The Peanut Man began vending for the Dodgers in 1958, their first year in California. It wasn't until about 1964 that he started throwing bags of peanuts behind his back. At first he would toss them only as far as eight or 10 seats away, but these days he hums 'em as many as 40. Now he is so popular that the loge level is populated with long-time customers who won't sit anywhere else. "I've thought many times of moving down to the field-box level," says Jack Helber, a season-ticket holder, "but I don't do it because Roger's not there." When the Dodgers announced his engagement to Cindy Brazil—he had met her at the ball park four years before, when she was only 12 years old—the Peanut Man's fans bought the couple $1,000 worth of wedding gifts.
The great crisis in the Peanut Man's life occurred in 1975 when an ice-cream vendor, trying to imitate Owens, threw an ice-cream sandwich-that skulled a woman. She filed a lawsuit against the Dodger concessionaire, and the team's front office ordered that all throwing of food in the stands cease. "Roger's whole world collapsed around him," says Cindy. Finally, the angry letters to the Dodgers' front office became so insistent that Peter O'Malley, the club president, told Owens he could do his stuff again.
For the Peanut Man, there was nuttin' to it.
Marvin Cooper didn't give it so much as a thought that night in 1970 when he first did what became his shtick before a Baltimore Bullets crowd at the Civic Center. The game had been going along routinely when suddenly Cooper felt the music—not to mention a few beers—in him, and he stood up in the aisle and began to dance. The crowd was turned on. Rather than tossing him out on his ear, someone from the Bullets' front office approached Cooper and asked him if he would consider coming back another night and doing the same thing all over again. Cooper said yes.
As he became better known to Bullets fans, Cooper began to use the name Marvin Gaye—never mind that it was already being used by the real Marvin Gaye—to help promote a singing career he had going on the side. "I thought of using Dancing Marvin," Cooper says, "but that just didn't sound right." It wasn't until 1971 that Marvin Cooper became Dancin' Harry. "I was walking down the street with Gus Johnson of the Bullets," Harry says, "when a kid shouted, 'There goes Dancin' Harry.' I turned to look for this Dancin' Harry and Gus says, 'Hey, that's you.' "
Harry was such an avid Earl Monroe fan that when the Pearl was traded to the New York Knicks in 1971, Harry began commuting to New York to dance at Knick games. When the Knicks won the NBA championship in 1973, Harry became something of a sensation as their good-luck charm. But the dancing, even when embellished with huge hats, flashing lights and gold lame capes, soon began to wear thin on the demanding New York fans. "There was this old guy who was my choreographer," Harry remembers. "We called him Old Timer, and he told me, 'You've got to do something besides dance—it's wearing off. Throw the voodoo on 'em.' I told him I couldn't do that, but eventually I did." Thus the whammy with which he hexed Knick opponents at critical moments.
For a while Harry was a minor celebrity. He endorsed a line of $4.99 basketball shoes. "I used to walk through the playgrounds and hear kids making fun of guys who were wearing Dancin' Harry shoes," he says. "You could hardly run in them without having them fall apart on your feet."
In truth, Harry didn't dance very well and his act became repetitious. With interest waning in New York, he went on the road, working assorted NBA playoffs and World Team Tennis matches. About three years ago the free tickets stopped, the invitations to perform stopped, and the sweet music that made Harry dance finally stopped. "One day the door kinda shut on me," he says. Nowadays he lives just outside Indianapolis, does an occasional bar mitzvah, hustles a little pool and works odd jobs when money is really tight.
Ted Giannoulas was attending a radio communications class at San Diego State in 1974 when a man who said he represented radio station KGB walked in and asked if anyone would like to work for the station as a Chicken as part of a promotional venture. Giannoulas was one of about six people who raised their hands, and he was surprised when he was the one selected for the job. KGB thought it would be a good idea to dress someone up in a Chicken suit and have him stand outside the zoo to give away Easter eggs. Giannoulas was chosen because, at 5'4", he fit the suit. The station offered to pay him $2 an hour, and Giannoulas climbed into the costume.
"By my fourth day on the job," says Giannoulas, "I was sitting in the locker room they gave me at the Wild Animal Park, hanging my head, just looking at that heap of costume and those eggs. Finally, I said, 'I need money, but not this bad.' I made up my mind I was going to quit, but I decided to fulfill my obligation. At the end of two weeks the station massaged my ego, and I stayed." And then, at his own request, the Chicken went to a Padres game.