I loved watching Saturday Night Live growing up and actually remember the original cast. John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Steve Martin will always hold a special place in my heart. Gilda Radner married my favorite genius comedian Gene Wilder and later made a huge mark on Pittsburgh when Gilda’s Club opened in 1999. Gilda’s Club is a warm and welcoming place where anyone diagnosed with cancer can go for social, emotional and informational support. Membership is totally free.
But the biggest link Pittsburgh has to Saturday Night Live is Don Roy King. He attended Monroeville Junior High to become the four-time Emmy Award winning director of Saturday Night Live. He owes his auspicious start to his eighth grade teacher Anne Boden who took him and his classmates to Broadway where he met legendary Mary Martin starring in Sound of Music. It turns out she went to Monroeville Junior High too. If you have talented kids you may want to point them in that direction.
Kings credits Pittsburgh for influencing him in many ways growing up. He describes our city as a good, strong, hardworking blue collar town where ambition and dreams aren’t squelched. He showed initiative when the director unexpectedly quit at the PBS station he had just started working at in an entry level position. Don’t you love his confidence! He learned everything he could 30 seconds before the broadcast and managed to pull it off. He was a director two weeks into his career. I can see why he is so successful directing a live show where anything can happen and there are no second takes.
Don found himself back Pittsburgh a few years later for a dream job producing Pirates baseball. Soon after he was offered a chance to direct the pioneering Mike Douglas talk show. This gave him the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in show biz including fellow Pittsburgher Gene Kelly, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Lewis and Fred Astaire.
It has been almost a decade since Don was recommended for an open slot of director at Saturday Night Live and immediately impressed creator Lorne Michaels. Don has never forgotten his roots and will be returning to Pittsburgh for a LIVE performance on February 5th at The Frick Fine Arts Building. You can reserve your seat through Steeltown Entertainment and tickets are only $15.00. This famous citizen makes us hometown proud and is one speaker you don’t want to miss.