Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Voice Of The Crew - Since 2002

Los Angeles, California




No two careers in Hollywood are the same. Some guys make it big, do all the right shows and earn a ton of money. Most have a more modest experience. Such is the story of retired prop master and current yoga guru Carl Dawson.Coming to the industry in 1976 from the wholesale shoe business, Dawson quit his gig as a buyer for Bullocks to sweep stages and vacuum perms. He went from a sample case and suits to a broom and jeans, without ever looking back, doubling his salary in the process.With time came opportunity. Working crafts service on a screen test for Rooster Cogburn, Carl dealt directly with the great Katharine Hepburn. “She was wonderful,” Dawson recalls. “It was like talking to your favorite aunt.” He realized then that he wanted more connection with actors.He fulfilled that wish on the ’80s TV drama Falcon Crest by assisting prop master Dominic Belmonte. In time, Dawson understood the prop mantra: make the shot work; help the talent look good; make as few mistakes as possible and always buy six of everything!“I loved Richard Brooks,” he replied when asked who is his favorite director to work with. “I worked on Fever Pitch and Looking for Mr. Goodbar. What a cool guy.” Other highlights on Dawson’s resume include classic ’80s television shows Moonlighting and One Day at a Time.When not engaged as a prop master, Dawson labored as a skilled day player who went from one project to another. Like many, he assembled bits and pieces of shows into a livelihood.One of his fondest memories is from the short-lived Gene Wilder vehicle of the mid ’90s, Something Wilder. In one scene, there was a baby dinosaur that was to vomit on cue. Over-engineering caused prop barf to cover Gene from head to toe. The director immediately asked for a re-set. Dawson caught a frantic “no, no, no” look from Wilder, who was also one of the show’s producers. Coming to his rescue, the prop man announced, “It may take some time for me to fix the problem, sir.” The director wasn’t thrilled, but decided to move on. At day’s end, Wilder thanked Dawson for sparing him. “No problem, boss,” Dawson replied. “He might be the director, but you sign the checks!”Studying Eastern disciplines during the ’80s, Dawson began to focus on yoga, traveling to India and ultimately reaching the level of master. Having retired in 2003, today he is a sought-after instructor for several LA-area yoga studios.“The business was really good to me,” he muses. “I raised two wonderful girls, bought the house and supported my wife and family in comfort. And, I didn’t have to sell shoes to do it!”

Written by Jim Udel

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