From Show Biz to Sunday School
Sharon Leann Wyatt’s autobiography
IT BEGINS (part three)
…flamboyant and extroverted, if you’ll pardon the pun. Not only were they outgoing, but so were their bust lines, and their blouses covered only enough to keep the censors happy. Their skirts, unlike mine, were above their knees, and unlike the sensible shoes I wore, they were sporting skyscraper heels. So this is the kind of gypsy’s we are today! Oh well, I had their number and also the tambourine, which I was then told to “dance around a bit, dear.” Well, this wasn’t too bad, but it was far from what I had become used to. “Don’t let it get you down.” I kept telling myself.
It was about at this time that the producer of the show appeared on the set, Aaron Spelling. With squeals of delight that particular group of flashy gypsies, jumped up and approached this man that to me resembled an unborn chicken. They pawed and petted, kissed and squeezed the embryo of foghorn Leghorn for the longest time….he needless to say enjoyed every overture. While this rather insidious ritualistic greeting was going on the guest star of the show came on the set. It was Caesar Romero. He was such a beautiful man, with such classic good looks and features. He came and looked over the gypsy camp set, where I had just finished rehearsing. Now all stood looking at the director for further instructions and suggestions.
Mr. Romero glanced about and gave me the warmest and most gentlemanly of smiles. I smiled demurely back and felt a blush over my face. The scene I was in was quickly shot. It was fun to do and went well. The next scene was the one with Mr. Romero, and of course, with the gypsy tarts. Spread out over a bevy of brightly colored pillows surrounding Caesar were the other “gypsies” wearing what resembled more Fredrick’s of Hollywood than a gypsy garb pawing him the same as they had the producer. One more shot at the gypsy camp, and the day was called to a rap. It was around five o’clock. Earlier in the day, my mother had called me on the set to tell me Central Casting called to give me a job. I called them back and was given a call at my favorite studio, Universal International, or as it is often refer to as UI.
I met my mother out in front of the studio, she was quite anxious to hear how everything went that day. I told her my observations. “Was your costume okay?” Mom asked. “It was just fine,” I replied, while I stared long and hard out the front window of the car, “just fine.” Perhaps a bit drab, but it was fine. When I got home I took off my adequate costume and folded it neatly. I then placed it in a drawer, it was never to be worn again.
I was to learn that certain shows had what seemed an unspoken law, ‘dress a certain way, act in the same manner and there may be extra money in it.’ On this set they
quaintly referred to it as “Burke’s Law,” a play on the shows title. So wear a long skirt, and show no cleavage and you play pretend with a tambourine. This was then what I could expect, remain who I was, or become like those others girls. For me I would rather play the tambourine, than play the “game” with those that made such unspoken “Laws.”
IS IT SEXUAL HARASSMENT, OR BOYS WILL BE BOYS?
The next morning mother dropped me in front of Universal International. I was really happy to be on this lot. There was a feeling about the layout of the stages that didn’t give one the feeling of being in canyons of concrete basilisks offering no warmth whatsoever. No, Universal was different. There was an openness to most of the lot and the close proximity of the hills and the back lot was an appealing addition. It was the friendliest of lots so to speak, and I always felt “at home” when working there.
Except once several months before, while dating Mike a makeup man’s nephew. His uncle Bud Westmore wanted me to be the mermaid that was the logo for “Chicken of the Sea” tuna. The commercial sounded good, the money was wonderful, but I learned I would have to bear my breasts to be properly fitted in the “skin.” I refuse! They tried to placate me saying, a nurse would be there, and you could have anyone you wanted present. Swell let’s just invite the world. There was nothing they could do to change my mind. Scratch another opportunity for fame and fortune.
Anyway I made my way from the casting office to the place where I was to get on a bus to take me to the back lot location for that day’s shooting. However, I was about to pass what I believe most women do dread, a group of men. All of these were wearing hard hats, and as I approached I felt one by one each quit doing what ever had occupied him and began to gaze….
(continued next month)