Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Circle of Life

I'm the "little Italian kid" on the steps
in Butch Minds the Baby  (1942),
co-starring Virginia Bruce.
My first paid job was was as a movie extra in 1942. I was seven years old. Whenever Central Casting needed  Italian-looking kids, my dad got a call. Either my sister Natalie or I were in demand. The photos to the left are proof (unless you can't believe I was ever that cute).  World War II gas rationing destroyed my film career, so I'll never know what might have been. 

Yes, that's little Al at the extreme lower-
right edge of the frame. Co-starring  (with me)
were, left to right, Fuzzy Knight. Broderick
Crawford, and Dick Foran.

Long past fitting the description of "little Italian kid," I treasured my  Central Casting card. Life has taken me on a winding journey, since those bright-light and good pay days ($25 per diem in post-Great Depression dollars). I went from sound stage to  peddling peanuts on Santa Monica beach. From there to the Catholic priesthood, followed by marriage and parenthood. In my forties, I launched a career as a professional writer/editor, beginning with features for periodicals. I then got more ambitious, moving to book-length fiction and nonfiction. Not until my tenth book and most recent  novel (my sixth), The Saint of Florenville: A Love Story, did my work attract any broad-based attention.

Looking back, 7 must be my lucky number, indeed. Having retired from acting at that age, I find myself--in my 70s--I am currently in discussions that I hope will lead to optioning SOF, for production as a feature film. What Elton John wrote about the circle of life in The Lion King is really true. Life journeys often end where they began. 


  1. You're among the hardest working and most generous people I know, Al. It makes sense that this is coming around for you!

  2. Thanks, Camille. And you've been one of my models and inspirations.

  3. Way to go, Al! Love the childhood anecdotal clips - never knew this! Where does all this leave SOF re mainstream publishers? Once the movie contract is formally signed, can they come after you, or can you pursue them? Or is this all quite complicated re copyrights etc?

  4. Gerry:
    No copyright problems occur. All I'm doing is allowing the filmmakers to produce and market the movie. Book rights are separate, and I retain full ownership. This means I can seek out or consider an offer from a traditional publisher. One of my priorities bookwise will be to get foreign translations (mainly French and Italian). I'm starting from scratch, so there will be a learning curve.
    Thanks for commenting. Best to you and the family.

  5. Sounds like a case of "all good things come to those who wait," although you have to work at it, too, as you have done. As for figuring it out, why bother? I gave up trying to figure out life's unpredictability years ago as I suspect none of us will ever figure it out. Just go along for this ride--it sounds like such fun. Aline

  6. Aline:
    You're absolutely right. I intend to go for the ride and enjoy it. Thanks for commenting.

  7. I had no idea you were a child actor. In the movies no less. Maybe that influenced your desire to tell stories somehow?

    I wish you all the best with the upcoming movie deal. Please keep us posted.

    Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers