Richard Runyon, retired FDA senior analyst, unveils the second installment of his six-part interview series, as his exciting new website, www.RichardRunyon.com, continues its expansion.
SEATTLE, WA, February 10, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — Richard Runyon, a seasoned expert in his field, continues to captivate audiences with the second installment of his “A Story to Tell” interview series, debuting here and now (interview appears below). This six-part, long-form interview series is being rolled out over the course of 2022-23 and offers a unique and intimate look into Richard’s journey and life experiences.
Mr. Runyon’s first installment in the series has already received a tremendous response after barely two months. The November article has been enjoying widespread and continuous coverage in the media, with people everywhere recognizing its engaging narrative style and compelling subject matter. Now the stage is set for the second installment of “A Story to Tell”, which is poised to take the series to new heights.
“I have always believed that everyone has a story to tell, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share mine,” says Richard Runyon. “Through my experiences, I hope to inspire and entertain audiences everywhere.”
This new entry builds upon the foundation established by its predecessor, offering readers an even deeper dive into the fascinating life of its one-of-a-kind interviewee, as he takes us through the wild twists and turns of his adventures and misadventures, including his time spent in communist Berlin, as well as on the French Riviera and The Dating Game!
With Mr. Runyon’s trademark style at its most insightful and compelling, this second part is once again a cinematic experience filmed with only words, and it is sure to captivate audiences and drum up even more enthusiasm for future chapters. “A Story to Tell” combines powerful storytelling and lighthearted commentary, tackling subjects both relatable and simply unbelievable… but it all happened. Every last word of it.
“I like the idea of offering a behind-the-scenes look at my life and the experiences that have shaped me into who I am today,” says Richard. “I am proud of the journey I have been on, and I hope my story can serve as a source of inspiration and entertainment for others, especially my family and future generations.”
Richard Runyon’s legacy is something that should be taken very seriously, considering the breadth of his accomplishments both professionally and personally.
Runyon adds: “I like the idea of strangers gaining something from all of my new content, but the real driving force behind my efforts is my legacy as it relates to my family. I want my story to live on forever, so even my great-great-great grandkids will feel like they know me! At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about and I definitely do have a story to tell. A whole bunch of ’em, in fact.”
Here are a few more of those special stories right here, right now. Enjoy part two of Richard Runyon’s “A Story to Tell”:
TSR News Group:
Great to be talking with you again, Richard. Let’s jump right in. In part one of the interview series, you talked quite a bit about life in Germany, as a kid. Did you ever go back there?
Oh, absolutely! That was a very important part of my younger life. As long as I was in Europe, I definitely wanted to go back to Germany and poke around a little bit. So, one of the first places I went to visit was where I was born, which is Wiesbaden. And while I was in Wiesbaden, I did much more than go back and look at where I once lived, there were a couple of folks that my parents wanted me to visit. And one of them was my father’s “Jägermeister”, and that was the guy who would help my dad on his hunts. My father was a big hunter in those days. And so, we had an opportunity to go visit [his Jägermeister], and sat in the evening, shared a bottle of wine. I had a really pleasant visit with the man.
The second visit was with one of our maids. Now, this is the last maid that we had there, and she definitely was the best. She was a great gal. She got married and retired, which wasn’t a big surprise since we all knew her boyfriend. And she also adopted our dog, a long-haired Dachshund. And she adopted him. Unfortunately, by the time we got there in 1967, the dog had passed away. But you know, it was still nice that she did that. So, it was a bit difficult to find her, because the date that my mom gave her and the date that we showed up weren’t the same, and she thought we weren’t coming and went off to spend some time in her cabin in the woods. And it was a neighbor who spotted us and realized who we were.
Anyway, we did get together, and we had a great time together, I remember it pretty well. It was nice, I’m glad we did that. Once that was done, we decided that we wanted to go to Berlin. Now, for those of you who don’t remember, in 1967 Germany was still divided. Roughly half of it was under French, English and American oversight. You couldn’t tell one from another. But the other portion was part of the USSR, and they were pretty strict about the transportation in and out. A lot of folks who were living in East Germany didn’t wanna be there. So, they tried to leave, and if they didn’t have the right papers, well, the Germans/USSR people would shoot them.
TSR News Group:
You said they would shoot them?
