When I was a little girl, I recall watching my father repair our wood-paneled stereo/TV – the giant kind, that spanned the length of our living room. And I remember realizing, as if a bulb had gone on in my dim little brain, that my father could Do Anything.
It's centuries later, and I’m still dim, but I still believe that my father could do anything.
He could successfully carry a smart, yet casual look, even as a child:
He could peel potatoes, even as he was serving his country (it was the tubers that beat the Nazis, you know):
He could act like a bloody idiot:
He could host a radio program ('Nick's Nitecap'), wearing a sharp-shouldered jacket and playing cool jazz, as his listeners drank Manhattans, reclined on plastic couches and put their feet up on amoeba-shaped coffee tables. He had the superior taste to take those records with him when he left, and now I have the rainbow-pressed Fantasy recordings of Chet Baker, Lennie Niehaus and Gerry Mulligan.
He could – and did – win eight Emmy Awards as videotape editor (for programs ranging from ‘Alice Cooper: Welcome To My Nightmare’ to ‘The Wide World of Sports’), first using a razor blade, then a computer to slice and dice the tiny, frozen scenes from the tape:
Before technicians were handed their Emmys under the cloak of night, as they were hustled out the stage door, their names were broadcast, just like any of the other winners. In 1973 Bob Newhart announced my father’s name (winner for ‘The Julie Andrews Christmas Special’) on live TV.
He could – and does – grow tomatoes in his backyard every summer. The harvest is usually pretty extensive – if anyone lives in the Miracle Mile district, let me know and I’ll ship you a bushel.
He could – and did – at the age of 77 – reshingle the ENTIRE roof of the house, in addition to capturing it all on tape, editing it and SETTING IT TO MUSIC (the theme to ‘Rocky’, if you must know).
In his youth he looked like Robert Mitchum…he was asked for his autograph more than once, but whether it was because of this resemblance, or because of his general excellence, I hadn’t been able to ascertain.
But I think I now have it figured out. Everyone wants some sort of proof that they have met the man who grew up to be the finest, handsomest, kindest, most modest gentleman in this whole, sloppy, guilty world.
Happy Father’s Day to my very extraordinary father: I love you. And I would also like your autograph.