The host of the 33rd Academy Awards was Bob Hope. I loved working with Bob. He was...
constantly cracking jokes and a real pleasure to work with. The 33rd Academy Awards show was held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium featured a large stage and an orchestra pit that was on an elevator that could be lowered from stage level to deep in the pit and out of sight of the audience.
Being first Stage Manager on the Academy Awards was an immense responsibility. I had 250 cues for set changes in my script which was a couple of inches thick. Four other Stage Managers were there to assist me with the movement of the hundreds of presenters and performers as well as placement of set pieces. I also had the assistance of 250 Assistant Directors from the Directors Guild. There were 25 categories of awards with five nominees in each category. That meant 125 nominees, but for each category there were a couple of presenters, so that meant another 50 people. We also had a large orchestra and performers for each of the five song performances to find dressing rooms for and to make sure they were on stage and in place at the right time.
There were certain actors and performers who were having feuds so we also had to make certain that as they moved about from dressing room-to make up-to wardrobe-to stage that their paths did not cross.
When we were about to go on the air Bob Hope suddenly asked me," Ron would you please bring me my script from the podium. I need to look at it."
The podium was on the opposite side of the stage, so I put my script down on the floor and rushed to get his script from the podium just as the orchestra started playing the Star-Spangled Banner and the orchestra pit began to rise.
I ran across stage trying not to look obvious to the audience, but as I got back to pick up my script, it got sucked down the slot between the orchestra pit and the stage. It disappeared completely out of sight!
I was desperate! I had 250 cues to give but no script! I frantically ran around trying to see if I could find one, but there were no extras, and no one would give up their script for me to use!
This was my first out-of-body experience working as TV Network Stage Manager.
Unbelievably, somehow I managed to execute all of those 250 set cues from memory and without a script! I also managed all the other duties and responsibilities I had to discharge without making an error! To this day I marvel how this was accomplished.