When I was around 12 years old, my father took my mother, sister and me on a 6-week-long trip out west. My dad worked for the Army, and he had to be in El Paso, Texas for 3 weeks. So he brought the fam, parked us at a motel, worked his 3 weeks, then drove us to California. He had a cousin in Los Angeles who was married to a plumber. The reason I remember the plumber part is because he told us about working in famous people’s houses.
I was so star struck! I was addicted to the TV (yes, all 3 channels!), and I was dying to actually see a living, breathing star. Oh, if I could just meet Little Joe Cartwright or Dr. Kildare!
We went to Disney Land and Knotts Berry Farm, but the best place of all was Universal Studios. We saw the grassy hillside where they filmed outdoor cigarette commercials and the fake lagoon for McHale’s Navy. We all rode on a little tram, craning our necks to see someone famous.
Near the end of the tour, as we walked around a little garden, we finally found our star. It was none other than Aladdin! No, not the Disney cartoon – remember, this is in the early ‘60’s.
The Aladdin I am referring to was a staple on the Lawrence Welk Show. He was kind of a mediocre singer, but what he could really do was recite. You know, say something pretty about love or kittens or sunny days while the orchestra played behind him. It always fascinated me when he would end at just the right time as the song wound down.
Well, Mom just thought he was wonderful and was amazed to find him wandering around the garden, no doubt waiting for someone to recognize him. We all said hello, told him we were big fans of his and the Lawrence Welk Show. He was very gracious and kind, just like he appeared on TV.
Mom asked him if we could take a picture of him with Mom, my sister and I. Oh, yes, of course we could! So we got all lined up, smiled at Mom’s folding Kodak camera in my dad’s hands… and it wouldn’t work. It Wouldn’t Work!
You know that old saying “His face could break a camera?” Well, it did. The camera was fine until that moment.
We were all embarrassed to have bothered such a fine performer with our cranky camera. Aladdin took it well, but he quickly found other people to talk to who probably had better photography equipment than the Falconers from Alabama.
I found some YouTube stuff of Aladdin. If you have never seen him, you will be amazed at what passed for entertainment in 1962!