On June 20, Donna and I visited Bob and Kathy Burns, whose peerless collection of fantastic film memorabilia provided a wonderful evening of nostalgic distraction. Here I am holding one of Glenn Strange's original Frankenstein boots -- and Glenn's own shoe is still inside it! The outer part feels like felt and the sole feels like wood!
Here Donna achieves her lifelong dream of playing Weena to Rod Taylor's Time Traveller in the actual Time Machine. ("How do they wear their hair in your time?") This Rod is a wax likeness, but his smoking jacket is the original and the rear wheel of the device "Manufactured by H. George Wells" still rotates.
When I was very young, a television broadcast of Wm. Cameron Menzies' INVADERS FROM MARS sent shivers through me, especially the scenes involving the bubble-encased Martian leader. Here I am, in what I call my "Dr. Strange" shirt (which Donna made for me), holding the original prop bubble that the Martian drones carted about from place to place.
Another lifelong dream realized as Bob and Kathy took us to the original Bob's Big Boy in Burbank -- on a Friday, too, when the parking lot turns into a weekly classic car showcase. (Kathy surprised us by proving herself an expert car aficianado who can date '57 Chevy by sight.) The West Coast Big Boy formula differs from the one we have here in the Midwest -- mayonaisse and some kind of red relish instead of our tartar sauce -- but as much as I like the local recipe, I think I may actually prefer the original, which tasted to me like a more substantial, satisfying Big Mac. By the way, I don't make the claim that I resemble the mascot of this fine restaurant, but as I stood outside waiting for our table, children began to climb on me.
Me and Donna with Kathy and Bob. We love them, and we love this picture.
On the set of Larry Blamire's new "old dark house" spoof A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT, I bump into actor Andrew Parks -- beloved by millions as Kro-Bar from THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA, but especially beloved by me as Truphen Newben of TALES FROM THE PUB.
Here's Larry Blamire himself. Larry is usually on his feet, calling the shots, while onset, but I pleaded with him to rest for a moment on this prop chair which -- according to set gossip -- previously appeared in ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. Perhaps one of our eagle-eyed readers can find it and send us a frame grab?
In the lunchroom, we had a nice talk with Rondo-winning artist Frank Dietz and James Karen about Mr. Karen's fine performance in RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD.
Donna charms John Saxon at the 34th Annual Saturn Awards.
Here's Donna and me sharing a moment of triumph with our old friend, producer Alfredo Leone, who won the Saturn for his involvement in Anchor Bay's THE MARIO BAVA COLLECTION, VOLUMES 1 and 2. Alfredo kept trying to get my award, and my wife, away from me, but be that as it may... The flash on our camera began to fail us here, and I've done what I can to brighten it. The same goes for the next and last shot of the day...
On the evening of June 26, Donna and I attended a public interview of actor/author/raconteur Orson Bean at Beyond Baroque in Venice, California. Orson's lovely wife Alley Mills -- an actress you may remember from THE WONDER YEARS, now working on the soap THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL -- was there too and we coralled her into this commemorative photo, taken in the building's lobby. Unfortunately, she was feeling the onset of a sore throat and didn't join us for dinner, but we drove Orson to one of his favorite French joints, Lilly's, and talked about a project we're cooking up.
Though he put on a brave and friendly face that evening, Orson looked visibly shaken by the loss of his friend George Carlin just three days earlier. He told me that their friendship went back 45 years, but they became especially close friends only 8 or 9 years ago. He reminisced about how George had been married for a long time to a woman he loved very much, was destroyed when she suddenly passed away and withdrew into seclusion. Then he happened to meet a friend of the Beans named Sally, and they had their first date when the Beans invited them both to dinner. They stayed together from then on. On the night George died, Sally called Orson and his wife Alley and they went over to hold her hand for a couple of hours. Sally was upset, of course, but like anyone who had spent any length of time living with a comedian, mined humor from her pain; she told them how she imagined George at the Pearly Gates, trying to convince St. Peter that all the bad things he said about God were all in good fun.
Orson told us that the true measure of George Carlin can be seen in the fact that he befriended a Christian like himself and, despite his coarse public image, respected whatever life choices made people happy. He even provided an enthusiastic blurb for the cover of Orson's forthcoming book, MAIL TO MIKEY, which is a book about finding God but written in harsh, rather un-Christian language. In a sense, Carlin's last public act will be endorsing a book whose aim, underlying its profanity, is to teach suspicious souls the value of getting on one's knees once a day and thanking Someone or Something for the gift of life.