Yeah. It wasn’t necessarily a daily issue, but it was close to that. You’d read about it in the paper all the time. So, we decided we wanted to go to East Berlin. We traveled typically at night, because we were cheap students and we couldn’t afford a place to stay, but we could sleep on the train. I remember riding through East Germany, and the train would stop at a bunch of stations, but it was pretty obvious that nobody could get on or off. If they did, we couldn’t tell. At one point, I stuck my head out the window to see what was going on, and I noticed that there were East German guards, one situated in each railcar on both sides. They had automatic weapons. Every other one had a police dog of some sort and they were pretty serious.
And when that guard saw me stick my head out to take a look, he started yelling at me and unslinging his weapon. So, I decided to get back into the train, and I did. So, no harm, no foul. The other thing that occurred on the way into Berlin is customs. Customs and immigration folks from East Germany came onboard, and we had to pay a small amount of money to get our visa. This wasn’t a big deal. The problem was, although Larry and I were in the same compartment, Steve was in a different one. So, when they came into my car, I understood enough of the German to realize that we had to get our exit visas at the next time, and that exit visa for us was gonna be towards Hamburg. Because we were going to leave a different way.
Steve didn’t know. He had no idea what they were talking about. He ended up with a visa to go back through Frankfurt, which caused some issues later, which I’ll talk about. So, we made it into Berlin, and one of the things that was important in my mind as well was that in 1948, the East Germans/USSR shut down all of the supply trains going to Berlin. They were trying to choke Berlin off so that the allies were forced to allow them to have it. And so, they cut off all of the supplies to Berlin and all the allies, they started flying airplanes, one after the other, to supply them.
My father was heavily involved in that Berlin airlift. That was a big deal in those days. So, we made it into Berlin. Now, Berlin, when we were there, man, what an exciting city! I understand it’s still a great city, but man, it was like the city on the edge. Because, remember, they’re completely surrounded by enemies, and they lived everyday as if it was an important one. And it was pretty exciting time. The city had all kinds of energy, which was really nice. So, we showed up in West Berlin, which is where we stayed, and we enjoyed it a lot. One of the things we wanted to do was go into East Berlin.
So, we took a tourist bus that you could get on, and they would take you and show you around. One of the things they would do was, they’d go by all these stores with all this stuff in the windows. I guess the point was to show that they had all these nice things. The reality was, the East Germans couldn’t buy them! They weren’t for sale, they were just for show, to folks like us, trying to convince us that everything was fine. And the bus also went around and showed a bunch of monuments for Russians and others. So, one of the monuments I remember we got out to take a look, and they were cutting the grass. Well, they were cutting the grass by having a whole bunch of mostly elderly ladies with clippers, by hand, cutting the grass.
They could have used a lawnmower and had it done in five minutes, but they had these ladies out there cutting the grass. It was really odd to see. So much for the bus trip. So, we decided we really wanted to go and see what East Berlin was like. So, there was an overhead tram that would go between East and West Berlin. It was run by the East Germans, and so a lot of the West Berliners wouldn’t use it. But we were poor students, and it was the easiest way for us, so we jumped on the overhead and went over to East Germany, East Berlin in particular.
There were some interesting things that occurred. One is, when we arrived and they wanted to check our passports and all that kind of stuff, there were a bunch of heavily armed guards looking at us, making sure we were moving along. I remember that after I had gotten through and I was trying to put stuff back in my backpack, or whatever it is I was carrying, they didn’t like me hanging around. They ran me out of that building pretty quick, even though I wasn’t done. Anyway, we wandered around East Berlin, and one of the things we noticed was that a lot of the streets were blocked off because some the rubble from the war was still there. Some of the buildings were still being propped up. Man, it was crazy. This was 30 years after the war was over. But they hadn’t quite got it together. We also were required to exchange money. They made us exchange West German to East German money on a one-to-one basis. And it wasn’t too big of a deal, because we had to give them five West German Marks, and they would give us five East German Marks.
Well, in those days, a West German Mark was worth a quarter, but it was funny that the East German Mark—well, five East German Marks were worth about 30 cents. And we were required to spend it when we were in East Berlin. We know this because the first time we went to leave, they didn’t want them taken out. We had to stick it in the Red Cross box which was completely overflowing. So, the second time we went over, this was primarily to exchange or to get a new visa for Steve. Luckily, the hotel we were staying at, the clerk noticed that he had the wrong visa, and told us he had to go to East Berlin to get it changed. Well, we were not looking forward to that trip. We figured, oh, boy! One, it would be difficult to find, and two, we had to deal with the bureaucracy in East Germany.
