Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

In Memory of Lloyd Thaxton

Hello everyone:

Chuck Hinson has created a new blog to carry on where Lloyd could not. Please go there and post your comments.

See you there.

Barbara Thaxton

Tuesday, October 07, 2008



My name is Barbara Thaxton, Lloyd's wife.

Lloyd passed away last Sunday morning in my arms. He has now moved on to his next creative project ... making the angels laugh.

Goodbye my beloved. I will miss you.

The world will miss you.

Your comments are welcome.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I realized today that I am falling behind again on my blog posts. I felt awful. Then I saw this cartoon in today's LA Times. It made me feel better. Hope it makes you laugh because it is so TRUE.


I hope that Stephan Pastis doesn't mind my using my blog to make his funny and clever point.
I love his sense of humor and the way he can say so much in just six frames.

Stay cool. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 03, 2008



In Chapter one I told you how blown away I was by the new console radio my sister bought just as TV was coming on the horizon (Scroll down if you missed it). It had neat little push buttons on the front for tuning in radio stations. But, the most fascinating thing about it was that weird push-button labeled “TV.” The company wanted to give the impression that when TV arrived, this console could be converted. Sure fooled me. As I told you earlier, as a kid I used to sit in front of this console imagining that a screen was on the front and I could actually see singers and dancers in our own living room (lip-synchers?).

Of course the console was never converted. However, something better happened. In 1948, my sister Betty did it again. She got one of the first TV’s on the market, a Hallicrafter model 505.

The whole family went crazy. But that tiny 5-inch screen sure posed a problem, not unique in the 40s. How do mom, dad, two sisters, two brother-in -laws, three nieces and nephews and I all watch TV at the same time? Well, you see there was this magnifying bubble you could put in front of the screen and it made the picture larger. However, it also distorted the picture unless you were looking straight on to it. I wish I had pictures of all of us sitting on dining room chairs all one behind the other, a real comedy routine with heads bobbing back and forth to see over the shoulder of the person in front. With today’s huge flat screens, it almost seems impossible that we could actually enjoy watching TV at all. But we gathered every night, lined up the chairs, and had the time of our lives. My eyes were on the future. It made me even more determined to be a part of this exciting new media.

Ok, back to “How To Get Your Own National TV Show.” After my daring exploits in the U.S. Navy keeping the enemy out of the Great Lakes at Chicago, I headed for Northwestern University (1946-1950). The above picture is living proof of how hard I studied.

That’s me on the far right with my SAE fraternity brothers entertaining at a party. On my left is David Barnhizer. He was also a communications student. David and I became the party entertainment gurus. We, along with our other talented brothers, built Northwestern’s first radio station in the basement of the fraternity house. The signal reached the entire campus through, first the electrical system and, when that didn’t reach enough students, we used the central heating system as our antenna. We named it WSAE.

In those days, if a radio signal reached more than 100 feet from an antenna, you had to have a license to operate the radio station. Because the student’s radios were always closer than 100-feet to our heating system antenna, we got away with operating without a license. What fun. I did a nightly show with David Barnhizer called, “The Plumber’s Friends.” I have no remembrance of why we picked that name. Maybe it had something to do with the heating system sometimes failing us.

The best part of my relationship with David is that he has remained a best friend all of these years. He produced and directed many great shows on the Chicago NBC station and in 1965, came to Hollywood and joined me to co-produce The Lloyd Thaxton Show. It was like old times. When the LT show went off the air, David went to New York to direct The Dick Cavett Show. He is now retired and living in a beautiful 200-year old house in Connecticut and we email everyday.

I made every effort to be a part of the university’s radio, television and theater offerings. And, I looked for every other area that I could find, learn and showcase my desires.

Another source of learning one’s trade at Northwestern was the annual musical, “The WaaMu Show.” Many Hollywood stars came out of this student written show and I was thrilled when I passed my first audition to become a member of the sketch comic group. Paul Lynd was the star of the first show I appeared in, and we also became friends. He was a regular star on a game show “Funny You Should Ask,” that I hosted in the 70s.

Here is a picture of me with another campus friend, Claude Akins. It is from one of the sketches we did together on the WaaMu Show. Claude went on to Hollywood to appear in nearly 100 films and 180+ TV episodes in a career spanning over 40 years.

So, what’s the botton line here? Have loving parents? Imagine yourself on TV. Join the Navy. Go to college? Have Talent? Persistence? Luck?

Chapter 4 coming up.

Stay cool. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Let me take a moment to apologize to my readers for my negligence of adding to my blog. I know that too much time goes by between posts and one shouldn’t promise interesting stories and than not deliver. My reason is a good one (or a bad one according to how one might look at it.)

