Chapter 12: Don’t Give Your Right Name!
I got a phone call from Steve Bosustow that kicked my adrenaline. He was flying to Detroit to see me! (There it was! The age of air travel had actually come into my life!)
The fact that the prez of UPA would fly across the country to see me, the former apprentice, gave me a gratifying boost. Somehow, word of my accomplishments in the bosom of big business had made its way back to my true home studio. My old boss, Bill Murray, the leading live action director at JHO, continued to be my booster, and felt that my light would eventually go out, if indefinitely hidden under the Jam Handy bushel. He had kept UPA informed of my progress. Again luck. It's great to have the right kind of friends!
When Steve arrived, he told me more of what he only had sketched out on the phone; that UPA had decided to open a New York branch in order to cash in on its reputation, and go for the now burgeoning TV commercial market.
He knew the lure of the Big Apple with UPA was something I could hardly refuse, even though his offer came with a catch. I was now a genuine animation director, having personally directed five longish films, and many TV commercials. But Steve had committed to Abe Liss as director, and he offered me only the second position as the New York studio production designer.
Then there was money. I couldn't consider even the lure of returning to the nest and glamorous Gotham without a substantially higher income. Manhattan living costs were something else than in the Detroit suburbs.
The classic Bosustow touch was next. He put his hand on my shoulder once again. Earlier, it had been to suggest that I was being groomed as the next UPA director. This time, it was a plea for the acceptance of poverty: "Gene, you're a Marxist, aren't you?" There I was, in the city where I had been accused of being a Marxist - a threat to my existence, and now I was expected to be a Marxist and accept a low salary as a comradely act for the UPA "commune." It was hard to keep a straight face.
But hell, you know what I had to do, and so did I. I went along with it, because the promise was obviously there. Steve was willing to transport me, my wife and kids and my worldly goods to a lovely apartment in Westchester County, New York, and place me in the founding cadre of UPA-NY.