*** Great videos of some of the stars or just click on their hot-linked names to see. ***
Another Hollywood Show has come and gone, and I came, I saw, I kicked its ass.
I just went and had a lot of fun.
This was one of my longest trips out to Burbank because I combined a bunch of networking meetings with the show, which to be honest was not as thrilling as some have been in the past due to a lack of massive stars. But even though the show only had a few really big draws this time (Henry Winkler, Tab Hunter, Dean Cain and Barbara Hale (pictured) seemed to be the most wanted), it had a large number of people I was after for one reason or another.
Yet again, my buddy Ivan was my sidekick, taking pic-withs, shooting B-roll and obsessing over my hydration—I try not to eat or drink for these things until after all photo ops are done!
Right off the bat, my pal Roy from Baby Jane introduced me to Christopher Atkins, 51, of The Blue Lagoon (1980) fame. I can't be the only one for whom Chris was a teenage dream—he was all over the teen mags and was shirtless (and totally nude in TBL) in most of his movies. I'm not usually a blond-chaser, but he was just cute as a button.
Now, Chris is a handsome guy, supertanned because he's a nudist (life imitated art), and was very nice. He has done these shows before, bringing with him a stack of awesome original mini-posters from TBL of himself in a loin cloth pre-signed. But he also had a great folder of nudes to choose from. I went with a really beautiful Greg Gorman shot (above) in which he almost looks like Jon Bon Jovi (no?) and is showing off his best ASSet. When I asked him what it was like to work with Greg Gorman, he laughed and said he was working with him when he was just his friend Greg.
His daughter, an actress in her own right named Brittney (pictured), was right there to help with the transaction. If you think it must be an odd thing to sell men photos of your dad's butt and dick, you don't understand Hollywood and never will.
When I asked about his teenybopper-magazine memories, Chris's reaction was to exclaim, "I don't know where all that time went. Back then, it was...every day, it was another magazine." He told me he'd just been hanging out with Leif Garrett and his best friend Scott Baio (can you imagine?) and that he has movie nights with Scott all the time where Scott's wife digs out all the old teen mags with them on the cover and shows their daughter.
Next, we went for Henry Winkler, 66 (can you believe it?), who already had a decent line even before the regular attendees had entered (I always pop for "early-bird" admission, an hour before). He'd been set to attend the last show but bailed, so I'd mailed him my vintage photo to sign and he'd returned it signed, "Matt is great!" It was a great way to make me feel I was in third grade again.
But I wanted an in-person autograph and of course a pic-with, so we braved the line. In no time, we were up to him and he was being pulled in various directions. I seem to have a knack for attracting people who line-jump and try to infringe upon my experience with the stars. It's so annoying. You're only with them a minute or less and yet there are always people walking up who just wanna shake their hand or say hi or who once worked with them.
That happened, but I think the real reason Winkler wasn't especially warm to me (and he wasn't) was that my buddy Ivan was filming him and was spotted immediately. Some stars care, some don't. Winkler seemed on the fence. He signed my photo but it was all very business-like. Another friend had asked him to give the Fonzie "thumbs-up" in their photo and he'd refused. He was also asked about getting a business address for one of his celeb friends and replied, "No." Wasn't a prick, just wasn't all hugs. And hey, he has no reason to do these shows—it's a total gift to fans. A gift that costs money, but a gift.
Next we queued up for Tab Hunter, who just turned 81. Tab was bright-eyed and very sweet to everyone who approached him, very conversational. Too, in my case, because an elderly lady came right up as we were beginning to speak and reminded him they'd worked together. She turned to me and said, "You wanna take our picture and send it to me?", pressing her card into my hand. So I agreed to do just that and then waited while they kibbutzed. "We're lucky," he told her, presumably meaning, "...to still be alive."
When I got my moment with Tab, I congratulated him on his book (that I semi-hated when it came out—oops! Wow, that review is really spiteful...), which he seemed to like. I asked him what he left out, but he wasn't really playful on this point, "There are things you talk about and things I don't think you really need to talk about," he told me earnestly. "In a book..." I suggested, but he wasn't having it. "No, or in life." So that put the kibosh on asking if Tony Perkins ranked as a bottom on a scale from "1" to "Norrrrman!"
