It was 1954, television’s golden age, and I was working as assistant to the lead property master at the now-defunct Dumont network. Aside from Captain Video and Studio 57, our main project was a fledgling game show called Blow Out The Candles. The premise was pretty elementary: three contestants vied for the chance to have their very own birthday party, complete with cake and ice cream. The questions were pretty simplistic, too (“Who created the cartoon character Mickey Mouse?”), and it was a bona fide hit for three weeks during the summer.
However, one night, the lead prop guy, Buster “Crabby” Stunton, got stinkin’ blind drunk and fell onto the birthday cake we were gonna use in the prize sequence. Well, we didn’t have any others baked and the studio chef had already clocked out for the day and all nearby bakeries were closed. So, we made up our own, a “faux” cake, out of plywood and caulk and painted it with white chrome matte. It looked beautiful and no one would have been the wiser had not the emcee, on a spur of the moment lark, tried to take a bite right out of the upper tier. He broke two teeth. On live television.
Crabby and I got our heads handed to us by the producers and we never worked network television again. Last I heard, Crabby lived in a tent Phoenix where he spends his days taking pot shots at iguana with a pellet gun. Compared to my lot, that’s a bloody paradise.