Being Tom Brokaws' Makeup Artist


I was living in Orlando, Florida at the time and working as a freelance makeup artist.

I mostly did weddings and photo shoots, but would occasionally do some film and video work.

One day, a makeup artist friend of mine called, and asked if I would be interested in taking her place on a job she could no longer do. It was a two day gig out at Cape Canaveral for the John Glenn 50th Anniversary television broadcast.

I said, “Sure!”

She informed me that I would be working for NBC, and most likely be doing the hair and makeup for anchorman, Tom Brokaw.

Now to be honest, I had never worked on a celebrity before, so I was extremely nervous.

But a few days later, I drove out to the Cape with all my hair and makeup gear in the hatchback of my Hyundai. I also brought along a few books and some food snacks, because so much of working in video or film involves waiting tedious hours between set ups.

Once I got to the Cape, I was given a security pass and then shown where I could set up my makeup chair and supplies. I got there sometime around noon, even though I knew the first broadcast wouldn’t be aired until the 6 o’clock evening news.

So I sat and sat, and read and read, until finally one of the tech people walked in and told me that Tom Brokaw had arrived, and was ready for me on the set.

(I think it was at that moment, I took a poop in my undergarments)

So I grabbed my makeup case and was escorted to the roof of the NBC building.

I’ll never forget this moment for as long as I live, because it felt surreal…

As we got to the rooftop, I saw Mr. Brokaw sitting in a chair, working on his laptop. The technician pointed, and said to me, “Well, there he is…just go over and introduce yourself to him.”

OMG…I thought I was going to pass-out from celebrity jitters and then hit the cement floor.

As I walked over to him, it felt like everything was moving in slow motion.

When I got directly in front of him, I stuck my hand out and said, “Hi Mr. Brokaw, I’m Ron Carnavil and I’ll be doing your hair and makeup.”

He quickly looked up at me and said (with that voice), “Hi…you’ll have to work around me, because I’m busy, ok?”

I responded, “Sure…not a problem.” So I took out my stuff and began prepping him.

And need I tell you how much my hands were shaking?

(thank god I didn’t have to put lip liner on him)

Once the broadcast began, my job was to stand off-camera and watch Mr. Brokaw closely; making sure his appearance looked perfect. And on the commercial breaks, I would run in front of the camera; powder his face and re-comb his hair. I had been warned by one of the producers, that he had an annoying habit of running his fingers though his hair after a stylist would get it combed. So I spent two days, combing and then re-combing his hair.

The following day was rather intense, because the camera crew was constantly moving; shooting live footage in various locations, both indoors and out. So there I was, running behind everyone, trying to squeeze myself into where I needed to be, and then getting the hell out of the cameras view.

It was very windy that day, so Mr. Brokaws’ hair was flying all over the place. And just as I would get it all plastered down, he would run his hands through it, so I would quickly run behind him with a can of hair spray and twirl-spritz his head.

(I felt like the hair spray fairy)

And it’s funny, because during the whole two days of working with him, he never actually spoke to me. I honestly knew that it wasn’t because he was being rude, but rather that he had a million things he was thinking about, and the reality, was that I was just another makeup person.

However, when he was getting ready to leave at the end of the second day, he made a point of walking up to me and shook my hand, saying, “Thank you for your help, Ron”

And many years later, when I was walking into a bookstore, I happened to see his latest book sitting on a shelf.

And the first silly thing I thought of was….

“Shit…I powdered that man’s face!”







And didn't I do a lovely job?

34 comments

  1. Nice work. I think you missed a spot.

    Bwahahahahaha

    That's pretty cool that he thanked you afterward. Shows class on his part.

    Isn't it goofy how we can get nervous when talking with a celeb or someone of notoriety? I've done that too and afterward thought to myself, "Why the nerves, they're just another person?"

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  2. Wow...he remembered your name!!! :)

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  3. yes, as a matter of fact you did! you have the most interesting stories to tell ron...the stuff you have done makes my little life seem so tame!

    I wondered if he was going to be a snot or not so am glad to hear he wasn't...I always have liked him and was sad to see him go....

    sorry to be a little late with my comments, ron, life has been kind of crazy lately...

    xoxo

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  4. He. looks. mahvelous!!! xox

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  5. Ron, Ron, Ron.

