Yet another installment of The Hollywood Show has come and gone, just like so many careers. This one was one of my least memorable; the star list was not popping for me.
However, it was also by far the most successful for the owners—it was supercrowded when I arrived mid-day on Saturday. Who was the big draw, you ask? Believe it or not, Paul Michael Glaser and the original Chris Brown, David Soul. Unbelievable that Starsky & Hutch have such a loyal following—they even sold out a 60-seat dinner with the actors for $150 a head after the show!
I was really scattered this show, having just landed and attended that cystic fibrosis event, so I don't have as many indelible memories as usual. But here goes:
Upon arrival, I had to show up at the pro photography gallery for an appointment with the great Piper Laurie, who just turned 80 this year. She looks good and did a very stately photo with me.
Fresh off the gallery, I went for the biggest star there (IMHO) first, Valerie Harper. Valerie is 72 and looking good, as vivacious as ever. I wish Bethenny Frankel would stop stealing her act! I opened by telling her that although I was having her sign a great Rhoda image, I was more recently impressed by her performance in Looped. She was excited that I'd seen it on Broadway and pointed that out to her husband, almost like I must've been one of the few. Great show, by the way—as I told her, she's not the first, second or third person I would think of when casting someone to play Tallulah Bankhead, which made her performance all the more incredible.
Unfortunately, Shelley Berman was milling around (he seems to haunt these things while never actually doing them himself) and he stole away some of Valerie's attentions during my encounter. Not that there wasn't time to spare—Valerie's husband was so taken with the picture I presented her with (an original publicity still) that he dashed off to have it scanned before she signed it.
She was such a good sport she even agreed to accompany me over to the pro photography gallery so we could get a posed shot even though she had not signed up for that in advance. It cost me another $25 donation, but since she was donating all proceeds to "hunger and poverty people" as well as a charity devoted to Holocaust survivors who are really old and "digging potatoes in fields" out in the middle of nowhere, I figured it was a steal. Another guy tried to get her to do a pic for free and he was politely but firmly told no dice. Holocaust survivors gotta eat, my man.
Next up, I went for Lainie Kazan, 71, the voluptuous chanteuse who became an ample and amply gifted comic actress. I know her best for things like The Nanny, which my sidekick Chexy engaged her with his appreciation for My Favorite Year (1982).
Walking around in a daze, I passed Cameron Dye, 52, who was Fred in Valley Girl (1983), fer sher, fer sher. I had a photo of three of the movie's male stars, assuming he was one of them, but Chexy knows him personally and saved me a world of embarrassment by bluntly pointing out, "None of those are him. It's not him." I had had my doubts, so we sidled up and while they chatted about old times, I was able to ask Cameron what ever happened to one of the guys in the photo, which led to him naming all three—none of which were him. Smooth! I bought a hot shot of him from Fraternity Vacation (1985), a movie I never saw and never will, and that I hope isn't rife with homophobic comments. He was a sweetheart.
I already have my Elvira shot so skipped Cassandra Petersen, 60. She is apparently not doing Elvira anymore but the redhead looks lovely, kind of like how you wish Tina Louise had aged. Right next to her was the great Pat Carroll, who's about to turn 85. She took forever with this family in front of us; she and her own family and friends oohed and ahhed over their great looks before she told them "God bless!" and they finally departed. God bless and get out of my way, guys.
This hysterically funny funnylady was in lots of the episodic TV I watched as a kid. I told her, "I've loved you in everything, which is a good thing since you're in everything." She liked that, and wanted to know what I'd seen her in recently. I'd just seen an old Too Close for Comfort, so I was ready with an answer. She loved that show and loved working with Ted Knight. "Nobody knew he was so sick then," she confided. When I showed her the vintage photo I had she was tickled pink, exclaiming she hadn't seen it since the day it was shot in the 1950s. (Her son wasn't impressed—he noted he'd seen it on eBay, which is just where I got it.) Couldn't have been warmer.
David L. Lander, 64, is dealing with MS but was in good spirits, very funny and sharp. We exchanged a few words, jokingly, about his not wanting to deal with his own fans, but he was really sweet.
