Health & Spirit

Light Notes: Film and television actor recalls road to his destiny

Lucy Luginbill, Tri-City Herald on

Published in Religious News

Sissy Spacek, Carl Malden, Nashville, and Hollywood -- people and places in the world of creative arts. How could the little boy fingering the slide rule at his father's business ever envision this realm of musicians and actors as his true destiny?

Unknowing as a child, his future would hold unexpected doors to his real calling.

"I was about 11-years old and my father decided to go into business -- Kahlenberg-Globe Equipment," Charles Kahlenberg said, remembering his father's decision in the early 1950s. "He taught me the fundamentals about the band saw and by the time I was in high school I was working on all the equipment."

But even though Charles spent many hours working in a technical field with his dad, he found time to play side-by-side with neighborhood friends in Sarasota, Fla.

"I used to play with the Wallenda kids just down the street," the baby boomer said about his early exposure to life with celebrity families, a normal part of everyday life.

Yet while the Walenda children's future naturally took them to the Big Top, Charles' career path led to the front door of his father's business. Even so, it seemed that Hollywood kept finding him.

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At one point in his youth, Paramount Pictures was filming Cecil B. DeMille's "The Greatest Show on Earth" in his hometown. That also brought Warner Bros. to film a documentary about the Sarasota Sailor Circus at the local high school. Charles and his brother played the part of the clowns -- and it put Charles in the right place at the right time.

"They needed a kid and they did some close-ups of me," the deep-voiced senior recalls. "But I didn't have ambitions to be an actor."

So while college and marriage kept him on track in the mechanical engineering field -- even to the point of designing equipment for the company -- Charles' hidden heart's desire continued to nudge.

"The arts kept calling my name, but I was trying to work," Charles said, reflecting on how he satisfied his creative side with his trombone, one he started playing professionally at age 14.


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