    Now that you are also a star; someone should be powdering your face and combing your hair. I thought that your job in FL. was a hoot and isn't odd how we act and react around people who we think are more important then we are. You get the jitters and yes the urge to deficate in your BVD's is constant. That is when you have to stand back and realize that this guy puts his boxers on the same way you did on leg at a time. In the end we are not different but we are the same, we are one.
    So Ron, go to NBC and tell them from now on your are doing the news and Tommy Boy is combing your hair. I will spray.

    Have a great hair day.

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  6. You did do a lovely job! I was about to be annoyed with Tom (yes we're on a first name basis) until you said that he did thank you at the end

    how exciting - to be part of a news broadcast at a historic place

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  7. Mornin' Jeff!

    Yes...he definately had class!

    I understood during the second day, that MY GOD...the man probably has such a responsibility on his shoulders that he simply didn't have time to converse. He also seemed like a quiet, introspective man.

    OMG...I'm SO star struck!! I don't know whether it's because of being interesting in acting, or what...but I get very flustered whenever I meet a celeb. The time I met Susan Sarandon...I literally teared-up! The friend I was with at the time said, "Ron...I think I'm gonna have to slap you!"

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Thanks for stopping by bud!

    Have an awesome Wednesday!

    Later gator!!!!!!!~

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  8. Aloha Debi!

    Well...

    ...it could have helped that I had a name tag on!

    HAHAHAHHHAHAHHAHHA!

    *no, I only kidding.

    Thanks for dropping by Deb!

    Happy Wednesday to ya!

    X

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  9. Good Morning Linda!

    It's funny, because when I look through my life, I feel so blessed for having had the experiences I've had.

    And even the challenging experiences, seem to be "little jewels" of growth and enlightenment.

    *and also blog topics!!!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Yes, he was a nice man.

    What's weird though, is that I'm not a TV news watcher, but when I saw him for the first time, I was enamored!

    Thanks so much for stopping by today, dear lady!

    ALWAYS wonderful seeing ya!

    HAPPY WEDNESDAY!

    X

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  10. Hiya Hope!

    Thanks, dear lady!

    However, I think I should have blended that powder a little more, don't you think?

    Bwaahahahahahhha!

    ALWAYS great seeing ya Hope!

    Thanks a bunch for dropping by today!

    HAPPY WEDNESDAY!

    X

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  11. Dave, Dave, Dave!

    You ALWAYS kill me, man!!!

    And how true!!!!

    But I can't help it...I get all giddy and comatose whenever I see I celeb!

    I bet I would have made a GREAT screaming bobby-sox fan for Frank Sinatra in the 50's!!!

    FRAAAAANKIE!!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!

    HAHAHAHAHAHHA!

    Hey, but I like your idea about going to NBC and having Tommy Boy comb my hair for a change! And then I can run hands through it and make him re-comb it again!

    Thanks for dropping by buddy!

    ALWAYS a DE-light!

    HAPPY WEDNESDAY!

    X

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  12. Very interesting story!!

    Eh, okay, let him off the hook for being all busy and wonderful and important and all, but saying THANK YOU was the very very least he could do. I mean, if he's that much of a fidget with his hands in his hair all the time.... you're working OVERTIME. LOL I think even someone who is extremely busy can give up a little more than 'thanks'. It takes a small village to get some of these 'stars' ready. Sure they have the initial talent for whatever it is they are doing in the first place, but it goes nowhere without alot of people helping! And if we all realized just how much work 'other' people have to do behind the scenes to make the 'stars' look and sound so wonderful, we'd probably not idolize them so much.
    Yikes, am I ranting?? Oops, I mean VENTing?? LOL

    I could use a make-up artist, stylist, personal coach, etc. etc. Dang, maybe you and Isaac Mizrahi can work out a schedule for me. Altho, doll, I'm thinking of getting Baron Baptiste (OMG, have you seen him???) to teach me a little Yoga, okay, a LOT of Yoga if I'm ever going to be able to touch my toes again.... so you better schedule me early! I'll have to look good when I assume the position. ;) tee hee

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  13. Good Morning Dianne!

    OMG...I was thinking of you yesterday and wondering how you survived the HEAT WAVE we had this past weekend!?!?!

