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POST-GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER 14, 2012 Page13 Sanna 00Babb'00onno I've been asked by a couple of people who have been fol- lowing my story line for the past few weeks, how I wound up in Hollywood. Well, it's a bit complicated and amounts to being in the right place at the right time. Once upon a time, I started my freshman year at Boston State College (now part of U. Mass Boston). The people I met were quite different than my pals from the street corners of East Boston, and to understand them better, I got involved with a lot of the school and social activities that were at hand. At the time, I fashioned myself as a comedian and did a little standup at college socials. I hadn't, as of yet, turned pro- fessional as a musician and this was my baptism in show business, even though it was on an amateur level. I wasn't bad, but there was another freshman who was much better, Bob Blasser. He was good and I convinced myself that I should stick to music, and I did. A few years later, I was called by a band leader whom I had never worked for but knew of through the busi- ness. He asked me if I was free on a couple of particu- lax dates. I checked my book, saw that they were in the middle of the week and told the man I was free. He gave me all of the information and said I would be the bass player in the pit band for the Bob Blasser Show. Evidently, the bass player had quit, and the band leader, Frank Martelli, got my name from his trumpet player, Frank Biondo, whom I had known from my Boston State days. When I arrived at the theater where the show was to take place, I had a big hello from Biondo who introduced me to Martelli. Once I met the rest of the musicians, I realized we had all heard of each other through the business, but I had never worked with any of them. Martelli, gave me the music for the acts and a verbal walk through of the things Blasser would be doing and twenty minutes later, the show began. When Bob Blasser walked on stage, I saw that it was the same comedian I had known at Boston State. Before he began the show, he introduced someone I knew of rather well, Arch- bishop of Boston, Richard Cardinal Cushing. The Car- dinal made a small speech to the crowd and after it, I II ..... r, by John Christoforo A Nostalgic Remembrance I I knew the reason for the show. It seems that when someone from one of his parishes was killed in Viet- nam, he would put a schol- a.rship together in that ser- viceman's name and kick off the whole thing with a fund raising show. The Car- dinal knew of Blasser, due to the fact that after college, he joined a seminary hoping to become a priest. Bob left the seminary, headed for show business, but stayed friendly with the Cardinal. The show went off without a hitch. Bob did several minutes of standup and then imitated several radio and TV greats, Jack Benny, George Burns, Red Skelton and a few oth- ers. When he was done, sev- eral acts of entertainment followed, hence the earlier hand out of the music which now sat on a stand in front of me. George Mann, an Irish tenor led off the next part of the show, followed by a tap dancer, a doo wop group, Bob Blasser again and then a jazz selection from the orchestra. After intermis- sion, Blasser came down the main isle of the theater with a basset hound on a 20 foot leash. He was dressed like Reggie Van Gleason, one of dackie Oleason's characters. As the audience roared, we played Melan- choly Serenade, the tune that usually introduced this Gleason character. Once he was on the stage, the dog decided to relieve himself, a biological function which had the audience roaring in laughter. In dackie Gleason's voice, Blasser made a couple of comments regarding the dog's public indiscretion and the show continued. When it ended, we serenaded the people as they exited the theater. After all the folks were gone, Bob Blasser came over to me and both of us reminisced about our days at Boston State. The next thing I knew, I was part of the band perma- nently. Bob had told the leader that we were old friends and he wanted me to stay on and do all of his shows. Well, for the next couple of years, just about all of his shows were during the week and I could do them. Again, mostly all were for Cardinal Cushing. After the end of the second year, Frank, the band leader and Bob had a disagreement which I won't go into, but Frank quit. Bob asked me to take over as music director -- FOR YOU WHO APPRECIATE THE FINEST -- THE MUSIC FOR ALL OCCASIONS 781-648-5678 for his shows. I said yes, and the next thing I knew, we had a Sunday evening vari- ety show on one of the Provi- dence TV stations. As I got more involved, Bob asked me to be his partner in the production department. From this point on, when- ever he met with the Cardinal, I was part of the meeting process as a partner. When Bob told the Cardi- GIVE YOUR SOLE Teams Up with ALLSTATE LIFE INSURANCE for Shoe Donation Program at Boston 13.1 Marthon Half Marathon Runners Leave a Unique Footprint on Local Community through Shoe Donation Program to Benefit Boston Allstate Life Insurance and the non-profit organiza- tion Give Your Sole have partnered to collect