Sleeping with the Producer
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 didnt fit the other soft features. At
the time, I didnt pay attention to any of the above; I was more interested in
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
Id 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 shed 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 hadnt been
anywhere or done anything to give me any worldliness. Id led a sheltered life at
home, from two parents who adored me and each other. Though we would be considered
somewhat well-to-do, Id 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. Shed been on her own
since shed graduated high school at sixteen. Her parents, whom I didnt 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 shed 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, Id gone out and gotten a job at Macys for
the Christmas season.
Next: Christmas at Macy's