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Sleeping with the Producer

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Rick Jason with his first wife, Aria Allen, and dog Button. 1956.

One of the two producers for whom I had auditioned was a woman named Aria Allen. About five-three, she had a cute figure and a pretty face, with the exception of a very strong, almost masculine nose, which didn’t fit the other soft features. At the time, I didn’t pay attention to any of the above; I was more interested in getting work.

Closing night, I was at my rooming house, packing, when there was a knock on my door. "Come in," I called. The door opened and Aria was standing there. She asked for a ride back to New York.

I found her an interesting conversationalist, and totally unlike anyone I’d ever met. We started going out together. She lived in an upscale theatrical hotel on Seventh Avenue and 56th Street. It had a beautiful lobby, but her small room was so poorly situated (looking out on an air shaft), that she was able to afford living there all year around. The money she made in summer stock, which she’d been producing for three years, saw her through until the following spring. Some summer stock producers had been living that routine for decades. She had other ideas.

At that point in my life, aside from the army, I hadn’t been anywhere or done anything to give me any worldliness. I’d led a sheltered life at home, from two parents who adored me and each other. Though we would be considered somewhat well-to-do, I’d have to say we were anything but sophisticated.

Aria was a whole new bag of tricks in my life. She had a quiet though commanding personality: a person who had to be in control. She’d been on her own since she’d graduated high school at sixteen. Her parents, whom I didn’t meet until a year later, were sweet, loving people, simple and inexperienced in their tastes and exposure to the world, even more than I. She behaved around them more like the parent, and they like the children. She always gave the impression that she’d been born with a forty-year-old brain.

As naive as I was then, I was a pushover. Before I knew it, at her urging to stand on my own two feet, I’d gone out and gotten a job at Macy’s for the Christmas season.

Next: Christmas at Macy's Department Store


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