In its three years of encouraging international sports exchanges, the People-to-People Sports Committee has merited ample attention, ample approval. But never has People-to-People had the audience it drew last week when it invited Ralph (This Is Your Life) Edwards to come to its party and bring his TV camera along.
People-to-People's banquet dais in New York was crowded with likely candidates for an exercise in sentimental biography. When the network hooked in at 10 p.m., would it be the "life" of Althea Gibson or of Ingemar Johansson or of Ron Delany or of Karol Fageros? Or one of the cohosts of the affair, boxing's Colonel Eddie Eagan or racing's Prince Aly Khan? Came the hour and Ralph Edwards fastened his television smile on the master of ceremonies.
"This is your life... Lowell Thomas!" cried Edwards.
"This is a sinister conspiracy!" cried an unsmiling Thomas.
"Your life will go by in retrospect," beamed Edwards. "You'll enjoy it." "I doubt that very much," said Thomas.
"Father insisted that Lowell know every rock in the area," Thomas' sister recalled. "I knew every saloon, too," said Thomas.
Thomas' longtime script assistant, Prosper Buranelli, no camera veteran himself, delivered a memorized reminiscence at top speed, eyes closed, fists clenched.
"You've had too many drinks," Thomas said. "I haven't had enough," wailed Prosper.
And in a blaze of askew commercials, the best TV fight of the month went off the air. The decision was clearly Thomas' but, after all, Tommy used to box a bit as a youth. In fact, one of his favorite recollections is that Jack Dempsey, back in Colorado days, once wore his ring shoes.
Althea Gibson had foretaste of Edwards. She was guest on Alice Marble's "life."