In the early 1980’s there was a television show that seemed innovative at the time, Leave It To The Women. It was a panel of women led by Stephanie Edwards, the daughter of Ralph Edwards (“This is Your Life”, “People’s Court” etc.) and former co-host of “AM America” and now the annual co-host of the Rose Parade with Bob Eubanks.
Each show featured a panel of women who would discuss various topic together. The idea was conceived by a master of entertainment for the times, Chuck Barris. Many of you will recognize some of his other shows; The Gong Show, The $1.98 Beauty Show, The Dating Game, Treasure Hunt and Threes A Crowd among them. Along with Chuck Barris was Woody Fraser, another man with a long list of executive producer or producer credits on shows including, but not limited to; That’s Incredible (which I also contributed to), Richard Simmons Show, Good Morning America and The Mike Douglas Show. (I had early aspirations to go on the Mike Douglas Show as an author, but despite valiant efforts it was not to be.)
Suffice it to say these were very smart men who had their finger on the pulse of where television was headed; good, bad or indifferent.
I happen to have been working with C.A.T. at the time, and as their Public Relations Manager and Special Projects Coordinator I was often called upon to speak in public or appear as a guest on numerous, different television shows. Thus, when this show was going to discuss sex, it was only natural they would call me.
I went through several rounds of mail and phone calls to give them background information. Finally the day for taping was set.
My personal life (in this time-frame) included the man I would marry. Our relationship had finally progressed to the point where I was living with him and partaking in weekly dinners with him at his parents’ home. So, I did the natural thing; I invited his mother to come with me to the taping. I never hid who I was while on the way to becoming who I am. She was only too happy to come, much to my relief. There was a live studio audience for her to sit in to watch the taping.
I drove to KTLA television station with my future mother-in-law, was admitted through the gates and found a parking place quickly. I had been to the studio many times before, on different shows, and to ask a certain former Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant, for a donation.
Johnny Grant was the host of his own television show in those days, something to do with Hollywood...because frankly, outside of showing up at every “Star” laying, hand-and-footprint ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard, I think he didn’t have much going on. (Okay, I take it back. I just went to his official website and I take it back.) By the time I got to know him...well, I was 26 and maybe already a tad jaded against old Hollywood guys, or even the newer ones like the other one who kept hitting on me with “odd” sexual requests merely because they knew I had worked at a brothel. I suppose a fairish assumption considering it was Hollywood, but they were so very wrong, because I already had made a lovely segue into creating a respectable life/future for myself. (I will say one personal thing about Johnny Grant, he paid my telephone bill gratis, no expectations. That was a huge testament to his conviction to Hollywood and our relationship.)
One in the green room I quickly discovered the prestigious company I was to be on the panel with to discuss the guests; Shana Alexander, journalist, but most known for her “Sixty Minutes” fame, the wonderful singer/actress (best known for her role on “Touched by an Angel”) Della Reese, and a Playboy Centerfold from 1966 and wife of Dick Martin (from “Laugh In” fame), Dolly Martin.
L to R--Stephanie Edwards, Sheila Wilson, Dolly Martin, Shana Alexander and Della Reese.
Good company I believe. A wonderful mix of backgrounds and brains...not incidentally some beauty too. After all it was television.
The show was taped in front of a live audience, including my future mother-in-law. I wasn’t nervous so much as I was in awe of my fellow panel. It just amazed me that I would be put on the same side of the desk as these muti-talented women. Never underestimate myself was the lesson I learned.
I think it only appropriate that now, some twenty plus years later to point out the strides and the missteps of talk shows which have women portrayed as screaming, talking over each other, shrieking shrill voices saying so much yet not being heard. I can’t help but wonder if this is not one of the contributing factors to women having such a low opinion of themselves, nevermind the men won’t listen. Until women stop and listen to each other first, they will continue to go unheard by the larger population.
There are some strides, but one look at Hillary Clinton and her own struggles, weighed down as well as buoyed by Bill Clinton, will clearly illustrate what is wrong with how women are presented. On one hand for a woman to cry makes her too soft, but standing firm and raising her voice will have fingers pointing to her shrillness and insensitivity. We can’t win for losing....yet.
Personally I don’t think Hillary Clinton was the “one” to be President, close, but not yet ready. She is quite angry, and many women believe had she not stood by Bill after his transgressions (and I say plural, because even discounting the “non-sex” he didn’t have he did lie to the country. We would have understood the truth, not liked it, but understood it) she would have become President.
Hopefully, by the time we can Leave it to The Women for real, the voices will be less shrill, speaking softly, compassionately, with honesty and wisdom to the people. It sure would be something to look forward to.