So, we arrived over there. I always got the job of being the translator. I stopped the first person, and asked him if he knew where the visa office was. And his response was—I didn’t understand the response. It didn’t even sound German. So, I asked him again, and he was able to tell me in broken German that he wasn’t German, he was Czechoslovakian. Well, so much for that. It was difficult to find people, because most people there, they wouldn’t look at you, they didn’t want to stop and talk with you. Because, remember, this was a communist country, and these folks were a little bit nervous about talking to Americans. So, we finally found a lady who would help us, and it turns out she spoke good English, and she told us where the visa office was.
So, we got there and we got Steve’s visa changed, which turned out to be an absolute piece of cake, probably easier than if I had gone to an American place! They were just amazing. And so, we decided to spend a little bit more time. I remember we were trying to spend the money. I went into a little—I guess it was a store that you had to walk down in, it was sort of in a basement, and I purchased a sandwich and a beer. It was Hell Beer, H-E-L-L. I didn’t realize until later—and we all had the Hell beer—but I didn’t realize until later that that was a German word that talks about the type of beer it is. But anyway, I think I got them both for five East German Marks, so 30 cents for a sandwich and one beer. The sandwich was terrible, but that’s okay.
So, anyway, that was fun. And then, one other time when we were over there, I decided not to spend any money, and I kept the five East German Marks, and I just told the guard when we were leaving that I spent it all. So, I have, somewhere, a crisp five East German Mark note. It was worth 30 cents when we bought it, and it’s probably worth 50 cents now. Maybe. But anyways, it is kind of nice to have that.
TSR News Group:
Yeah, that’s pretty neat.
So, anyway, we did one other thing that was a little bit—it was really interesting. One of the big tourist spots was the Brandenburg Gate. Now, the Brandenburg Gate sort of represents the center of Berlin. They are very significant… They’re just very significant to the Germans. So, we went to see it. And you could see it best from the east side, even though it was pretty close to the west as well, but there’s a wall there, so it was hard to see. So, on the east side the gates were in what’s called No Man’s Land. They were pretty close to the wall, but still very visible.
So, we were standing there, taking pictures and whatever, and there was a series of barricades there. And of course, there were guards. We weren’t the only ones there. There were a few other people. There was a young couple who had a small boy, probably five or six. He was playing in the area. The parents weren’t paying close attention as they should have, and the little kid crawled under the barricades!
Now, the guards are under orders. Somebody that’s in No Man’s Land and goes where they’re not supposed to, you’re supposed to kill them. So, here’s this six-year-old boy that clearly doesn’t know what’s going, and an 18-year-old guard has his orders, who doesn’t wanna shoot a little kid, but that’s the way the orders are. So, he unstraps his weapon, and he yells in German for the kid to halt, stop. At that point, mom saw what was going on, and screamed bloody murder. Her scream was so loud and piercing that her son ran back under the barricade and up to her. And you could see all the people there, including the guard, had this big sigh of relief, because obviously nobody wanted to see the kid get shot, and the guard certainly didn’t want to shoot either. So, that kind of drove things home as to what kind of a place they had over there. We were glad to leave.
TSR News Group:
I’m sure! It sounds like you’ve had a lot of adventures and you’ve always been a bit of a troublemaker, that’s no secret. I think anybody who knows you, or simply even read the first interview in this series, can attest to that. And in your formative years, you had some pretty gritty experiences; some injuries, some scrapes with the law. So, I want to delve into this a little bit deeper, into that side of Richard Runyon. Did you always have a taste for danger and excitement?
Well, you know, it’s interesting. I wouldn’t have put it that way. I don’t think… It was more of just “who you are”. You describe it that way, but for me it was just everyday stuff. But I guess when you stand back and look at it, maybe you’re right. One of the things that happened, for instance, that was a little crazy, was actually on the trip before, when I was still a young kid, probably seven or eight. My mother used to collect charms for her charm bracelet, and she had charms from all over. Not just Germany, but all over Europe. One of the charms was a little tiny pistol. The thing was less than two inches long. But you could take this pistol and break it open, and it came with these blank cartridges that you stick in the pistol, and close it, and then when you shot, it would come out with this really loud noise.
