"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
November 21, 2014
Behind the Scenes in Television
by Dian Thomas

I was blessed to have the opportunity to work on TV in the golden age of television, when there were three main stations — NBC, ABC, and CBS.

I wrote a book called Roughing it Easy that was released in 1974. It was March 28 when I went to pick up the first book and held it in my hands and said, “I wonder if this will change my life.”

Roughing it Easy took me to places I never dreamed that I could go, and the opportunities just kept coming. I have had a career of 30-plus years where I could share the love I have of nature, camping in the outdoors, and family fun ideas with millions, and I loved every minute of it.

This weekend I was invited to go to Hollywood to celebrate the 80th birthday of Woody Fraser, the executive producer who changed my life. I first met Woody when I was invited to appear on the "Mike Douglas Show," which was produced in Philadelphia.

Woody Fraser, visionary producer

After years of working on the "Mike Douglas Show," Woody went on to be the first executive producer of "Good Morning America." He invited me to do the show many times. I remember how excited I was to ride in a limousine with David Hartman, the host of the show. The whole time we were in the car he asked me questions about Utah and the Mormon Church.

Behind the scenes with Woody

Later Woody went on to create a daytime show for ABC called the "Home Show." It became the prototype for all the home and family shows that followed. I became a regular family member of that show and appeared weekly doing every creative idea that I could imagine.

Pretty much anything that I could brew up, Woody would let me do — from outdoor cooking, to changing a tire on a car to bring my segments to Utah to show our way of life.

One day while Woody was riding in his chauffeur-driven limousine, he was reading the Los Angeles Times. There was an article that featured the Word of Wisdom and how it helped Mormons live a longer life.

I got a call from Woody’s assistant, asking me if I would find a Mormon who was more than 100 years old. He wanted me to get that centenarian and be at the ABC Studio the next morning where they would do an interview on the "Home Show," talking about the Word of Wisdom and sharing with the audience someone who was more than 100 years old and had been blessed by their healthy lifestyle.

I called the Church PR department, and they found Franklin Richards, who was more than 100 and still went swimming every day. The next day we were on ABC’s network sharing the Word of Wisdom with millions.

A "Home Show" where I taught the audience how to make and ant farm with their kids.

This last Saturday night 200 of us gathered to celebrate a man who changed our lives and influenced millions with his creative ideas and unusual imagination. I often think of that unforgettable day I stood at BYU as my book came off the press, and think how grateful I am for a man who gave me the opportunity to share my ideas with the world.

Many of the segments that I did showed how to cook outdoors and create activities for parents to do with their families, such as turning your wagon into a backyard barbecue.

Woody was the father of my career. What amazing opportunities have come into my life from the door Woody opened so wide for me! At 80, Woody is still producing "Home and Family," a show on the Hallmark channel on the West Coast, as well the "The Huckabee Show," on the East Coast, which is on Fox News.

Happy Birthday, Woody!

This was a segment filmed at Fish Lake in the beautiful Utah mountains, where I showed how to catch fish in the middle of the winter in a hole drilled though the ice.

Go to Dian’s website http://www.DianThomas.com where you will find her creative ideas. You will have so much fun and build memories that will last forever doing these imaginative ideas with you children and grandchildren.

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About Dian Thomas

Dian Thomas was blessed with the good fortune to be born near and raised in the remote, breathtaking Manti-La Sal National Forest in southeastern Utah, where her father was the forest ranger. She took the skills she learned in the outdoors and turned them into a New York Times best-selling book, Roughing It Easy. Her appearance on the NBC's "Tonight" show with Johnny Carson boosted her into the national media scene, where she became a regular on NBC's "Today" show for eight years and then ABC's "Home Show" for six years. After more than 25 years of media exposure and 19 books, she now shares her practical insights and wisdom with audiences who want to savor life.

A former Relief Society president, Dian is currently serving as a visiting teacher. Visit her website at www.DianThomas.com

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