A Memorable Encounter With Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite's death is a gigantic loss.
I remember the first time I met him and was exposed to his wonderful sense of humor. It was in the early 1950s, and my vocal group, the Mello-Larks, had just finished a year on the original late-night show on NBC.
Our manager told us that CBS was going to have a morning show starring Jimmy Dean with Cronkite doing the news, and they wanted the Mello-Larks to be on it.
With any new show on television, there is a lot of rehearsal with music, lighting, makeup and costuming. At the first rehearsal, our song was "Dear Old Donegal," and we did an Irish jig. When we finished, the director told us to rest for 10 minutes, and then do it again.
While we were resting Walter came over and said, "I really like what you did, especially the Irish jig. I'll bet it was hard to learn." We said, "Not at all, in fact we could teach you how to do it in about 10 minutes." We showed him, and in 10 minutes he had it down pat.
It was time for us to do the song again on camera, and when we got to the Irish jig, out of the corner of my eye I could see Cronkite doing it off-camera with us, and doing a pretty good job of it.
After we finished the song, I went over and said to Cronkite, "Hey, you did that very well. You ought to dance more on the show." Cronkite said, "Oh, I could do it if I wanted to, but I just don't want to. I'll stick with the news."
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