So, it was kind of fun. My mom in particular drew it at parties or whatever. One time, I wanted to fire it myself, and my mom said, “Sure.” So, she loaded the pistol for me, and very carefully gave it to me. And then, I fired it.
This thing was so small that my finger was in front of the muzzle! Even though it was blank, it was shooting lots of hot gasses. And boy, it hurt! It hurt pretty good! So, my mother gets on the phone to the hospital, and says, “My son just shot himself in the finger, but it’s a little, tiny gun.” And she’s trying to describe how small it is using her fingers while she’s on the phone! The nurse, or whoever she was talking to, didn’t care how small this gun is. A kid got shot with it!
So, she’s gonna call the police to come, and my mom was going on and on. Finally, my father got on the phone and explained that the pistol was part of a charm bracelet, trying to convince them that it was nothing more than a burn. That was pretty funny for a while, because she struggled to try and explain how her son shot himself in the finger with a little tiny gun.
So, anyway, one of the other things that occurred… I was a senior in college and I had been visiting my future wife, I was headed back to my place. I had to go to school in the morning, she had her own work, so… I’m on my way back on one of the freeways, and it was kind of late on a Sunday, so there wasn’t a lot of traffic. I was moving along in my Volkswagen Bug, and the car in front of me was in the fast lane and he was going kinda slow. So, I tried to get around him, but every time I’d try to go around him, he’d speed up, and then slow down. It was just frustrating. So, one time I went to get around him, and he came over to the right, and pushed me over three lanes. So, I was upset at this point.
TSR News Group:
I can imagine!
So, I got behind him, and I followed him off the freeway. I was gonna give him a piece of my mind. I followed him off the freeway, and we’re driving around—it wasn’t a particularly nice part of town, but nevertheless… So, he stopped at a point, I go to get out, and he takes off again. And then finally, he pulls into a small parking lot, and I pull in behind him. I get out of my car, he gets out of his car. He points the biggest gun I’ve ever seen right at me! He said, “What do you want?” Well, at that point I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted. But what I did was, I went ahead and began to chew him out for his drunk driving. And at that point he realized that’s why I was there. He probably thought I was trying to rob him or something.
Anyway, as soon as he figured it was his driving, he put the gun down, and I finished my tirade, I got in the car, and I drove home and changed my underwear.
TSR News Group:
[laughs hard] It’s a good thing he was level-headed enough to put the gun down when he realized that you weren’t a threat to him. Especially if he was drunk!
Yeah. That was educational. Don’t chase drunks with guns, I guess. Boy, that was pretty scary, I’ll tell you. Anyway, I was with a bunch of my buddies one night, we were hanging out, and we decided to go down to Manhattan Beach, which is where we normally hung out during the day, but now the sun had already set. We went out there anyway and we were screwing around, and somebody had the bright idea that it might be fun to jump off the pier. Now, it’s a long way down from the end of that Manhattan Beach pier. And at night you can’t see anything. So, it was a little spooky. Now, the other thing that may be a little bit crazy, we had been told that the pier had at one time been much longer, but the ending got wiped out in the storm. So, we at least didn’t jump off of the end, we went to a side to jump off.
We had no idea what was below us, but we were all successful in jumping off of the pier. And then we had a long swim back to the beach. We were all good, healthy kids, and we spent half the time in the water anyway, so that wasn’t a big deal. But still, it’s against the law. Luckily, no police came by. So, we jumped off and swam back, and then we headed to one of our buddy’s house, and we were going to crash there for the night. When we got there, we decided we were hungry, so we were going to go across the street to this liquor store/deli to get a sandwich and something to drink. So, we’re standing at the corner, waiting for the light to change, and out of nowhere comes a whole bunch of cops.
They all jump out of their cars and order us to… whatever. They started checking IDs. I showed them my ID, as well as some of my buddies. And it turns out that this particular town had a curfew, and we were just over the curfew, maybe five, 10 minutes. They decided they were going to take us to jail anyway, because they had been getting complaints about a bunch of rowdy guys making noise and making problems. Well, I was like, “It wasn’t us. We just got here, getting ready to cross the street. There was a mix-up here.” Cops found some guys to put in jail. So, only three of us were 17… 18 was the cut-off for the curfew. And maybe five of them were 18 or older. So, I got put in the local jail.
