NO RETAKES! ACTORS & ACTRESSES REMEMBER THE ERA OF LIVE TELEVISION by Sandra Grabman and Wright King
When TV was "live!"
Voted "Best TV Book of 2009" by Classic Images magazine!
That's right! Can you imagine flubbing your line in front of the whole country without a chance to try again to make it right? That's what it was like back in the 1940s and 1950s. Week after week we saw these brave actors and actresses take on the challenge, and they did an amazing job.
Wright King was there on our screens in such shows as Studio One, Robert Montgomery Presents, and Kraft Television Theatre, and has fond memories of those exciting days. He and his fellow actors tell us the circumstances that led them to their first live television production, what it was like on the set as the time of the broadcast drew nigh, and the reactions they got from people on the street when they left the studio.
So come on in and relive with us the days of yore when everything we saw on television was being broadcast live and absolutely anything could happen.
Classic Images says:
Sandra Grabman (profiled last month in "Book Talk") and actor Wright
King have written a breezy, unorthodox television memoir called No
Retakes!: Actors & Actresses Remember the Era of Live Television
($14.95, BearManor softcover). Studio One, Robert Montgomery Presents,
Kraft Television Theatre, Captain Video, etc., they're all chronicled
here. The layout, too, is eye-catching, very different, and
This is simply an entertaining book. Wright (probably best
known for Johnny Jupiter), who appeared in many live productions, gives
us an insider's look at breaking into the medium, staying there and
all the problems that could arise. His passages are told in bold-face
type, and give the book a tone that is distinctively of the time.
Sandra, who proficiently organizes these reminisces of Wright's, adds
valuable facts and figures from these early years, while also
interviewing other performers and gathering quotes from other sources.
The story quoted from director Kenneth Whelan about a baby that looked
"like a well-basted turkey" was very amusing, as is an animal story
by Alan Young. I must admit I've always been partial toward reading
about on-set flubs and disasters, and this book has a fair share of
these experiences. I'm a sucker for a good on-the-air problem!
This nostalgic book was so enjoyable, so readable, I
regretted when it finished. If anything, this book is just too short.
But, then, that could well be the beauty of it. The writers leave us
wanting more. If you buy any anecdotal book, this should be it.
There's not a boring part in here, no need to skim through passages
that are of no interest. Rare, behind-the-scenes photos are great. Give
this one a try.
From Mike Barnes' obituary in The Hollywood Reporter:
King portrayed the chimp veterinarian Dr. Galen who saves Charlton Heston's life in the original Planet of the Apes (1968) and played Jason Nichols, Steve McQueen's deputy sheriff, on CBS' Wanted: Dead or Alive in 1960.
King had limited acting experience when he auditioned for director Elia Kazan, producer Irene Selznick and actress Uta Hagen (who was starring as Blanche) for the part of the young newspaper collector in the upcoming Chicago production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.
He was hired and also got to work with Anthony Quinn as Stanley Kowalski (and Jack Palance as Quinn's understudy), then spent all of 1948 with the Streetcar national tour.
When Hagen was asked to take over for Jessica Tandy in the Broadway production that had debuted with Brando playing Stanley in December 1947, the actress brought King along with her.
In Kazan's 1951 movie version, Leigh's Blanche flirts with King's boyish and bashful Evening Star newspaper collector, saying, "You make my mouth water." She kisses him "just once, softly and sweetly" on the lips before telling him to "run away now, quickly … It would be nice to keep you, but I've got to be good — and keep my hands off children."
On a Warner Bros. soundstage in 1950, King spent a whole day kissing Leigh. "Counting rehearsals and actual takes, [King] kissed her 48 times," Sam Stagg wrote in his 2005 book, When Blanche Met Brando.
"She was lovelier than you could imagine, and on the darkened movie set, when the light hit her, she was just gorgeous," King said in a 2008 interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "She seemed to float across the room to me. My God, the technique, the professionalism!"