THESE THOUGHTS AND MEMORIES about my longtime friendship with DON PIETROMONACO
are the first I've ever shared in a public forum. I'm a very private person in a very
public profession. And so, outside of some close personal & professional friends,
most of what I'm saying here will be your first insight into BOTH of our lives. And, I
fondly dedicate these pages as a tribute to the memory of one of the most consumate
performers I've ever known: Don Pietromonaco
I also want to thank Mike Anderson who took the time to put the much-needed
KXOK Website together and bear the brunt of the costs for same...helping to preserve
the history of a legendary St. Louis Broadcast Facility: 630/KXOK.
In addition, I thank Don's wonderful daughter Dena. A good friend of mine for many years,
Dena urged me to put "down on paper" my stories and memories of her Dad. Dena, your Dad would be proud of you ! Also, my sincere thanks to Don's son, Doug Lyon, for his help and support.
RABBITT TRACKS: INTRODUCTION
THERE ARE CONCIOUS CHOICES THAT WE MAKE IN LIFE that lead us down the path to either
personal or professional goals. But, sometimes "fate"comes into the picture and
nudges us in one direction or another...and, our lives are changed forever.
One of my favorite TV Commercials from a few Seasons ago showed two people on
a definite course to meet each other. On a busy New York street coming from one
direction was a beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous woman. From the other direction came
a well-dressed, handsome guy. They were on target to meet each other dead-on, and
were just a few feet from one another when the man stopped to look at his watch. At
that exact moment the girl passed by, and , of course, they never met, never got
together, never raised a family...their "window of opportunity" had passed them by.
By the same token, you can probably count on either hand the small number of people
in your own life that truly made a difference personally or professionally.
Sometimes, that "window of opportunity" to change your life, AND that person who
helps you, come from the same direction...it's up to you to perceive it as such
and follow it through.
For me, my change of direction began when I moved to California, attended the
Pasadena Playhouse, moved back here to work at the Crystal Palace in Gaslight Square,
and then followed that by being a part of the Actor's Workshop. All of that ,as a part of
my "history", led me to the KXOK Studios on May 11th, 1965 and a meeting with the
man who would be instrumental in my future: Don Pietromonaco/ Johnny Rabbitt.
There are some things about Don that many people don't know. For instance: he
served in the Army in the late '50's. He was stationed in Germany at the same time
that Elvis was and met him there. He worked on Armed Forces Radio as an announcer
in Frankfort. And, he also met and married his wife while in Germany and brought
her back to the U.S. with him when he was discharged.
Don had also been an Actor since he was a child. He'd appeared on Network Radio
Programs such as "Red Ryder" and "Doorway to Life". His TV Appearances included
"The Eve Arden Show", "Armchair Detective" , and, "Oh Susanna". His feature film
credits: "An Affair To Remember", "Shake, Rattle n' Rock", "Mrs. Mike", "Follow The
Sun", & "The Boy With The Green Hair", to name a few. And, any serious Actor has
Stage Credits, and Don's included roles in "Oliver Twist", "Mr. Roberts", "Our Town",
and, at our mutual Pasadena Playhouse site, "Strange Bedfellows" and "This Young
When we first met and Don learned that I had attended the Playhouse, there was an
immediate bond that was formed. We also found out that we had both acted in "Our
Town" and "Mr. Roberts". And, like two former NFL Players who had played for the
same team or coach, or, former Vietnam Vets who had served in the same Company,
we had our "history" of having acted in Mainstage Productions at the Pasadena Playhouse.
The prestigious Playhouse Mainstage was a theatre that had 1,000 seats,and to an Actor
in California at that time working on that stage was almost like Carnagie Hall to a musician
in New York.
That's what made Don so SPECIAL as a Radio Performer ! His Acting background and
his great imagination made what he did work so well. When you hear "The Rabbitt"
and his sidekick "Bruno J. Grunion" you're experiencing TRUE "Theatre of The Mind"!
Like Edgar Bergen with Charlie McCarthy or Buffalo Bob Smith and Howdy Doody, you
ACTUALLY BELIEVE Bruno is a real-life entity...somebody's wise-cracking little brother
or the "class clown" you remember from school. The "little guy" with a good heart, but
with a mind of his own who is always getting into trouble. Or, like "Kramer" from
"Seinfeld", has a great scheme he thinks will work, but it never does.
Through these notes and memories that I share with you, I hope you'll discover
the true "art form" that Don Pietromonaco created with "The Johnny Rabbitt Show"on KXOX.
He brought a new dimension to AM Radio that has NEVER been equaled.
ALSO, I truly hope you enjoy reading these stories,,,as much as I enjoyed living them. JK
NEXT: Click-On The "Rabbitt Tracks, Part 1 to Part 5" To Get To The Stories.