GREGORY PECK takes me under his wing!
I am a Northeasterner by birth and disposition but at one time I actually worked and played in Santa Barbara, California. It wasn’t for long….little more than a year; but it was there that I had one of my all-time favorite memories.
I had graduated from College (Boston University) in 1954 and, after a short stint at an Advertising Agency I spent a little over a year at WWNY radio station in Watertown, NY, where I wrote advertising commercials…some even set to jingles.
Lots of fun but time to move on. I had a sister & family living in Ventura, California and I decided to head that way and try my luck at finding work. I was very lucky indeed since I was hired as head of the Publicity Dept. for KEYT…a small television station in Santa Barbara.
I was barely 23 and in on the ground floor of the burgeoning TV era…but I was a complete novice as to the workings of a publicity department. I couldn’t believe it when my boss told me that the MGM movie “Moby Dick” was going to premier in Santa Barbara and it was my job to act as liaison between the stars of the movie and the press.
The big day arrived and I went down to meet the train that would bring everyone to Santa Barbara. Of course the place was packed and it was all I could do to stay at the front of the line to welcome the cast and crew. Then all of a sudden there he was, stepping off the train… Gregory Peck …he seemed bigger than life to me and I felt my legs quake and I was afraid I was going to faint. I pulled myself together and managed to get his attention. In a very quivering voice I introduced myself and explained that I was brand new at KEYT and had no idea how to proceed.
I will never forget what happened next. He put his arm around me and started walking with me into the crowd of reporters. Of course they started to bombard him with questions but his only answer was, “Sorry, you’ll have to clear that through Virginia. We are guests of KEYT and she will arrange it all for you.” This was not technically true but it certainly worked like magic for me….and he was true to his word. I don’t know about the rest of the cast, but no one talked to “Captain Ahab” without clearing it first with me!
“Moby Dick” is a John Huston film classic that is often replayed today. Gregory Peck’s masterful portrayal of the crusty Captain Ahab is spellbinding…but nothing compared to the actual man. He truly was, and is, my only filmdom hero.