Then, of course, they called my parents to come pick us up. My parents got in a fight over it. My dad wanted me to just go ahead and sleep there overnight, and get me in the morning. Which, frankly, wouldn’t have bothered me. But my mother decided that she didn’t want me to spend the night in jail, and she told him not to come back in the house until I was with him. So, my dad drove up, picked us up—and it’s a pretty good drive—and he wasn’t overly happy, but my dad was pretty reasonable, he saw what was going on. As we were leaving, one of the cops that was at the desk, who hadn’t been one of those that arrested us, but he was there—well, we weren’t arrested, but detained—anyway, he started to explain to my father how we had been rowdy and making all this noise.
And boy, I turned on that guy, let him know that that was not what happened. I just read this guy the riot act! I don’t think he expected it. And my father, who is a retired colonel, did not typically see me with that kind of reaction, because I was respectful to people like police and folks in uniform. So, my dad pretty much figured out that I was not guilty of what they thought I was. So, anyway, the next few days at home were not pleasant. Well, another thing was, when I was in high school, I wasn’t a particularly good student, but I had some opportunities, and one of them was, if I went and worked outside the school I could get credit for it. So, I got a job working in a liquor store. Now, you’d think, what the heck? But in California, it was perfectly legal for me to work in a liquor store.
TSR News Group:
Wow. That’s unusual. I was wondering—that’s exactly what I was wondering: what the heck?
Yeah. So, I went to work for Rolling Hills Liquor. People would come up, and I would sell from the counter. But most of the time, I was a delivery boy. So, people would call in that they want so much booze, and I’d pack it up and take it to them, take the money and bring it back. Well, one day, one of the more interesting deliveries was when they wanted a keg of beer. Now, I can remember one delivery to a gentleman up in the hills. In those days, there were two different ways you could tap the keg, depending on the brand that you had. The easiest one was a connection at the top, and then a second connection was on the side and you’d twist it.
TSR News Group:
On the side of the keg.
We called that a golden gate. That was the name of the tap. And then the other one, which was primarily Coors beer, it was a peerless tap. And what we would do, it had a long rod with a hole at the bottom, and you have to shove this rod through a sealed hole in the middle of the keg, and you have to get it to the bottom and get the keg sealed tight, because it was under pressure. I used to do it all the time, so I used to be pretty good at it. But this doctor, the gentleman who I delivered it to, he wanted to do it himself. Well, his hand slipped when he was pushing the rod down, and the tap shot out and got stuck in the ceiling. And the beer went everywhere, all over the place! It was all I could do to keep from laughing. I was really glad that he tapped it and not me. That was kind of funny.
So, once, Larry and I had a double date and we thought it would be fun to have some beer. So, I bought a case of beer at work and put it in the back of my car, and took it with us for the date. I think we went to a football game or something. Anyway, the gals, after the game they decided that they wanted to go home. So, that was fine, we dropped them off. That was probably a smart move on their part. So, Larry and I said, okay, let’s sit and have a couple of beers. So, we were in this little cul-de-sac, a short dead end segment. And we were a block and a half from his house, and maybe three blocks from my house. And the silly thing is, Larry’s room in his house was separate from the rest of his house. So, you could go in and out of there, and nobody would notice.
Larry’s place was disconnected from the rest of the house, so we could have sat there and had a drink. We didn’t. We were in the street. I pulled the first beer out, Larry hadn’t even grabbed one. I pulled one out off the top. I may have had a sip or two, and sure enough, the lights from the cops come on behind us. So, here we are, minors in possession of alcohol. So, it got exciting. And rather than just taking us home, they decided to take us to the station. Well, we were in the county sheriff’s jurisdiction, and their substation was quite a ways away. So, rather than drop us off at the house, they took us all the way to the substation. First they put us in a holding cell while they went through all of our stuff and kept asking me where I got it.
I just said, “I’m not gonna tell you.” I wish I had just told him that I had some guy buy it. So, they’re going through my wallet, and sure enough, there’s a pay stub in there from the liquor store. So, it was pretty obvious. And I admitted that’s where I got it. So, they waited for our folks to show up.
We both had to go to juvenile court, which turned out to be no big deal. But I remember I was back at work a week later, and a couple of state cops came in from the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Department and read me the riot act all over again and told me they were gonna be watching me, which was fine. What was really good was that nobody ever told my boss, so I could keep the job. The money I earned on that job is what I used to go to Europe with. Anyway, that was my second visit to a police station.
