George Humphreys, 21, the self-proclaimed “King of the String” stands 10 feet tall, or 8’4″ anyway, when he “rocks the baby on the trapeze” atop 28-inch stilts. George is one of nine official yo-yo demonstrators who tour schools, libraries and recreation centers on behalf of the industry-dominating Duncan Toys Co. His repertoire consists of more than 40 tricks, and the king can work with a string of up to 7 feet (as compared to the standard 3-foot retail model). Last summer he played China with Bob Hope and, says Humphreys, “flabbergasted the people.” George himself caught yo-yo fever back in Columbus Grove, Ohio, where his high-school geometry teacher taught him the basics. George’s fame grew performing for Cub Scouts and Bible schools, and at 16 he applied to Duncan but was turned down because the minimum age was then 21. He was so persistent and impressive, however, that he was selected at 19. He’s now looking for a career, as he puts it “that I could fall back on if the string breaks.” He thought he would be a policeman, but now that he’s played with Hope, on Dinah! and The Gong Show and been asked to give lessons to Robin Williams, Humphreys wants to become an actor.
Patty Morrissey, 27, is the head—and sole full-time employee—of Morrissey Productions, a lecture agency she runs from her Columbia, Md. home. Among her stable: CBS newsman Ed Bradley, hypnotist John Kolisch, John Dean and gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson. Besides booking her clients and arranging their travel, she is a maestro of extra personal touches like making sure that Heineken beer and Wild Turkey whiskey are always waiting in Thompson’s hotel room. Her organizational talents surfaced at age 10, when she set up an “encounter group” for kids back in her hometown of Agawam, Mass. (“We would sit around the willow trees and say what we didn’t like about one another.”) After studying political science at American International College in Springfield, Mass., she headed for Washington and a job with a D.C. hotel as convention coordinator. One of her first duties was arranging a bash for Rolling Stone in 1976. The party was “mayhem,” she admits, but landed her a spot in the magazine’s promotion department. Later that summer she left Rolling Stone to work for Jimmy Carter’s campaign. It was while she was on the new President’s transition team and pregnant with her daughter Kora Ann that Morrissey (who has since separated) put together her own lecture bureau. Declares Thompson: “She’s like a Jewish mother to me—and the best damn agent in the country!”