Marian Baylin, Former NBC Intern for Sonny Fox Graciously shares her Thoughts, Remembrances and a Joke She Rehearsed With Her Mother to Stump Sonny.
Before I learned about Sonny’s wonderful book, I just decided to Google his
name to find out where he was I got a hit!
Sonny Fox Consultants Encino, CA.
I didn’t know if this was a big Hollywood
production company and if I would actually be able
to get past the secretaries and production
assistants and if my email would actually reach Sonny.
Even though I had worked for network news
broadcasts and met with heads of states, it took me 2 days to muster up the courage to write to this email
in Encino and when I did, I became 5 years old.
If possible, I probably would have written it in crayon.
“I wanted to know if I could send a note to Sonny using this email address and would Sonny
really read it? I am a devoted fan.”
Sonny’s response was:
“Providing it is a note of adoration, this address will work. Notes of excoriation must be
sent to another address—available upon demand.”
Sonny has woven in and out of my life beyond Wonderama. And no matter how hard I tried,
I am ALWAYS that 5 year old trying to pretend to be an adult.
This was my first letter to Sonny:
My memory of our first meeting has a celestial quality.
The corridor is long, white, tall and basking in a white light. I am sitting on the floor, alone,
weeping with the realization that a new pink Schwinn bike was not to be.
There I was, deemed too young to be allowed on the set of Wonderama and probably
screwed that I still had to do all the promises I made to get on the show’s bus to get there.
Then you appeared. Tall, familiar, smiling.
You knelt down to me asking why I was crying. Sniffling out each syllable I told you, knowing
YOU would whisk me up and announce at the top of your voice, “Nonsense!”
(With the appropriate superhero music bellowing behind us.)
You looked into my sad little bloodshot eyes, and said:
“Sorry, little girl, there is nothing I can do for you.”Oddly, the super hero music played anyway
as you walked passed me.
The year is 1976.
You enter a lecture hall filled with 300 Stony Brook University students.
Spontaneously the room erupts with 600 arms doing the Wonderama wave
and singing the theme for a good five minutes as you slowly made your way
down to the podium. It was the best.
Exhilarated, I remember even saying to myself, forget about the Schwinn. It was our lifetime achievement award from us to you.
You were spectacular, Cary Grant and Don Draper does the Catskills.
You had scheduled a midterm at Passover. When students rumbled realizing this,
and you seemed at a loss for a solution, I yelled out, “Only ask 4 questions!”
We became friends and you started every class (which was being taped for
SUNY future presentations), by yelling out a question to me before beginning the lecture.
You have no idea how I loved you and that class.
I was invited to your smaller class of 10 or so the next semester; you would bring Susan Kerber,
your Assistant at NBC. David Eagle was there who you worked with in LA.
You invited me to intern with you at NBC, which I did with all the spunk and wonderment of
Mary Tyler Moore throwing up her beret in Rock Plaza. I hung out with the first season of SNL.
You treated Susan and I and my family to
the most magical night of FIDDLER with Zero Mostel
and a center table at Sardi’s.
There are many other memories that I will always treasure about my own personal version of
“My Favorite Year” that you made possible.
The other remarkable thing I remember was you “pitching” me an idea at a
Taco Bell in Setuaket, LI.
It was about broadcasting a national flea market or swap meet like the ones in Connecticut.
You were so animated about it….and 20 years later it became eBay.
But it was your idea, and frankly I hope you have a good copyright attorney.
I did read your book which I treasured and was
completely amazed by. The WWII stories alone were
incredible. Your book delivered a delicious,
fascinating story I could hear in your charming, yet devilish voice.
As one very adoring blip in the spectrum of your experiences, I thank you always,
Mr. Fox.for everything you share with me in the past and all the funny and witty emails
we have shared this past year
One of the games we played on Wonderama was stump Sonny. Marian Baylin shares her memory of this.
My Wonderama Joke
If you could stump Sonny with a joke you would win a prize.
My mother told me a joke and made me rehearse it over and over for days
till I knew it by heart.
As I got on the bus from Howard Beach, Queens to WNEW in NYC, my mom called out,
“Marian, do you remember your joke?” Exasperated, I told her “YES, but it’s NOT funny.”
She said, “It’s funny, it’s funny”.
When I got to NY I finally had a chance to tell my joke. Here it is.
One cannonball is having dinner with another cannonball.
The first cannonball says, “I don’t like your mother.”
“What did the other cannonball say?” Give up?”
“Then just eat the carrots and peas.”
– Marian Baylin, 5 1/2 years old