Don’t Lie Down In The Aisle
A playbook for being exuberantly resilient
By Stan Holden, Foreword by Gavin Macleod
Foreword by Gavin Macleod
During my acting career I have had the pleasure of working with some of the greatest stage, movie and television actors of all time, including Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Carol O’Connor and Ernest Borgnine, just to name a few. My time on the Mary Tyler Moore Show was no exception. Sharing the screen with Mary, Ted Knight, Ed Asner and Betty White, has been one of the greatest highlights of my life… through which I learned many things about myself and my craft. I made many lifelong friends and I learned how to move forward, regardless, in an industry that is inherently full of setbacks and rejections.
In what is one of the more memorable episodes on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (and one of my personal favorites; many say that it includes the most comedic scene in television history) the beloved, yet not often seen character, Chuckles the Clown is hired as the grand marshal for a circus parade. At the parade, he dresses as one of his more popular personas, Peter Peanut. But, tragedy strikes when a rogue elephant tries to “shell” him and poor Chuckles visits the great beyond. During the funeral, the minister reads the following eulogy… while Mary tries very unsuccessfully to stifle her laughter:
“Chuckles the Clown brought pleasure to millions. The characters he created will be remembered by children and adults alike: Peter Peanut; Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo; Billy Banana; and my particular favorite, Aunt Yoo-Hoo. And not just for the laughter they proviwded—there was always some deeper meaning to whatever Chuckles did. Do you remember Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo’s little catchphrase? Remember how, when his arch-rival Señor Kaboom hit him with a giant cucumber and knocked him down, Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo would always pick himself up, dust himself off, and say, ‘I hurt my foo-foo’? Life’s a lot like that. From time to time we all fall down and hurt our foo-foos. If only we could deal with it as simply and bravely and honestly as Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo. And what did Chuckles ask in return? Not much. In his own words, ‘A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.'”
And how befitting it is to begin Stan’s message of resilience here with a eulogy. A eulogy that, unlike most, illustrates in a comedic way that sometimes “we must all just pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, even if we hurt our foo-foos.” A eulogy to say goodbye to the ways of our past and to move forward… Resiliently.
As my career moved forward and I dusted off my own foo-foo a time or two, I eventually became the “captain” of my own ship… as Captain Stubing, the Captain on The Love Boat television series (1977- 1987). Each week an ensemble cast of characters would embark upon the ship with me and my crew— played by actors, old and new, many of whom I had worked with in the past—as we set sail to many exotic locales around the globe. During each voyage a problem or two or three in the area of love and romance would arise, always wrapped up at the end in a cloak of feel good humor and warmth. In my own book, This Is Your Captain Speaking, I go into great detail with a walk down memory lane about the ups and downs of my career and the wonderful time I had filming The Love Boat and The Mary Tyler Moore Show as well as many others.
The parallel here, of course, is that a ship cuts through the waters unhindered by the daily hurdles we experience as humans. It moves forward and glides through the water, sometimes with turbulence, but mostly with grace… but it moves forward nevertheless! As the Captain of the ship and in real life as the captain of our “acting crew,” it was my job, both figuratively and literally to grab the proverbial wheel of my ship and steer the course through often uncharted waters in order for the others to follow. It is with this attitude and philosophy that I steer my own life.
And here in lies Stan’s endearing message in Don’t Lie Down In The Aisle. It is one thing to just endure the hurdles of life and business, but it is quite another to move forward resiliently with grace, with humor and with love… much like Chuckles the clown.