by Bobbie Cimo
I know being writers, probably the first person you think of when you hear the name Zelda, is the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. But actually there is another well known Zelda–or at least there is to us who work at CBS. Last year, while giving our 2007 Co-Presidents, Sue Phillips and Sandy Chvostal, a personal after-hours tour, I introduced them to her.
Meeting Zelda at first, you might think as though she’s led the same kind of life as the other famous Zelda– disheveled, and as thin as a rail. As a matter of fact, the bottom part of her body is a rail. Okay, it’s really a pole. You see, Zelda is a mannequin that gets rolled from stage to stage to check the color balance for our cameras–not so much now with the new technology. But back when color was new to TV, CBS use to hire models just to stand in front of the cameras to see how well different colors came across on the monitors. And whenever they couldn’t get a model for the job, theyâ€™d have to end up calling upon one of the secretaries and asking them to come to the stage to do the job for them.
When hiring a model or taking someone away from their job ended up being too costly, someone got the bright idea of getting mannequin, putting a black sweater on her and pinning swatches of material to her chest . . . and thatâ€™s how Zelda was invented. Below is a picture of the lovely lady, whose been a CBS icon, as far back as I can remember. Photographic credit goes to Sue Phillips and her wonderful camera.
Bobbie Cimo is the OCC/RWA Programs Director who has brought us such notable speakers as Dean Koontz, Tami Hoag, Jackie Collins and Robert Crais.
Meeting A Real Movie Star
by Bobbie Cimo
In the early years of my career, I was one of the few fortunately ones–if not one of the only ones–who got the perk of getting out of the office to work remotes. Sometimes that could mean being at the Pasadena Auditorium for two weeks at a time while we built the stage for the Emmy’s. Or being inside the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s ballroom covering the first dozen or so AFI’s (America Film Instituteâ€™s Life Achievement Awards), honoring such heavy-weight legends as John Huston, Frank Capra, Orson Wells, or Fred Astaire . . . just to name a few. Keep in mind this was a time when laptop computers hadnâ€™t even been invented yet. Which meant if I wanted to have my cake and eat it, I had to cover my regular job first before working as an assistant on the fun stuff outside of the building. I use the term “assistant” loosely here, as it sometimes meant anything from crunching numbers to seeing how far over budget we were, to making sure Bette Davis got her parking ticket validated, to arranging for Gregory Hines’ shoes to be shined before air time, or even playing watchdog over Shirley MacLaine’s purse for her.
But always, on the day of the big event–whatever it was–I got to play dress-up and be part of the gala. But like any good party you go to, youâ€™re bound to see the same faces year after year– Wait, this is Hollywood. Scratch that last remark about the same faces . . . not with the help of good plastic surgeon, you wonâ€˜t. But what I’m trying to say is that it’s hard to remember who I saw and just when and at what event.
Except for the time I met Cary Grant at the AFI honoring Alfred Hitchcock.
I was standing on a two step-up tier of the main ballroom, when Cary Grant passed me. He was impeccability dressed in an expensive tuxedo, gorgeously tan and looking every bit of the movie star that he was. As for myself, I was dressed in a white, off one-shoulder Grecian gown. I thought I looked like Venus. Looking back at it now, I’m sure I didn’t.
When Cary spoke to me, I suddenly went deaf–that happens a lot when I go into shock. When he cupped his hand over mine, I remember thinking, his hands are softer than mine . . . they probably weren’t, but his touch seemed like velvet. He acted and looked just like he did on the screen. Absolutely perfect.
All too soon our conversation was over and he left. And I remained frozen, clutching onto to the staircase railing. Hector, our cameramen, obviously recognizing a woman in distress, asked me how I was doing. I told him the truth–I couldn’t move. My knees had locked. Hector found it amusing . . .I didn’t.