The Church of Scientology is very big on big names. It was not that way in the early days because Hubbard was THE name that mattered.
Somewhere along the way, the Church in Los Angeles noticed they were attracting a few of the “lights” of nearby Hollywood. Someone got the notion that such people should not have to wait in line like the rest of us especially as the rest of us were staring.
So, a special place was created: very clean, very artsy, and called “the Celebrity Center”. I was fortunate enough to have worked there for a time under Yvonne Gilham, its first director.
The big names we worked with are probably no one you have ever heard of today but Stephen Boyd, Geoffrey Lewis, Chick Correa, Jim McMullan, Helene Ireland, and Amanda Ambrose were all fairly substantial stars at the time.
And one must recall that at that time, John Travolta was finishing high school, Tom Cruise was not even in high school, and the Ribisi twins were not even a dual twinkle in their daddy’s eye.
Speaking of them, I remember the father very well. There were a couple of up and coming rock bands in Scientology at the time. One was Orange Colored Sky and the other was People! The latter group had a #1 hit song called “I Love You” and they were at the height of their fame at that time.
Working at the American Saint Hill Org, I got to meet the band. The Levin brothers seemed to be most people’s favorite as they were the photogenic group. Denny I didn’t get to know too well but the nerdier one of the group, Al Ribisi, I found easier to get along with.
Not that we were best buds or anything but we did talk a bit. I believe his sister, Soo, joined the Sea Org the next year and she was as friendly as Al, and even a bit better looking (no offense, Al).
Al is still in the Church and his three children were raised in Scientology and seem to be doing quite well for themselves.
From the rather small and humble beginnings of encouraging celebrities to try Scientology, we have come to the place where they have become – for better or worse – the public face of the Church.
Still, something about jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch doesn’t make a very sane or solemn impression.
What do you think?