Opportunity does not knock once. It knocks all the time, but we do not always recognize the sound.
Early in her career, TV host Joan Lunden received great advice from Barbara Walters. “Take every crumb they throw you, and handle them magnificently.” You never know which magnificent crumb is going to be your big break.
This is a blast from my past, life lessons from movie stars and Hollywood. You never know where your big break is coming from.
Burt Reynolds had made ten films when director John Boorman cast him in the film Deliverance.
Burt asked Boorman, “Which of my films impressed you so you gave me this terrific part?”
“None of them,” said Boorman. “I saw you guest host the Tonight Show. You were fearless in controlling the five guests. The guy in Deliverance. has to control three people in a stressful situation.”
This leads us to the next point: At that time, Johnny Carson was the king of late-night television.
Burt developed a character for Carson’s show – a cocky, wisecracking, devil-may-care womanizer – and Johnny absolutely loved him. Burt’s TV persona was not the kind of guy you would want to live with, and it made great television.
Their routines would go something like this. Johnny would ask, “What are you going to do after the show?” Burt would reply, “Oh, walk up and down Broadway and try to get recognized.” Then he’d wink at the camera as if to say, “I’m having a good time, and being rich and famous ain’t bad either.”
All guests had strict instructions not to talk to Johnny during commercials, so Burt was chatting with Ed McMahon when Johnny suddenly leaned over and asked, “How would you like to guest host while I’m on vacation?” No actor had ever been invited to guest host before, only comedians.
When Burt first hosted the Tonight Show, he had the staff book his ex-wife Judy Carne.
Everyone was astonished, even Judy. They hadn’t spoken in six years and still had unresolved marital issues and a lot of animosity.
However, Burt Reynolds knew what my pal, copy-writing guru David Garfinkel, is always telling me:
“People love conflict. They love to see people fighting who, deep down, share affection and attraction.”
So, Judy Carne came on the show, sat down, and said, “Hmm, you look good.” Burt said, “I hate to tell you, but so do you.” She asked, “What have you been doing?”
Burt quipped, “Oh, hanging around street corners trying to sell “Burt-and-Judy” towels. They are tough to get rid of.” Judy admitted that she and her current husband were having problems. Burt said, “Well, I’ve grown up since we were married.”
The audience was clearly hoping they would kiss and make up and get back together. Superb theater.
How often have you ever felt that a particular job was beneath you or too trivial to merit your best effort? Remember the Frippicism and advice from Barbara Walters: “Take every crumb they throw you, and handle them magnificently.”
You never know which of the well-delivered small opportunities could lead to your big break.
When it comes to journalism, few individuals have a career as iconic as Barbara Walters. Joan Lunden is an American journalist, an author, and a television host. She was the co-host of ABC’s Good Morning America from 1980 to 1997 and has authored eight books. Burt Reynolds made at least 67 movies and was named “Sexiest Man Alive.” Judy Carne was an English actor best remembered for the phrase “Sock it to me!” on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
Remember: Opportunity does not knock once. It knocks all the time, but we do not always recognize the sound. Who knows when your big break will come.
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