And then, my third visit, which was really a stupid move on my part—I was in college, first or second year, and had gone to a fraternity party. The drink of the day was tequila. Well, it didn’t take much tequila to get me drunk. One of my buddies took my keys, because he knew I shouldn’t be driving. But at one point I convinced him of something, and he gave me my keys back, and I decided to go home. I was still driving the Volkswagen Bug, and I hit a car, a big station wagon, and put that station wagon on the sidewalk. I hit it pretty good. I bounced off the window and cut my chin, so I was bleeding pretty good. Anyway, I was just sitting on the curb, and the police showed up. They took me to the hospital to get sewn up, and then took me to the police station.
In those days, they didn’t have portable alcohol tests, so they took me to the police station, had me blow into the machine, and I blew an alcohol level of 0.13. Well, I think everywhere in the country, if you’re over 0.08, you’re considered under the influence. So, I was significantly above that number.
TSR News Group:
Yeah, by quite a bit.
However, in those days, the limit was 0.15, so I didn’t go over the limit. So, they called my dad. Now he’s really mad, because I destroyed my mom’s car. So, that was my—I didn’t have to go to court or anything because I wasn’t legally under the influence, but I’ll tell you, my folks made it out like I was. I don’t blame them. That was a stupid thing to do. Anyway, those were three [police station] visits. I think that pretty well talks about my craziness at that age.
TSR News Group:
Well, you know what? I see what you mean now. Because I cut up as a kid myself, so I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying. And I wonder sometimes if it’s not so much the definition of danger that’s changed as it is the young people themselves who’ve changed. It may be that people play it a little bit safer nowadays, or maybe there’s a more shocked reaction to when young guys do lash out and cut up like that. Yeah, that’s adventurous, dangerous stuff, but we all did it, or at least a lot of us did it. And I wonder sometimes if that’s a thing of the past. But, I guess time will tell.
One of the other things is, if you don’t get caught, it’s almost like you didn’t do it.
TSR News Group:
Well said! Absolutely. And you and your friends, Steve and Larry, on that note, you guys had some pretty wild adventures together, at home and abroad. In the latter case, for example, when you guys were in Scotland, and you ended up having a little bit longer stay there than you’d planned. But you also got into a little jam on the French Riviera. And to my understanding, beer played a big part in this story.
Well, when we were traveling around Europe, we had what was called a U-Rail pass. You purchase- in those days you had to purchase it, and it pretty much allowed train travel anywhere in Europe. There are some exceptions, but pretty much anywhere in Europe, without having to pay any more costs. You just get on the train and go. It was really great. So, we took the train from Paris to Marseilles. When we arrived in Marseilles, it was in the afternoon. And typically, when you show up in a city like that, they would have a facility in the train station to help you get in a hotel. We didn’t book anything yet. So, we went to them and they said that everything was booked. So, we put most of our stuff in the lockers at the train station, and we went out looking for someplace where we could stay.
So, we banged on a bunch of doors and didn’t have much luck. We were tired, and we stumbled into this bar, and we wanted to get a beer. So, we looked over, and there were only two other gentlemen in the bar. One had maybe an 8 oz. beer, and the other one had a 16 oz. beer. Obviously, they’re in metric and not the US standard… So, none of us spoke much more than a word of French. The word for beer is the same. So, we said to the bartender that we wanted a big beer. Well, they had big beers there. They were in liters. One of my notes says two liters, so I don’t know. They were big beers. We consumed those beers, and not having had anything to eat, the beers went to out heads. And we decided it was so good that we did it all over again. Well, by now we were feeling pretty good!
We wandered out of the bar and down to the beach. The beaches in Marseilles are mostly pebbles. There’s not really sand there. So, we couldn’t sleep on the rocks. But we’re down there, wandering around, and bump into a couple of Frenchmen who were as drunk as we were. And for an hour or two, we argued politics. They couldn’t speak any English, we couldn’t speak French, but we had a great time. So, that went on, and finally they decided they were gonna leave, and we were looking for a place to stay. There was a park right up there, so we made it to the park and found ourselves some benches, and fell asleep on these benches. We woke up the next morning, but the park was absolutely packed with Frenchmen! And we didn’t know what was going on, but they were looking at us like, “these three idiots”, or whatever.
