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April 1965

Stay Away From the Firsh Commershul Or How Durstin D. Narrowly Missed Oblivion in the Bright World of Television

MY name is Durstin Drinkspieler, and I am an alcoholic. My story is not a typical one, in that I didn't have my first drink until rather late in life. But my progression in alcoholism was rapid, and my life soon became completely unmanageable.

I took my first drink just eight years ago while acting in a TV commercial. In those days, all my friends were making TV commercials. It was the thing to do, and I wanted very much to be with it. So when my agent called about a wine company assignment, I quickly said yes.

Ah, how I was to regret that fateful decision! From the minute my innocent lips touched that first glass of sherry, something serious began happening. At first I didn't notice any great changes. I kidded myself that I could do wine commercials or leave them alone. The early hangovers weren't too bad; I never thought of doing a quick commercial for my morning-after jitters.

But, little by little, the compulsion set in. I began to need commercials, and to look forward to them desperately. It was then that I discovered the morning taping session. The progression continued; things got much worse. Soon I had such a craving that I'd hurry downtown at the crack of dawn and wait outside, shaking, until the television studio doors opened.

My agent, my doctor and my friends saw what was happening, but they were powerless to help me. I tried all the usual dodges. I switched to beer commercials. I did mouthwash spots. I even acted in a pitch for hair tonic. But nothing did any good. I was going downhill fast. The networks took me off prime time. Night after night, little green casting directors with blue beards used to chase me around my room. And when I wound up in a run-down agency in Hoboken, doing a commercial for shoe polish, I knew I'd hit bottom.

Fortunately I had heard about AA. So I called Intergroup and that night I went to my first meeting. What a relief it was to learn that I had a disease! I know now, thanks to AA's teaching, that I have to stay away from the first commercial--one channel at a time. Of course, we still keep television around the house, and I don't mind showing a few commercials when friends drop in. But I realize it's no longer for yours truly.

Today I'm a happy ex-actor, although I admit that occasionally I pine for the days when I made all that money.

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