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568: Human Spectacle 2015

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Prologue

Ira Glass

In October 2003, a guy was brought into the psychiatric emergency room at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Dr. Joel Gold was the chief attending psychiatrist that day and saw him.

Dr. Joel Gold

He felt that his life was essentially a reality show, that he's been recorded for years, that everyone in his life was an actor reading from a script. And he came to New York essentially to test this hypothesis.

Ira Glass

He thought that maybe 9/11 was faked, just to get a reaction out of him on reality TV.

Dr. Joel Gold

And if he came to New York, and if the World Trade Centers were still standing, he would know that that was in fact the case. If in fact they had been destroyed, then he would admit that perhaps he was delusional.

Ira Glass

But once he got to New York, instead of visiting the Twin Towers, he walked into the United Nations and asked for asylum-- asylum from a TV show that was filming him without his consent, 24 hours a day, which, you know, is how he ended up in Bellevue.

Dr. Gold didn't think much of this. People show up at Bellevue with lots of weird delusions all the time. And then a few months later, another guy walks in with the same idea, that he was being filmed 24/7 and broadcast around the world. And the second guy, like the first one, mentioned a film, the 1998 movie The Truman Show.

Dr. Joel Gold

Both of them name The Truman Show by name. They said, my life is like The Truman Show.

Ira Glass

Truman is played by Jim Carrey. He's filmed all day, every day, on a program that is broadcast to billions of people around the globe. His wife, his best friend, everybody around him is an actor. Everybody knows this is a TV show but him, until one day, he starts to see clues that make him suspicious.

Ira Glass

And just to be clear, you're not saying that the Truman Show necessarily triggered this, like, people watched The Truman Show and suddenly something in their brain snaps.

Dr. Joel Gold

Yeah, exactly. On the contrary, I think. It's just when people are becoming psychotic, perhaps if you've seen the movie and that's kicking around in your head, you might say, yes, this is what's happening to me.

Ira Glass

If your psychosis includes both paranoia and a sense that you are very, very important-- what psychiatrists called grandiosity-- 30 years ago, you know, you might think that the CIA or the KGB is watching you all the time. These days, you have another possible explanation-- reality TV. A few months later, a third patient showed up with the same delusion, and a few months after that, a fourth. Dr. Gold started calling it The Truman Show delusion. He's written a book about it with his brother Ian called Suspicious Minds. In one case in the book, a patient, a super smart guy, an academic, very altruistic, believed that he was part of an elaborate game show and the world was watching him and betting on everything that he did.

Dr. Joel Gold

And this was a really fun thing that everyone would be doing online. And the monies collected would go to charities all over the world. And then every single human being on earth would be given some amount of money, and the world would be bettered for it.

Ira Glass

One of the things that he included in his delusion, you write in your book, is that he has the thought that he actually was the mastermind who created this game show that he was on, and that he controlled it and he knew the rules when he had originally created the show. But somehow he had forgotten that, and all the rules-- which is so interesting, because, of course, it's true. Like he did invent the game show. And the only fact that he's missing is that it's not real. It's all in his own head.

Dr. Joel Gold

That's, yeah, an interesting way of putting it. It is kind of fantastical.

Ira Glass

And heartbreaking.

Dr. Joel Gold

It is.

Ira Glass

Like part of him knows he made it up.

Dr. Joel Gold

Absolutely.

Ira Glass

But he can't grasp the whole reality.

Dr. Joel Gold

He does not remember. At one point, he suggests that he told his best friends, "This is what I'm going to do. You're going to run the show. But you will now hypnotize me, and I will forget what we're talking about now so we can do this really good deed for humanity."

Ira Glass

Some of these patients respond to treatment, some don't-- same as with other delusions and psychoses. But Dr. Gold says that if they do come back to reality--

Dr. Joel Gold

Some feel great relief if they've been persecuted. It's quite embarrassing, if you think about it. Every moment of your life, I mean, when you're in the shower, literally everything is filmed, so they feel quite good about it. At the same time, there's a certain sadness that they're not particularly important.

Ira Glass

Do they miss being the most famous person in the world?

Dr. Joel Gold

No question, there are some who feel that that's a huge loss. At the same time, I think they return to the notion that they're mentally ill, which in and of itself is an unfortunate and sad thing.

Ira Glass

Psychosis aside, I think all this illustrates so clearly there's a downside and an upside to being on stage for the whole world to see, a human spectacle against your will. And today on our program, we have people who became just that. They have an experience so few of us have, that we all get to see from afar. They are on display for everybody, and not because they chose it. What that feels like, the positive parts and the negative side and the real life reality, the whole thing, from the WBEZ Chicago, it's This American Life. I'm Ira Glass. Stay with us.

Act One: I Am the Eggplant

Ira Glass

Act One, "I Am the Eggplant," koo koo kachoob. In the TV genre that's devoted to pure human spectacle, reality TV, you know, people fight drunkenly in hot tubs. They eat live spiders for money. But none of that can hold a candle to this show, a show that aired in Japan all the way back in 1998. It was called Susunu! Denpa Shonen. And one of its segments in particular got the attention of our producers, Stephanie Foo.

Stephanie Foo

The segment is called "Sweepstakes Life." It starts the way a lot of these shows do, with a bunch of people at an audition. One guy beats out everyone else. He's 22 years old, a comedian just starting out in his career. His name is Nasubi.

Announcer

Nasubi.

Stephanie Foo

Nasubi means "eggplant" in Japanese, a nickname he got because he has a long face. The producers tell him they have a unique idea for a show, something they've never tried before. It may or may not air. But if it does, he'll be the star. He'll be famous.

Announcer

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Stephanie Foo

The producers blindfold him, put him in a car, and take him to a small apartment. Then they tell him to take his clothes off.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Stephanie Foo

That wipes the grin off his face.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

It wasn't just my personal sort of shame or issues about nudity, per say. My dad is a cop. And when I first announced that my career choice was going to be comedy, he was not thrilled. And we had to go through some things to get him around to the idea. He said the one thing that I must never do in public is strip.

Stephanie Foo

Oh, no.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

So there I was. And then this guilt towards-- I was breaking the promise to my father as publicly as possible.

Stephanie Foo

But he strips. He grabs a pillow, holds it over his groin, and looks around the room. There's no chair in the room, no bed, just a coffee table and magazines, tons of magazines. The producers tell him that from now on, if he wants food, clothes, he will have to win them by entering sweepstakes in those magazines. They give him postcards to send in for prize drawings. He'll be freed from the apartment after he wins 1 million yen, or $10,000 worth of prizes.

Until then, he isn't allowed any outside contact with the world. He can't call his family. He can't talk to friends. And oh, they tell him, "Don't forget to put tapes in this little camera here every two hours and record yourself. We'll come pick up the tapes once a day." And then they say, "All right, later." Nasubi screams, "Are you for real?"

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Stephanie Foo

Nasubi says he'd signed no contract. But he didn't have anything better to do, so he sat down and wrote, and soon was entering 200 to 300 contests a day. And while he waited for prizes to arrive, he had no food. Nasubi got frighteningly thin very quickly. You could see the sharp angles of his collarbones.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

Well, starvation is a good word for it. The staff got together and would give me basically a very simple little bread each day. So I had bread and water, essentially, for the first two weeks. But then as soon as the results started to come in, then that stopped and everything shifted over entirely to the things that I could win through sweepstakes.

Stephanie Foo

After two weeks, he finally won some sugary drinks. A few days after that, he won a bag of rice. When the postman dropped it off, it was like Christmas. Nasubi danced like a madman.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Stephanie Foo

Were you trying to be a good performer and be funny when you were doing that? Or was it just really genuine joy?

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

Well, initially, of course, I was there as a performer, and I wanted to be a comedian. But somewhere in the middle, the whole business of staying alive became my full-time occupation. So I think what you saw, if you saw me dancing, it was really just a human being expressing great joy.

Stephanie Foo

So he danced for this package of rice. But then he stopped short. He realized he didn't own a pot to cook the rice in. But after a couple days of failed attempts, he figured out that if he put some rice in an empty drink container and left it near his single gas burner, it eventually turned into a kind of porridge.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

And I could eat delicious rice every day. I remember how good that felt. And then there was the slow trepidation as it started to vanish. And then it ran out. And the only food substitute that I had been able to win in a sweepstakes was dog food. You know, after, let's say, six weeks of eating dog food, when then I was able to get more rice and it arrived, I really felt a special kind of joy at being able to return to humanity in a sense and taste delicious rice again every day.

Stephanie Foo

Back then, there was a kind of sweepstakes mania in Japan. The country was in the middle of a terrible recession. And some wondered whether one could subsist entirely on their winnings. And so when Sweepstakes Life debuted, almost immediately after Nasubi was first shut in the room, it was an instant hit. Nasubi had no idea. He didn't even know he was on TV. He believed what the producers had told him, that he'd record some videotapes, and maybe someday it would end up on the air.

On television, Nasubi's groin was hidden by a purple cartoon eggplant that floated around as he moved. Everything he did was accentuated with ridiculous "boing boing" sound effects, and puffy rainbow letters floated above his head.

[BOINGING]

[GAME SHOW NOISES]

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

But these effects popped up just as often when Nasubi was despondent. The show took every chance to poke fun at him, whether he was muttering to himself, dancing around, or doing terrible headstands-- you know, the dumb stuff you do when you think no one's watching, except people were.

For context, in the US, Game of Thrones usually has around 9 million viewers. Nasubi had 16 million in a country less than half the size of ours. People thought Nasubi was the funniest comedy act they'd ever seen. And I have to admit, as a viewer, once in a while, when Nasubi got something really awesome in the mail, I couldn't help it. I laughed, too, even though I knew how much he was suffering. I couldn't help it. His unfiltered joy is contagious. Though as a foreigner watching Sweepstakes Life, most of the time, when the studio audience cracked up, I felt sick. I thought, what could possibly be funny about this?

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

I mean, that was maybe a time when Japan was going through some things and they needed to sort of do that. Roughly 50 years of prosperity has finally come to a close, and people really uncertain about their futures. You know, I think people just tended to watch the show and say, you know, I got it bad. But look at poor Nasubi. He's got it worse.

Now there's a lot more awareness of the weak and of people who need extra support. I don't think I think the average Japanese today would think it was funny that there was a guy naked in a room somewhere.

Stephanie Foo

Nasubi won hundreds of prizes. But many of them were useless to him-- Spice Girls tickets, for example, or a TV with no cable, or a bicycle. He sent away for clothes, but never won anything he could wear. He was naked the entire time he was in that room, for the entire show. And as the weeks went by, then months, Nasubi started to look less and less sane. He grew a beard. His hair was wild. And he started talking differently, slower.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Stephanie Foo

He'd make really creepy faces into the camera. At one point, he won some toys and he started talking to them. He took a stuffed seal for a walk around the apartment. An action figure became his sensei, and he got life advice from it.

And if, right now, you're sitting there thinking, how in God's good name is this possible? Why was this allowed? Imprisonment, solitary confinement, starvation. Watching, I thought, this isn't a reality TV show. It's a psychological experiment made public. Plus boing boings, of course.

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

[BOINGING]

Stephanie Foo

Was there anything preventing you from backing out at that point? Like, was the door locked?

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

No, there was no lock on the door. And producers later asked me, so why didn't you escape? I was naked, so I would have had to go outside naked and seek help. But I don't think that that's what kept me in there. The only thing I really have to say is that I said I'd do it, and I do what I say.

Stephanie Foo

That was it? The only reason? I kept asking him, but wait, really, why?

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

There's a phrase, [JAPANESE], "the Japanese spirit," which is just that you sort of stick through. You endure things. When you're given something, whether it's easy or whether it's hard, you just really do. You're obliged to follow it through.

Stephanie Foo

Nasubi did finally win $10,000 worth of prizes. It took him almost an entire year. But at last, he'd completed the challenge. When he reached his goal, producers didn't tell him anything about it. Instead, they snuck into his apartment in the middle of the night, put a blindfold on him, took him out to a car, gave him clothes. Nasubi seemed to think this was a good thing. He was laughing, giggling.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

[STUDIO AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]

Stephanie Foo

But when he took the blindfold off, he found out he'd been taken to Korea.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

When I got off on the other side in Korea, I took off the mask. And they said, "Congratulations. You've achieved your $10,000. This is your reward. You get to have a trip in Korea." So I got to do a little sightseeing that day. And I thought, oh, wow, that was a long thing, boy, what I've been through.

But then at the end of the day, they took me back to my room and there was the exact same room set up in the exact same way.

Stephanie Foo

They'd recreated his little apartment, complete with the magazines, the stuffed seal, the postcards, exactly how he'd left it, except in Korea. And they told him, great. Now all you have to do is start over and win your airfare back home.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

This was just like somebody just had pulled the floor out from under me, and I just fell. I didn't know that humans could be that cruel.

Stephanie Foo

Did you feel like you were going insane?

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

If anything, the opposite of insane. I lost all energy. It's like somebody had just, like, sucked the life out of me. I didn't want to talk. I didn't want to breathe. I didn't want to move a muscle. I had reached the end. I was finished.

I told the producer that I wouldn't do it. I refused. And we went back and forth for quite a while, actually. But in the end, kudos to his skill as a negotiator. I did give in and do the last section of it.

Stephanie Foo

Why did you do it? What did he say that actually convinced you to do it?

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

Well, it was just that I got exhausted, if anything. I mean, he wasn't leaving. I couldn't just sort of get up and storm out. I had made no preparations for being in Korea. And so at the end, I just said, yeah, whatever. And so I continued.

Stephanie Foo

After all, he was naked with no money in another country. If you watch the clip, the producers just tell him he's trapped, show him looking shocked, and cut away. The studio audience laughs.

[STUDIO AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]

Woman

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Stephanie Foo

Nasubi continued his writing routine for four more months. And then the final episode aired. Picture it. The producers sneak into Nasubi's room and blindfold him again, dress him, drive him to another location. They release him in yet another bare room. And he sighs and instinctively takes off all his clothes. Then, suddenly, all four of the walls around him fall down.

[CLATTERING]

Nasubi

[SHRIEKING]

Stephanie Foo

That's him screaming. Turns out he's on stage in a huge studio in Japan in front of an enormous audience.

Host

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Audience

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Stephanie Foo

"Nasubi, congratulations on your goal."

[CHEERING]

Nasubi looks horrified. Two television hosts cautiously approach him and talk to him like a baby, telling him congratulations.

Host

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Stephanie Foo

Nasubi says, frightened, "My house fell down. And there's all these people here."

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

[LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]

Stephanie Foo

"It's finally over," presses the host. "You're finished." Nasubi should be happy. But he looks thoroughly weirded out. Remember, Nasubi didn't even know he was being broadcast. The producers told him that it was an experiment, that they didn't know if he'd ever make it on air. So he's blown away when they tell him about the TV show, that a secret camera in his apartment once even broadcast a 24-hour live stream of his actions.

They tell him his diaries were published and are bestsellers. Clips from him enjoying a specific brand of ramen turned into commercials and endorsement deals. He was on the cover of magazines. Then they play a bunch of clips from the show. Nasubi blinks. He says, "Did I do that? That was me?"

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

And so I sat there, realizing that this new life was-- I was no longer just a nobody. The entire nation had been watching me for 15 months. And you know to be honest, I thought, well, what the hell? What is my country coming to? I was very happy that my journey was not for nothing. But it's still weird.

Stephanie Foo

Unsurprisingly, Nasubi left the show with some scars. He had a lot of trouble holding a conversation for six months. And he felt sweaty and uncomfortable in clothes for a year. And his role didn't help his comedy career like he'd hoped. He was mostly offered roles that required him to be goofy and naked. He's a D-list celebrity now and has the dwindling bank account to match.

And talking to him, it felt like he's really worked hard to turn that traumatic experience into a positive story he tells himself. He even says he's thankful for the experience.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

It was-- I don't want to overstate it, but it was kind of meditative in a way. I had a lot of time to think about my life and a lot of time to think about a lot of stuff.

Stephanie Foo

That certainly is a very zen way to look at it.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

Well, I mean, it's 10-some years since I finished, since I did that project. And after that, everything has been much easier and much better, obviously. I'm able to deal with things. I see things happening, or I see situations around myself, and I think that's nothing like what I went through in that room.

Stephanie Foo

And people still remember him. That's more than one could say for most of the Denpa Shonen characters. None of them lasted as long as Nasubi or became as famous. The show ended in 2002, after its ratings began to drop.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

I came out of the whole thing, in a sense, with the very best of possible results. A lot of people were not so fortunate. There were terrible things that happened related to the show.

Stephanie Foo

One contestant on Denpa Shonen almost died of dehydration while trying to hitchhike across Africa. Some people were starved until they completed various challenges. Another man was forced to go into a gay club in Australia and offer condoms to men until he was assaulted. The video cuts out, but you can hear him scream.

And the mastermind behind all this, the producer of the show, the guy who convinced Nasubi to keep going in Korea, his name was Toshio Tsuchiya. Back in the '90s, he was considered the king of Japanese reality TV. Last year, 14 years after Sweepstakes Life ended, Tsuchiya called Nasubi, who wasn't thrilled to hear from him at first.

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

I had some, let's say, mixed feelings about him, a little resentment, maybe. Yeah, I kept my distance for a very long time. And then, actually just last year, he got in touch with me. And apparently it sort of came to his attention that maybe he had put people through maybe more than they deserved. And so he invited me to dinner. And he spent the evening explaining why he did what he did and apologizing.

I think we-- yeah, I think we pretty much came to terms. And I welcome the opportunity to work with him again, certainly.

Stephanie Foo

Wow. You would work with him again. That's really-- [LAUGHS] that is shocking. And what was his reason for putting you through what he did?

Nasubi

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

He wanted something that would move people. And you don't get that out of just somebody playing around. He wanted to see something real. He wanted to pull miracles out of people. It was done for the purpose of getting a miracle on film.

Stephanie Foo

And that seemed to me like-- well, I'll be honest. It sounds like something an evil puppet master would say. So I had to. I talked to Toshio Tsuchiya on the phone. He's a round, middle-aged guy, bleached platinum blonde hair. He confirmed that he reached out to Nasubi, and that when they met, Nasubi told them very honestly how painful his experience on the show was. Tsuchiya says he listened and was moved.

But he says he wasn't sorry, about Nasubi, about any of the segments he produced for Denpa Shonen, about any of the contestants, not in the slightest. I used the same interpreter for our interview that I used for Nasubi's. Here's Tsuchiya.

Toshio Tsuchiya

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

I was enthralled by their struggle. I was thrilled by their personal struggle. So I was watching them succeed. I have no regrets about anything I do to that show.

Stephanie Foo

Nasubi said that you apologized to him when you guys talked. Is that correct, or no?

Toshio Tsuchiya

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

Well, I put him through a lot. If you say this you have a sports team and you have a coach who runs his players through very difficult maneuvers, at the end of the day, he may pat them on the back and say, sorry for putting you through such a rough struggle. It wasn't me expressing that I shouldn't have done the project.

Stephanie Foo

Tsuchiya has a lot of lofty ideas of what the show was trying to accomplish. And when he talks about them, you do get the sense that it was, in fact, intended to be a sort of psychological experiment.

Toshio Tsuchiya

[SPEAKING JAPANESE]

Interpreter

The whole project was trying to reach at some very elemental, simple humanity. You see, Nasubi would have been brought to a state where he was at such an elemental part of his existence that he danced without realizing he had ever danced. And he danced on a regular basis.

The modern individual is shackled by convention and expectation and all these other things that we wear from day to day. And I wanted to see them drop some of that, to see the simple humanity in them, to see actual gratefulness.

Stephanie Foo

It's weird to think about. But the fact of the matter is, what Tsuchiya's saying is true. Denpa Shonen did really capture humanity in a rare way. A way you don't ever really see, even on the craziest of American reality TV shows. Hungry, starving, alone, unaware that he was being watched, Nasubi was totally innocent and totally animal. Of course, it's cruel to bring a human being to that point. And it takes a special kind of cruelty to take someone at their most vulnerable and add wacky sound effects to their suffering.

A couple weeks into Nasubi's challenge, before he won any solid food, when he was hungriest, a delivery man came to the door bearing ramen and stir-fried vegetables. "It's 1,700 yen all together," the man said. "I don't have any money," Nasubi replied. "Sorry, my mistake," the delivery man said, and left. Nasubi sat there, his head hung, a contestant in a real-life hunger game, the smell of ramen lingering in the air.

Ira Glass

Stephanie Foo is one of the producers of our program. Coming up, we go to a land where highway cloverleaves are sunk in a vast meadow, where one man tries to document how things really are. That's in a minute from Chicago Public Radio when our program continues.

Act Two: I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me

Ira Glass

It's This American Life. I'm Ira Glass. Each week on our program, of course, we choose a theme, bring you different kinds of stories on that theme. Today's show, "Human Spectacle." We have stories of people who go on display in front of others, lots and lots of others, even though they are not so crazy about doing that. We have arrived at Act Two of our program, Act Two, "I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me."

We've talked a lot in today's program so far about reality TV. And of course, what makes reality TV entertaining is very, very simple, and that is editing. Editing-- if they just set up cameras and showed you all 24 hours in anybody's day, you know, how interesting could that possibly be? Well, here is a story of somebody trying just that, a story of everyday people being treated as human spectacle and being treated that way precisely because of their everyday-ness. Ariel Sabar explains.

Ariel Sabar

Here's how it worked. On a Tuesday morning in the spring of 1949, a seven-year-old boy named Raymond Birch was fast asleep in his bed. His mother walked into his bedroom and said, Raymond, time to get up for school. When the boy opened his eyes, he saw a scientist with a clipboard and timer standing in the corner of his room. The scientist, a stranger to the boy, just stared, didn't say a word. The boy squirmed out of bed and reached for his clothes. The scientist wrote, "7:01 AM-- Raymond picked up a sock."

In the late 1940s and early '50s, scientists followed kids in houses, schoolyards, and streets across the town of Oskaloosa, Kansas, taking pages of notes on the littlest things they did or said. "6:33 PM-- Bradley walked deliberately to where his sister sat playing with a puppy and hit her on the head, twice, just as hard as he could hit. His sister looked very surprised and annoyed." "11:06 AM-- Fred skidded on the floor so that he fell with his body partially under the sway. He yelled, 'whoops,' and then lay still, since he saw the swing coming back over him." "11:37 AM-- Margaret's mother asked, why can't you play with your dolls and let that go? Margaret kept on painting the pillars before her, neither looking at her mother nor answering her."

All of this was happening under the watch of a University of Kansas psychologist named Roger Barker, who has bend on taking his field in a radically new direction. Because psychology was still struggling in those days to be taken seriously as a science, most of Barker's colleagues imitated other kinds of scientists, doing lots of experiments in labs. But none of this made sense to Barker. Humans didn't live in laboratories. They lived in the real world.

And that's where Barker want to study them-- in the wild, the way a botanist looked at flowers in the field or a primatologist tracked apes through a forest. So when the University of Kansas called in 1947 and asked Barker if he wanted to chair its psychology department, Barker said, I'll take the job, but on one condition. You find me a small town. A dean at the school said he knew just the place-- Oskaloosa, population 725.

When Roger Barker first drove up into the hills of northeastern Kansas to see Oskaloosa, he must have been beside himself. The place was a Norman Rockwell painting-- not too rich, not too poor, sturdy families in modest houses. It was the picture of middle America.

Barker wanted to study what he called "the naturally occurring behavior of free-ranging persons." And to do that, he told his field workers to become part of the scenery-- visible and friendly, but not obtrusive. The last thing we want to do, he said, is give people the guinea pig feeling.

Barker took his own advice and moved his entire family to Oskaloosa. They settled in a beat-up house near the town square, joined the Presbyterian church, and became active in the town's social and civic organizations. And that left Barker just as exposed as the Oskaloosans he planned to put under his microscope. "You'll be watching us," a local mother told the researchers one day. "But don't forget, we'll be watching you."

One of the first things Barker wanted to do in Oskaloosa was to document a day in the life of an ordinary boy. Barker didn't have a hypothesis about the boy or about seven-year-olds. He wasn't testing for anything in particular. He wanted only to show the world that following a kid for a day could produce a ton of interesting data. Scientists could later break down that data in an infinite number of ways, depending on their interests and the goals of their research, which was how little Raymond Birch woke up that morning to find a scientist standing over him.

