From Show Biz to Sunday School
Sharon Leann Wyatt’s autobiography as Sharon Leigh
TRY LATER (part three)
When I returned home after making the rounds of the casting offices, my cousin Joey was waiting for me. When I drove up into the driveway he burst out of the front door in the grand manner and pronounce, “welcome to the wonderful world of extra business!” I was a bit skeptical over Joey’s wording of that sentence. But as with any undertaking, I was willing to give it a chance to prove itself, and then I would judge whether it was such a “wonderful world” or not. My nature is to be enthusiastic in my work, and to give it my all. Starting on the morrow I would begin my new career and a true analysis of extra business.
At four o’clock in the afternoon of each weekday, every extra who wishes to work the next day, goes through the ritual of “calling in.” This is where you phone the casting agencies, and when they answer, you reply with only your name. If there is a call out from the studios, and the job could be filled by you, you are given a job on the spot. Or if regrettably there is nothing available they will bluntly reply, “No Work.” But, if there is a call in, and as yet it hasn’t been processed and there is a good likelihood of them being able to place you on the call, you will then hear music to your years in that hopeful retort, “Try Later.”
Joey and I called them together that evening, and almost right away I was given my first job. I had just turned Twenty-one, but I would soon learn that I was years younger in innocence. The call was for a show titled “Burke’s Law.” It was filmed at CBS Four Star in Studio City. I was to be a gypsy, of all things! I had to provide my own wardrobe and report to the set at 8 AM. I set about going through my closet looking for suitable attire. The only thing I had was a peasant-type blouse. It was a round neck-puffy sleeved thing that dated back to my junior high school days and some corny dance I attended. There was a problem, however, it was dead white. That was a no-no at the studios, for white shows up like some explosion on film. I envisioned a long full skirt with a sash to complete the wardrobe, so I was off to the local five and dime to purchase a fabric that wouldn’t break the bank. I found just what I needed and a box of Rit dye in a coordinating color to tone down the blouse to complete the look. I set about sewing a skirt with a little added ric rac and a braided trim gave the skirt that gypsy look. With a bit of material left over, I fashioned a babushka and I was ready to meet the call in style.
The next morning I awoke very excited anticipating a day filled with new adventure and acquaintances. My costume hung, with all it’s accoutrements on the door, ironed and ready for what ever they would have this gypsy do. I finished off the look with some golden hoop earrings of modest size and a couple of bangle bracelets. I tied on my babushka, which completely covered my short hairdo. My mother drove me to work that morning as we only had one car, a 1961 Ford falcon between us. Mother thought my attire was perfect and proper.
We left home early just in case, but without a hitch, we managed to get to the studio about a half hour early. Not knowing my way around that particular lot, I was glad to have the spare time. The guard pointed me directly to the stage and in two minutes I was entering the heavy door that beyond laid the Burke’s Law set, where I would be initiated into the “wonderful world of extra business.”
No one else was there yet, so I carefully strolled around the soundstage taking everything in. As I have said the studios were no stranger to me, as I had begun a career within their imaginative portals, as I have already stated at the ripe old age of five. Now, I was 21, but for some reason I perceived all I saw in a different light, from a different perspective, and I didn’t like what I was feeling one bit. A bit of depression crept in, for now as an extra I was not getting the pampering I had received as an actress, a principal character, if you will. Oh, not that people weren’t cordial and kind, but there wasn’t that extra attention that I was so used to receiving….
(continued next month)
Envelope What did they say?
Picture Jesus in the Temple. or the boys shouting Hosanna
Back side Photo of lunch with Finny