In 1953 a new sitcom premiered called TOPPER. It was based on the movie TOPPER (which was based on a book) about a stuffy buttoned-down banker haunted by two carefree ghosts. Cary Grant and Constance Bennett played the ghostly couple. On TV the hot couple was played by Anne Jeffreys & Robert Sterling, and Leo G. Carroll (Mr. Waverly from THE MAN FROM UNCLE) played Cosmo Topper. One of the writers was a 23 year-old kid named Stephen Sondheim.
He showed a lot of promise. Wrote eleven episodes. And they're among the best. But he gave up comedy writing to go into song writing. Pity. He could have had a very successful career.
But seriously, how does Stephen Sondheim wind up in Los Angeles writing for TOPPER? His mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II introduced him to George Oppenheimer, a playwright and screenwriter. Oppenheimer had been hired to write TOPPER and wanted someone to help him shoulder the load.
Sondheim got the job although he had never written a professional script. He moved out to LA and was paid $300 a week. Once he had saved enough money to rent an apartment in New York he left.
The rest of course is history. But for one brief moment Sondheim was slumming as a sitcom writer. He went on to become one of the greatest Broadway composers of all-time. And me, I'm singing, "I'm still here."





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