BREA, California – Decades ago when I was working in Houston I had occasion to take a business trip to Los Angeles and I decided to stay another week to use up some vacation time that was about to expire. A friend of mine from England had moved to California and was attempting to establish himself as a talent representative in the entertainment industry. He had a television assignment and on a lark I decided to tag along with him to see what it was all about. My only previous relevant experience was playing a shrub in Miss Cobblestone’s grammar school production of Sherlock Holmes and the Hedgerow Murders.
One might think that Hollywood is all glamour. However, the actual facilities where movies and television shows are shot are quite industrial in nature. In other words, grubby. Quite a few people work very hard to entertain the masses. With my friend as a guide, going behind the scenes was fascinating.
The upshot of this adventure was that Arnold Schwartzenegger got his most famous line from me. The local Public Broadcasting System (PBS) station was planning to do a series about famous composers and they held an open casting call. Schwartzenegger had just moved to Hollywood and was trying to break into acting. I was there with several hundred wannabee actors and of course you could spot Arnie from a mile away. The casting director posted a list of composers on the back wall and announced that everyone should pick one to try out for. Arnie started muscling his way through the mass of people and I followed along in his wake. He looked over the list and said in his heavy accent, “I am Austrian! I vill be Strauss!” I then got a chance to see the list and after scanning it I sarcastically said to him, “I’ll be Bach!” Arnie looked at me with that famous glare of his, scratched his chin and murmured, “Hmm, I’ll be Bach.” The rest is cinematic history.