Two years ago, I wrote a diary about what it’s like to go to the premiere of the movie based on a book you wrote–an experience that was as amazing and unreal to me as it would be for you. That was four months before my aneurysm burst and I almost died. We attended the premiere with Art and Ramona Bell, who died 6 months later. I decided to write a similar diary about what it was like for Whitley to appear with comedian Craig Ferguson on the Late Late Show.
The first thing to know is that, like most nightly shows, this one is not "late, late" for the guests: It was taped at 4:30 in the afternoon. I watched it along with some of our colleagues in the "green room," where a TV was set up. I could have sat in the audience, but I wanted to see Whitley the same way the television audience would, later that night.
If your subject is war or politics, you may have a chance to go on a serious show, but if your subject is UFOs, you’re pretty much relegated to the shows hosted by comedians. At least Ferguson was a lot easier on Whitley than Bill Maher was a few years ago, when Whitley appeared on his show. While Whitley was having some makeup applied, Ferguson came in and said hello to all of us, which I thought was nice.
On the show, Ferguson brought up the planet Uranus, obviously trying to get to the "rectal probe" subject that Whitley dreads so much, but Whitley deflected him adroitly, focussing the conversation on the newly downgraded ex- planet Pluto, instead.
We recorded the show on our TV at home and Whitley managed to watch a little of it the next day, before he just couldn’t stand it anymore and switched it off. When he commented to our publicist that he looked like "a Baleen Whale," she reassured him that he’d been great and said that a very handsome movie star (who shall go unnamed) absolutely HATES the way he looks on TV and in the movies, so he never watches himself. Meanwhile, Whitley has almost decided to re-grow the mustache he wore years ago. He’s also reconsidering dying his hair, although the last time he did it, it didn’t really work.
He approached the whole hair dying project as if it was some sort of slightly obscene act. We went into a drug store that we don’t usually go to and, taking care that no one saw him, he selected a box of hair dye from a shelf and decided to wait until no one was in line at the cash register before purchasing it. Then he decided to make ME buy it. I said, "Fine, but since the box says ‘Clairol for Men,’ I don’t think you’re fooling anyone."
He dutifully followed the instructions, and ended up with a head of darker hair. The only problem was, absolutely no one noticed. Not one of our friends noticed the change. His mother, who was alive then, didn’t notice anything different about him. Our son, when he came home from school, didn’t notice. Whitley realized he might as well leave it the way it is.
I remember when Whitley first got gray hair (it’s now a lovely white color). Poor Whitley–this was the first time I almost died on him. I had a strange disease called pre-eclampsia during my pregnancy, so I had to stay in bed most of the time. This disease is "cured" by the birth of the baby. Things were coming to a climax and my doctor decided it was time for the baby to be born. We were whisked to the hospital, where the birth took place, then Whitley crawled home, exhausted, only to get a call in the middle of the night from the doctor, saying that both mother and baby were in danger and he had better come right over if he wanted to ever see us again.
We survived, and my son is now a handsome, talented and newly-married young man. But I remember lying in my hospital bed after the birth, just coming out of a kind of cloudy altered state, and looking up at my dear husband and thinking, "What happened? He’s GRAY." His blonde hair had turned gray almost overnight.
So I’m secretly glad the hair dye has never worked, because to me, his white hair is a sign of all the love and devotion he’s given to both me and our son for so many years.
I started this diary in order to give you a description of what it’s like to be on a major late night television show, because it’s something that most of my readers have probably never experienced. But I notice that I’ve ended up writing about what it’s like to be alive instead, with all the joys and tragedies that living entails, and all of you already KNOW what that’s like.
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