I want to acknowledge the passing of two important friends. The first was the wonderful Richard Dawson. As many of you know, my father directed a number of Hogan’s Heroes episodes. Simply put, Howard loved Richard, and Richard adored Howard. One great childhood memory I have was from the early 1970s. It was Christmas eve. I was five, maybe six. At about 10 p.m., our doorbell rang. My mother and father were suspicious of who it could’ve been being that it was late, but Howard opened the door regardless. In danced Santa Claus and two of his helpers. I remember Santa having a big bag of gifts over his shoulder. He ran down a small flight of stairs to our living room, opened the bag and placed a bunch of gifts under our tree. There were gifts for my folks and my sister and me. Santa let out a number of big jolly laughs. He then said he had to make more deliveries, and ran out! Obviously, Santa was Richard. My folks knew him as “Dickie” until he started up on Family Feud. Santa’s little helpers were Richard’s two young boys, Gary and Mark. My folks were taken completely by surprise. We had no idea Richard was going to do this. We’ll never forget.
The second person is Ray Bradbury. I met Ray a couple of times over the years, although I did not know him well. He and Howard became close on a film that Ray wrote called “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.” Howard had a few bits in the film with Sid Caesar. I remember Ray being very kind. He had a lot of admiration for Howard, and vice versa. I appreciated the brief but special moments that I had with Ray. I remember my father had given him a copy of a short film my father and I made in the early 1990s called “The Other Side of Hope.” Howard starred in it with the amazing Robert Guillaume. The film was not a comedy. It touched on some serious end of life issues. Even though Ray knew my father from comedy, he went out of his way to tell me he had seen the film, and how much he enjoyed it. Howard already knew Ray’s reaction, but I had no idea that my father had sent Ray a copy. This was a very special moment, totally unexpected. Thank you, Ray.
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