Saturday, January 05, 2008

Out of the Past

Many years ago, nearly 40, before I was married, I spent a month in Los Angeles working for a film producer. Not the Hollywood big screen type, but someone who made 16 mm educational films. He was friends with my employer, who sold educational films. So I had an opportunity to see what it was like to make these little films. I don't remember all that much about the endeavor except for the one day that we went to William Talman's house to made an anti-smoking ad. William Talman played the character of Hamilton Burger on the old Perry Mason series; he was the DA who never won a case. We spent the entire day there, filming his children and wife, and then him talking about the lung cancer that was killing him and was the result of years of smoking. I think he said that he started smoking when he was 12. He died 6 weeks after we did the ad and before it was ever aired.

Over the years I have occasionally thought about this ad and wondered if it still existed. Last night at dinner we were talking about how it seems that anything anybody does now gets posted on YouTube, and I thought that maybe somebody had put it up on YouTube. A short search later and I found it.


Here it is. I didn't realize at the time that it was the first anti-smoking ad. Even more interesting is that about 15 years ago I worked with someone who had quit smoking after she saw that ad. I have never smoked so I don't know how difficult it is to stop. All I know is that lung cancer is a very painful way to die and I hope that those who do smoke find the strength and support they need to quit.

3 comments:

Joanie San Chirico said...

Wow, that's so interesting! At a time when everyone on tv and movies seemed to have a cigarette in their hand no less. Thanks for posting it, and I also learned something I didn't know about you!

Karoda said...

what an amazing experience as well as a remarkable historical one!

Rayna said...

I remember Perry Mason and I vividly remember Hamilton Burger and William Talman. I will never forget that commercial - heart rending even then, because you knew he was dying. I don't have to see the rerun - I can hear his voice and see his face as I replay it in my head. Historical? Cathy, we are dating ourselves...