Harry Abrams keeps a small model replica of a silver Mercedes 300 SL two-seater on his desk to remind him of a day at the very beginning of his career, when his future at MCA looked less than rosy thanks to an encounter with Dr. Jules C. Stein, the founder of the agency.
“I had been in the mailroom at MCA for two weeks at most. The other five guys in the mail room were all out on deliveries. The phone rang and it was a gruff voice I recognized. It was Dr. Stein. He said ‘Abrams. Get my car and drive it up to my house on Angelo Drive.’ He had a house way in up the hills where the roads go round and round and he had a Mercedes 300 SL with gullwings and I’d been checked out and cleared to drive for him.
“But there was one problem. I’d never driven his SL and when I ran out and climbed in, I quickly realized I didn’t know how to make the gullwings go down and if I didn’t figure it out I was going to be out of a job. None of the other guys were around. There was no one to ask. So I started looking everywhere for a button or switch. I looked in the glove box and I looked under the dashboard, under the seat. No luck.
“So I took off from MCA, slowly driving up Benedict Canyon to Angelo Drive, with the gullwings up the whole way. Round and round, up the windy road, praying I wouldn’t run into anything and I wouldn’t get caught. I was lucky enough to make it all the way to Dr. Stein’s house, but that’s when my luck ran out. He was standing on the balcony watching as I pulled into the courtyard. I don’t remember everything he screamed at me, but it ended with him telling me to get away from his car and to walk back to work. Immediately. Which I didn’t mind, because it meant he wasn’t going to fire me.”