Max Baer and Hollywood
As it turned out, when I arrived in Studio City at Max’s beautiful home in the hills of Coldwater Canyon, I didn’t stay in the guest house. Max warmly welcomed me with open arms and told me the roadie of the band he managed and his wife were living in the guesthouse so I would bunk down in the maid’s quarters in the main house seeing as he had no live-in maid. That was fine with me. I unpacked and made myself at home and sat out by the pool with Max’s dogs. He had three or four, one being a German Shepherd and the others were small dogs that he called “the babies.” Needless to say, my first best friends in town were those dogs.
I called all the people on my list who I hoped would give me some help and direction in getting started finding acting work. Some ignored me while others promised to get back to me later. I looked forward to starting classes at UCLA and began the actor’s life of waiting and hoping while being as proactive as the acting profession allows. Unlike being a doctor or lawyer or many other professions, an actor can’t go out and set up shop and work on a television show or in a movie. We have to audition and are dependent on the powers-that-be to hire us. Having family and friends in the business gives an actor a huge leg up, and I didn’t have that, except for Max who wasn’t working at the time and Andy Sackheim, who it seemed had forgotten me, but I was determined and focused. An underlying feeling of depression was always with me and something I constantly had to fight against, but I believed with every fiber of my being that getting acting work would bring me the joy and peace of mind I longed for.
Max’s band was called Pollution, which seemed like an outrageous name to me at the time but now seems pretty tame. The lead singers were Dobie Gray and Tata Vega, and naturally I got to go to their gigs and hear them sing all the time. Both of them were awesome singers and when I listened to Dobie I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t incredibly famous. He’d had a hit called “The in Crowd,” but nothing since. His huge hit, “Drift Away” was yet to come. I drove him down to a gig in Orange County once when somehow, he got left behind. All the way down I drilled it into him on how he should push for his own single and how it would be a big hit. I knew so much about the music business (not!), he must have listened.
I had no idea of what a great career was in Tata’s future. I only knew I wished I could sing like her. Listening to her belt out songs would be the closest I would ever come to hearing Janis Joplin in person. No popular female singer today can touch Tata. One of Max’s band members had a cocaine problem, a drug I had never heard of. Max used to say this band member was really into coke and he wished he knew what to do about. I thought Max was talking about Coca Cola and wondered what the big deal was. I figured I better not tell him I liked Coke too since he seemed so adamantly dead set against it.
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