The Kalmenson Story

“Our Story: How We Met”
As told by Cathy Kalmenson
        “Lookin’ for Love” was a top pop hit. Back in 1980, I was fresh out of college, and a newly born “career girl” (as we were called back then) fortunate enough to learn the world of advertising at one of the top ad agencies in America: Leo Burnett Advertising, in Chicago (my hometown).
        In the Broadcast Business department, in my entry-level position, I went from learning how to type scripts the “Leo Burnett way” on my IBM Selectric typewriter, to being promoted to being a talent payment coordinator. I learned the SAG-AFTRA rules and formulas for paying talent sessions and residuals, and I authorized a payroll service to pay talent in commercials, such as: Thurl Ravenscroft, as the voice of Tony the Tiger for our client Kelloggs, Herschel Bernardi as the voice of Charlie the Tuna for Starkist, Paul Frees as the voice of the Pillsbury Dough Boy, and many others. My destiny was being carved—this would be brilliant and perfect preparation for all that would come next in my professional life.
        One day—actually, it was in the evening—after hours, I was the only one left in the department working late, and the only one there to answer a ringing phone. I chose to answer it. That call changed my life. It was part of the wheels in motion (or as I like to say: God’s plan) that would bring me one step closer to meeting the man I would marry, and with whom I’d co-found a business: Harvey Kalmenson. 
        The call was from the bookkeeper at Abrams Rubaloff & Associates, in Los Angeles, who was inquiring about a talent payment for an actor. I was able to brief her and enlighten her about the residuals formula. With her question answered, she lamented that she was a straight bookkeeper, and had no background in talent payment SAG-AFTRA residual protocols, and wished she had someone on staff who did. Well, that would be me! 
        After a (for me) fairytale interview—the company flew me out to LA to meet with them within a week!—I remembered the overwhelming experience of being interviewed in a gorgeous Tudor mansion in Los Feliz in a library with stained glass windows, and oriental rugs, overlooking a beautiful, terraced garden with roses, and a dog run. I heard myself saying “yes” to the proposal of the job offer, and after changing my life with that one word, moments later, I was about to meet the man whom I’d ask to marry me – 11 years later: Harvey Kalmenson, who conducted the voiceover auditions in a wine-cellar in this unconventional workplace (a residence right next door to AFI in Los Feliz)
        Love at first sight? Let’s just say I was a sucker for a mustache (thank you, Tom Selleck). And for wisdom. And charm. And confidence. And he drove a silver 280-Z. That day, though, he was just a handsome, outgoing, witty, playful guy in the kitchen of this mansion, who was part of the Abrams Rubaloff team. They were all gathered (and they included me) to sing happy birthday to the housekeeper in a large, glorious kitchen in a mansion that would soon be my destination each working day… and a rendezvous point for bumping into Harvey, daily, on breaks… for lovely, charming moments of getting to know each other.
        Harvey took me to breakfast (at Norm’s) on my first day on the job, frequently gave me a ride home, and over time, introduced me to bike rides along the beach, along with many other LA adventures. It was fun for this kid from Chicago. Almost every day or so, da harv had a major celebrity star sharing stories with him in the kitchen. It was actually a flattering experience, although most of the time I just listened in. Oh, and this ex-baseball player (a pitcher) inspired my increasing love of baseball.
“Our Story: Joining Forces”
Fate brought us together in 1981, and ELEVEN YEARS LATER…
        February 1992 was in a leap year… and that year Harvey and I celebrated my February 20th birthday weekend in Central California wine country. On this getaway, at age 34 and 11 years into this relationship, I was ready to move forward and tie the knot. But alas, my romantic vision for that weekend did not manifest… no proposal of marriage. When pointing this out to Harvey, as we drove home down the 101 Freeway, he just kept his eyes on the road and his hands glued to the wheel. With just the hint of a smile. Hmmm….
        Taking matters into my own hands… on Saturday, February 29, 1992 (also known as “Sadie Hawkins Day” the day that was traditionally considered the 1 day a year when the lady can propose)… at my apartment after a lovely candlelit steak dinner, Harvey playfully asked: “Cathy, what do you want from me?”
        My answer: “It’s time for dessert!” I then presented him with a giant fortune cookie, custom-made… wrapped in festive cellophane and ribbon. “What is that?” he asked. “Open it”, I said. He said: “You open it”. “No, YOU open it” was my emphatic final demand. He unwrapped it, cracked it open, and read to himself the fortune inside:
“The beautiful blond woman who loves you… cannot imagine her life without you in it. Will you marry her Harvey?”  
Our eyes met across the flickering candles, I smiled and nodded with a hopeful expression. His answer:
“Unequivocally YES!”
        We hugged with tears of joy, before we dashed out to attend the closing night of a play at the Matrix Theater on Melrose, to see an actress friend perform. Afterward, backstage, I whispered to our friend “we just got engaged during dinner!” And she beckoned all the closing night revelers, already sipping champaign: “Everyone… they just got engaged!!!!” And we were surrounded by applause, cheers, and clinks!
        We were officially married on September 26, 1992, on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago…honeymooning on a fall foliage odyssey in New England (from Boston up the coast to Maine). One year later, now running side-by-side on track as a true team together, we launched “Kalmenson & Kalmenson” the business of voice casting. On October 6, 1993, we got our first voice casting job. 
        Twenty-nine years and many adventures later, including thousands of casting jobs and thousands of students, we find ourselves in the new world of Zoom and online education, as we adapt and refine our casting and classes, and continue to grow with new challenges daily. We still enjoy knowing we’ve contributed to many career successes over the years. And many more to come. God willing!

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