During that auspicious year, I returned to Canada after assistant teaching for two school terms in Peru. My newly acquired Spanish language skills helped me land “my dream job” with a Canadian airline. In those days, few people flew around in private planes, and Canadian Pacific Airlines (CP Air) was the carrier of choice. I met many famous and infamous, sports stars politicians, businessmen and entertainers.
When old-time movie icons like Red Skelton, Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra boarded the plane, a respectful buzz would flow from the cockpit to the back lavatories. I remember folk singer, Joan Baez and contemporary crooner, Neil Diamond graciously signing autographs from their seats. Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada at the time, usually flew “up front”, but if it was fully booked, he settled into Economy with everyone else. He did not expect anyone to vacate their seat for him. However, a loyal Liberal party member would usually insist on doing so.
Air travelers dressed up for their flights, except for the students waiting for a seat in the newly introduced “standby class.” CP Air served meals on china and used sterling table ware, crystal glasses and linen napkins in first class. The employees and airline crews bent over backwards to make sure the passengers were comfortable and happy.
I quickly became used to the coming and going of the celebrities, but the day Burt Reynolds bounded into the departure lounge, every woman there almost lost it.
A few months previously, he’d been the stand in for Johnny Carson, host of the popular late-night talk show. Helen Gurley Brown, author of Sex and the Single Girl and editor of Cosmopolitan was his guest and at some point in the evening, Brown challenged Reynolds to pose for a nude centerfold in her magazine, and he agreed.
The day after the Cosmo issue hit news-stands, he was besieged by women asking him to sign their copy. Gurley Brown said: “He had been a movie star, now he was a celebrity.” And Burt made Cosmopolitan notorious. His photograph pushed the magazine across a threshold, and “something” changed forever
Back in ‘72, no one would have tolerated the officious treatment we are now subjected to in airports and on flights. People stalk celebrities to the point where they need body guards. Where are the world leaders like P.E.T?
Today, no one would look twice at the photo of a man (with his arm positioned “just so”) Instead they are lining up to see 50 Shades of Gray.
I wonder… is our world a brighter place or has it actually gotten grayer?