APOLLO 11 – THE RIGHT STUFF
The most watched event in humankind was the landing of man on the moon. Neil Armstrong was picked to be the first one because of his courage, talents, and humility. He rarely appeared in public, didn’t do interviews, and on the advise of Charles Lindberg, didn’t sign autographs. So when I heard I’d be working with him on a Bob Hope TV Show in 1983, I plotted how to meet the first extraterrestrial. Several hours before taping, I found him politely sitting alone in an empty soundstage at NBC, I walked over and asked if I could sit andtalk to him while we waited. There were a couple of things I was always curious about.
“WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WALK ON THE MOON”?- “It is very much like walking on the sandy beach near the shore. It is firm but your foot sinks into a fine powder about a quarter of an inch. The biggest difference is you only weigh one fifth what you do on earth.“
“WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE WEIGHTLESS?”- “It’s like swimming underwater, you can propel yourself by kicking your foot or flapping your arms. The only difference is there is no such thing as Up, Down, or Sideways. It’s all the same. Some people are fine, others it wreaks havoc on their equilibrium. They spend the whole trip dizzy and airsick.” According to him, the airsickness was NASA’s best kept secret. Finally I asked the big question,
“WOULD YOU SIGN THIS PICTURE?”- Imagine my surprise when he said “NO.” He explained further, “It isn’t me. I took it, but it’s a picture ofBuzz” Thinking quickly I pointed out his tiny reflection holding the camera in Buzz Aldrin’s shiny visor. “OK, he said, “I’ll sign your picture”.
Apparently, there was only one color camera and Neil shot lots of pictures of Buzz, Buzz only shot one of Neil from a distance. TV however, captured it all.
In a small house in Salt Lake City, Utah, Philo Farnsworth the man who had invented electronic television watched as the words, “Live from the Surface of the Moon” appeared on the screen. His wife, Pem asked him, “So was it all worth it?” The great man replied, “I think so, but until this moment - I wasn’t too sure”.