His wife was fun, too, and I hate that my being so busy leading up to the trip prevented me from researching—I would have learned that her parents were Freddie Fields and Edith Fellows, the latter of whom just died, which would have been an interesting topic considering my interest in Old Hollywood.
Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams are doing the next show in April (health permitting). Wish they could drag Michael McKean into it to complete the Laverne & Shirley foursome. That was probably my #2 show as a kid after Charlie's Angels.
Billy Dee Williams, almost 75, was in an Asian-looking black tunic and was not posing for pictures with fans, though you were allowed to snap shots of him at the table. No interaction at all and the smile was only on when the camera was up. I later saw a guy attempting to shoot him as he left the room. "C'mon, just give me a minute of your time...?" and that was shot down no ifs, ands or buts. (But then again, why would he do freebies when he's there to get paid?) I guess he's a big dee-l on this circuit (he charged something like $40) because of his Star Wars work, even if I'm more interested in stuff like Lady Sings the Blues (1972).
I visited Piper Laurie next. She didn't seem all that wowed by the glamour shot I handed her (I was and still am!) but she kindly pointed out to me that it was bent. It's a 1950s original so is damaged, but I prefer the real deal when possible. Nice of her to be concerned. She shared some words with Chexy; they had a close friend in common (Jacquelyn Hyde) who'd passed away many years ago, and whose eulogy Chexy had delivered. Longtime casting director Marvin Paige was at her side. I imagine she signed Carrie (1976) photos all day.
It was time for my posed shot with Paul Michael Glaser, David Soul and Antonio Fargas from Starsky & Hutch, but no fuckin' way was I standing in that line. There must've been 200 people there, and it was moving at a snail's pace because Glaser and Soul were yukking it up on every shot, horsing around with fans and taking the piss out of each other. Good for them for having fun, but I went about my business until the bitter end (when they were decidedly more bitter).
William McNamara, a month shy of 46, answers the question: What happens to twinks as they age? In his case, he's still supercute if with more character to his face, and he was very approachable. So much so that next-door neighbor in the hall, Traci Lords, 43, was soaking up some of his time for personal photos. I remember him for Doing Time on Maple Drive (1992) and just from seeing his adorable face in magazines.
Have to admit I was disappointed when I met Edie McClurg, 60. She looks terrific but when we stepped up to her table, she continued a conversation with her tablemate for like five minutes while we stood there like idiots. When I finally handed her the old headshot I'd brought, she exclaimed, "Oh, this is my very first professional headshot..." and went on to describe how it had been shot in phtoographer's home and they'd had to make her up and do her hair because she had no idea what was expected. I think she also said she'd had an eyejob then because her eyes kept getting squintier (or she was referring to having had it another time, but she definitely copped either to getting them done or to having the puffiness removed via airbrushing).
But the point is, all of this was said not to me, but to her tablemate as we awkwardly listened. She signed the photo without inscribing it to me (or asking if I wanted that). She was nice enough when I got a picture with her, but I guess she came off as not really being engaged, reminding me of the feeling I got from Vicki Lawrence a previous trip.
Brad Rowe, most known to me for his role in Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998) opposite Sean Hayes, looked fantastic, but it's unfair to judge him against the other people at the show since he's only 41 and started out looking like Brad Rowe to begin with.
Very nice guy. We joked about fans arriving with disposable cameras—the autographs cost more than the cameras do. He liked my rather sizzling photo of him and gave it some flair by signing it in silver.
I think Paul Carafotes, a month away from 49, is really hot. Loved him in this scene from Damages. It's a shame Now We're Cookin' (1983) never took off—what a hot piece of ass he was in this:
He's probably best known to '80s kids for All the Right Moves (1983), and was definitely in teen magazines back in the day. When I told him I edit one now, he said, "You probably don't do 40-year-old guys, right?" and I replied, "I do, but the magazine doesn't." He kept a straight face but his table buddy liked that one. Very nice dude who signed a photo of his very nice body.