I’ve had some health problems which I will discuss when and if it ever becomes an important topic (I’m writing a book about it). Please be aware that I’m still the guy who used to act silly in front of millions of people on TV.

And now, back to, “How to Get Your Own National TV Show.”


Speaking of acting silly, here I am in my very first appearance in front of an audience (that’s me in the back). It was 1944 and the stage setting was The Devilbiss Deviltries, a student musical show at my high school in Toledo, Ohio. This was the beginning of Lloyd Thaxton, the entertainer. The act was called the flying Fools and my partner was Dick Weinberg. He was my friend then and he is still my friend today. He moved to Hollywood before I did and was a big help in getting me settled in when I came to the land of dreams.

Dick Weinberg was a Network Television director and was responsible for many of the first Bob Hope Shows and The Colgate Comedy Hours starring Martin and Lewis. He introduced me to Jerry Lewis, who was also a big help in my career. Dick Weinberg still lives about a mile and a half from my home. To think that we started our careers as “The Flying Fools,” part of the act of the comedy team “Thaxton and Weinberg,” is quite amazing to me. The second most amazing thing is that I still have the above picture.

One clue I offer here for those wanting your own TV show, is that you have to discover how you want to spend your life as early as possible. I’ve always considered myself to be blessed. I discovered my goal very early, worked hard at it and for the rest of my life I went to work with a smile on my face. Work was not work. Work became my life. Only a few enjoy life through their careers, but, it is worth devoting your young life finding your niche and dedicating all your energy in that direction. Too many students in high school don’t even think about their future. The making of a loser.

On graduating from high school, I was sucked (slurp) right into the Navy. Actually, I enlisted barely hours before I would have been drafted (the war was still on but drawing to a close). Above, you see me (front row) and the choir I organized (I was making the navy work for me).

There was a famous Navy choir called “The Blue Jacket Choir.” We put together our own version of this famous group and we called it “The Blue Jack O#f Choir.” While The Blue Jacket Choir was singing patriotic inspiring songs, we were singing dirty limericks. The guys in the barracks loved it, and laughed and applauded our efforts so much, that this experience cemented my desire to be an entertainer.

My first real stroke of luck came in a package called “The GI Bill.” The greatest legislation congress ever passed. I was now entitled to four years of college on my release from the navy.

I picked Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I did so because it had the best media communications school in the country. Without the GI Bill, my parents would never been able to afford such an expensive college for me. Thank you Uncle Sam. Now do the same thing for the G.I.s coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

I call all this luck. But remember, it was my choice. I followed up on my good fortune by carefully planning and acting on my future. I was only 19 years old.

If I seem to give the impression that I did this all alone, forgive me. I have to take a moment and say that I had the best parents anybody could ever possibly hope for. They were always totally supportive of where I wanted my life to go. They were always there to support me all through my school days. They came to all my events, joined the PTA, and devoted time to all my schools. Unfortunately, too many students or schools do not have this support and, to me, it is vital to ensure that kids not only get a good education, but that they get support from mom AND dad for their goals in life.

I got it and I will be forever thankful to my family. Without them, it would never have happened.

I’ll talk about this picture in Chapter Three (that’s me on the right). Looking back, I think this picture represents the most fun I ever had in my entire life.

Stay hip ... Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 29, 2008



The above picture is of ten year-old me looking into the future (circa 1937). I may look like a future don for the Toledo Mafia, but to me, my neat attire was merely a costume for some future role in TV (possibly lip-syncing a Frank Sinatra record?). One thing I did know at the time; I was meant to perform on TV. All I had to do was wait for it to be invented.

I title this effort, “How To Get Your Own National TV Show” because that is the main question I have been asked over the years from fans, students, audiences and emailers. For the next series of blogs I will outline a life driven by the sole desire (main ingredient for success) to be able to someday stand up in front of a TV camera and announce, “Welcome to The Lloyd Thaxton Show.”

In the process I also hope to dig intro some interesting history of my life (at the least, it was interesting to me). Perhaps this could even be inspirational to young people who have the same desires as to a career in show business. I did it and I can’t even sing, dance or act. I would be a joke on American Idol. But I persevered. And, I have to admit, got just a little bit lucky.

I would hope, as I write this that you give me comments along the way by asking questions about what you personally would like know. Your input, like any observer, during any performance, is invaluable.

This is the introduction and first chapter. I will keep writing until I run out of things to say, or – just run out. Hey, this could be the do-it-yourself obituary I promised to write. The filling in of that dash between the dates on a tombstone that represents a person’s whole life.

Think of it as me getting my shit together.


