Friday, June 15, 2007


I was maybe eight years old so it was fifty years ago that I met Bob Barker. My family was living in North Hollywood and our next door neighbor, who was a some-time stunt man, was doing a gig for Truth or Consequences, hosted by Mr Barker.

It was at NBC in Burbank so it wasn’t far away. I think my brother and I might have gotten out of school for a couple of hours. My dad took off work and drove us plus the stunt-man’s wife and two girls to the morning taping.

We’d just gotten settled, the two boys and two girls, in one row, my dad and Mrs Benson in the row behind us, when the warm up started.

Announcing during the show (“Mrs Grunwald come on down!!!”) is the gravy part of the second-fiddle's job, his main responsiblity is to warm the audience up before the show. This one did a good job.

One of his jokes sticks in my mind:

Show of hands: how many men are here with their wives?

Ok, how many are here with other men’s wives?

Of course, I turned around and urged my dad to raise his hand. He didn’t.

After the show we went down to the stage and Mr Benson, the stunt man, introduced us to Bob Barker. I got to shake his hand. I was impressed at how personable he was, as if there was nothing in the world he’d rather be doing than greeting us strangers.

A few months later Mr Benson turned up with blond hair. He was stunt doubling for Fred Astaire in the car race scene in On the Beach.

Culturally, North Hollywood in the late 1950’s was a little more happenin’ than San Francisco’s outer Parkside district.

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