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January 5th, 2010

Dazed and Confused

So, we'll just pass over the sad commentary on my priorities that is demonstrated by the fact that when scanning Yahoo! News a few minutes ago that I quickly bi-passed the article about the President's speech tonight and instead instantly clicked on the story about the death of David Gerber. As an irredeemable geek I am one of those that organizes her CDs by artist, then by date of release (not title), who actually reads the credits on TV shows and can tell you what the difference is between an executive producer and producer (hint, one does the actual work--and the word "executive" and "work" are not generally substantively linked), the name actually meant something. So, I read through the news story, and at the end I saw that he has only one survivor, his wife, "actress Laraine Stephens."

"No, it can't be that Laraine Stephens!" I thought to myself. So I instantly went to my old reliable friend IMDb. So, there it was. She is that Laraine Stephens.

"Who?" you say?

No one special. A moderately talented, moderately attractive television actress from the sixties and seventies. But, most importantly, she was "Diane Waring" on Bracken's World (1969-1970). It was the years of obsessively reading movie star biographies, total television immersion (after being without one for nearly 2 years), and total Hollywood mania. Not to mention fledgling adolescent hormones. And here was a series about making movies!!! And I was finally old enough to stay up for the shows on 10-11 on a school night!! It was the perfect storm. And Diane was my favorite of the three starlets (the show was set in the then present, but actually showed a studio system that was virtually gone at that point).

Oh, the show was a soap, no question. Sort of an early attempt to be what <i>Dallas</i> finally achieved. But in the process it taught me things. Like how to set up shots. About molding actresses and actors to "fit." About what a script girl actually does. Sometimes as I'm prepping for my film class my mind flashes back to that show, and in my mind it is Peter Haskell directing, or Madlyn Rhue saving the continuity of one shot, and wrecking one later. Of Laraine Stephens shouting against the waves in Malibu to damage her vocal chords just enough to lower the pitch of her voice so the sound on the loop is less shrill.

David Gerber isn't a real person to me, unlike the tiny woman who gave me any number of enthusiastic hugs, who we lost this week. And I don't grieve for his loss in the same way as I do hers. But his passing has brought back to me nights of sitting at my parents' table in my pajamas, watching television that touched my life. It may not have been great art, but it meant a great deal to me.