MY LIFE TRAJECTORY took an unexpected tum one sunny October day in 1955 as I was crossing the street at Lexington Avenue and 48th Street in New York. I was taking classes during the day at Columbia University under the GI Bill after four years in the Air Force, and working five nights a week in a Doubleday bookshop.
A voice behind me was shouting “Mister, mister!” In New York you didn’t turn around, even in those relatively peaceful days. I was the object of the voice, however, and the guy turned out to be Burke McHugh, owner of one of the two big modeling agencies that handled men in those days, the other being the Hartford Agency, a toy of A&P heir Huntington Hartford.
At first I thought Burke was making a pass, but he offered me his card and said I should consider modeling. My ears pricked up when he mentioned a pay rate of $25 per hour, an enormous sum in 1955.