That night, before I went to bed, I thought about the first time I came to California with my mother and little brother, Tim. We took the train to my uncle Glen and aunt Ruth’s. On the train out there, my mom says they were filming a movie and one of the actors was Robert Mitchum.
My mother told me I had offered him some candy and he reached out for it. It was then he realized that I was pretending. Being an actor, he went along with it and made believe that it tasted good.
I said, “You have to take the paper off first.” Several people around the famous actor were laughing.
I got one of my first laughs at age 5 from Robert Mitchum. He also bought me an ice cream cone. So here I am in California visiting Uncle Glen, with my other uncles Rick and Mike, 10 years later. The next morning I told Rick I was headed down to The Comedy Store.
I had met Edger Bergen the day before, so I figured this was my chance. Rick knew that weeks ago we had both gotten the chance to see Elvis as he was getting into his limo surrounded by guys who acted like bodyguards. We saw Elvis at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. Being the only two in back of the hotel…he waved at us.
We had gotten lucky and met Elvis’s half brothers in the gift shop at the Pfister, they were buying up copies of all the magazines for Elvis. When I told them I wanted to be a comedian ventriloquist and we were trying to meet Elvis, they told us that he (Elvis) had an opening act named Sammy Shore who not only did comedy, but was getting ready to open up a place for comedians who were starting out called The Comedy Store.
That’s why I was in California on my way to that comedy store on Sunset Blvd. I had been dreaming about this place ever since and counting the days for our trip to California.
Taking that bus ride with my dummy in a suitcase, I found myself at the doorsteps of The Comedy Store. And within minutes, I was shaking hands with Sammy Shore, the famous comedian who tours with Elvis as an opening act. With stardust in my eyes, he asked me if I would want to go on stage.
Yes, I said. But the butterflies in my stomach were real, and I knew all these comedians hanging out in the front entrance were real comedians who made a living doing this. I even saw David Brenner, who I recognized in the group, hanging out.The entrance had pictures and a pay phone hanging on the wall.
I know I did about 5 or 7 minutes. Walking off stage, I went back over to Sammy. He had gotten a kick out of the fact that Elvis’s stepbrothers had told me about this place in Milwaukee, and here I was at the doorstep. He told me, “It’s okay if you want to work on your act, you’re welcome back any time.”
Just then that pay phone on the wall rang and someone answered it and announced, “Is there a Peter Hefty? A phone call for you!” A little bit shocked that anyone would call me…it was Uncle Mike letting me know just how upset he was with me for running off to Sunset Blvd. He told me, “You better get back to Burbank now!!!”
Being a bit embarrassed, I quickly asked everyone standing around, “Is there a bus I can catch to Burbank?” “No,” came the reply, “there are no buses running this time of night, you will have to get a taxi.”
Thanking everyone, I ran out and went next door to the Conrad Hilton and there were several cabs. I got one and headed back down Sunset Blvd. I was daydreaming looking at all the stores, clubs, and lights when all of a sudden my two uncles went whizzing by us in a car headed for The Comedy Store.
Like something out of a movie, I told the cabdriver (and just like you tore a page out of a script) I said, “Follow that car.” In 5 seconds flat, he made a U-turn right on Sunset Blvd. Driving faster and faster to my uncle’s car, he would gain on them then fall back, gain on them again, and fall back. I was yelling out the window, “RICK, MIKE, RICK, MIKE!!!” Finally, Uncle Rick turned and spotted me. In minutes, my uncle pulled over. I could not believe I was in a high-speed chase on Sunset Blvd.
Even though I was finished roaming around LA for the rest of the trip, I knew I’d be returning someday. And at 17, I would return—for now, I was grounded.
The rest of that trip in California pretty much was seeing the walls in my uncle Glen’s apartment. I made plans in my mind to go see Carlo at the Lake Geneva Playboy Club–that helped cheer me up. As I smiled to go to sleep, I was still dreaming with stardust in my eyes.
Sammy On Stage at his 90th Birthday Party at the Comedy Store in Hollywood California
Sammy shore doing his opening act for the first Elvis ”Anniversary” Concert. Jackie Kahane did also a comedy act during this show.
Sammy Shore The Last Comic Sitting