On that Tuesday, April 26, 1949, eight researchers, taking turns like runners in a relay race, followed Raymond for 13 hours straight. The book that came out of it, One Boy's Day, was 435 pages long. It had an entry for nearly every minute of Raymond's day. The researchers tried record not just Raymond's words and movements, but also his perceptions, motives, and feelings.

They noted that Raymond mumbled with a mouthful of toast at breakfast. They followed him as he walked with his mom through her job at the county clerk's office, and looked on as he drew a picture of a cowboy with a long beard. They watched Raymond find a baseball bat in the grass and pick it up.

"Oh, boy," he said, according to their notes. "He tossed a stone in the air and swung, but accidentally clipped a flag pole-- 8:24 AM. This made a wonderful hollow ringing noise, so he proceeded to hit the flag pole again. 8:25 AM-- He went around and round and around the pole, hitting it with a bat as he did so, until he became so dizzy that he fell down, bat and all."

Even before the book about Raymond's day was published, Barker felt it was destined for greatness. It would find its way onto campuses as a staple of psychology courses, he thought, and into the hands of artists, novelists, and laymen interested in the cultural scene. "We believe it will become a sort of classic and be in demand for a long time," he wrote in a January 1951 letter.

But One Boy's Day never took off. And by April 1959, Barker, crestfallen, asked Harper & Row to ship him the 70 remainders languishing in its warehouse. Part of the trouble was simply the book's premise. In its defiant first sentence, Barker calls the book, "a scientific document."

But other scientists had a hard time seeing that. The book was just a tick-tock chronology of Raymond's day. There wasn't any theory or analysis. And this annoyed many of the reviewers in serious academic journals. One reviewer wrote, "The reader is struck by the fact that he is encountering only raw data. How can one evaluate such materials without a theoretical framework?" In other words, what does it mean?

Barker lived in Oskaloosa the rest of his life. But he abandoned his day in the life studies after just a few years. There were more revealing and less labor-intensive ways, he discovered, to study human beings in their natural habitats.

Today, field studies of naturally occurring behavior are no more common in psychology than they were in Barker's time. The costs and logistics are just too staggering. One rare but recent Barker-like effort was conducted by UCLA's Center on the Everyday Life of Families. Researchers there embedded in the homes of 32 middle class families in Los Angeles for a week and videotaped nearly every waking minute.

But the ratio of cost and effort to interesting results remains as lopsided today as it was in Barker's time. The New York Times reported that, quote, "After more than $9 million and untold thousands of hours of video watching, the researchers found that, well, life in these trenches is exactly what it looks like-- a fire shower of stress, multitasking, and mutual nitpicking."

One guy in particular who is not a big fan of these studies? Raymond Birch, the boy. I tracked him down a few years ago. His real name is Gary Morgan, and he's now a retired utility worker in his early 70s living in Pennsylvania. Roger Barker autographed Gary's copy of One Boy's Day and personally inscribed it, calling Gary its, quote, "real author." But Gary has yet to get past its first pages.

"I have to say, why is this interesting?" He told me. "There's nothing happening in this book as far as I can tell. What is it going to tell them that I was standing there, chewing on my fingernails?"

Ira Glass

Ariel Sabar is the author of The Outsider, a biography of Roger Parker. It's available as an Amazon Kindle Single.

[MUSIC - "CENTER OF ATTENTION" BY GUSTER]

Act Three: Take My Break, Please

Ira Glass

Act Three, "The Big Break." So in this story, a comedy act takes to the stage for the biggest show of their lives. And it is a spectacle, though not the one they had in mind. David Segal tells the story.

David Segal

Mitzi McCall and Charlie Brill were a sketch comedy act back in the early 1960s, playing small clubs around the country-- mostly in Los Angeles, where they lived. They were married. They still are, actually. And they were struggling. Then one day, they got a phone call that changed their lives.

Charlie Brill

We were sitting at home. And I don't know what we were--

Mitzi Mccall

Starving.

Charlie Brill

Starving. No, no, we weren't starving. We--

Mitzi Mccall

Yes, I was starving.

Charlie Brill

Well, you were hungry that day.

Mitzi Mccall

Oh. [LAUGHS] Oh, was that it?

Charlie Brill

Yeah. And the phone rang. And it was our manager, Mace Neufeld. And he said, "Guess what?" "What?" "I got you on The Ed Sullivan Show." And we let out a scream, because that was the show.

Mitzi Mccall

The ultimate.

Charlie Brill

Bigger. If you got a shot on Ed Sullivan, you had a shot at stardom.

Mitzi Mccall

Yes.

Charlie Brill

We were just so thrilled. And immediately we started to work on the piece of material that we selected for The Ed Sullivan Show. And we rehearsed and rehearsed. And we fine-tuned it. We ran down to The Horn in Santa Monica. We broke it in. It got a lovely, lovely reaction. And we told everybody. In fact, I think I sky wrote it over Hollywood. We're on The Ed Sullivan Show, yahoo.

Mitzi Mccall

Yeah.

Charlie Brill

And we were on our way. Woo!

David Segal

This wasn't just a shot at greatness. This was a chance to meet a few of their idols who'd be on the show that night, too-- people like Tessie O'Shea, Georgia Brown, who were both big musical theater stars. But to Charlie and Mitzi, the biggest deal of all was a guy they'd already met.

Charlie Brill

We were just-- we were in awe of Frank Gorshin, a great, great, great impressionist.

Mitzi Mccall

Impressionist.

Charlie Brill

And the Riddler on Batman.

Mitzi Mccall

We had probably done maybe something with Frank Gorshin.

Charlie Brill

I think it was something for Frank Gorshin. I shined his shoes.

Mitzi Mccall

[LAUGHS]

Charlie Brill

And I was so in awe. So we get to New York, and we go to rehearsal by taxi. And there's thousands of people in the streets, clamoring.

Mitzi Mccall

And the streets are cordoned off. Is that the word? Cordoned?

Charlie Brill

Yeah, cordoned. And I looked at Mitzi. And I said, my god, all this for Frank Gorshin.

David Segal

They were given the worst dressing room in the building on the top floor, a space they shared with a soda machine. But they didn't care. They were both 26 years old, and they were about to go national. But first, it was time for a dress rehearsal.

Mitzi Mccall

Here's the deal. We didn't know that the dress rehearsal was something that was looked at very carefully.

