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My last California apartment

February 26, 2012
By KATHRYN SPIRA , For The Leader Herald

It was 323 N. Spaulding Ave. in West Hollywood where I spent my last days as an aspiring actress in California.

Let me backtrack a bit to give you guys a timeline.

I moved from New York City to Los Angeles in the late 1980s with my then-boyfriend, Brad, who was cast in a pilot for TV called "Mulberry Street." While I was there for the shooting of that pilot, I met the guy who was to become my agent, Tom Jennings, who was scouting new talent at the pilot shoot.

I happened to sit next to him in the audience and we struck up a conversation. Tom was an individual agent and he invited me to his office in Beverly Hills the following day. I already had head shots and a theatrical resume from all my years touring summer stock and doing off-Broadway in New York. Unfortunately, he seemed to enjoy drinking more than getting his actors jobs and so that relationship didn't really help my career.

He did, however, have some soap opera actors who had been in the business for many years that were his bread and butter. But the only walk-ons and speaking roles I had on soaps came from open calls and auditions known as "cattle calls."

When Brad and I first moved to L.A., he proposed to me and we lived in a row house at 403 A, Venice Blvd., Venice Beach, Calif., and I waited tables and tended bar at the West Beach Caf which was within walking distance.

At that caf, I met fellow bartender Dana, who I asked to tend bar at Brad and my wedding. Problem is, I totally fell for Dana, which leads me to my next place of residence in Beachwood Canyon, Hollywood, with my now boyfriend Dana, who also was an aspiring actor.

Dana and I shared war stories of both auditions and bartending experiences and we seemed to have a lot in common. But alas, Dana broke my heart and my girlfriend, Geri Miller, introduced me to another dear friend, Michael Bruno, who was at the time looking for a roommate.

Michael was a great roommate because he was both gay and a theatrical agent. He worked for the prestigious agency International Creative Management, known in the industry as simply ICM.

It wasn't my intent to try to manipulate Michael, but I did hope he could move my career forward with proper representation because ICM was known for taking on new and young talent.

The Catch 22 was that you needed credits to get an agent and you needed an agent to get auditions which would hopefully lead to acting credits. So Michael wasn't really able to help me unless I was first able to help myself.

I gave 1,000 percent to my own cause with experience touring with the American Repertory Theatre and off Broadway productions in NYC as well as a couple of walk-ons and a small speaking part on a soap, which is how I got my AFTRA card (American Federation of Radio and Television Artists).

I was working at a West Hollywood eatery called A Votre Sante (To Your Health in French) when my MS rose to the fore and was particularly difficult to get to the bar, which was upstairs a total of 38 steps to an outdoors entrance to the bar.

It was there while working a wrap party for "The Flinstones" movie that John Goodman graciously helped me stock the bar when he saw my difficulties and advised me to leave Hollywood, "There are sharks out there," he said, and that whatever was going on in my body was more important than seeking acting credits.

So that made Spaulding Avenue my last stop out of Dodge, as they say, and eventually led me to my current view of a beautiful Adirondack lake and beach.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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