LC Van Savage
Larry King and Moi
Getting on the Larry King Live show is a long and complicated process and one Iím glad is finally over. I really didnít have to do all the work of making that happen although Iíd like to pretend I did. I mean how cool to say, "Oh yeah, Lar and I go way back!" Well, we donít. In fact I go neither forward or back with Lar, and he doesnít know me at all.
It happens Iím very good friends with a hotshot publicist/PR guy named Tommy Garrett, who lives in Virginia, and he and Lar actually do go way back, so Tommy set it up so that Jim Dougherty, the man with whom I wrote "To Norma Jeane with Love, Jimmie" could appear on Kingís show to talk about Norma Jeane, aka Marilyn Monroe. Jimmie never knew Marilyn, but he certainly did know, court, marry and love Norma Jeane Baker when they were both very young, and before she morphed.
Jim appeared on the King show that night last week along with Mamie Van Doren, James Bacon, his dear old friend Jane Russell, Arlene Dahl and some other guy I never heard of before. Jim would do his part of the show from his condo in Auburn, and the others either sitting across from Larry, or from their own homes.
I have to say itís nothing short of miraculous how people can pull a coast-to-coast TV show together and get it smoothly into peopleís livingrooms. Iíll never take all that for granted again. Itís a very big deal and appears to be more unreal than real.
This show was to start at 9 PM. At 7:30 two very young, very savvy young men named Keith and Jason appeared with an enormous CNN truck that suddenly raised a gigantic dish from its top that slowly turned, bowl up, toward the sky, like some Science Fiction device sent here to earth to scoop us up and perform nasty experiments on us. Jimís condo floor became quickly covered with miles of cable, gizmos, electronic gadgets, electrical boxes, ear things, mikes, phones, contraptions and unidentifiable testing things. Keith strolled out, and ran everything from the truck, Jason from the condo, and we could hear muted voices yelling directions from all those electronic gadgets all over the room. Eerie!
Jim stuck a corkscrewed wire into his ear and began chatting casually with Jane Russell (they went to highschool together) from 3000 miles away. King broke in to introduce himself to Jim, and suddenly with a few clicks from a few hundred people scattered all over the country, the show began.
I was sitting very close to Jim to remind him to mention our book (he did and it was shown), but I never heard one word from the rest of the show. The sound was off on Jimís TV set---something about a clear land line. Iíll watch the tape later. I had not been prepared either for the delayed action thing, so when Jim would answer a question I hadnít heard in the first place, Iíd look over at the TV screen where heíd still be sitting silently listening to that question no one could hear. Then heíd talk, but by then his answer had been given. It was jarring and weird. I guess that delay thing is to get the show quickly switched to some other scene if the person on whom the camera is focused suddenly cusses, does something truly gross, or drops dead.
King and Bacon are old cronies from way back, so Bacon got the biggest slice of time and told his, I think, apocryphal tales about his flings with Monroe. Jane was wonderful, still so beautiful and expressive, and I really donít know how Mamie manages to move any part of her face as slathered as it was. It was hard to actually see her. Sheís developed a Mae West look with putty, but sheís still very pretty beneath the long blond hair and fake camellia. Arlene Dahl, a great red-haired beauty decades ago and still, clearly has been told that her left side is her best side, because she kept her head bent oddly up and back, left cheek and underchin constantly toward the camera, her eyes desperately trying to roll down to focus on the cameraís lens. It made me so uncomfortable to see her contorted and twisted that way, and I yearned to see why she was hiding her right side. Larry sat hunched as usual, asking questions. Iím sure they were good ones because heís a really great interviewer.
All this stuff was moving along in concert, going smoothly, Jim sitting in his blue leather chair answering questions into a big TV camera in a creepily silent room.
The whole process was so odd that I began to think I would lose it and commence to laugh horridly, loudly and non-stop, causing Lar to look up from his hunch and glare at me from Los Angeles or Atlanta or wherever he was.
At each break the filmmaker Schani Krug, whoís making a documentary and feature film out of the book, and I, begged Jim to mention the filmís name, "Marilynís Man." He forgot, but he did say a movie was being made, so that was good.
We had to sit there in total silence while the TV geekazoids made everything come together for the Larry King Live show that night, although someone I know here in Brunswick says they did in fact hear me laughing. I donít remember doing that. I could have though. Heaven knows I was desperately trying not to. The whole thing was just so surreal and bizarre that I guess I must have done it.
LC's book "To Norma Jeane with Love Jimmy"
written with Marilyn Monroe's first husband,
is at local bookstores.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org