"I was 16 years old and it was my first movie to appear as a
dancer," he said.
At 11, he had won a local talent contest in his hometown of
Houston with an acrobatic dance number and was flown to New York for
a TV talent show. The producer of the Radio City Music Hall saw him
on the show and booked him there. He later returned to Houston and
continued dance lessons. His dance teacher knew the dance director
for MGM Studios, Nico Charisse, and arranged for Charisse to see Mead
dance on a trip to Houston. Charisse later wrote the dance teacher
and suggested Mead come out to audition.
Mead flew out to California with his mother, Laverne, and soon
after he returned home, he heard he had gotten the part.
"It was very exciting," he said. "We flew back out and we shot on
the back lot of Universal Studios. We have home movies of Alfred
Hitchcock shooting 'The Birds' and Gregory Peck came to the set one
day from his shoot on 'To Kill a Mockingbird.'"
He remembered walking around the back lot, and once ran into Fred
"It was wonderful. I got his autograph," he said. "Every time you
turned a corner, there were big stars making a movie."
The stars were very approachable in those days, Mead said.
"If you were inside the studio, you were one of them, it felt that
way anyway," he said.
He will narrate the home movies his mother made during the filming
of "Bye Bye Birdie."
Today Mead is a director and choreographer for live theater and is
on the board of directors at Theatre West in Hollywood. When
interviewed, Mead was attending the Lincoln Center Directors Lab in
New York, a conference of all the directors in American theater. He
directed a one-act play for the conference.
His recent musical, "Glad to Be Unhappy" received an Ovation Award
An added attraction to the two screenings of "Bye Bye Birdie" is
the appearance by The Stepping Stone Players. The film society has
asked the local performing arts group to provide atmosphere in the
forecourt prior to the screenings.
Members will try to turn the front of The Alex into Sweet Apple,
Ohio, in 1963 with simulated news crews, screaming fans, paparazzi