If you have been reading this blog, you already know that I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, “The Glass Capital of the World.” Toledo was the home of the Owens Corning Glass Company. At one time they even changed the name of their baseball team from “The Toledo Mud Hens” to “The Toledo Glass Sox.” I’ll tell you how bad that decision went over. As bad a name as it was, Mud Hens was preferred over Glass Sox and after a couple of seasons they went back to “The Toledo Mud Hens.”

I had two older sisters, Georgia and Betty. They were wonderful sisters, more like second and third mothers. It was through Betty that I learned that TV would soon be coming to Toledo. How did I know that? In 1940 Betty bought a brand new beautiful all wood Zenith Model 12-S-471 Console Radio.

Picture from Phils Old Radios -

With its sleek styling and black "robot" dial, this large Zenith console typified a great design period in radio history.

But more important, this new beauty had seven buttons to set for your favorite radio stations.


That’s right. A button for watching (?) TV.

The promotion went like this, “

“Your 1945 Radio Here Now! Television Sound Connection—which means you can buy Zenith for the future with confidence. When television comes . . . you will be ready for it.”

But, where was the screen? Were they kidding us?

No, not at all. You see TV was on it’s way and this was a hedge against obsolescence.

Fearing that customers would quit buying radios while waiting for TV to arrive "any day now," manufacturers provided an audio connector in the back that would, in theory, permit you to connect a TV receiver which used your radio for audio amplification. In practice, this never happened. When TVs arrived in the late 1940s, they naturally included their own audio amplifiers. It was the "TV" button that was obsolete.

The “TV” button may have been a useless come-on, but I have to tell you, that button was magic to me. I used to sit in front of that console, push the TV button and dream. I imagined a screen on the front of this radio with singers and dancers coming right out at you. I had seen some experimental TV at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, but, this was real. A “TV” button right in my own living room.

That was when I made the decision. I had to be on TV.

It took awhile but I got there. How, will be coming up in the next chapters.

As I said in the Introduction, I need your comments along the way. Give me some stories of your first brush with television. Or what you would like to read about re: How To Get Your Own National TV Show.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Seeing the picture of Barry Bonds wax body in the LA Times being removed from a San Francisco wax museum, I just had to visit my Hollywood Heads of Fame suggestion one more time. HHF was my idea of how to use the discarded heads of celebrities once they were removed from their bodies and stored on wax museum’ shelves.

Several years ago while shooting a story for a Fight Back! with David Horowitz story for NBC, our crew happened to be in front of the Hollywood Wax Museum. One of my producers went inside to ask if they still had my figure that was formerly displayed in the museum in the 60s. It seems they didn’t have the whole figure, but, like all discarded celebrities (discarded? Ugh), they had my head stored in a special room.

My HHF idea was to take all discarded heads and put them on lampposts along Hollywood Blvd. and call it the Hollywood Heads of Fame. Good idea? Well, so far no one from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has called.

However, how can they ignore this? Barry Bonds, baseball's all-time home-run king with 762 swats, has joined the ranks of the headless and his head is being put away forever to sit on a shelf basking in has-been celebritydom (sic); allegations of steroid use and perjury still hanging over his head.

In the 70s, I created along with Shelly Saltman, a TV sports game show called Pro-Fan. Each program featured a top sports pro as a teammate to a sports fan. Over the run of the show we had dozens of the top pros of the game. I got to know these guys and gals and I can tell you that stress is their main complaint. Trying to stay on top of the game. Some were taking pain pills or some other prescription drug for game ending pain all the time. Wouldn’t that pass as some kind of enhancement over the pros not taking any drugs at all? One thing that impressed me the most was the fact that all of the pros I met had great attitudes and loved their fans.

Then, there was Babe Ruth. His home run record was surpassed years ago but he remains the #1 icon for home run hitting. Why? Didn’t he also take a few enhanced drugs now and then? His choice might have been alcohol, but a drug none the less. His main attribute? The Babe was a jolly fellow. He always had a smile for his fans.

Alas, there belies Barry Bonds. Ever see Barry Bonds point to left field (or was it right field) and hit a homerun for the Gipper (different story?). Babe Ruth was a drinker. Barry Bonds was a doper. He was also a smart ass. He used a different finger when he pointed at right field. So, “off with his head!”

What do I think. I think we should never forget his record. He did it. Even though he had to become the incredible hulk each time he smacked a ball into bleacher heaven, he did it. You can’t just take it away by cutting off his head.

Bottom Line: I elect Barry Bonds to be part of the Lloyd Thaxton Hollywood Heads of Fame.

What do you think?

Stay tuned.