No more does Ralph Edwards intone, "ANNA MARIE DOE . . . This IS YOUR LIFE!" but those who missed the surprise and rush of tears when old boyfriends and older English teachers stepped out from behind a velvet curtain can now do it themselves. Or they can have it done for them.
For the occasions which call for a special party and a special effort -- milestone birthdays or anniversaries, someone moving to the opposite end of the earth -- Tina G. Manatos, president of Mana, Inc. of Bethesda (229-49984), will produce a "This Is Your Life" film.
Manatos collects old photos and stories from friends and family, checks out old maps to show where people lived, photos from the Library of Congress or old portraits for historical background. Occasionally she finds out things the people themselves didn't know.
Once she learned that a couple's great-great grandparents (opposite sides) had been children together in a small Russian village.
She puts all her material together, writes a script and produces a film which documents the life of the recipient, a film which she points out, can be passed down to grandchildren, great grandchildren, even great-great unless one of those greats is a person who loses things.
Manatos has done such biographies for a Greek ambassador, a U.N. delegate and former secretary of Commerce Juanita Kreps.
The films, when completed, are usually presented to the star at a party. If you're about to have your life flash before your eyes, it's more fun when there are people there to share it.
The films cost $600, and she needs two to three months to gather the material.
Even if $600 comes to more pennies than you have in your purse, you can still do your own "This Is Your Life" party for someone's golden wedding anniversary or 65th birthday.
Old photographs can be gathered into a scrapbook or blown up to poster size. A tape recorder can be used to collect stories from family and friends which then can be blended into a script recalling the events of that person's life.
Old newspapers provide information on what was happening in the world the day they were born, graduated from college, got married.
If friends can't recall their early favorite songs for a little background music, the library should have a book called "The Encyclopedia of American Facts and Dates," which reports that "some popular songs of 1925 were: "Show Me the Way to Go Home,' 'Collegiate,' 'Thanks for the Buggy Ride,' 'Don't Bring Lulu,'" as well as the tunes that people were waltzing to in many another year.
So what if it's a little ragged and homemade. So is life.