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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > WESTSIDER MASON REESE
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Not just another kid


"Mason, I've got two very very important pieces of advice to give you,"
Milton Berle told the youngster when they first met. "Don't believe in
Hollywood party promises; and practice, practice and rehearse."

Uncle Miltie's words have been a useful lesson for Mason Reese, the boy wonder of television. In 1973, at the age of 7, Mason skyrocketed to fame by winning a Clio Award for best male in a TV commercial. In the same year he co-hosted the Mike Douglas Show for a week and became a children's reporter for WNBC-TV. His picture appeared in Time, Newsweek, and on the cover of TV Guide. Mason's unique face and voice became known to millions.

Since that time, however, there have been a few disappointments mixed in with the triumphs. At 11, Mason is wiser and more philosophical about show business. Along with his parents, he has learned not to place faith in verbal agreements, as Berle cautioned.

The Reeses welcome me into their West End Avenue home. As I take a seat beside the "borgasmord kid" and look around me at the Chagall prints, Bill and Sonia, Mason's parents, pull up armchairs to listen in and help out.

But during the interview, Mason needs no more help with his answers than he did with his first audition at age 5, when he beat out 600 other children to become the spokesman for Ivory Snow. After that he endorsed such products as Ralston Purina, Thick and Frosty, and Underwood Meat Spread, winning a total of seven Clios to date. He's been co-host with Mike Douglas for three weeks and has appeared as a television guest with countless other celebrities.

One of my first questions is about children's rights. "I think children have enough rights as it is," he says. "They're with their families, they go to school, they have the pleasure of learning. … and they realize that when they grow up they'll be able to have more and more fun, as long as they don't go on a mad rampage when they're kids."

Which type of people are most likely to grab him or pick him up? "It's always the middle-aged Italian ladies and the Jewish grandmothers," he says authoritatively. "Some people don't want to treat a kid like a human being. They want them like a puppy dog; instead of petting, it's pinching."

When it comes time to talk about Mason's not-so-successful ventures, Bill — a producer of audiovisual shows and an expert in 3-D design work — t............
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