Lippy, the Monkees’ cameraman, recalls the days when he worked with Micky on Circus Boy.
Irving Lippman, who the crew and cast of the Monkees affectionately call “Lippy” began working in show business as a still photographer in 1928. For the past 16 years he has worked as head cameraman on such shows as “Naked City,” “Route 66,” “Rin Tin Tin” and “Circus Boy.”
Lippy worked with Micky Dolenz for the three years he was Corky on “Circus Boy.” Then when the Monkees TV show was being conceived, Lippy was chosen to man the head cameraman’s duties. Below he recalls the days when Micky was a darling 10-year-old.
Micky was the cutest tot you’ve ever seen. He was just 10 years old when the series began and he would always come up and put his arm around me and I’d hug him and hold him. He always wanted to sit on my lap and he was the most loveable child. We became good buddies during those three years.
Whenever I was working and Micky wasn’t in a scene, he’d be right there by me. He always wanted to look through the camera and we would let him see. I’d hold him up and let him look through the lens; and he was only about so tall with his whitish hair. He always watched everything that went on technically.
Had to cry
Micky was a great little actor then, even though he had never worked professionally before that time. He had to be good, because sometimes he had to cry because he would get thrown out of the circus or they were going to send Corky home. He had to cry on cue. It was amazing. He was a terrific little actor. I think we’ll see Micky in a big feature film someday and he’ll do a tremendous job. Micky’s a very versatile man. And he is a man now and he’s had tremendous experience.
It’s hard for me to remember every little thing that happened during those years, but what really sticks out in my mind is that Micky was such a little fellow and so loveable that anybody that got around him just wanted to put their arms around him. He was just an adorable child.
Back in those days we used to use lions and tigers and elephants and Micky had no fear of them. There was always danger around because a little fellow of his age loves animals and you have to watch them every minute. There was a lot of danger involved because Micky wanted to go up and pet the lions and tigers! We had to watch him very closely because he had no fear.
One time we were filming a shot where the circus tent was supposed to catch on fire. This is done with special effects usually, but this time it actually did catch on fire! The whole thing went up in blazes. We decided to shoot the burning of the tent and utilize it because we certainly couldn’t stop it.
Micky in blaze
We were out in Corriganville and there were no water facilities, no fire department, so we tried to get some stock shots of the fire for the series. We had all the different actors running past the fire. We had a hard time keeping Micky out of the fire! He wanted to get right into it to get some dramatic shots! We had one heck of a time keeping him from going up in smoke with the tent!
I can remember when Micky’s little sister, Coco, was born. Micky was excited for weeks! When she got a little older, her mother would bring her on the set now and then. She was just a little tot and so cute!
Micky grows up
After the “Circus Boy” series was over, I didn’t see Micky for many years. Then one day I bumped into him on the street and how he had grown! He told me that he was going to college and studying music. I was sure glad to hear that. I was proud of him, because I feel it’s good to get a good education. And that’s what he was doing.
Then when I got the job on the Monkees and they told me who was in it, I was happy to hear Micky was one of the Monkees. Even though he was all wrapped up in his music then, he was happy to see me and he hadn’t forgotten me. He was so big, though, I couldn’t put my arm around him anymore like when he was little. I have a lot of admiration for Micky and all the boys. It’s just great working with them.