing Bobby Morse in "How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying."
I was telling him about a memorable lunch I'd had there years before with Barbra and a Fresno High School friend of mine who'd become a theater manager.

I had thought he could give Barbra some professional advice; she didn't have an agent yet and I was thinking he might even want to give it a try — to act as an agent for her.
He took on an attitude of "seasoned, experienced professional." After all, although quite young, he was the house manager of the Shubert Theater and Barbra had just started singing at The Bon Soir. So to him, she seemed very inexperienced. And she was.

After he asked what her professional desires were she told him that she wanted to be a star on Broadway.
He paused, smiled and patiently explained that show business wasn't that easy, that she hadn't paid her dues and she was just beginning to sing in a club. He then compared the situation to my friend, Pattie Ferrier, Bob Fosse's dance captain and Broadway swing dancer. Pattie worked all the time.

"She's paying her dues, getting experience. Meeting people."

He told Barbra that she'd never be a Broadway star like that — singing in a club!
We left the Blue Ribbon and he went back to the theater. Barbra was quiet as we walked along 44th Street.

I told Barbra about a similar experience.

Before moving to New York, I was looking for work in Los Angeles. I had done some freelance costume designing for Western Costume and Ice Capades and then I was the Assistant Designer for Berman's Costumier of London, designing Las Vegas spectacles. But after that — nothing.
Ice Capades
Las Vegas, les Folies Bergères.
My aunt's best friend's husband had an advertising agency and she arranged for me to show my artwork to him with the hope of employment or at least some professional guidance.

I showed him costume renderings, art from the animated film I was making at UCLA for a master's degree, and paintings and drawings from my undergraduate days.

He looked at everything with an attitude of "seasoned experienced professional" and asked me why I was seeing him about advertising when I was a costume designer? He suggested I go to New York, do anything to survive (he suggested washing dishes), and try to be some sort of assistant to ... someone.

He said I was already on the Costume Design Carousel but not on "the last horse" — and now I wanted to get on the last horse of the Advertising Carousel?

I thanked him, gritting my teeth, and continued my part time job at Beverly Hills' Duncan Vail Art Store on Beverly Drive selling art supplies to movie stars!

Years later, living in New York and being successful freelancing, my aunt was thrilled to make sure she showed him everything I'd done for national and international ads and magazines!

So I told Barbra I was sorry about lunch and to forget it.

After she stopped the show in "I Can Get It For You Wholesale," her first Broadway experience, and while there were rumors of her being another Fanny Brice, I was again lunching with my Shubert manager friend.

He said, "your friend, Streisand? I said she'd never be on Broadway — and I still say that!"

And he winked.
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