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Gourd Lady is Leno-bound - again!

October 18, 2010

After a documentary about her life debuted last week, the National Gourd Lady is going back to Hollywood.
Margaret Sparkman will return NBC's The Tonight Show on Oct. 29 during the late-night show's normal 11:30 p.m. broadcast. Sparkman, "The National Gourd Lady" first appeared on the show hosted by Jay Leno in 2003.
During that appearance, "Sparky" stole the show when she "bopped" the comedian host's head with a gourd dipper.
"I am trying to bring my gourd baseball bat this time. It is whole lot bigger than the gourd dipper," Sparkman said, adding producers of The Tonight Show asked the 94-year-old Catawba County native to bring a broad variety of her gourd creations. "They want me to bring some different, funny things. I am so excited."
Sparkman said she was contacted by producers from The Tonight Show on Friday. The original guest canceled for the Oct. 29 program, she said, and a spot was open for her. That cancellation, along with a little help from a friend, landed the Conover resident on the show a second time.
"Two weeks ago a man from church, Roger Shull, said, 'I am going to have to call Jay Leno and tell him it is time to put you back on the show,'" Sparkman said. "I didn't think too much about it after that."
Shull did e-mail The Tonight Show, however, and according to Sparkman, "He really built me up."
"I couldn't believe I was getting that call two weeks after Roger e-mailed," Sparkman said, adding the seasonal nature of her gourd gifts probably benefitted her Tonight Show candidacy.
Sparkman will record her episode of The Tonight Show at about 4 p.m. Oct. 29. The program will air that same day, during its normal 11:30 p.m. time slot on NBC affiliates.
Last week, a documentary by James M. Smith, "Sparky the Gourd Lady," debuted at the Adrian L Shuford YMCA's Sparkman Community Center. The short film chronicles Sparkman's life and her rise to the familiar role of "National Gourd Lady."
And Sparkman, naturally, briefed The Tonight Show producers on her film.
"They wanted me to send them a copy, and I put it in the mail Saturday," she said, adding a recent feature that broadcast on WRAL will also be submitted to show producers. "They thought that was wonderful."

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