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Since people began to communicate with each other, "Tell me a story" has been a request of both children and adults.
Storytelling is one person telling others of something. The story can be of a real event or it can be made up. Storytelling is often a part of our everyday conversations.
From Vaudeville to YouTube, it's all in the family
Old Man Steve is a name you could soon be recognizing. Stephen F. Austin created the character on video shorts, and this old man is doggone funny. A Dallas,TX Woodrow Wilson High School '57 (WW) alumnus, Austin is a familiar face around town, having been associated with the Dallas Summer Musicals for more than 30 years.
Now retired, he is spending his time making people laugh. I think it's lots of fun to make people smile. And it brings out the ham in me, says Austin about his current ventures.
Steve worked in his father's dental lab for 20 years, and then ran it for ten years after his dad's retirement. It was a father-to-son thing, he explains. Always a musical theater aficionado, the Dallas,TX resident headed for New York in 1959. For a Texas kid like me, going to live in New York may as well have been Europe.
He worked in the box office for a variety of shows. I spent eight years there, working on and off with some summer stock. I worked upstate in Latham, NY and worked at the Colony Summer Theater. We brought in touring shows with talent including Ethel Merman, Robert Montgomery and Bob Cummings, for example, Austin says.
I was invited to cast parties, and one actor I had the pleasure of getting to know is Kathryn Grayson. At a cast party, Ms. Grayson, who told Steve she wasn't really a party person, asked him to take her home. She was so gracious and friendly, she put me at ease. She asked me questions about myself, and called me the "Texas Kid."
At that time, actors stayed in motels, unlike today's big hotels. Myrna Loy required an apartment, because she wanted to cook. When I met Ms. Loy, I was sniffling with a bad cold. She called me to her dressing room at the next performance, and gave me chicken soup she had made for me. That perked me right up!
Tab Hunter needed another player for a bridge game. I offered to play, although I'd never played bridge. I ended up learning the game from him, Austin quips.
Steve says he watched Carol Channing rehearsing for her one-woman show. As a vegetarian, she always carried her own food. She insisted on having bottled water in her dressing room, long before it became the norm, Austin comments.
He continues that her husband was her manager, and every night they were in the box office counting the money.
Back in Dallas, Austin worked on the crew at Casa Manana the first year it opened in Fort Worth. He has been an active member of the Dallas Summer Musicals Guild for 17 years, with 14 of those as an officer.
I've had about every job in the Guild except president.
In 1994, Austin joined the Dallas Summer Musicals staff as box office manager, rotating from the Music Hall to the Box Office at Preston Royal, for 16 years. I managed the box office staff, including the counter staff, and special events. I also procured merchandise for the gift shop. Some of those special events included projects with the Dallas Black Dance Theater, and the Dallas Ft. Worth Ballet before its name change to Texas Ballet.
In Austin's new venture, he is creating comedy videos, with the character, "Old Man Steve."Samples of his work can be seen at www.YouTube.com/steveedwardstuff. One of his YouTube productions has had 11,000 hits.
He entered a contest on YouTube, with his video "Life in a Day." Steve explains, YouTube received 6,000 hours of video from aspiring filmmakers. They pared the number down to 100, including mine.
The online company asked him to sign releases for his work to potentially be shown at the Sundance Film Festival next year. If I'm selected, I will be one of ten people YouTube will send to New York. I'm not counting on it, but it would be cool. I also sent a video clip to Ellen. We'll see what, if anything, comes from that.
One of my videos went from 300 to 3,000 hits on YouTube overnight. I got all excited. YouTube pays so much per hit. I got a check for $5.50! His sister, Nancy, a retired Fort Worth,TX police officer, is helping him. With that income, I can't pay her much!
I did the "surprise party" bit from Saturday Night Live, and it has gotten more than 11,000 hits. A kid sent me a note telling me how much he enjoyed laughing at it.
Austin's family has been in show business for decades. His dad had a string quartet in high school, and he played violin for a season with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra before establishing his dental lab.
Steve's grandfather traveled, performing in vaudeville, with the moniker, Uncle Hiram. One of his venues was the Texas Centennial at Fair Park. Granddad performed on the Music Hall stage in Dallas,TX. Among his acts was animal impersonations as Barnyard Steve, Austin says. Granddad was a story teller. My grandmother always said he was a vagabond! He was a character, and very entertaining. Sometimes I think I'm channeling him.
Steve has been with his partner, Matteo, for 42 years. Matteo has three grown children, Donna, Mattie and Debbie, all of whom are Austin's family.
Steve and Matteo now live in Connecticut .
Old Man Steve having fun