In the spirit of Easter and the Easter Bunny, I had to post this photo of me in my bunny costume, which dates back to 1959. It wasn’t Easter but December in Alexandria, Virginia, and our Trinity Methodist Church youth group was staging “The Little Match Girl” as part of the local entertainment at an outdoor theater on the Mall in Washington, D.C. I was playing a “toy” rabbit that had a little drum to beat while my head and upper body bobbed up and down. I had no lines, as I recall. What made it funny is that my legs were so long that I had to wear long white socks so that my pant legs wouldn’t reveal flesh! You can see my bare skin of my right leg in the photo.
A few years earlier, I had had a “starring” role as Louise on the Wheelus AFB TV station, just outside Tripoli, Libya. I had no lines; I just had to look pretty and desirable. Perhaps a few hundred people actually saw the program. I was portraying the fictional “Louise” while Joe, a talented pianist and airman played the song of that name. Maurice Chevalier, French actor and singer is known for singing the song at least 50 years ago. Two of the lines are:
Every little breeze seems to whisper Louise.
Birds in the trees seem to twitter Louise.
Joe (I can no longer remember his last name) had a half-hour TV program, which featured him playing piano. It was broadcast in the evening to every home with a TV set at Wheelus Air Base. I don’t remember if I even knew when or how often, but I did save the photos taken for the special occasion. My family had not brought a TV to Libya so Mom and Dad did not catch my debut.
Keeping his program unique was probably a challenge for Joe. One day he came up with the bright idea to play famous songs named for women: “Marie,” “Charmaine” and “Louise,” for instance, and have a girl in the background who represented the particular song.
He would play five songs. He already knew two Italian girls to feature, but he needed three more females to represent all the songs he had in mind. Apparently reasoning that the high school physical education program would provide him with the best choices, he came out to the Wheelus tennis courts one morning. The male mind is always intriguing! Maybe it was our grace hitting a tennis ball or perhaps what our legs looked like in shorts that influenced his choices?
Joe picked me, Judy Jones, and Vicki Scola and we all agreed to face the cameras. I was supposed to be a French Louise and had to find a beret and a scarf since my portrayal was a variation of the famous French Apache dance (based on Parisian gang culture and named for the US Indian tribe). I’ve still got the now tattered beret and the orange scarf.
I don’t recall that we did much if any rehearsing since we simply had to sit or stand, as the case may be, and look sexy. When Joe played each song, the camera panned from his playing to the appropriate girl and the painted background scene behind each of us.
No lingering fears of cameras linger; I don’t think I was nervous. Was that my “15 minutes of fame?” Fame is so ephemeral. I think I’ll stick to writing and editing.