Continuing with the beefcake, I snapped up friendly Vincent Spano, also 49, who was lookin' good. I remember him from Baby It's You (1983), which is where the photo he signed is from:
The Green Hornet himself, Van Williams, is probably one of the handsomest faces to grace the small screen. Now, at 77 (78 at the end of this month), he is still looking good (in spite of a recent heart attack) and was very kind to his Batman fans. I had an old card for him to inscribe (look at that chest). I told him, "Imagine how far you could've gone if you were good-looking?" He laughed and said thanks.
It was finally time to wait around for the Starsky & Hutch photo op. It was amusing to see them drooling over these hot chicks who did the line, one of them perching on Glaser's knee, all of them receiving extended hugs. When it was my turn, they were still goofing off—Soul was crustily complaining about something or other and Glaser laughed and asked him something to the effect of, "Do you need a puff?" They did strike me as a bit high. But better high than low, right?
Right after, we went to their tables and got all three actors from the show. Antonio Fargas, 65, is the best preserved and was sharply dressed, in stark contrast to his co-stars. He spotted the photo I had from Car Wash (1976) a mile away. "I see a Car Wash picture coming," he said. I had to have been 10 people down the line. When I got to him, he gamely signed it "Sexy Bitch" (the necklace his flamboyant character Lindy wears). I asked him his memories from the set and he said, "Being straight and hitting on women in that outfit and still being successful." Okay—I get it. You're straight. Nice enough, though.
David Soul, 68, is heavy and walks with a cane. I asked him which actors he's worked with who impressed him the most and he wouldn't name anyone, (brusquely) saying instead anyone who was really ready to be in the moment. He wasn't warm nor was he fuzzy.
Paul Michael Glaser, also 68, was a heartthrob to me back in the '70s. He looks pretty good to this day. He was definitely burned out on the show already—he was punchy and yawning and seemed ready to get to dinner, which of course was going to be another public function for all the fans who'd shelled out $150.
That did it for day one, which ended with a crazy fangirl passing by outside shouting at the top of her lungs that Whitney Houston had just ODed at the Beverly Hilton. So, see? There are worse ways to end up than signing photos for money.
Day two I usually don't really need to make use of, but I did venture back in order to snag Stephanie Beacham, who turns 65 on the 28th of this month. She didn't engage me at all, but was polite and looks gorgeous.
Getting a pro shot with the Colbys diva, she had a nutty fan telling everyone how great she is and how much he loved being with her at her home; seeing her embarrassment kinda underscored why I think she was not so outgoing...she's above this fan adulation thing, not in a snobby way, but in the opposite way.
That was all she wrote! But with the uninteresting mix of stars (most everyone nice, very few who were major draws), I have to say the most fun I had was joking around with Chexy, hanging out with Roy of Baby Jane's and his really funny O.C. pals Todd and Tom and flirting with Al, a dealer who had an original Marilyn Monroe autograph stolen off his table but who still managed to keep a smile on his face. As a bonus, Al had brought his new tenant, the breathtaking soap actor Francisco San Martin. People-watching takes on a whole new dimension when they're people like Francisco.
He had a good sense of humor, too. As we were discussing Marilyn Monroe's famous nude calendar shot, I muttered, "The lesson is that it's a good idea for young actors to pose nude." He caught it immediately and grinned broadly. He'll go far humoring old lechers in Hollywood.
"I'll pose for a picture, but I'm not a star or anything," he humbly offered. Well, that doesn't stop a percentage of the people with tables at The Hollywood Show! And "cute" beats "famous" any day of the week.
And a final highlight of the show was the time I spent with Christopher Riordan, 74, who has been in more movies than that roaring lion. I'd met him at a previous show, but we spoke more this time. He has amazing stories about Raquel Welch going from anonymous girl with bad skin to prima donna, his adventures in eight Elvis pictures and his decision between a role in the 1970 camp classics Beyond the Valley of the Dolls or Myra Breckinridge (he chose the better, or least bad, of the two). His Facebook is always engaging because, unlike everyone else in Hollywood, he is fascinated by and acknowledges the aging process, and not in a mean way; he just posts then and now shots that really give one pause. I can't wait for his upcoming autobiography.
After ending on a high note with him and my other showpals, I took off, heading out of the reel world and back into the real one.