In the mid 70’s, the Ricardo Montalban Theater was known as the Huntington Hartford Theater. As you face it, to the left was Molly’s Charbroiler. When I lived in the Hollywood area, if at all possible, I had at least 4 meals a week at Molly’s. One Saturday I was walking South toward Molly’s after a walk on Hollywood Boulevard when I was stopped right in front of the theater. A black guy got out of a (even then) ratty old red Toyota or Datsun and asked me if I wanted tickets to a stage production of Sound on Sound By Sondheim playing at the theater. I looked at him like he was crazy, because I was dressed in a tee shirt and a pair of overalls. I said, “I can’t….I have no time to change for the theater.” He said he had to go. He was Ernest Thomas, who starred as Raj on the What’s Happening!! TV series and he got called into a late dress rehearsal for his TV show. He told me, “Here, just take the tickets and enjoy the show!” He really had no time to worry about me paying him or anything.
It was very surprising and very generous. I felt like a fool going to the show in a pair of overall jeans, but the price of the seat couldn’t be beat!
I never was able to find a way to thank Ernest Thomas for the tickets, or pay him back. It was a brief encounter, but it ranks up there with one of the reasons why some celebrities stand out as genuine and really giving people. Perhaps he’ll see this post.