I Knew John Davidson
By Beth Launer
None of my family or friends believed that I knew John Davidson — my teenage stalking of him was always done alone — so I decided to take my younger sister, Helaine, kicking and screaming to a taping in Brooklyn of Davidson’s early 1980s TV variety show. She was only eleven, so she didn’t appreciate John’s perfect good looks, but he was the knight in shining armor I was looking for at 16.
The night before the taping, it started to snow, and it snowed and snowed, looking like it would never let up. The roads were getting more and more treacherous as the temperature dropped, making everything freeze. My father said he wouldn’t drive us to the studio if the snow and ice storm didn’t stop, but I was going to the taping come hell or high water.
We lived on a tree-lined street that was unremarkable — except for that night. The ice on the trees weighted the branches, so when you looked down the center of the street you saw a beautiful, amazing arch of swords, held by trees instead of military men and women. And light from the moon and streetlamps was streaming down, showcasing the snowflakes, like the dust particles in a stream of light from a table lamp.
The clock ticked and the snow fell. Time and Mother Nature were playing a cruel trick on me.
It was finally time to go, and Helaine and I were going to have to get to the theater by way of bus and subway. We both bundled up with sweaters and warm coats, scarves, hats and gloves, and we ventured into the wonderland.
Some of the snowdrifts were waist high so we walked in the middle of the road. Snowplows didn’t get into Brown Street, so hardly anyone had moved their cars for a while. When we turned the corner onto Avenue Z, we saw a car slipping and sliding down the street. Helaine wanted to go back home, but I pulled her along and told her as long as we watched out for low flying cars we’d be just fine.
We were fine, although it took twice the time it should have taken us to get there, but we finally got to the entrance of the Brooklyn CBS studios. We were ushered inside to a hallway that had the appearance of a reception area, but on this night it was filled with determined fans who had braved the storm to see John Davidson’s show being taped.
We got lucky and were able to sit right where the entertainers came onto the stage from their dressing rooms. When John came out, he saw me and smiled. Well, that wasn’t enough for Helaine. ”Anyone could get a smile from him,” she said.
The show was fun as usual, and I got a wink from John. Did Helaine catch it? No, of course not! I had to find a way to make her see that I really knew John Davidson.
When John left the stage at the end of the show, he had to pass by us again to return to his dressing room, and when he did, he gave me a kiss on my cheek! I was in total heaven.
So was Helaine! She said, “I guess you do know John Davidson!”
We saw him again just outside the studio, threw a few snowballs, took some pictures, and then his car was ready to take him back to Manhattan.
Going home wasn’t quite as treacherous as the trip there. Besides, I was traveling on a cloud! Because I really did know John Davidson.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Beth Launer hails from the Big Apple, coming to Fallbrook by way of Los Angeles and Phoenix, AZ. She was a casting director and acting teacher on two coasts for three decades and has collected numerous stories from those years.
Image courtesy of the John Davidson website.