Saturday, December 01, 2007

Celebrity Snippets: Charmian Carr

Charmian Carr played the part of "Liesl" in the Oscar winning film "The Sound of Music."

Last time in Celebrity Snippets, I wrote about my encounter with Julie Andrews , but these are the essential ingredients of the story for you to understand the significance of my encounter with Charmian Carr.

When I was growing up, the Sound of Music was a very important film in our house. My father came from Austria and he forced us to watch it so many times that we knew the film by heart. After he died, The Sound of Music reminded us of Dad even more.

I made the mistake of telling John Landecker about this, and he thought it was hilarious that a 30-something straight male loved that movie. He brought me along to an interview with Julie Andrews to embarrass me. He thought I was in love with her--but I confessed after the interview that I was actually in love with the girl who played Liesl, Charmian Carr.

As it turns out, telling that to John was an even bigger mistake.

I figured the odds of running into her were minimal, but wouldn't you know it, she came to Chicago just a few years later to promote a sing-a-long version of "The Sound of Music." When John heard she was coming, he insisted that I book her to appear on the show.

I did. But I knew I was in for it.

He wouldn't tell me what was going on in the days before the interview, but I heard a lot of whispering between John and the other members of the show. Whenever I walked into the room, they shut up. Or they laughed. I was bracing for the worst.

On the morning of the interview, I was unbelievably nervous. John had even been warning the audience about my childhood love of Liesl, and that something truly memorable was about to occur.

She arrived at the studio about fifteen minutes early, so I met her at the door and brought her to the green room. I must say, she was still quite beautiful. I know she's easily fifteen years older than me, and I know how ridiculous this sounds, but I couldn't even bring myself to shake her hand. I had sweaty palms.

I tried to warn her that something was going to happen. I told her that John had been teasing me about my love of the movie, and described our Julie Andrews experience to her. She seemed amused by it all, but I must admit...I had a difficult time maintaining eye contact.

Take a look at those eyes.

When I brought her into the studio, John was nearly bouncing off his seat with excitement. Within seconds, he was handing each of us a script, and explaining to the audience what was about to occur.

He had transcribed the love scene between Liesl and Rolf, and wanted to know if Charmian would recreate that scene live on the air, with me playing the part of Rolf. I don't think I've ever been more embarrassed in my life.

She was obviously a little taken aback by this, but after looking at me, shrugged her shoulders and said "Sure, what the heck."

John cued the music, and boom, we were acting out the scene. I was sitting five feet away from the real Liesl, and she was calling me "Rolf" with love in her voice. I stammered through my first line, which sent John into convulsions, and onto the floor, but it didn't stop Charmian. She was such a good sport about it.

We did the entire scene. For those two or three minutes, she was sixteen going on seventeen, and I was the blond-haired Austrian teenager she was in love with.

Can I confess it now?

It was probably one of my all-time favorite moments in my radio career because it was such a unique and personal experience.

Don't tell that to John, though. It would ruin the moment for him.

How many people have both of these autographs on their "Sound of Music" soundtrack?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Suburban Man: An Embarrassing Collection

By Rick Kaempfer

My youngest son Sean (age 5) is an avid collector.

He used to collect harmless things like leaves, rocks, paper clips, and coins. (Hint: Don’t jingle the change in your pocket around this boy. He’ll follow you around until you fork it over.) A few months ago, however, he started a brand new collection that is even more embarrassing.

He collects bottle caps.

Beer bottle caps.

My wife was horrified immediately, but I must admit, I thought it was funny at first. Plus, it was actually kind of nice to have an occasional beer brought to me without asking for it. It was even good for a few laughs when we had friends over.

“Oh, you’ve really got him trained, don’t you?”

“He’s collecting bottle caps,” I would explain.

My wife gave me a disapproving look each time, but I wasn’t concerned. It’s not like anyone believed he was drinking the beer himself. I collected beer cans when I was a kid, which was a rather popular trend in the 70s. I considered his bottle cap collection the same sort of thing. As far as I was concerned, it was totally innocuous.

On the other hand, I hadn’t anticipated that his collection would accumulate at such an alarming rate. Soon, whenever he brought out his huge collection to proudly display for friends and relatives, I felt compelled to add: “He didn’t get all of those from me.”

Unfortunately, the way he got the rest of them has become a bit of a problem. Upon entering a new home, his first destination is now the refrigerator. The other day we went to visit my mother, and he not only went into her refrigerator, he said these words as he did so…

“Hey, what kind of beer you got?”

The look on my mother’s face that day, in addition to the look on my wife’s face the following day when we found him rifling through the garbage for bottle caps at my sister’s house, has convinced me this collection has to go.

I don’t want to throw them out or ban the collection outright because that will make him want to collect them even more. That’s just the kind of kid he is. (I have no idea where he got that rebellious streak from…oh, wait a minute…never mind.) No, the only way to get him away from bottle caps, is to convince him to collect something else.

It has to be something colorful (which is what attracted him to the bottle caps), easy to accumulate (which will get him enthused), and free (which will keep me out of the poorhouse.)

Have any ideas?

This article first appeared on the blog of "NWI Parent," a publication of the Northwest Indiana Times. I'm now a regular columnist/blogger for them, writing a weekly column called "Father Knows Nothing"