Charlie Brill

By all the executives.

Mitzi Mccall

Exactly.

Charlie Brill

And they have an audience. We didn't know. We were like coming down in our bathrobes with hair curlers. And we go through our act.

Mitzi Mccall

And when we get to a punch line, instead of doing--

Charlie Brill

The punch line.

Mitzi Mccall

We go, blah, blah, blah.

Charlie Brill

Because we don't want to reveal the punch line. We want the band to laugh.

Mitzi Mccall

Oh, gosh.

Charlie Brill

And we don't want-- you know, it was a secret, our punch line.

Mitzi Mccall

Yeah. [LAUGHS]

Charlie Brill

So we used to go-- and here we are. And Mitzi, by the way, blah, blah, blah. So then we schlep upstairs to our dressing room. And we hear on the loudspeaker, "McCall and Brill, Mr. Sullivan's office, please. McCall and Brill." So we go down, and we go into Mr. Sullivan's office. And there he was.

Mitzi Mccall

Oh, my gosh.

Charlie Brill

Ed Sullivan.

Mitzi Mccall

[SIGH]

Charlie Brill

He was sitting in a chair getting made up. And I looked at the man who could make our entire careers. So he said, what you did in dress rehearsal, first of all, I don't get the "blah, blah, blahs." I'm not getting that. And we said, no, Mr. Sullivan, those are our punch lines, and we want them to be fresh.

And he said, oh, well, I wish you would let us in on them for the dress rehearsal. And he said, the piece of material you're doing is too sophisticated for this audience. And I went, what? Because I had seen The Sullivan Show all my life. And he said, well, there's gonna be mostly 14, 15, 16-year-old girls in the audience tonight and kids.

And it never occurred to me to say, why? What are we were doing? Like a circus show? And he said, so show me your entire act. And because we were so new and eager to please, we stood there in the office and showed Mr. Sullivan our entire nightclub act, anything we had ever worked on.

Mitzi Mccall

Which was like 25, 30 minutes of--

Charlie Brill

Sketches.

Mitzi Mccall

Blah, blah, blah.

Charlie Brill

Yeah, sketches.

Mitzi Mccall

And he said, OK, here's the deal. We're gonna put that first girl that comes in--

Charlie Brill

In the first sketch.

Mitzi Mccall

Mhm.

Charlie Brill

We'll put her in the second sketch. But then you do the other girl that you did in the third sketch in the second sketch.

Mitzi Mccall

And then that's what you end with, OK?

Charlie Brill

And that's what you end with. Now, we went, uh, oh-- OK.

David Segal

They went back upstairs in something close to a panic. Basically, they had just been told to write a new act, right then and there, instead of the routine they had been fine-tuning for weeks. They might have freaked out, but they didn't have time. The curtain's going up in an hour.

Charlie Brill

We were in a daze. We didn't really know what he said. Should we put the first--

Mitzi Mccall

What did he say?

Charlie Brill

If we take the first girl and put it in the third. And then there was a knock on the door. The door was open, but there was a knock. And there's this guy standing there with funny hair and granny glasses. And he said--

Mitzi Mccall

Give us a Coke, love.

Charlie Brill

Give us a Coke, love. And I looked at Mitzi, and I said, this guy wants a glove or something. I'm not sure what he wanted.

Mitzi Mccall

"Coke love."

Charlie Brill

And he started to laugh. And he said, no, give us a Coke, love.

Mitzi Mccall

And he pointed to the machine.

Charlie Brill

The Coke machine. And I said, oh, yeah, well, come in. It's all yours. And he said, can you give me a dime? $0.10. And I said, oh, I got to buy you the coke as well. OK.

Mitzi Mccall

What do you think, we're made out of money, kid?

Charlie Brill

Yeah.

Mitzi Mccall

[LAUGHS]

David Segal

The worst part was that this guy seemed to want to just hang out. So he helped himself to a seat on the sofa.

Charlie Brill

While he's talking to us, he takes out of his pocket a napkin and a pen, and he's drawing me. He's looking at me and he's drawing me.

Mitzi Mccall

Mhm. Mhm.

Charlie Brill

That's nice. And he did some pictures of me and Mitzi on napkins.

Mitzi Mccall

All we thought about was, I wish this kid would go so we can work on our act.

Charlie Brill

Yeah.

Mitzi Mccall

Get out of here.

Charlie Brill

We haven't put the first character in the third sketch and the second in the--

Mitzi Mccall

Ugh, gosh.

Charlie Brill

And he left. And we looked at each other and said, OK, now, what are we doing?

Mitzi Mccall

[CHUCKLES]

Charlie Brill

"All right. McCall and Brill. McCall and Brill on stage for the show."

Announcer

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight, live from New York--

David Segal

The show was about to begin. All the performers gathered in the wings, waiting for their turn. Finally, Ed Sullivan came out and announced the first act.

Ed Sullivan

Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles!

[AUDIENCE SCREAMING]

Charlie Brill

We were on The Ed Sullivan Show with The Beatles.

[MUSIC - "ALL MY LOVING" BY THE BEATLES]

We didn't realize that's what the crowds were for, because, to be very honest, we didn't really know who The Beatles were.

Mitzi Mccall

Actually, our manager, when he called us and said, you're gonna be on The Ed Sullivan Show, and he said, and guess what? You're gonna be with The Beatles? And we said, who?

[MUSIC - "ALL MY LOVING" BY THE BEATLES]

David Segal

The guy with the pen, the one who drew the pictures? That, of course, was John Lennon. And this was February 9, 1964, the first time a US audience had laid eyes on The Beatles. Years later, Lennon said he thought the kids that night had lost their minds. Charlie, watching from 20 feet away, thought so too.

Charlie Brill

Honest to God, my hand to God, I tell you, we couldn't hear them. The screams all through what they did were so loud, I never got a chance to hear what they sound like. Who's singing?

Mitzi Mccall

This was something different.

Charlie Brill

Yeah, I mean, I heard about Sinatra at the Paramount.

Mitzi Mccall

Yeah.

Charlie Brill

People were screaming. But this, I never heard of saw such bedlam in my life. Now, when they're finished, the screams keep going on.

