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Metropolis of My Dreams

Let me admit, right up front – I'm a "Broadway Queen." For those who don't know the term, it's anyone (not necessarily gay) who's in love with musical comedy. Hey, what's not to love?

Fortunately, in High School I connected with a few other Broadway Queens, especially Jon Atkinson, who loved Original Cast records as much as I did. For AHS graduation in 1956, our parents gave Jon and me a two-week trip to New York City – a dream come true for both of us.

Jon's Uncle was John Steinbeck (author of GRAPES OF WRATH), who offered us his 5-story townhouse on East 72nd Street, complete with housekeeper and cook. The Steinbeck's were away at Sag Harbor for the summer, but Elaine helped us get Orchestra seats for all the big Broadway musicals, including MY FAIR LADY – a sold-out hit! That trip was my introduction to New York City. No wonder I fell in love.

My love for New York blossomed because of movies that pictured life in a pulsing Metropolis of skyscrapers. The title sequence from HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE featured the song "New York" by Ken Darby and Lionel Newman, and it has always been my soundtrack for Manhattan.

In 1962 I quit my job at Texas Education Agency and walked away from everything good that was happening in my life – to join David Houston in Dayton, Ohio, designing sets for a huge proscenium stage, one-a-week musicals: WEST SIDE STORY, THE MUSIC MAN, CAN-CAN, UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN etc. They agreed to fly me where ever I wanted to go at the end of the summer. That's how I got to New York.

I told Mother I just wanted to live there "a while," but she knew better. "You're not coming back," she told me, and she was right. My parents were sad to see me leave the nest, at 24, but they both knew my soul was right for NYC.

My first job was Art Editor for a romance magazine, INTIMATE STORY. Each month I read ten tales of teen romance and sexual adventure selected by the Editor, then decided on a key scene for each, and cast models for a photo to illustrate the story with visceral drama. My future business partner, Norman Jacobs, sat right in front of me in the art bullpen. Norm was Art Editor of MOVIE STARS magazine.

I cast many friends for dramatic layouts in INTIMATE STORY magazine. Here, my lover Gordon launches his successful modeling career.

I worked at Ideal Publishing for a couple of years, then moved to Sterling Publishing, where I art directed TV STAR PARADE, and several one-shot magazines. Nights and weekends I was busy setting up a film production operation in my West 72nd Street apartment (above Schwartz' Candies).

Fred Feingersh and I teamed up to make TV commercials, hoping to get production work. I built a multi-plane animation stand of my own design – using pipes and gizmos inspired by the Disney innovation that brought 3-D realism to cell animation. I wrote, directed and drew animation for two portfolio spots.

RINGNES and TREASURE ISLAND commercials

Apparently I was developing skills for my next job: producing radio and TV for Grey Advertising.

"New York" title music: HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE

CLICK HERE: Grey Advertising and the Everly Brothers