The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

02 Feb
Barry Williams

Attention! Mr. President

written by Barry Williams in Blog, barry | 4 comments


‘Just like this one’

With all of the primaries going on it’s hard not to think about politics. The race is fascinating and the election is still more than nine months away. It is hard for me to imagine how anyone can handle the job of President with all of the scrutiny, the ultimate invasion of privacy 24/7, and of course the challenge of learning how to speak out of both sides of your mouth — at the same time. I am intrigued with how the political machinery works and just so happen to have a Presidential story to share with you.

A few years ago, I was invited to join the Broadway cast of Victor/Victoria for a production in Houston, Texas. I was to play the role of Toddy, originally created onstage by Tony Roberts and played in the movie by Robert Preston. At the end of the show Toddy discovers his “inner self” puts on a dress, full make up, a head dress and high heels and performs.

I may as well tell you right now, I do not make a pretty girl. I can however manage high heels, in my case a size 131/2 . This transformation takes place as during the show as a quick change, so I had two wardrobe assistants help me get into the garb. In the song I parade around the stage in all my glory.

Houston is the home of President H. W. George Bush, our 41st President. By this time Bill Clinton was occupying The White House. George and Barbara Bush support the arts and are regular theatre goers. One weekend they attended our show. They are extremely gracious and were kind enough to come backstage during our intermission, and say hello to the cast and stagehands. They told us they were enjoying the show. Our company manager had been informed that the President and his wife may have to leave the theatre before the curtain because he had a meeting scheduled at Camp David, and if they left it was not a reflection of their opinion of our production. They stayed for the entire performance.

After the show was over, the cast was backstage getting ready for our bows. Remember at this point I am in full, over the top drag and wearing my size 13 1/2 shoes with 3 inch heels. As we finished our bows, while we were still on stage the audience was still applauding, the President, Mrs. Bush and their secret service detail, got up from their seats and began walking to the stage to exit the theatre to get to his motorcade and head for the airport. As he neared the stage I caught his eye. I am not sure what he was thinking, maybe he was embarrassed for me, but he smiled. For some reason while he was looking at me, I pulled my shoulders back, stuck out my chest and gave him a full military salute. He immediately stopped in the aisle (causing his entire entourage to stop with him) stood at attention and returned my salute. I felt a sharp feeling of pride in who we are and what a great country we live in. It was a powerful moment.

My Father, who passed away 22 months ago, was a retired Captain of the Coast Guard and spent twenty-five years in the reserves after serving two years during WWII in the Pacific. I thought he would enjoy hearing about my experience with our former President at the theatre. So I walked off stage into the wings and asked the stage manager if I could borrow his phone and called my Dad. When he answered I said Dad, I have some good news and bad news. The good news is that President Bush came to see my show here in Houston and as he was leaving I saluted him from the stage and he returned my salute. The bad news is that I was wearing a dress at the time. He laughed at the image but I think he was still impressed.

 

4 Comments

    Renee
    on Feb. 2nd, 2008

    A very touching, heartwarming and funny story. Thank you for sharing that.

    And my sincere condolences on the passing of your dad.

    Ginger
    on Feb. 2nd, 2008

    Size 13-1/2, huh? Well, you know what they say…

    ;)

    Bob Hunt
    on Feb. 2nd, 2008

    Say, this would have been soon after President Clinton implemented the military’s “Don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy. You were probably the last man in drag to salute a U.S. President, standing or otherwise (the President, that is).

    Chris
    on Feb. 2nd, 2008

    What a great story. I just found your blog and think it is pretty groovy! Who would have ever imagined in the ’70′s we (the deoted viewers of your show) would some day have the capability of interacting with Greg Brady. Thank you for this Project. It is heartwarming and brings to life those childhood memories!

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