My favorite toys growing up were three dolls. Two of the dolls were life-size -- meaning my life size. I was about four or five and they were as tall as me. And the other doll was a “fake” Cabbage Patch Kid. The reason these were my favorite toys is that my grandmother made them for me. She would sew for hours on into the night and in the morning I would awake to a new best friend. She was amazing, my grandmother, and so were my dolls.
I remember being fascinated with fire engines as a young child. My favorite toy was a fire engine pedal car that was handed down from my older brother when I was three years old. It was made of sheet metal, painted red with white trim, and had little ladders on each side. I remember riding it around in the backyard of my home on Holton Street on Milwaukee’s north side. After that, when I went to kindergarten at Cass Street School, I was overjoyed to discover that they had several new fire engine toys to play with.
My favorite toy was a Lemon Twist, a rubber cable with a plastic lemon on one end and a loop for your ankle on the other. You’d swing it around with your ankle and jump over it with your other leg.
My favorite toy was a “WKRP in Cincinnati” home DJ station I believe I got for my birthday when I was 11 or 12 years old. It came with a microphone, station identification cards, and commercials. I did my own music mix tapes, and during the summer, I’d use the DJ station to broadcast my own radio show out through speakers I set up in my bedroom window. I knew at the time that I wanted to get involved in the media and the DJ station was part of my desire to perform and express myself.
I had no toys when I was a child. I inherited marbles from my brothers, I traded comic books regularly (some of those would be worth a bundle now), and I tinkered with found objects. No toys. I sometimes say that perhaps my unfettered imagination – not bound to objects or the Internet – blossomed to help me become an actor.