[AUDIENCE SCREAMING]

David Segal

It must have dawned on you at that moment, or was it before, that this was a cultural phenomenon, just off the charts.

Mitzi Mccall

I really need to be rigorously honest right now. No, it didn't. No.

Charlie Brill

Well, think about. Think it over.

Mitzi Mccall

All right, I'll think it over. No.

Charlie Brill

OK.

Mitzi Mccall

It never occurred.

Charlie Brill

No. We were too nervous of what we were gonna do.

Mitzi Mccall

Please.

Charlie Brill

I mean, I knew they were a hit.

Mitzi Mccall

But you know what, we hadn't gone on yet. I wanted to know that we were gonna be fabulous.

Charlie Brill

Our careers were at stake here.

Mitzi Mccall

Crazy.

David Segal

73 million Americans watched The Ed Sullivan Show that night, about 40% of the entire country. Ordinarily, when that many people come together, it's for the last episode of a long-running TV series, or for playoff games of teams they already know, not for a show that turns the stage over to an act that nobody's heard of. Arguably, Mitzi and Charlie had the single greatest break in the history of show business.

People forget this was an hour-long program, with The Beatles playing a few songs at the beginning and then a few songs toward the end. In between, there were six different acts, from vaudeville, from Broadway, from the circus, from everything rock was about to bulldoze aside. It was basically the future sharing a bill with the doomed. Which is why, after The Beatles finished singing "She Loves You," the next thing on The Ed Sullivan Show that night was a guy in a tux doing a card trick.

Man

We do the trick with one, two, three, four red spot cards. Now, from these four red spot cards I take in my right hand-- my right hand is, of course, always the hand with the thumb from the left side. Now, in this hand--

David Segal

There's an acrobatic novelty act. There's Tessie O'Shea, a very large woman in a sequined gown, playing a banjo, doing her signature tune, "Two Ton Tessie from Tennessee."

Tessie O'shea

[SINGING] They play tennis on her double chin. They call her Two Ton Tessie, Two Ton Tessie from Nashville, Tennessee. Yes, they call her--

David Segal

Frank Gorshin comes on with 10 minutes of impersonations-- Dean Martin, Burt Lancaster, Anthony Quinn. The far-fetched conceit of his act doesn't seem quite so far-fetched 40 years later.

Frank Gorshin

Well, it's election year. And once again, a lot of the Hollywood stars will be out campaigning for the candidates of both parties. Well, a funny thing occurred to me. What if these stars should suddenly decide to run for these offices themselves. They'd have no trouble getting votes because of their popularity. In just a short time, the stars will be running the country.

David Segal

He imagines a meeting of the US Senate, where character actor Broderick Crawford is vice president and people like Marlon Brando are senators.

Frank Gorshin

Tonight, we're going to discuss what [INAUDIBLE] somebody changed and made the present two-party system [INAUDIBLE]. 10-4.

[AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]

Mr. Chairman, for years now, year after year after year, there have been just two major parties-- one at Frank Sinatra's house, and the other one at Dean Martin's.

David Segal

Just two years after this, Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California.

[MUSIC - "THE ARTFUL DODGER" BY DAVY JONES]

This is "The Artful Dodger" from the musical Oliver, played here by an 18-year-old Davy Jones. When he heard the screams that evening, he thought-- and this is a quote-- "I'd like a little bit of this action." Two years later, he was cast as a member of The Monkees, the made-for-TV knockoff of The Beatles.

Mitzi and Charlie were slated for what was probably the worst slot on the show. They were the last act before The Beatles returned for the final songs.

Charlie Brill

We were in a daze, but we heard them introduce us. We walked out. Now, the screams came on, because they wanted The Beatles.

Mitzi Mccall

That's when I said I thought I heard "Get them off."

Charlie Brill

Yes.

Mitzi Mccall

Did you hear that?

Charlie Brill

I think I said it.

Mitzi Mccall

Oh. [LAUGHS]

Host

Now we take you to Hollywood at a very tense moment in the career of a young, aspiring actress, the office of McCall and Brill.

Charlie Brill

Miss Tidy, would you come into my office right away, please?

Mitzi Mccall

Yes, sir. Neat, neat, neat, neat. Everything nice and neat, that's me. Hello, sir.

Charlie Brill

Uh, Ms. Tidy, I am having a terrible time trying to find a young actress to star in my next motion picture.

Mitzi Mccall

Yes, sir.

Charlie Brill

Now, are the young ladies outside ready to be interviewed?

Mitzi Mccall

Yes, sir, they're neatly waiting outside, sir. I'll send them in.

Charlie Brill

Just one at a time, Miss Tidy.

David Segal

The premise here is that Charlie is a director casting a movie, and Mitzi is his secretary and then a bunch of different women auditioning for the role. She plays an aspiring starlet.

Mitzi Mccall

Hi, sir. Um, you might not remember me, but I was Miss Palm Springs back in 1956.

David Segal

A stage mom.

Mitzi Mccall

Sir, if you're not interested in her, maybe you can be interested in me.

Charlie Brill

Well, I'm really not interested.

Mitzi Mccall

You know, I have a little talent.

Charlie Brill

No, I-- I just wish--

Mitzi Mccall

[SINGING] 'Cause everything's coming up roses!

David Segal

And a method actor.

Mitzi Mccall

Then and only then can the true justification of the motivation of our inside urgency henceforth find the infinitesimal need of our outward action. Dig?

David Segal

Did you notice the dead silence after she says "dig," in a room that only 30 minutes earlier had been filled with the noise that scared the cops? That's a lot of silence.

David Segal

So you were up there for what? How long do you think? Two minutes or something like that?

Charlie Brill

It was two years.

Mitzi Mccall

Two years.

Charlie Brill

We were there for two years.

Mitzi Mccall

Mhm.

Charlie Brill

WE started at 24.

David Segal

[LAUGHS]

Charlie Brill

We didn't know what we were doing. We didn't know if we'd finished the act or didn't finished the act. But the band leader had the punch line, and he played tada! And now you want to see a couple of Jews standing there so nervous, looking to see if Ed would call us over.

Mitzi Mccall

If Mr. Sullivan is gonna call us over.

Charlie Brill

Because that's what makes you. Did he call us over? No.

Mitzi Mccall

But I think I saw-- no. Get off.

