About four years ago, Doug Schmidt
’ 87 left Wall Street to pursue a long-held
interest in entertainment. He first provided
financial backing, as executive producer, for
the action film Turn the River, due out this
fall. But soon he was caught up in someone
One night over dinner, children’s television veteran Sophie Ali described an incident
in which soldiers had ordered Pakistani children into a building that was mined. She told
Schmidt that Pakistani culture promotes rote
learning and discourages questioning, so the
children had obeyed and were killed. Her
dream was to create a TV series that would
teach critical thinking and creative learning
to children of the Indian subcontinent.
“I saw what she was trying to accomplish,” Schmidt says. “I believe in living by
the Golden Rule, but usually that means
something small, like holding the door for
someone or saying, ‘Thank you.’ Here was a
Doug Schmidt ’ 87 visits with cast members of The Magic
Tent, a TV show for children of the Asian subcontinent.
chance to do something larger.”
Schmidt signed on as producer. Ali tapped
her connections with veteran puppeteers
from The Muppet Show and Sesame Street,
Michael Frith and his wife, Kathryn Mullen,
and she recruited music star Ali Azmat and
actor Naseeruddin Shah, who has been in
some 120 films, including Monsoon Wedding.
The group created a story board and a family of puppets and went to Noida Film City
to film the pilot episode of The Magic Tent. If
all goes well, the show will be broadcast not
only in India, but throughout the subcontinent, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
Schmidt admits he put in a lot of time
long before he could see where the project
was going but says he has no regrets.
Covering All Bases
Long after B.J. Surhoff ’ 86 is inducted recruited the Orioles to sponsor a
into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame in Pathfinders for Autism event that raised
August, autistic children and their parents money for research on siblings of autistic
will celebrate his work off the field. children, research that facilitated earlier
Surhoff ranks ninth in the Oriole’s all- detection and enabled early intervention. In
time RBI average and was named Most 2005, when Surhoff received the $25,000
Valuable Oriole Player in 1999. He was National Roberto Clemente Award, he
ACC Male Athlete of the Year in 1985 and donated it to Pathfinders for Autism.
played a variety of positions at Galli, who serves on
UNC, beginning his pro career the GAA Board of
as catcher with the Milwaukee Directors, met the
Brewers. By the time Surhoff Surhoffs in 1997 after her
left the game in 2005, he’d daughter Madison, who is
added left field, right field, third autistic, brought home a
base, first base and designated crumpled yellow paper
hitter to the list — playing inviting parents of chil-every position in the major dren with autism to the
leagues except pitcher. Surhoff home to find out
Inspired by his autistic son, about a therapist who
Mason, Surhoff and his wife, had helped their son.
Polly Winde Surhoff ’ 86, and Galli credits that therapist
their friend Rebecca Smith with teaching her daugh-Galli ’ 80 founded Pathfinders ter how to talk. “This
for Autism, a nonprofit resource shows how important the
for parents of children with B.J. Surhoff ’ 86, who will be inducted information you got by
autism, in 2000. into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of happenstance was for us
Fame, advocates for children with
That first year, Surhoff autism. in those days,” Galli says.
A friend from California sent Georgia
Carroll Kyser ’ 70 an unusual gift: a can
of Spam commemorating the 70th
anniversary of the famous Hormel Foods
product. The can shows Kyser as a young
woman, talking on the telephone.
“I didn’t even know about this,” she
said. “After 50 years, a photograph belongs
to the public domain. I never know where
my face is going to appear next. A while
ago, a full-color, half-page photo appeared
in the Style section of The Ne w York Times.
Some friends came across a photograph of
me in the south of France.” Her face also
has graced many magazine pages, including Vogue.
After high school, she and her family
took a cruise from Galveston to New
York. An aunt shepherded her into a
modeling career and a Warner Brothers
contract. In 1943, the studio sent her to
sing for the troops with Kay Kyser ’ 27
and his band. The next year, they were
married, and seven years later, they moved
to Chapel Hill, where they raised three
daughters, all Carolina alumnae. Kay Kyser
died in 1985.
Georgia Kyser continues building her
photo archive; she ordered an anniversary
Spam T-shirt for her collection.
COURTESY HORMEL FOODS
“I never know where my face is going to appear next,”
says Georgia Kyser ’ 70.
— Stories by Susan Simone
Read extended pieces in Class Notes:
James Wilde ’04 (JD), page 92
Gary White ’ 95 (MS), page 99
Melissa Claire Egan ’03, page 102
Ronald W. Hyatt ’ 59 (MED), page 84
John F. Schultz ’ 65, page 86