On one of my Tonight Show appearances another guest was the great opera singer, Luciano Pavarotti. For some reason we had an adjoining dressing room, separated only by a flimsy sliding door. I was already in the make-up room when Pavarotti arrived late, and he apparently went into my side of the dressing room and changed into his tux, leaving his humongous gray slacks on a hanger.
I really didn’t give it much thought, being totally engrossed in what was about to be my 20th appearance with Johnny Carson, something I could only have dreamed about. My set went exceedingly well, even getting belly laughs from the great Pavarotti when I unwittingly did an obese joke, forgetting he was sitting over on the couch next to Johnny.
After the show was over and I said my thanks to Johnny and the staff, I retreated to my dressing room, to be joined only by a writer friend who was my guest. By this time everyone who worked on the show, including the other guests, crew, staff, etc. had gone home. It was just me and my friend and nobody else.
As we were getting ready to leave, my buddy noticed Pavarotti’s ratty old gray pants on a hanger. The opera icon apparently had left in his tux in a rush and never bothered to grab his pants.
“We should take them for safekeeping,” he said. “Maybe he just doesn’t want them, but at least they won’t get lost if Pavarotti ever needs his pants back.”
We went to the parking lot and got in my car, and when I looked over I noticed that he did indeed have Pavarotti’s pants. However, by the time I dropped him off at his apartment he decided they would be safer with me.
“I’m leaving them in your car,” he said. “You keep them.”
So I took them home and put them in a drawer. For years I had dreams that Pavarotti’s people were going to notify authorities that his pants were missing, and were last seen in an adjoining dressing room he shared at NBC with Bobby Kelton.
To this day I’m not sure if they have value or what to do with them. However, I do have some peace of mind knowing that if I ever go on a weight-gaining binge, I won’t have to go to a Big and Tall Men’s store for some pants. I have all I need sitting in my drawer. And just in case, I’m learning the words to “Figaro.”