moder- ately used athletic shoes to donate to charity at the Allstate Life Insurance sM Bos- ton 13.1 Marathon on Sun- nal, that we would like to, day, September 16. try our hand at operating9 Race series sponsor in New York, die, made sev / Allstate Life Insurance and Give Your Sole created the shoe donation platform as a means to give back to local communities around 13.1 Marathon races across the country. In 2012, Allstate and Give Your Sole will col- lect shoes at five races through the program. All shoes collected in Bos- ton will benefit the Boston Rescue Mission, an organi- zation aiding the homeless Rescue Mission and poor men and women of Greater Boston for more than 100 years. Donations from race par- ticipants and Boston resi- dents will also be collected during the 13.1 Marathon packet pick-up at the Karhu Mrs. Murphy (Continued toured the waterfront on Bor- der Street along side McDonalds, he would see first hand the number of growing homeless fighting amongst themselves. East Boston doesn't need this activity. These homeless need help, something has to be done ... Illegals are eat- ing up our resources, they have a country, and that's and Craft North American headquarters, Beverly on Friday, September 14 and Fast Splits Multisport, West Newton on Saturday, Sep- tember 15. Runners who donate their shoes on race day will receive a free pair of flip- flops to wear home. The Allstate Life Insurance sM Boston 13.1 Marathon be- gins and ends at Suffolk Downs, 1 1 1 Waldemar Ave., East Boston, on Sunday, Sep- tember 16 from 7-11 am. from Page 7) Mayor Dan Rizzo, plans to run for councillor-at-large in Revere, and then take another shot for mayorl ... Suffolk Downs is having a Food Truck Festival on Sat- urday, September 22 "d from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. This promises to be a fun filled family event. For more info call Suffolk Downs ... For those ultra liberal complain- where they belong!!I! ... ers that carry on about the Strong rumors have it that strict security at Logan. Do George Rotondo, former can- you want another 9/11??? .... didate who ran against Till next time! eral contacts for us. One was with Allan Funt, the pro- ducer of Candid Camera. We actually wrote skits for him and appeared in a few of them ourselves. One of the other contacts that the Car- dinal made was with Otto Preminger, the Hollywood producer/actor who had a New York office. To begin with, Preminger set us up with Alka-Seltzer. We wrote and appeared in a commer- cial that was rather funny. It showed in other parts of the country, but not the northeast. My mother, who was dying to see it, never did. One of the people close to the Cardinal was Jimmy Durante. He was a guest at a few of the ,Bob,Blasser shows. As a result, Bob, I and a few of the musicians in the band did a little travel- ing with Jimmy. His act in those days consisted of himself, Eddie Jackson, a member of his vaudeville act from years earlier (Clayton, Jackson and Durante), and the retired heavy weight champ of the world, Rocky A Sudden Downpour (Continued from Page 5) inspired a shout, "look at the at each other then dashed Marciano. When we were back in New York, contacts were made for us in Hollywood. Bob and I went out together and called the people who were waiting to hear from us. As a result, we began to go in separate directions. He began to appear on the Jack Benny Show, the Red Skelton Show, the Jonathan Winters Show and the Art Linkletter Show. He got me to appear on Skelton and Winter's shows, but I was told that my face was too pretty for comedy or too sinister ... I could take my ballerina." Then came the guy who walked on his heels and his wife who just sloshed her way through in her sandals while shouting out, "what the heck, I'm soaked to the skin." A mother clutching her two children by their hands, dashed from within the ho- tel into the lake shouting "run, run, run" with the kids screaming in delight at the new game Morn was playing. Finally three kids came bounding out of the hotel, stopped for a moment just in front of the lake, looked in; they splashed each other, jumped up and down creat- ing mini waves then dashed back into the hotel soaking wet, they obviously had a great time. It was then that we noticed we were also hav- ing a great time. It was fun seeing the antics of people and the sheer joy of kids making the most of what appeared to be another mis- fortune. The cloud had lifted, the day had turned around and we made our way through the mini lake and into the monsoon thoroughly enjoying the moment. pick. It seemed that Holly- wood wasn't for me, so it was back to Boston and New York, playing music on weekends and teaching school in Bos- ton Monday through Friday. Some of the contacts I made in New York paid off and I began to get more book- ings in music there on weekends than here. Dad was thrilled that I was mak- ing it in New York. Babbo- nonno was happy that I made the musician line in the family three generations in a row. But, unbeknown to most, the Hollywood bug had bitten me and I wanted to try my hand, not at comedy, but more serious acting, but that's a story for next week. 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