People were watching after all. One of them was Jerry Lewis, He became a regular guest and one of the reasons for my growing audience. After two years of "Record Shop," an afternoon slot opened up and I pitched "The Lloyd Thaxton Show." I told the powers that be that I would do exactly what I was doing on the Record Shop but I would be surrounded by teens. I would have them join me in doing the lip-syncs, the playing of instruments, etc. And, they would add a dance element to the mix.
The combination worked. In the first year the ratings became gigantic and in 1964 The Lloyd Thaxton Show was picked up for syndication. I was now nationwide.
Between "The Lloyd Thaxton Record SHOP" and "The Lloyd Thaxton SHOW," I did eight years. Throughout the changeover in 1961, I was doing both shows at the same time. Seven days of "Shop" in the morning and week-ends, and five afternoons of "Show" at 5 o'clock. Twelve one-hour shows a week for the first year. When it all ended in 1967, I had done a grand total of over 2900 shows. It was a great run.
Q: In your opinion, are there positive similarities between today's teens and the kids of the mid-1960s? If so, what would they be?
A: One of the most positive similarities is that the teens of today and the teens of 1960 shared one thing for sure; they were all between the ages of 13 and 20! Seriously, the teen-age years has always been a wonderful and fun time of life. I've had a chance to talk to a lot of teens today and have found they haven't changed that much. Some good, some bad. Same for the 60's; some good, some bad. Truth be known, I would rather do a show with teens than adults any time. Once you earn their respect, you are home free. It was the teen-agers who were on my show that made it the wonderful show it was. They were terrific. I loved everyone of them.
Q: Now, after the show ended, you went on to host other shows, and produced over 200 segments for the Today Show. That NBC show is #1 among morning shows, and is watched faithfully by millions of viewers. What were some of your favorite segments, and how long does it take to get one of those from the drawing board to air-able product?
A: The Today Show represented some of my most favorite TV years. I was producing and directing "Fight Back! with David Horowitz" at NBC in Burbank. It started out local and small but, similar to my experience with The Lloyd Thaxton Show, it grew into a top rated hit, was syndicated, and lasted eighteen years.
One of the reasons for our popularity was what we called "The Commercial Challenge." We did everything from dropping 10-ton wrecking balls on Timex watches to throwing Hefty trash bags out of helicopters. These bits were zany and off the wall (yes we also bounced products off walls) and so exciting to do. Fight Back! delivered a powerful message.
The Today Show producers caught our drift and we were contracted to do a regular one-day-a-week spot. These features were shot all over the country and produced and edited in Burbank. David and I flew to New York every five weeks. We presented one feature live and taped lead-ins and lead-outs with either Bryant Gumbel or Jane Pauley and ran the other four spots on tape. Five weeks later we came back with another batch. We did this for five years. I loved it.
How long to put one together? First the idea had to be created, then researched for accuracy. That took several days. We had a large staff. Usually we would shoot it in about two days and with one day of editing we were off for New York.
Q: You also co-wrote a very successful book called STUFF HAPPENS (and then you fix it)! with John Alston. Give us a little background on the compilation of that book, and why you and John chose that particular subject.
A: I met John after someone pitched one of his presentation tapes to me for a possible TV show.The show didn't happen, but John and I struck up a wonderful friendship. In our conversations we found that, though John grew up in mostly black South Central LA and I grew up in the WASP capital of the world, Toledo Ohio, we had so much in common. We each had similar ups and downs throughout our careers but somehow had always ended on the "up" side. We talked many times about what we had done right. One day I said to John, "Let's write it down." That became the basis for "Stuff Happens (and then you fix it)". The message: It's not what happens to you that's important, it's how you respond to what happens. It's been a wonderful experience for both of us. John is a fantastic speaker and very successful at his trade.
WANT MORE, MOUSERS?? Well, you're in luck .... Part III comes up tomorrow afternoon.
So stay tuned ...