Monday, April 12, 2010

My short-lived fling with Ann Jillian

Here's another brief installment from the book I'm writing about growing up in LA in the 60s. It's 1963/4. I'm in Junior High in the San Fernando Valley. I have a huge crush on classmate Ann Jillian (who already was a child star).

That entire freshman year I was on a cloud. We even went bowling once!

From time to time she would be away for a month or so filming an episode of WAGON TRAIN or the television classic – SAMMY, THE WAY OUT SEAL for the Sunday night DISNEYLAND program. Those were always long months and I never allowed myself to consider that she probably wasn’t missing me (and if she thought of me at all it was when she had to dance with the seal) but she always returned and things went right back to normal.

But one time she didn’t come back.

Her parents enrolled her in St. Mel’s, a Catholic school. I was devastated. Persuading my parents that St. Mel’s wasn’t that Catholic and I should transfer didn’t really fly. Life was suddenly very empty. I’d come home everyday and just go to my room and draw dark comic books. I don’t remember who the superhero was. I just remember the arch villain was always the Pope.

In time the pain for Ann began to fade. And the Dodgers sweeping the Yankees in the ’63 World Series didn’t hurt. I tried to keep in touch but it was hard. She was always going off to film a BEN CASEY or TWILIGHT ZONE episode (So in addition to Ringo, I now had to worry about hunks like Vince Edwards and Rod Serling stealing her away.) We eventually drifted apart but reconnected about thirty years ago and have remained friends ever since. My schoolboy crush has been replaced by enormous admiration for all she’s accomplished and the inspiration she has selflessly given to others.

Anyway, I was determined to learn something from this experience. I would never make that same mistake – I would never again give my heart to someone I knew would never return my affections.

My next crush was my teacher.

Miss. Perlman was probably 25. It’s hard to tell with older women. I was 13. She taught Public Speaking. Yes, there was the slight age difference but on the plus side there was no religious conflicts and I never had to worry she’d go off for a month to film a GILLIGAN’S ISLAND episode. But she was engaged and I found that to be a hurdle I couldn’t quite clear by dazzling her with my speech on federal embargos.

So I would just gaze up at her in class, fantasizing about us both being naked, doing things I had only heard about, she calling out “Ohh Kennnny!” and me calling back “Ohhh Miss Perlmannnn!”

Still, I thank her for at least diverting my attention from Ann and serving as a nice transitional infatuation until my hormones were ready to move on. And she once told me to tuck in my shirt. So she had to be looking at my crotch.

16 comments:

Jeffrey Leonard said...

Ken, I had a similar experience. I went to Cleveland High in Reseda with a girl named Suzanne Cupito. She later became known as Morgan Brittany. While we were in school she did episodes of shows like "Gunsmoke", "The Outer Limits", "Ben Casey" and "Twilight Zone". Even a part in the Hitchcock movie "The Birds". She may as well have been Tuesday Weld. We never went bowling, but I had similar fantasies as you. Truthfully, I don't think she knew I existed...until our 10th high school reunion. She showed up in all her glory and even talked to me. My life was fulfilled at last!

YEKIMI said...

The only person I went to school with that went on to become a sorta famous actress was Nancy Everhard....only she hated my guts and went on to loathe all of my body parts.

Wallis Lane said...

When I was at Parkman JHS(many years after Ken) one of my first big crushes (entirely unrequited, of course) was on this dark-haired exotic looking girl named Gina Gershon. I wonder whatever happened to her ;)

Rick said...

I went to junior high and high school with Jeff Berg (now, and it seems like forever, president of ICM) and Peter Morton (Hard Rock Cafe/Hotel founder). But I didn't have a crush on either one of them.

I did have a crush on the cute little redheaded girl in the grade below me who carried a guitar slung over her shoulder everywhere she went: John Raitt's daughter Bonnie.

LeeFranke said...

Waaaaay OT:

I just read an excellent post from Wil Wheaton. He just did a guest spot on "The Big Bang Theory". He talked about his experience.

http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/wwdnbackup/2010/04/the-wheaton-recurrence.html

LeeFranke said...

No link...try again

Wil Wheaton's post

AP said...

Didn't Ann wind up marrying a cop? And then you mentioned she went to Catholic school too? Wow, no way for a think yid from the valley to score there ... but you did pretty darn good Ken. Great family ... lucky man!

gih said...

Well, that's her life, man. Maybe there would be changes and that's the outcome now.

Eric said...

In that top picture she's a dead ringer for Sally Draper.

Napa Valley Hobo said...

I hope you kept those comics. I bet there are a lot of people right now who also see the Pope as their arch villain.

Kevinmacduff7137 said...

About 16 years ago I stood in a very long line at a bookstore in Newburyport, MA, to get an autograph by Karolyn Grimes. For those of you who don't suffer from PTSD whenever someone goes, "HEE-HAW!", Karolyn Grimes was the child actress who played Zuzu Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life." She was promoting her new book on the film, and I was the only person to bring a different book to the bookstore for her to autograph. It had not occurred to me that book signings are a promotional tool to sell the author's new book. This was pointed out to me too late to rectify the error.

Anyway, when I stood in front of her and handed her someone else's book to autograph (beneath a photo of her being held by James Stewart), she gave me a bright Zuzu smile and a glass-cutting glare that assured me that I just tunneled at rocket speed to the core of Planet Loser.

To this day, I detest child stars.

Charles H. Bryan said...

This has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand, but I just got MLB Gameday Audio ($20 for the season to listen on the PC) and I, in Michigan, am listening to Vin Scully right now.

Life ain't all bad.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

"I just tunneled at rocket speed to the core of Planet Loser."

Very funny line. I gotta use that, and soon...

Thanks KevinMacduff7137

D. McEwan said...

Well, she got he worst of it. She had to go to Catholic School. You were definitely the better off of the two. Better a broken heart than being "taught" by nuns.

See, I was such a geek, that all I've had wanted to know from her back then would have been "What is Ray Bolger like?" after she did BABES IN TOYLAND with him for Disney.

These days you can reminisce together about 1983, when AfterM*A*S*H and Ann's JENNIFER SLEPT HERE, a sit-com where she played a ghost, ala TOPPER, both debuted the same week. At least AfterM*A*S*H is remembered as a famous flop. JENNIFER SLEPT EHRE is just plain forgotten.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken, You forgot to mention that you, your lovely wife, Ann Jillian and me, (Andy Murcia, Ann's husband) all met up when you came to see the hit musical, "Sugar Babies" on Broadway back in 1979-80. Ann Jillian was co-staring with Mickey Rooney. I recall after the show we all went to the Greeks coffee shop at 51 St & B-way for coffee and rice pudding. I also remember meeting you in San Diego when Ann sang the N/A at the S.D. Padres game there - the then team owner (John) had Ann and I in his booth and you waved from the radio booth to us. I recall you were doing your radio broadcast show there. Ann told me of your "crush" and now that we have a son of our own, we know all about those boyish school yard crushes. PS Be glad you were Jewish as your parents saved you from getting your knuckles whacked with a ruler by the Nuns! I enjoyed your very cute story of puppy love. Ann and I send you & your wife our best regards, Andy Murcia,

Goldenjasper23 said...

April 10 was David's birth date, I've been missing David and Lynn every moment, every day ...... at times a girl just needs to laugh, thank you Ken for giving me that day today.........Gabrielle Angell/Facebook