Driving with Abby Singer

The second-to-last shot of the day on set is known as the Abby, named for a man who became famous for his “This shot and one more, and then we can all head home for the night!” reminder to everyone on his sets…


Legends_AbbySingerThis is Abby Singer…

But before we get there, a little background for you. When I was growing up, my go-to movies were mostly ones like Charade, His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby.  I grew up with a mad crush on Cary Grant, and I’ve seen Oklahoma and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers more times than I can count.  I would sit in my grandparents’ living room and listen to Frank Sinatra and Jack Benny and Glenn Miller with them for hours.

But it was always like I was peeking into this other world that was long-gone, this world that belonged with my grandparents.  I would never be a part of it — I was just lucky enough to catch the echoes of everything that went before me.

Never in a million years did I imagine I’d be moving to Los Angeles one day… 

I was on one of my first shows out here, and my boss asked if I’d be willing to drive a friend of hers around for the afternoon after he visited our set. Of course I said yes, and a few minutes later I was standing in a hallway shaking hands and saying hello to this delightful older gentleman.

That’s how I met Abby Singer. 

That afternoon, we drove from the Valley down to Santa Monica while he told me all about the Los Angeles that used to exist…   “Back when I first came out to LA, this was all orange groves…”  After a mile or two on the 405, he told me to get off the highway and drive through some of the neighborhoods so he could point out spots while he talked about them.  He started stories with “Back when I was working for Jack Benny…” or “That was around the time I was doing the Doris Day show…” He told me all about crossing paths with Katharine Hepburn and John Wayne and Cary Grant at events.

For just a moment, classic Hollywood was blazingly alive again, and it was gorgeous.

That drive remains, to this day, one of the best moments in my entire career.

Hollywood lost someone truly lovely yesterday.  He helped create the trails that so many of us walk on today.  And while it’s probably true that outside of Hollywood, there may not be a lot of people who know his name — I like to think that today on film and tv sets all around the world, people will take an extra second on the second-to-last shot of the day…

Hey! We’re on the Abby…

… and we’ll all smile.

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