Charlie Brill

No. We were looking at each other, saying, did he motion to us?

Mitzi Mccall

No.

Charlie Brill

Wasn't that a motion?

Mitzi Mccall

No. Get off.

Charlie Brill

No, it wasn't get off.

David Segal

Did you have a sense at the time that it had gone well or gone poorly?

Mitzi Mccall

No, no. We knew.

Charlie Brill

We knew

Mitzi Mccall

We knew immediately.

Charlie Brill

Into the toilet.

Mitzi Mccall

Yeah. Mhm. But see, they didn't have this expression then, but we sucked.

David Segal

It was, in fact, the worst three minutes of their lives. They bombed so bad that when they came off stage, people wouldn't look at them. Mitzi's mom dodged their call.

Mitzi Mccall

The biggest terror was that we didn't want to go home.

Charlie Brill

We just didn't want to go home.

Mitzi Mccall

We did not want to go back to Los Angeles.

Charlie Brill

But that night, we felt so bad. And Frank Gorshin was nice enough to take us to Downy's.

Mitzi Mccall

Sardi's.

Charlie Brill

Sardi's. And we had a drink. And he said, don't worry, this is not the end of your lives. And we said, oh, my god.

David Segal

It was such a fiasco that in 40 years, neither of them have actually seen their performance-- until now. Watching a tape of it, the first thing Charlie noticed was that they actually did get a couple of laughs.

Mitzi Mccall

I think I'm gonna be sick.

Charlie Brill

You made me quiet ill.

[AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]

Uh, Ms. Tidy, send in the next young lady, please.

Mitzi Mccall

Yeah.

Charlie Brill

Yeah, we're getting laughs.

Mitzi Mccall

Hi, sir. I'm next the young lady's mother.

Charlie Brill

How do you do?

Mitzi Mccall

My little girl is waiting outside, you know. She used to be one of The Beatles.

Charlie Brill

Oh, what happened?

Mitzi Mccall

Somebody stepped on her.

[AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]

Ha, that was funny. You ad libbed that.

Charlie Brill

You know something? We were a hit?

Mitzi Mccall

No, you know it comes from--

Charlie Brill

We were a hit. Look at us. Cute.

Mitzi Mccall

You know what? There's something wrong with you. It was pathetic.

David Segal

The problem, they both say, is that they had to rearrange their act for 14-year-olds in a hurry the day of the broadcast. They're still convinced that if they'd been invited on the show any other night, things would have been different.

As it happened, they retreated back home, where their agent didn't call for six long months. From then on, they'd wince every time they heard The Beatles. Imagine that. They had the rest of the '60s ahead of them. They were in for a lot of wincing.

[MUSIC - "REVOLUTION" BY THE BEATLES]

[MUSIC - "SGT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND" BY THE BEATLES]

[MUSIC - "ROCKY RACCOON" BY THE BEATLES]

But Mitzi and Charlie regrouped and recovered, and they had long and fine careers. Through the '60s and '70s, they played nightclubs in Vegas, and they were on television a lot-- goofy stuff, like The Gong Show, but great programs, too, like The Tonight Show, which they were on four times. Mitzi later wrote for sitcoms, like Alf. Charlie eventually landed a leading role on a detective show called Silk Stalkings, which ran on the USA network for nine years. They have a daughter, whom they adore. No knock on Alf, but it gradually dawned on Mitzi and Charlie that on February 9, 1964, they were part of something seismic.

Charlie Brill

We were in the midst of greatness.

Mitzi Mccall

Yeah.

Charlie Brill

We didn't know it. People would come up to us and say, wasn't that you that was on The Beatles show? And we said, yes, yes, waiting for them to say, boy, did you suck. And they went, oh, my god, you're famous.

David Segal

Mitzi and Charlie are retired now. Meanwhile, The Beatles have split up. Hell, Wings have split up. But four decades after they flamed out in front of nearly half the country, Mitzi and Charlie are still together, still standing, and still refining the act.

Charlie Brill

I said to Dixie--

Mitzi Mccall

Mitzi.

Charlie Brill

Mitzi.

Mitzi Mccall

Mitzi is my name.

Charlie Brill

I said-- Mitzi. I said to Mitzi--

Mitzi Mccall

[SIGH]

Charlie Brill

--let's go to Florida.

Mitzi Mccall

Did you call me Dixie?

Charlie Brill

I think I made a mis--

Mitzi Mccall

Who's Dixie?

Charlie Brill

No, nobody.

Mitzi Mccall

No, I mean you're-- what do you have, a girlfriend?

Charlie Brill

No! There's no-- there's no Dixie.

Mitzi Mccall

All right, never mind.

Charlie Brill

It was a slip.

Mitzi Mccall

It doesn't matter.

Charlie Brill

OK.

Mitzi Mccall

Dixie? I mean, I don't--

Charlie Brill

Forget the Dixie.

Mitzi Mccall

What am I doing in this relationship?

Charlie Brill

Anyway, I said to Mitzi, we have to go to Florida.

Ira Glass

David Segal. He's a reporter for The New York Times. We first ran this story back in 2005. And since then, Charlie and Mitzi are still going strong. This year, they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.

Credits

Ira Glass

Well, today's program was produced by Stephanie Foo and myself, with Alex Blumberg, Ben Calhoun, Sean Cole, Channa Joffe-Walt, Sarah Koenig, Miki Meek, Jonathan Menjivar, Brian Reed, Robyn Semien, Alissa Shipp, and Nancy Updike. Our senior producer for today's show was Julie Snyder.

Production help from Lily Sullivan. Seth Lind is our director of operations. Emily Condon's our production manager. Elise Bergerson is our business operations manager. Kimberly Henderson is our office coordinator. Research help from Michelle Harris and Julie Beer. Music help from Damien Graef and Rob Geddis.

[ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS]

Our website, ThisAmericanLife.org. This American Life is delivered to public radio stations by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange. Thanks, as always, to our program's co-founder, Mr. Torey Malatia. You know, at the beginning of this program, when we started This American Life together, even then, he already wanted to disavow any responsibility for what happens here each week. He told me--

Dr. Joel Gold

This is what I'm going to do. You're going to run the show. But you will now hypnotize me, and I will forget.

Ira Glass

I'm Ira Glass, back next week with more stories of This American Life.

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