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post Susan McCray: The Business of Talent

February 15th, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:10 pm

From Westlake Magazine, Jan/Feb 2011

Most people are fortunate if they have one good career.
Susan McCray has enjoyed several – as a casting director,
TV producer, record producer, author of a children’s book,
and radio host. And as if that weren’t enough, McCray has recently
fulfilled a childhood dream by creating and launching her own fragrance
called Nightfall.

Growing up in West L.A.,
McCray was steeped in the world of
music, spending many hours listening to
her Academy Award winning composer
father Harry Sukman and talented mother
Francesca perform on their Steinways. At
the same time, McCray’s mother was a
model and fashion designer who handed
down the love of the art of makeup and
fragrance.

“Since I was eight years old, my
mother said to me, ‘Susan, never, ever
tell anybody the makeup you’re
wearing – the color – or the perfume
you’re wearing. You have to be
an individual.’ We used to mix
perfumes in the house so she
could come up with the perfect
fragrance and no one would
know what it was. You have to
be careful what you mix, so it
wouldn’t be too strong, but it was
something we did.”

Hollywood sidetracked Susan. As
a young woman in her early 20’s, she
climbed the ladder, First in 1967, as a
secretary in front of the casting office that
worked on Bonanza and High Chaparral
and then as a casting secretary where she
was allowed to help out with the shows.
In the early ‘70s, she went to work for
Paramount’s casting office, working on
such shows as Laverne & Shirley, Happy
Days, Mannix and the Odd Couple. It was
there she received an incredible phone
call from Michael Landon. “He said,
‘The women you’re working with were
just submitted an offer to cast Little House
on the Prairie,’” McCray recalls. “I would
rather just have you with me if you’re
going to cover the show,” She remembers,
still amazed by his call. “Those kinds of
things so rarely happen,” she says.

“Mike was a uniquely special
individual. He just had a way of writing
something that people could relate to.
There were so many times I would bring
actors in to read and they would say they
went through something like that. They
were subject matters that were meaningful
and real. He was an exceptional man.
There just aren’t many people like Mike
anymore. I think times have changed
and people’s values in certain areas have
gone away. Someone recently said to
me, ‘The shows you did with Mike were
so beautiful, where are they today?’ And
I said, ‘In rerun on cable.’ Mike loved
writing. First was writing, second was
directing and the last thing he liked was
acting.”

While working on Little House,
McCray was able to cast other shows
as well, including Hawaii 5-0, a
PBS show called Freestyle, as well
some TV movies including Diary
of Anne Frank, The Five of Me
and Rodeo Girl, “So that was the
year I bought a new car,” she says
with a laugh. “A black and silver
Cadillac Seville.”

NightfallIn 1990, just as Landon’s
production team got word that
their pilot, Us, had been picked up
for a series, the star was diagnosed with
cancer. After he passed away, McCray
and her husband produced Michael
Landon: Memories with Laughter and Love
and McCray went on to work on two
Bonanza specials with Ben Johnson. In
2003, she produced a CD of her father’s
work called The Legacy of a Man and His
Music, a tribute to her father, followed by
one in 2007 called Warm Heart…Cool
Hands (A Tribute to My Friend). In 2005,
McCray also began a radio internet show called Getting to Know
You with Susan McCray which broadcasts on KSAV.org and airs
every Tuesday evening at 6:30. She has just begun a second
show called Orchestra Hall, about classical music, which runs
the first and third Sunday of the month at noon.
Two years ago, after 26 years in Malibu, the McCrays
(married since 1984), moved to a home in Westlake with,
ironically, a view of the Bonanza location. Then it felt like time
to rediscover her childhood passion, so she set about coming up
with the right fragrance.

“There are certain scents that I love. I like a fresh scent
~ basil, citrus and the smell of white roses, and these make up
Nightfall,” she says, explaining that she named the perfume after
a piece of music her father composed. “I knew I was on the
right track when I sprayed myself and went out to lunch with
my husband. We were at a restaurant in the valley and the maitre
d’ came over to me and said, ‘What is that perfume? It smells so
good.’ My husband started to laugh and said, ‘You set that up!’ I
told the maitre d’ he could purchase it at NightfallBySusanMccray.
com and I knew I was in the right direction.”

Visit Nightfallbysusanmccray.com, perfect for a gift or special treat for yourself.

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