It is that time of year, once again. Later tonight, the film industry will come together to participate in Hollywood’s Biggest Night at the 77th Annual Academy Awards.
While it has been a few years since I was last involved in the production of what would be a yearly ritual for many of us at ABC-TV, I couldn’t help getting a bit nostalgic today as I allowed myself to take a brief trek along Memory Lane. Some of my recollections included:
Robert Redford – Nominated in the Best Director category for his work on Ordinary People, he was also presenting a special Oscar to fellow actor Henry Fonda. During the course of rehearsals, Mr. Redford and I found ourselves sitting in the back of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, waiting for his turn to go up on stage. Amongst the many subjects we casually discussed through the course of the afternoon was his relaxing enjoyment of the sport of fly-fishing. A few years later, he would direct the critically acclaimed A River Runs Through It.
Shirley Temple Black – Sitting down to lunch with the child actress turned ambassador and foreign diplomat, I was self-conscience that I would use the wrong fork in front of the United States’ former Chief of Protocol. I was soon put at ease by this engaging conversationalist.
Lawrence Olivier – Always insisting that he be addressed informally as “Larry” (I compromised with “Mr. Olivier”), Lord Olivier made one of his final public appearances by presenting the Best Picture award to the producers of Amadeus. Despite the absence of pretension by either Olivier or his wife Joan Plowright, you knew that you were in the presence of the greatest actor to ever walk the boards.
Debbie Reynolds – A very classy lady who could get away with telling a joke that would make a roomful of crusty old stagehands blush and laugh with tears at the same time (and did!). Ms. Reynolds made sure that all of her fellow MGM veterans, like June Alyson, Ann Miller, Cyd Charisse, and Howard Keel knew that the same doctor who delivered her son Todd had delivered me as well.
I also fondly remember the Farkles; the “regulars” who would camp out, year after year, outside the Artists Entrance and up in the bleachers along the red carpet. The friendlier (and more sane) of them would bring us up to speed and fill us in on their lives from the previous 11 months, and often be our eyes and ears for potential trouble within the crowd of fans.
These are just a few of the printable recollections that I had today; there are others where I would have to change the names to protect the guilty. Sarah says that I should write a book. It may happen someday. In the meantime, may I have the envelope please…?