But we were smart enough to keep our mouths closed, so they didn’t guess we were Americans, but we tried not to make it any worse than it was. It turned out it was Bastille Day! That’s a big holiday in France and that’s what we woke up to. It was pretty crazy.
TSR News Group:
Yeah. So, Larry, Steve and I snuck out of the park, and thought that it might be good to get out of town. So, a little later that day, we took the train from Marseilles to Nice. We had met a family on the train on the way to Paris, a couple of nice gals and their parents, and they invited us to their beach in Nice. And it was interesting that they rented or owned the section, as opposed to in the US, where you just go to the beach. Anyway, we were going to go spend some time with them. So, we jumped on the train, and we realized it was a train that did not admit U-Rail passes. It had, like, a charter. And we didn’t really- we didn’t know if it was gonna throw us off, we didn’t know what was gonna happen. We were a little nervous.
So, what we did was, we took all of our luggage and stuffed it in one of the bathrooms, and one of us got in the bathroom with the luggage and closed it so it was occupied, and the other two would stand in line so that if folks on the train saw us, they’d just figure we were waiting for the bathroom. And every once in a while we’d get somebody to stand in line for a while before leaving. And then, whoever was in the bathroom would come out and whoever was in the front would go to the bathroom. So, it looked like the line was moving, but it was only two people. Larry spotted the conductor and all three of us were in this bathroom with all our luggage. And these bathrooms are not very big. We all got in there, closed the door, but did not show it as occupied. And we managed to play this game all the way to Nice. But then, when the train finally got there, we realized they were checking everybody again!
So, we waited and waited, and finally, everybody was off the train except the workers, and they were exiting through a different gate, which we successfully used. Now, it probably wouldn’t have been a big deal, but we were nervous. So, that was our trip to Nice, and we spent some time with the nice family that we met on the train to Paris.
TSR News Group:
Wow, that’s some story! Now, to pivot a little bit, anyone alive in the 1970s might remember a little program called The Dating Game. And I’m being kind of ironic when I say it was a little program, as anybody alive in the 70s knows that it was hugely popular in its day. And you, Richard, were on that show. How did that happen? How did you end up on The Dating Game?!
When I was in college, probably a junior, I think, I got a phone call one evening, and it was one of the producers of The Dating Game. He asked if I could come down and audition.
TSR News Group:
How did he know you? How did he know to call you?
Well, that was one of my first questions. And it turned out he got my name from an old girlfriend. One of the things they had us do when we first got there was to write down some names, phone numbers or whatever, of people that we thought might be interested in coming on The Dating Game. So, I’m sure that’s how they got my name and number. Anyway, they also suggested I could bring my roommates. One of my roommates decided to go and try out as well. So, we showed up, and basically what it was was a room full of guys, 20 to 25, and the producers. One of the producers would pick one of us at random, and then read a question that might have come from the gal.
Now, for those of you who don’t recall, or never saw it, the way the game was played was, typically, there were three guys, bachelors 1, 2 and 3, and one gal. And we were separated by a partition. We couldn’t see each other. We could see the guys, but we couldn’t see the gal. So, she would then pick a number, 1, 2, or 3, and ask us a question, and we would answer it. Based on whatever criteria she wanted, she would pick somebody she would want to date. So, my roommate Jim and I were there, and they were asking us these questions. And based on our answers, I guess, they invited us back. Jim wasn’t interested, so I went back. Well, I guess they liked my answers again. It was a much smaller group. I got a telegram, and the telegram said, we want you on the show, this is the date, blah-blah.
They also gave me 20 tickets for anybody that wanted to show up. You know, those kinds of things are free. Hollywood, a TV show, the audiences don’t pay to go in there. They’re free. Some of them get tickets because they’re so popular. So, anyway, I had these 20 tickets, and I invited my mom, my dad, my brother and sister, and a whole bunch of people from the dorm. Which was fun, because if I answered a question that everybody thought was kind of good, all my friends would cheer. So, I had this huge cheering pack.
TSR News Group:
That’s pretty cool.
Yeah. So, we show up, and it turns out that they film three shows at one time, and each show had two games. So, that was almost a month’s worth of TV program, because it was only on once a week, at primetime. So, anyway, we all were talking to each other, we were in the green room, and one of the things we knew was that the date- if you got a good date, the best ones were out of the country. They give one of those a month and you get to go on a date someplace outside of the US. Well, the show before ours went to Virgin Islands, so okay, we knew that the best date for the month was gone, but what the heck. As long as we didn’t get a limo ride around LA, it was okay. So, I was designated as bachelor number 3.
