Before SAG I remember that they would call you very early in the morning and if you said a word about it, you didn't work there anymore. It was scary because you had to pay your rent, you had to work. Sometimes when we worked, they'd give us box lunches that were just horrible: a dried up sandwich, a hard boiled egg, maybe a piece of fruit and a drink. Usually in those days, you did your own makeup and your hair and sometimes, furnished your own wardrobe. At one studio, I'd be in at 7:00 a.m., so they showed me where the key was and I'd have the coffee made when they came in. After the Guild started, you had a fighting chance. The working conditions definitely improved because the people in charge couldn't threaten you anymore.
We were finally treated like human beings when the Guild got its contract. There was a big difference in our working conditions. Originally I played banjo and guitar with the first orchestra in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel at night and during the day I'd get some sleep then I'd go around to the studios all dressed up, stand around for fifteen minutes, then leave. I didn't know anybody, I only saw that there were doorways at the studios people were always going in and out of and they seemed to be actors. Then I had a break. I was playing the Blossom Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and asked a lady for a dance. A man stepped in and asked if I was an actor. Turns out that she was a French movie star and he was her agent. He got me a test and my first job.