How did comedian, George Kirby, kick an heroin addiction?
AnswerWhen I met comedian, George Kirby, my only involvement with street drugs was smoking weed and taking an occasional drink. I had never been in the company of anyone using and addicted to hardcore drugs like heroin. Kirby was very talented and funny, so when I learned that he had been a heroin addict, I could not relate to him talking about the misery and happiness of kicking heroin with the help of celebrities like Bob Hope, Wayne Newton and Sammy Davis, Jr.
I explain it this way in my book, ARROGANT: The Memoir . . . .
Having accepted the position at Burrell Advertising, I decided to write one final article for the Philadelphia Tribune. Sammy Davis Jr. was appearing at the Sands Casino in Atlantic City. Arrangements had been made for me to interview Sammy. After the show that also included comedian, George Kirby, I was told by Sammy’s management that he was unavailable for interviews. I was given the opportunity to interview George Kirby instead.
Kirby was a heck of a showman. This guy played various instruments, sang, danced and told jokes. His impersonation of jazz singer, Sarah Vaughan, was astonishing, which brought me to my feet. In his suite, he greeted me with a bear hug that nearly took away my breath. He was a big man.
“What has been the single, most important achievement in your life?” I asked.
“Getting off drugs,” he quickly answered.
“I beg your pardon? . . .” I thought he had misunderstood the question.
“Kicking heroin,” came his confirmation. “Look,” he went on, “I know you came down here to do a regular article on Sammy. My life is anything but regular. I’m in recovery from a long addiction to heroin.”
I wanted to hear more. I nodded my head for him to go on “I'm fresh out of prison for the second time in my life. I guess that shocks you too, right?”
“No it doesn’t.” I could easily relate to incarceration. Drug addiction was another matter altogether.
“I went to prison for the first time in the mid-fifties. I served time for possession of heroin. This last time I went to prison was for possession with intent to sell.
“Sell . . .?”
“---Yes, to deliver or sell. That wasn’t the real deal, of course, because I am a user—not a seller. I thank God for people like Sammy, Wayne Newton and Bob Hope. I wouldn’t be performing again in Atlantic City if not for their help.”
“How did you do it?’
“God. . . I couldn't have gotten through it any other way.”
“Yes, really! Nothing else worked for me. I’ve been shooting heroin for more years than you have been on this earth. I’ve been through a zillion programs. They don’t work for me, man. God had to clean me up.”
“Are you a Christian? “Absolutely. I pray every day.”
“Is that what you want me to write?”
“Yeah man, write that down. That’s my story.”
Search result for 'Getting off drugs' in Don't Tell Me What To Do: A Spiritual Memoir
Chapter 8: Interment - 1981-1986122.
"... He was a big man. “What has been the single, most important achievement in your life?” I asked. “Getting off drugs,” he quickly answered. “I beg your pardon? . . .” I thought he had misunderstood the question. “Kicking heroin,” ..."