I'm sitting here at the new commissary at DCP's new Glendale Campus. That's Disney Consumer Products in case you didn't get the acronym. As I'm enjoying my lunch, memories of the Burbank Commissary began streaming back into my head. I don't know if this new Glendale campus commissary will one day generate as many fond memories as Walt's studio lot. Then again, Disney's studio was unique after all.
Back in the eighties comedian, Mel Brooks was producing a television series on the Disney studio lot. I can't remember all their names, but Mel had hired a fair share of his zany pals to star in the series. Cloris Leachman and Harvey Korman were two of the names I remember. Brooks seemed to enjoy his brief stay at Disney and he made himself right at home.
One of the things Mel Brooks did was choose a favorite table on the patio of the Walt Disney Studio Commissary. The table was not labeled or marked in any way, yet everybody seemed to know it was Mel's special table. Brooks and his writers would even take over a portion of the patio for their afternoon coffee break and if you were lucky enough to sit at the table next to him it was like having your own private show.
I remember one day a young Disney employee exited the commissary with his lunch tray in hand. It was a busy noon hour and all tables were occupied except one. Naturally, the young newbie put his tray down and began to enjoy his lunch. That is, until Mel Brooks suddenly appeared. The young man looked up to see Mel Brooks glaring at him, but no words were spoken. I would imagine none were needed. The young Disney employee quickly scooped up his lunch and scampered off. Brooks and his cronies sat down and "performed" their lunch.
On another occasion, my pal, Jim Fletcher stopped in to visit his friend, Cloris Leachman. We headed back to Stage Three but there was no one around with the exception of a somewhat grumpy Harvey Korman. "Where's Cloris?" Fletcher inquired. "I think she's out to lunch," snapped Korman. Making an effort to be funny, Fletcher replied, "that figures. Cloris is always out to lunch." Either distracted, or not getting the joke, Harvey Korman grumbled and moved on. However, at least we got to "play a scene with one of the funniest guys on television.
Mel Brooks and his team continued their lunches and breaks on the Studio commissary patio until word came down that their show wasn't being picked up by ABC. The large set on Stage Three was struck and Mel Brooks and his team moved off the Walt Disney studio lot never to return. But, what the heck. It was fun while it lasted.