Friday, April 25, 2008

I Owe My Life to Robert Culp

Who's Robert Culp, you ask? Philistine! Among many other fine roles, he played Bill Maxwell on 'The Greatest American Hero,' one of the greatest live-action superhero television TV series of all time.

Last weekend, I was hanging out at my parents' house, and I infiltrated my father's Bat Cave. His den is in the basement, and the perimeter is completely covered with books. Top to bottom, left to right, covered in books. Even the windows have been bricked over with books. Pulp noir, science fiction, psychology, history -- really, every genre is represented. And, as I am wont to do, I plucked a tome off of the shelf and thumbed through it. My discerning choice? A Big Little Book. David Copperfield, I believe it was.

My father saw me flipping through it and told Super Ninja and me a little story I'd never heard before... One night in the mid-seventies, Dad was kicking back watching the Tonight Show. Robert Culp was a guest, and if my IMDB detective work is worth anything, he was likely there to plug his latest project, "Inside Out." But the real meat of the conversation centered on Mr. Culp's latest collecting obsession -- Big Little books.

My Dad's ears pricked up, for he too was a collector of Big Little books. So what did my entrepreneurial/needing-cash Pop do? He wrote a letter to Mr. Culp, care of the Tonight Show, to say that he had a load of Big Little books, and would Mr. Culp care to purchase any of them? Mr. Culp wrote back that indeed, he was interested. Dad sent his list of 70 books to Mr. Culp, who ended up buying fifty of them for $500.

"And that $500 paid for," Dad said, "you!"

Howzabout that? My genesis was paid for by books. I should've known, what with all of the reading and the writing. And the being big and little at the same time.

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