Well, it's been two weeks now since my fatal heart attack, and all I can say is, thanks, guys. Thanks so much for honoring my 56 years of life on this planet by dedicating that episode of Veronica's Closet to me.
Some people, when they die, get a tree planted in their memory. Others get a plaque, or maybe even a statue. But if you ask me, there's no better way to show that a man's life had meaning than by dedicating a stupid, unfunny episode of some lousy sitcom to him. Yes, for all eternity, when people think of Veronica's Closet episode 55, "Veronica's New Cat," they'll think of Bill Unseld. What better way is there to sum up and give dignity to a human being's life?
When the credits rolled and the screen went black, reading, "For Bill Unseld, 1943–2000," a tear surely trickled down my grieving wife's cheek. Linda knew me better than anyone else in the world, so she no doubt recognized that this wacky, mix-up-packed episode of Veronica's Closet was truly what I was all about.
Sure, like most people, I had hopes that when I died, I'd be recognized for my achievements, whether it be my contributions to the television industry, my work with various local charities, or the many years of love and devotion I gave my beautiful wife and three children. But, wow, "Veronica's New Cat"? You sure you want to set that one aside for me?
I mean, after all, this is the episode in which Veronica's birthday gift to Olive doesn't go over big, so Veronica lies and tells Olive that she bought her a second, thoughtful gift, as well. Panicked, she sends Josh out to get something for Olive at the last minute, but he comes back with cat supplies. When Olive sees them, Veronica lies again and tells Olive she bought herself a cat and that the cat stuff is for her. So, then, Ronnie has to go out and get a second gift and a cat.
Could there possibly be a more apt, fitting tribute to all that I was and stood for? I think not.
What an incredible honor. I mean, It's not like I was Johnny Carson. I made a few contributions to the television industry here and there. I was a key grip for two seasons of Chico And The Man, and in the mid-'80s, I did some sound work for Scarecrow & Mrs. King. I also helped NBC's technical department develop a high-durability caster that rolls smoother. But, gee, guys, there's no need to pull out all the stops and dedicate that whole episode to me!
When I started in television at age 15, fetching sandwiches for The Jack Paar Show, I hoped I could grow up to make a difference in this business and maybe, in my own small way, leave an enduring legacy. Little did I dream that episode 55 of Veronica's Closet would be that legacy. I mean, I hardly think my meager four decades of service warrants such a high honor. Better you should dedicate it to our nation's Vietnam veterans. Or the selfless men and women of the Red Cross.
I suppose cultural historians of the future will think I must have been a great, great man to have "Veronica's New Cat" dedicated to me. The entire episode, mind you. Not just the scene in which Veronica tries to hide the cat from Olive under her desk, but it starts meowing, so Veronica has to pretend she's the one who's making the noise. No, the entire episode. My great-grandchildren can take profound pride that one of their ancestors merited that level of tribute.
For me, there is no regret in having departed this mortal coil, for the world shall forever know that for a time, there lived a man named Bill Unseld, a man who gaffed for a television program called Veronica's Closet, and that the collective creative energy that went into the making of the 55th episode of that program was done in posthumous tribute to that man. I rest peacefully in my tomb, for I know that so long as the great medium of television exists, a small part of it will have existed as a means of paying respect to my life and legacy. There can be no greater honor.