Of course, I wasn’t told what the questions were, but we were all asked to respond with suggestive answers, to make it a little bit more interesting. Remember, this was in the early 70s, so it couldn’t be too rowdy. But anyway… there we are, and the gal started asking us questions. One of the questions that I was asked that my father thought was the best, she said, “If we were in a movie together, what movie would it be, and why?” I said, Around The World in 80 Days, because I wanted to be alone with her in a balloon.
TSR News Group:
That’s a good answer! Very clever.
So, she chose me for the date. I won. It turns out that she really wasn’t interested in the date, she had a boyfriend. She was there trying to get her face on TV because she was an aspiring actress.
TSR News Group:
Oh, I see.
Yeah. But everything was set up, and the producer said, “Take your girlfriend, but she has to be over 21.” Well, my girlfriend was 20 at the time, and it also turned out to be the weekend before finals. So, trying to find someone that would be willing to go on this date was difficult. Anyway, one of the gals in the dorms, I knew her pretty well, she had a friend who was a nursing student that I could meet. She was a great gal. And we went on this date. The other thing that happened, the filming–they don’t go on TV–in my case, it was about a month later before it was shown on television. And so, I had a pretty good-sized room in the dorm because I was a resident advisor. We brought in a bunch of televisions and a whole bunch of people, and we had a big party when I was on TV. A whole bunch of people came to see it. We had a very good time, it was fun. I took the whole thing as just being fun. It wasn’t serious.
Anyway, my date was to a fancy dude ranch on Flathead Lake Montana for four days. So, I definitely got the second best one. That was a nice one. We flew from LA to Spokane, and then over to Flathead Lake. We were picked up by a bunch of the wranglers from the dude ranch. Now, this was a fancy dude ranch. This was a heavy duty dude ranch. And when I sat down to eat for the first time, the guy sitting next to me was the owner of a whole series of expensive restaurants. So, we’re talking about people who’ve got money. But everybody was friendly. We went horseback riding, water rafting, some canoeing. We’d go out in the evenings, and he introduced me to redeye, which I had heard of, but didn’t know what it was. Anyways, it’s nothing more than beer with tomato juice in it. And then, he introduced us to everybody in the bar as The Dating Game couple, which was kind of odd, because everybody in that bar, but us, were locals. We went to multiple bars. The whole thing was pretty funny. So, I started, rather than using my name Richard Runyon–because who knows Richard Runyon?–I decided to call myself Frank Zappa.
TSR News Group:
Frank Zappa! I love Frank Zappa. I bet a lot of people had no idea [who Zappa was] and you got away with it.
Yeah, they probably didn’t know whether I was or not, but at least Frank Zappa was still a name running around in those days, so I did get a few laughs. Anyway, that was my trip. I never saw the gal again.
TSR News Group:
Wow. That’s incredible. It’s funny how that happened. How they just heard about you, called you up, and all of a sudden you were getting ready to be on the show.
Yeah, and I never had my old girlfriend’s number! I had no way to get in contact with her. It would have been nice to have been able to get a hold of her, let her know, anyway, that I went. And maybe she’d have wanted to go on the trip with me. But…
TSR News Group:
How long had you been broken up with her at the point that you got the call?
A couple of years.
TSR News Group:
Oh, wow. So, it was a while.
TSR News Group:
That’s amazing. Well, that just about wraps up this second installment of the interview, and if you’re out there listening to this, or reading it, or watching a video of it, however you’re taking it in, know this: we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface with our friend Richard Runyon here, and there are four more installments of the interview, plus the groundbreaking “Richard Runyon’s Storybook” web series to look forward to, and so much more… all coming out in 2023! But, I know you, Richard, and I know you’ll be up to the challenge. So, whenever it’s required, you’ll bring your “A-game” as you did today, and we’ll keep putting out great stuff.
For more information on Richard Runyon, please visit his official website here. Notably, Mr. Runyon’s site has welcomed almost 670,000 visitors and counting since its summer 2022 debut. Don’t forget to bookmark Richard Runyon’s website, so you can stay on top of all announcements and updates, including the next four installments of “A Story to Tell”.
For the original version of this press release, please visit 24-7PressRelease.com here