Today, July 20, 2008, marks a special anniversary in my life. It was thirty years ago on July 20, 1978 that Rheo Blair and I got into his white Fleetwood Cadillac at a little past 8:00 in the morning and drove the three miles to the local ABC affiliate TV studio at 4151 Prospect Avenue for a 9:00 appearance on AM Los Angeles with Regis Philbin and Sarah Purcell. This would be the first of five television shows and one radio program I would do with Rheo. In the car that morning Rheo did his vocal exercises to warm up his voice. For years a student of a unique vocal philosophy, proper speaking and singing were second only to nutrition for Rheo. In the car that morning I was doing those same exercises that he had taught me over the course of the past few months; in the span of just a few minutes, these exercises made a remarkable difference in the timbre and resonance of the human voice.
Waved through the guard shack we parked and entered a building. We made an immediate left turn down a short hall and a right turn through a heavy sound-proof door marked
“closed set.” The AM Los Angeles set was against the left wall of the studio, and the Eyewitness News set was opposite on the right. Regis appeared on both sets, as he was the movie reviewer for Eyewitness News in those years in addition to hosting AM Los Angeles. The hosts and guests wore lapel microphones, which provided the direct feed for the telecast. Because there was no studio audience, our voices were not amplified within the studio. As a result, it was very quiet in that large room, even during the show.
We were there to share the story of my 90 day transformation from frail, sickly 16 year old teenager with severe weakness and a ghostly, pale emaciated appearance -- and what Rheo Blair himself described as looking "like a sick chicken getting ready to die" -- to my after state, which one published account described as an "adolescent hunk." I did not see my family during the course of the transformation; we wanted it to be a "living" before and after for them. The day they saw me for the first in my new state was a very memorable one. The amazement -- no the shock -- on my father's face was profound. All the money spent, and a considerable sum it was, had been well spent after all. He had a new son. It got to him so deeply he had trouble sleeping that night. My mother was so impressed with my transformation that she wrote a letter of thanks to Regis Philbin for having introduced me to Rheo Blair. After seeing me for the first time as my new self she wrote: "I was speechless! I was overwhelmed! Here was a young fellow that looked like a Grecian god, he had grown almost an inch taller, his stance was strong and direct, his shoulders were broad and manly, his chest very well built and his limbs were well developed. Charles' face, so happy and content, the expression coming through his eyes was saintly or maybe angelic."
Our guest appearance that morning consisted of two segments. The first was a discussion between Rheo and Regis alone on the couch. Rheo, who was a frequent guest on the program, described my previous health problems and what I had experienced during my time with him that led to my dramatic improvements under Rheo's care. Following a commercial break, the action moved to the AM Los Angeles kitchen set where I joined Regis and Rheo. Regis, in his inimitably professional style and with genuine interest (for he too was a client of Rheo Blair, under his guidance and using his products for the past couple of years) asked how I felt before the Blair program and how I felt now; what I had gained from the experience. On the kitchen counter was a plate of 100 pills and capsules representing my daily intake. In reality I was taking 500 pills and capsules each day, but Regis felt that many pills would appear too extreme for people to understand. There was also a blender full of my daily protein shake and a bowl of my daily pudding. The shake and pudding were interchangeable, but I almost always opted for the pudding as a matter of personal preference. Regis asked how I enjoyed the protein, and I told him how pleasant it tasted. I offered that, while eating five servings a day could get monotonous, I stuck to it and did just fine with it. Then, a moment of unintended levity; Rheo poured Regis a glass of the protein which had been mixed quickly using the basic white powder protein. We didn't use the the special protein I had actually been using, and we left out some flavoring. The result was a very bland, almost unpleasant tasting drink which caused a momentary look of unhappy surprise on Regis' face. But he recovered quickly. Then I popped a huge handful of vitamins (around 20) in my mouth and knocked them back with the bland protein drink. I managed my feat without a look of distaste. Thank you God for small miracles:-)
The show seemed to be over almost before it began. Soon after, the station was inundated with requests for information about Rheo and my story. It was one of the largest public responses to any show AM Los Angeles had ever had. In a future post, I will describe in detail what happened to me between the before and after photos below with which I leave you for now.
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Copyright © 2008, 2009 Charles Welling
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Information found on Rheo H. Blair: The Book is meant for educational and informational purposes only, and to motivate you to make your own health care and dietary decisions based upon your own research and in partnership with your health care provider. It should not be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis or courses of treatment.