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The Incredible Hulk & His Suit
“The Incredible Hulk” had been on the air for a year when I got an assignment to write for the show. I wasn’t a perfect fit. Even as a kid, I didn’t dig comic books and hardly ever read them – mainly because the good guy won too easily. I preferred a little drama like The Baseball Joe series of books mixed with early Jules Verne.
When I got the assignment (which I badly needed because I was near broke) I immersed myself in past episodes and read the original comic books, if not avidly, at least I paid attention to details.
But when I turned in my first draft, I was told there was a problem. The conundrum was not unique to me but I had failed to depict how the raging green monster, after beating the shit out of everybody, got back into his clothes since he had shredded them to pieces when he morphed into the hulk.
Since all writers had the same problem, I was told if I could solve that one, I’d be hired as a story editor. The thought of a weekly paycheck was appealing. I was living way over my means. I had two adopted daughters from my second marriage and the girls were addicted to Goth – black costumes and black lipstick can get expensive. In addition, my wife wanted psychiatric help for the kids.
A steady job on “The Incredible Hulk” would help solve my problems. I pondered different scenarios how the green monster got back into his shredded clothes. Unlike Superman, he had no telephone booth to use as a changing room. Besides, he was too god-damned big to fit in one.
So, I had him rushing into clothing stores as The Hulk morphed back to Bill Bixby. That was nixed quickly. Too preposterous I was told by the producers. Wasn’t this a show where the main gimmick was a muscled, jungle-green monster?
Next, I placed the action in a redwood forest where a kind, U.S. Forrester discovered him behind a tree and got him some duds.
“No good,” I was told.
I went back to work. I had him disappear into sewers where he miraculously found a discarded suit.
The producers held their collective noses on that one.
I tried alternate universes where everybody dressed up and took pity on The Hulk, and put him in flashy sets of clothes like they all wore. I never even got to finish my sentence on that one. I added invisibility to the many attributes of the green monster.
Again, a negative. I tried other avenues of sartorial splendor for The Hulk, but like every writer before me, I failed. Finally, I just stuck Bill Bixby back into a suit and tie and handed my script in.
It was fairly well received and I got additional assignments, but I never got a staff position because I didn’t solve The Hulk’s clothing problems. However, I made enough money for my adopted girls’ shrink.
And it all ended rather happily. We went on merrily living in The Hollywood Hills, and the girls, they actually did well. They both went to ivy league schools. And oh yes, they discarded their black as midnight garb and began dressing quite preppy.
Telly Savalas & Kojak
I had the opportunity to write for the TV show Kojak, back when the dawn of uber-detective TV was popular. In those days as a freelance writer, I was never allowed on the set. We were hired hands, and once we turned in a final version of our scripts, that was it until the next assignment.
On Kojak (which I loved writing for) there were even more restrictions. One of the characters, Telly, created his own quirks to draw attention, with the use of lollipops and the line “Who loves ya baby.” As writers, we were never supposed to include them in our scripts.
One day I got him in a round about way. I created a boxing gym scene and placed the action close to a punching bag. I knew what would happen, and I was right. To button the scene, Telly smacked the bag, uttering his usual line “Who loves ya baby.”
I was never able to insert lollipops into scenes. I tried once using them as an important clue in a murder. The clue was changed to a different confectionary–salt water taffy.
Although I never met Telly Savalas, I learned quite a bit about him while writing for the series. I knew he loved gambling, could toss a few with the rest of them, was super proud of his Greek heritage, and faced death like a man.
When he discovered he had incurable prostate cancer, he moved to The Sheraton in Studio City and held court in the bar that bore his name. I was told he was always gracious. He laughed and joked and gave autographs to everybody who asked, and definitely did not play the movie star.
Though I never met him—I’m proud he said my words. And I’m glad I put in the punching bag.
A word about myself: I am a cantankerous, old guy who had a lot of fights during my show biz career, but none of them took place on Kojak. I had fun there. It was a happy period and I will be blogging about some of the people who made Kojak such a great experience on my site, erickaldor.com. My site contains a variety of items. There’s a novel, podcasts, and blogs that are inflammatory and XXX rated. But everything I have written is how I saw and see American Life.
I hope you take the time to browse the site and let me know your reaction.