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Holiday Cheer

Holiday Cheer

By Beverly Washburn

Let me first wish all of you a very happy, peaceful and safe Holiday Season. As I was wondering what to write about this month, I decided to share with you my experience in working with Ray Milland.

The year was 1954, and I was cast in a show called “The Ray Milland show: Meet Mr. McNulty.” The weekly sitcom ran for 3 seasons; from 1953 until 1955.

The episode was called “The Christmas Story.” In it, I played an orphan (make that a “bratty” orphan) who comes to stay with the McNulty’s.

When they take me to a Christmas party, I decide that there is no such thing as Santa Claus. I spend the whole evening trying to pull off Santa’s beard to prove it to everyone.

Now, in the beginning of the show, I have a little raggedy doll named Amy to whom I talk and tell my troubles to. At the Christmas party, Santa gives me a package and when I open it, it’s now a new beautiful Amy—no longer raggedy and now wearing a new dress!

Santa then leaves and in walks the guy who Mr. McNulty thought he had hired to play Santa, apologizing for being late! Looking back, it was such a sweet story, and one that might not work in today’s world, but this was the 50s and things back then were a lot simpler and more innocent.
I loved working with Ray Milland. However, at the time, I really didn’t know who he was and didn’t really realize it until many years later.

Some of you will remember that he won the Academy Award for best actor in 1945 for his performance in “The Lost Weekend.” He got that role by default, since Cary Grant previously turned it down.

It is reported that he didn’t want to go to the Awards show, however his wife called him a coward and told him he would be attending—even if she had to put him in a straitjacket! Thus far, he is the only recipient of an Oscar to have uttered not a single word during his acceptance speech, opting to simply “bow” his appreciation before casually exiting the stage!

I feel so fortunate to have worked with so many wonderful people in my career, but sadly, in a way, I wish I could have appreciated them a little more at the time.

I guess when you are just eleven years old, it’s hard to understand that they are famous. To me, they were just ordinary people, but perhaps that’s a good thing too.

Ray Milland died of cancer at the age of 81 in 1986. He was truly a dear man and a joy to work with.

Until next time, remember: You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream. ISI

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