This week has seen me working more for myself than anyone else. In some ways it’s not as much fun: the “boss” is a harder taskmaster, a perfectionist, can’t make up his mind, the hours are insane and the pay is lousy.
Working on updating your own promotional material does have its rewards, though. For one thing, you discover things you hadn’t thought of in awhile (“Gosh, was I ever this good?”). This usually offsets the discovery of things it turns out you remember being better than they actually were (“Gosh, how do I ever get hired?”).
Talking by phone with friend Bob Souer during this process, and getting some automatic encouragement by the mere fact of doing so, I wondered aloud about the reason for putting so much continuing effort into promotion this late in life. Of course the obvious answer is twofold: One – if I had known how to do this early in my career and had the tools we do now, I probably would be farther along. Two – the alternative now is to do nothing and quit (not an option).
Whenever I get a little envious of the younger, more energetic, more “with it” talent I see out there making the big splash, I temper my thoughts with the comfort that even one of my favorite character actors didn’t really hit it big until he was in his 60s.
That would be Sydney Greenstreet,who became a star with his portrayal of the aptly-named Mr. Gutman in the definitive film version of “The Maltese Falcon”. He was 62. I often wonder what he thought about his career choices during his younger years.
I know most people, if they have any knowledge of film and radio history, would rather think of themselves as another Orson Welles: New York stage genius and network radio star in his early 20s, and creator of what many claim as the best motion picture of all time not long after that.
I can claim a small sliver of that Welles feeling with my own career highlights…on an admittedly much smaller scale. Along the way, I’ve done regular on-air work in Radio, winning fans with what amounted to an unseen puppet character (Zoot) on a top-rated morning-show, collecting awards for creative writing/production in advertising, co-hosting a local kiddie show on TV doing the puppets and some on-camera cartooning (“Time for Uncle Paul“), enjoying favorable acclaim with local/regional onstage efforts (“Greater Tuna” and the It’s A Mystery troupe) and even snagging a slot somewhere between “extra” and “featured player” in two motion pictures with the Muppets. If you’d asked me as a kid what I wanted to do with my life, these are the kinds of things you’d hear me mention. They just didn’t take on quite the national prominence they might have done.
I’m cool with that.
Meanwhile, with that experience, and what I’m gaining through resources never before available, and encouragement from other friends in the business, I see no reason why I couldn’t at some point hit my “Sydney Greenstreet” stage.
I’ve still got a few years to get there. Why stop now?
— over and out —