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Larry Anderson: Scientology’s pitchman becomes a Bunker regular

Larry_Anderson_OrientationIn the now-it-can-be-told department: We first heard from Larry Anderson back in 2010, but it wasn’t until last year that we finally met the tall LA actor originally from Minnesota.

For Scientologists of a certain era, Larry’s image is branded into their memories from multiple viewings of the Orientation film that they were all required to watch. The 40-minute movie was used to recruit new members and pump up staff workers. It featured Larry talking with Norman Starkey about L. Ron Hubbard’s exploits, visiting a bookstore, and winding up to make a heavy pitch at the end.

Here’s a sample of Larry’s hard sell…

You are an immortal being. Your life will not halt because this planet halts. You can go on. Now, we could play this very low key. We could sort of giggle and say, ‘We can help you a little to lead a slightly happier life.’ Yes, we could say that, stating that if you cooperate, we could make you more cheerful. But that would be like offering someone a diamond and saying it was glass. Right this instant, you are at the threshold of your next trillion years. You will live it with shivering, agonized darkness, or you will live it triumphantly in the light, the choice is yours, not ours. If you, this minute, say, I will, for better or for worse, go on in Scientology, you will open the door to your own future. If you say otherwise, you slam tomorrow shut in your own face. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it really is. We are not making any claims for Dianetics and Scientology. It is you, who when you’ve experienced what can be, are the one who will make the claims. What is true, is true for you.

And a little later Larry delivers one of the greatest passages in any infomercial, ever…

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If you leave this room after seeing this film and walk out and never mention Scientology again, you are perfectly free to do so. It would be stupid, but you can do it. You can also dive off a bridge or blow your brains out. That is your choice. But, if you don’t walk out that way, if you continue with Scientology, we will be very happy with you, and you will be very happy with you. You will have proven that you are a friend of yours.

We were recently telling Larry that he made some bold statements in that legendary film.

“Tell me about it! I remember auditioning for that, and I read the script and said, ‘who wrote this?’ L. Ron Hubbard wrote it, someone told me. Man, he’s pulling no punches. I was told subsequently that Hubbard didn’t actually write much of it, that it was something David Miscavige wanted a certain way,” Larry said.

By the time Orientation came out in 1996, Larry had already been in Scientology for 20 years. For the next 13 years, thanks to that film and several others he made for the church, his voice became synonymous with the organization for many of its members.

“Any time I walked into any org around the world, no matter where it was, it was like I was John Travolta or Tom Cruise. because they watched those films over and over. I was their movie star,” he says.

But by 2009, he was done. That’s when he sat down with Tommy Davis, church spokesman and son of actress Anne Archer, and demanded the church give him back the large amount of money he had on account for future services — and he recorded the 90-minute meeting. In January 2010, Larry revealed the contents of that tape in a blockbuster story by Joe Childs and Tom Tobin in the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times. (The slideshow, featuring photos of Larry’s television career over the years, is particularly great.)

Tobin and Childs reviewed Larry’s career — which included being a regular on Lucille Ball’s show Life with Lucy and hosting Truth or Consequences in the 1980s — and wrote that he first got introduced to Scientology at a party for Paul McCartney.

As for so many others, Larry’s final straw in Scientology was the release of The Basics in 2007, the republishing of L. Ron Hubbard’s books by Miscavige which required Scientologists to buy multiple sets of materials they already had, at about $3,000 a set. Larry kept quiet about his decision until 2009, when he ran into fellow actor Jason Beghe, who had been very vocal about leaving. Beghe encouraged Larry to speak out, and put him together with Marc Headley. It was Beghe who called Tommy Davis to break the news that the Orientation star was leaving Scientology, leading to the 90-minute meeting and then the Tobin and Childs story. (A year later, we had our own story about Tommy Davis and a tape-recorded meeting, which is still one of our all-time favorites.)

In the years since that major story, Larry has stayed out of the news. He was being careful, but that didn’t stop him from paying attention to what was going on.

We learned about that when we finally had the chance to meet him at a party in Los Angeles last year.

It turned out he was a very loyal reader of the Bunker, and we ended up talking for hours.

We posed for this photo with Larry and Tory Christman at the shindig…

 
Larry_Anderson

 
But we kept that photo under wraps, at Larry’s request. He was being cautious about publicity, and we understood. But then, a few weeks ago, he showed up at a public event (the screening of Steve Mango’s film), and we asked if maybe he was feeling less shy. He then gave us the green light to write about our recent conversations.

We’ve talked about his life as a pitchman, for example. Infomercials and trade shows have always been a big part of his career. He knew Billy Mays, of course, and he also helped a couple of fellow Scientologists get into the business — Bodhi Elfman, and Offer Shlomi, better known as Vince, the “Shamwow Guy.”

“I got Vince into that business. I used to take him to the yearly trade show. Then he got Shamwow. I remember seeing him at Celebrity Centre all the time,” Larry tells us. “Bodhi was into it too. They were getting up at 4 am to sell stuff at swap meets.”

Like Larry, Shlomi eventually soured on the church. In 2004, Shlomi announced that he was suing Scientology.

“Vince is close-mouthed about it today,” Larry says.

As for himself, Larry is writing screenplays and continuing to work in developing new products for infomercials. And he stops in here at the Bunker just about every day, keeping up on news about Scientology.

We’re really glad that he does.

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on March 5, 2014 at 08:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer

 

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