When you’re starting out as an actor, you keep raising the stakes. First, you just want to be a character who comes on stage and gets a laugh or two and exits. Just five minutes on a stage, not even Broadway. But every time you say your little prayer at night, you place more demands.
I met Charles and his wife Beth Howland—both were in the original Broadway production at the Alvin Theatre—when they were in the first national company of Company.
When Company came to Ahmanson Theatre, the Los Angeles Music Center, Charles purchased a new, fully decked out, Artic-White (with black top and trim) Mercury Cougar so he and Beth could tour around California in style. When Company ended its run at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco and was heading to Denver, he asked me to drive their Cougar back to NYC.
Randy Robbins (Company understudy) rode with me to Denver, he hopped out to rejoin the cast, and I continued on the best cross-country drive any 20-something could dream of.
The Cougar had a magnificent sound system. Driving across the barren, flat plains of the midwest that early 70s winter, Janis Joplin singing Me and Bobby McGee brought tears to my eyes.
Once in Manhattan, I handed the Cougar’s keys to Kimbrough’s doorman, walked a couple of blocks to the IRT subway, put a token in the turnstile, and headed back to my apartment in Hells Kitchen.
And—to paraphrase Walter Cronkite, “That’s the way it was.”