    Didn't it SUCK?

    I AM NOT READY FOR THIS!!!

    Anyway....yes, he did end up thanking me, which I thought was very gracious of him.

    Thank you TOM!

    OMG...it WAS exciting, because I was actually there, and felt the TREMBLE of the earth, as the spaceship lifted off. It felt like an earthquake!

    ALWAYS wonderful seeing you, dear lady!

    Thanks MUCHO for stopping by!

    And don't you love this weather today? Nice and cloudy, cool, and drizzly. This is my kind of weather!

    Enjoy your Wednesday!
    X

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  14. Mornin' Crystal Chick!

    OMG....YOU'RE COMMENT MADE ME SHIT!!!

    It was the BOMB!!!

    Let go, girl...let it, go!!!

    vent! vent! vent!

    Oh...that was funny, M!

    When I was going though this experience, I stood back a couple of times and witnessed the madness that's involved in broadcasting the news each day. Up until that point I had no idea what was involved in going LIVE.

    OMG...the tension was unbelievable!

    The tech crew was in constant communications with NBC in NYC and had to make spit second changes in the format. I never saw more people on cell phones in my LIFE!

    So I think much of what Mr. Brokaw was doing in his silence, was trying to stay calm and focused.

    *however the "hair thing" WAS rather annoying.

    But I can honestly say...it's not that he had a "star attitude" and was being rude to me, but rather that we all had job to do, and "chit-chat" was not part of the job.

    But I knew in the end that he appreciated my help, by thanking me.

    Hey...I agree with you about Baron Batiste! Maybe if you take a class with him, I could come along and wipe the sweat off his shoulders!

    HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    I have seen his books and they're great!

    I do a little yoga at home myself, but very low impact. I tried taking classes, but the heat and body odor, just do me in!!

    HAHAHAHHAHHA!

    I think you and I should plan a day in the city, and we could do a spa day somewhere and get facials and pedicures, and then go to B&N for some coffee afterwards. And then go to K-FART and try on clothes, what do ya think?

    Thanks for stopping by today, M!

    I always love your vents!

    HAPPY WEDNESDAY!

    X

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  15. Oh WOW you're famous! It was nice of him to thank you wasn't it, after not having time to speak to you? :)

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  16. Afternoon Akelamalu!

    Well...Andy Warhol once said, "We each get a moment of being famous."

    However...I'm still waiting for mine!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    OMG...and do you know how star-struck I was? I saved the makeup sponge that I used on Tom for a few months!

    * I know...SICK!

    Thanks for dropping by today, my friend!

    Wishing you a wonderful Wednesday!

    X

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  17. Ronnie...hehehe. I think of it as this. Tom has been reading your blog and has said to himself proudly and in that deep news voice of his...."Shit, that man powdered my my face."

    Ronnie...think about it. Tom could right now...at this very moment, be stalking you...

    Oh that is so cool.

    "Hi Tom."

    "Everybody..wave hello to Tom."

    herhehe. I bet he has never had a "hair and makeup" consultant as wonderful as you since.

    Ronnie...I loved this post...wonderful. Hey didn't you just want to slap his hand away as soon as it went up to brush through his hair? ha.

    Ciao honey...have a fab evening. :D

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  18. that's so cool that you thought of me! I thought of you as well

    too freakin' warm and too freakin' sunny, such pressure to be perky

    I don't do perky

    tonight there will be wind chills and all will be well with the world

    love ya

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  19. Good Evening Miss Jones!

    OMG...you're psychic!!!

    Because Tom has already emailed me a few times today and said, "Hey Ron, I read your post today while having my morning coffee. And get that horrible picture of me OFF the internet!!"

    ooops!...sorry Tommy!?#!?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Yea...I wish!

    Yea...it was kind of annoying having him touch his hair every 10 seconds, but hey....I guess that's what they were paying me for, ya know?

    I never got a picture with him, which I should have, for my portfolio.

    Oh well, maybe next time!

    Thanks for stopping by tonight, Miss Jones!

    Hope you're feeling better.

    I sent lots of love and good energy your way last night. Hope you felt it!

    Ciao bella
    X

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  20. Oh Dianne...you and I are truly soul sisters/brothers, because I felt the same way you did this weekend!

