Those Ogden grads that were at the Burbank school location in and around 1963 were able to meet and be taught math by actor Richard Kiel who was just starting his acting career at the time. Ogden grad Denny Blair was one of those students with fond memories of those nights with Kiel.
" I attended Ogden's in early 1963 when our math teacher was RICHARD KIEL, the actor who played "Jaws" in the James Bond 007 movies. He stood 7 foot 2 and that first night he walked into the class room....the whole room fell silent. We had not been warned ahead of time to expect him. Ogden's little joke . He was a neat guy and we had some great times visiting.
One time, we went downtown with him in the front seat of a Jeep, his knees under his chin. You can imagine the looks he got from other drivers At that time he was doing the "Jolly Green Giant" at supermarkets and had done some Disney stuff. Kiel knew his math and was 24 at the time . He started acting professionally in 1960. It was a wonderful experience. " (Denny Blair, Colville, WA)
After receiving this information from Denny we searched for Richard on the internet and found his official fan club website and sent him email. We ask him if he had any information on Bill, Tally, Thora etc. Here is his prompt reply
I am sorry to say that I do not have any information about Bill, Tally or Thora. The last time I saw Bill he was still on Olive Avenue in Burbank. I stopped by to see them the day President Kennedy was assassinated and went to work that day on The Man From UNCLE and never stopped.
I didn’t take algebra in high school and was terrified of the math part. I worked so hard at learning math that Bill said one day after one of the final exams, “I am mad at you Richard Kiel!” I wondered what I had done and then he said. “You’re the first student in the history of the school to ace the 75 question math final.” I guess it’s too easy and I will have to make it harder.
His son-in-law was teaching math at night when I attended and when the young man got a really good job at Cal Tech or some other similar institution Bill was left without a night time math instructor. He offered me the job and I worked from 7:00 – 10:00 PM every night for a couple of years except for Friday and Saturday nights when I worked as a doorman, I.D. checker and very rarely as a bouncer.
Acing Bills 75 question math final gave me a lot of confidence that if I worked hard enough I could accomplish almost anything. My Dad used to say, “The harder I work, the luckier I get,” and it’s true! Many obstacles were put in my way as I pursued my career as an actor that weren’t nearly as challenging as Ogden’s 75 question math final and I overcame them and became a successful actor.
"I was employed at KCVL AM radio in Colville, WA when we had need of a First Class Operator. I was young, married a year with a daughter and one more on the way when I got on a bus and headed for Olive Ave, Burbank, CA. I rented a room in a private home close to the school and survived on 29 cent TV dinners for the two months I was there. Sometimes we splurged and went for a hamburger at this place close by that made burgers as big as footballs.
For a small town guy who grew up in Palouse, WA the 50's, the whole California thing was a real culture shock. I saw a VW Beetle with "JUST DIVORCED" and trailing cans and streamers, what a sight. The Ogden's were great. Thora was beautiful and reminded me of Harriet Nelson, everybody's Mom, a real sweetheart.
I remember Bill was a friend of Moe Howard (The 3 Stooges) and he talked about him a few times. Our math instructor was Richard Kiel, the actor best known as "Jaws" in the Bond films. At that time he was doing the "Jolly Green Giant" at supermarkets and had done some Disney stuff. I remember the first night he came into class (yes, NIGHT) classes were, as I recall, from 8 AM to 10 PM...something like that. Richard was so tall (7 foot 2 and 315 pounds) that he had to duck coming through the door. The room just fell silent when he walked in, we had not been warned ahead of time what to expect. Ogden's little joke on us.
Kiel was very nice and knew his math. He was 24 at the time and had started acting professionally in 1960. One night some of us gave him a ride to LA and he was in the front seat of this little open top Jeep, his knees up under his chin. You can imagine the looks he got from other drivers. I really missed my family, but it was a wonderful experience. I remained in radio till 1979 when I went into real estate. I still have my Gold Pencil, ID card, and some great memories."
- Denny Blair Remembers his days at Ogden's in 1963