NOBODY LIKES A CENSOR — they stifle the singular, the personal, the human — and no one knows this better than John Kaye. When Kaye, who worked briefly in "program practices," wrote "Smothered" for us, he said he didn't want it published so much as "released into the world." At the surface, it's about a young writer unwillingly censoring the Smothers Brothers. Of course, there's a lot more. In Kaye's words, it's a tale of "love, drugs, madness, betrayal, self-deception, and youthful ambition." "Smothered" is both an intensely private story and an invaluable contribution to Los Angeles history. It's an honor to release it here.
[For "Smothered: Part 1," click here]
ART AND BLOOD
A few weeks later, after Harriet dropped out of the University of Wisconsin, she flew home and told her parents that she was moving to Los Angeles. Feeling justifiably betrayed (and half-stupefied with rage), her father pleaded with her to change her mind, but she refused, and in the end there was little he could do except fume. My parents, on the other hand, were happy that I had found a job and was in love, and they chose not to intercede. When her father suggested to them that I had somehow coerced Harriet into making her decision, my mother gruffly said he was out of line.
"This was their choice. They made it together," she told him over the phone, trying not to overdo her anger, "and we have to respect it."
Although they had never met Harriet in person, she had sent them pictures, and my father, especially, was impressed. "She's very pretty," he said, staring at a photo of her in a bikini, sunbathing on the shoreline of Lake Mendota. "What's she doing with you?"
This was in the early fall of 1965. Harriet arrived just before Christmas and stayed with my parents to plan the wedding while I remained in my newly rented guesthouse in Silver Lake. We were married in March of 1966, and in October of that year she missed her first period. When she missed her second and third, she knew she was pregnant, an event that left her unsurprised since she'd stopped taking her birth control pills shortly after we moved into our new apartment below Sunset, on a sycamore-shaded street in West Hollywood. In 1967, in the first week of the new year, she went with my mother to an obstetrician — whose nurse, coincidentally, was actor Lloyd Nolan's daughter and one of my high school classmates — and he confirmed what she already knew.
"She's eleven weeks," my mother told me. "That means she'll be giving birth to your child some time in June."
"How could this happen? She was on the pill."
"So? Nothing's foolproof," my mother said. "I know this was unplanned, John. Harriet wouldn't make this kind of decision unilaterally. But it doesn't make any difference if she did. This is where we are. It's something you're going to have to accept."
While I held the phone to my ear, I could feel my instinctive desire to lash out, to condemn Harriet's act of willful stupidity. But I knew I would despise myself if I did, so I s...read more