    The city was FILLED with so many perky and annoying people this weekend, I thought I was going to scream! And the NOISE!!

    Listen, you and I need to check out the job availability in Alaska. Maybe we could do something like "penguin-sitting!"

    And thanks for letting me know about the wind chills we're getting tonight! I feel much better!

    Love ya!
    X

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  21. What an interesting life you've had Ron! I am looking forward to hearing about your future ventures..ever evolving you are!

    LY!

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  22. Wow.

    I think the ONLY thing I've ever powdered was a baby's arse. LOL

    And I'm thinkin' I LIKE that fact!

    ;-)

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  23. Loved the story. I always thought he was a pretty great guy.

    And dayum. His hair looks fabulous!

    xoxo
    ~vk~
    PS....Found you through the always sexy girl, Spiky.

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  24. Good Evening Dearest Gypsy-Heart!

    It's SOOOOOOOOOOO wonderful seeing ya!!!

    HI!!!!!

    I have no idea what the hell made me think of this story the other day, but I thought it might be kinda fun.

    OMG...and God only who knows what I'll be sharing in the future!?!?

    Maybe the time I was a male stripper!

    HAHAAHAHAHAHHAHA!

    NOT!

    Thanks for stopping by, dear friend!

    Love ya too!
    X

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  25. Hiya Mel!

    Hey...I think powdering a baby's ARSE was probably much easier and much less stressful!

    Plus...I LOVE the smell of baby powder!!!

    * in fact, I still use it during the summer months!

    sssh...but don't tell anyone that, ok?

    Always great seeing ya, dear lady!

    Enjoy your evening!
    X

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  26. Greetings Vixen Kitten~

    Welcome...and thanks so much for stopping by!

    Hey, yes...I saw your sweet comment on Miss Jones blog last night!

    Isn't she the absolute BOMB?????

    LOVE HER!

    Oh, and thanks for mentioning Tom's hair....

    ....it was a friggin' bitch to finally get it that way!

    HAHAHHAHAAHAHAHHA!

    Please stop by anytime, you're always welcome!

    Enjoy your night!

    X

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  27. I'm soooooo jealous! I have a HUGE crush on Tom Brokaw. I cried when he left The Nightly News. He is one sexy man. He also sounds like a nice guy. I think that was really classy that he thanked you and called you by name.

    I probably would've licked his face so good thing I wasn't there.

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  28. Howdy Nitebyrd!

    Bwhahahahahahahahaha!

    Oh woman...you SLAY ME!!!

    I probably would have licked his face.

    OMG...I could just imagine if the TWO of us were there together! He probably would have done a special on the evening news the following day, about how a fan LICKED his face at the Cape!

    Hey listen, ever since I read your blog post (last year) that you had a crush on him, I've been meaning to write this post for you.

    So actually I should have ended this post with...

    ...This post is dedicated to the sexy lady Nitebyrd!

    Here you go, Sis...it's all yours!

    Thanks for stopping by dear lady!

    X

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  29. I just stopped by your blog and really enjoyed it. Now only was it entertaining, but you had it really nice to look at. I wish I had your ability. I will stop buy again.

    I am a newbie, and haven't figured out how to make mine "cool" yet.

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  30. Hi Alice!

    Welcome...and thank you so much stopping and taking the time to share a comment!

    It's so nice meeting you.

    Glad you enjoyed!

    If you would like more information about customizing your blog, please feel free to check out my right sidebar. You'll find the various websites that I use, listed under star blog customizing - they're great!

    Please stop by anytime. You're always welcome here!

    Enjoy your evening!

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  31. WOW! What a cool claim to fame. I'm a big fan! And I like Tom Brokaw, too. :-)

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  32. Hi Chrissy!

    Hey listen, if I still had the makeup sponge I used on him, which I kept for many months, I'd mail it to you!

    *Although it was starting to grow a little green fungus on it!

    HAHAHAHHAHAHA!

    Always great seeing ya!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    X

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  33. He remembered your name that means he likes and repected you. You did a great job.

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  34. Hi Grumpy!

    Thanks!

    Although I think he could have used a bit more HAIR SPRAY!!!!

    tee, hee

    Great seeing ya, dear lady!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    X

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