I did tell him I was glad he'd come out, which he took in stride. He seems to be quite conservative for a reportedly horse-hung blond surfer type who must have had a hell of a ride on Hollywood back in the day. He was very classy and certainly all there—when I showed him a vintage shot Roy had sold me, he remembered it was taken on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques during the 1955 filming of a movie called Battle Cry.
I wound up getting only one pro shot this trip, and it was with Tab, so my distaste for his book must be all forgotten by me. I told him, "Now I know what Divine felt like!" Who can forget his appearances with Divine in both Polyester (1981) and Lust in the Dust (1985)?
Across the way, I spotted Diff'rent Strokes star Todd Bridges, 47, the last remaining kid from the show even if both the father (Conrad Bain, 89) and two of the housekeepers (Charlotte Rae, 86; Mary Jo Catlett, 73) are still alive. ("Adelaide," Nedra Volz, died at 94 in 2003). He looks great and was supernice, reacting with excitement when I showed him the vintage photo I had for him to sign.
"That was my bedroom, man, when I was a kid, dude!" he said of the shot, showing him sitting in what I had thought to be a kid's room set. He took a photo of it and told us it had been in Canoga Park.
Next was Dallas stud Leigh McCloskey, 57, another teen heartthrob who'd brightened many a Tiger Beat page in the '80s. He looks really different, but handsome as hell. I didn't have anything vintage for him to sign, so I told him I had to rely on the photos he'd brought. I chose the only shirtless shot. "Putting all my cards on the table," I noted. He didn't react, so I wasn't sure if he was uncomfortable with gay fans hitting on his '80s body. Tiger Beating off with Leigh McCloskey
After he signed, I came back around for a photo and asked him about his teen-mag years, which he told me were fun but "strange" when he came out of them. I saw he'd signed "Blessings" on my photo so snap-judged that he might be an Evangelical type. How wrong I was—if anything, he seems really New Age judging by his work as a visual artist and philosopher. Wish I'd researched him before the show—he seems like he'd be a killer conversationalist with a great interior as well as a great posterior. I mean exterior.
Tracey Gold, 43, once starred in a show I almost never watched, Growing Pains. And as we know, he co-star Kirk Cameron has since grown to be a real pain. When I went up to her and thanked her for speaking out in favor of gay rights and against Kirk's agenda, she said, "There's no way I wasn't gonna say somethin'!"
She didn't seem geeked to talk on and on about that, but brightened at the way- early photo I brought of her as a very gawky kiddo from the 1979 Shirley Jones series Shirley. (I wonder where Shirley Jones stands on gay rights?) Great chick. I feel much sillier getting autographs from people my age and feel vaguely fraudulent when I get autographs from people whose shows or movies I'm not overly familiar with (my friend Gordon recently wrote me, "There once was a boy who longed to have an autograph from one of the last surviving Gone With the Wind actors without ever having seen the movie," because I have confessed to never seeing the entire thing even though I was sad I didn't get Ann Rutherford's autograph before she passed away). But I'm gonna support my supporters!
I had met Carol Connors, 72, at a previous, non-paid event, but couldn't pass up getting another photo with her as well as a personalized autograph. Just as plucky as can be, the writer of the themes from both Rocky and Orca (as well as Rocky's famous "Gonna Fly") dished a bit when we asked her if she felt Phil Spector—with whom she'd worked in her girl group The Teddy Bears—was a genius.
"He was. He is," she asserted. "I mean, I'm not gonna talk about the trial and everything, but in the sphere of music, Phil Spector was a genius." She didn't want to discuss the trial, but she didn't mind calling out his "9,000 wigs." Really vivacious. Could be Charlene Tilton's child-bride mother.
Sixty-three-year-old Susan Blakely was just arriving so I believe I popped her autograph-show cherry that day. She still looks stunning and gamely told me all about the aging makeup used on her in her Rich Man, Poor Man role, when she was playing 40 in her twenties. She was eager to be contacted on Twitter, so please don't let her down—I won't.
Steven Bauer, now 55, always was a hot piece. As a daddy, he still works for me. Who can forget him in Thief of Hearts (1984), a movie that should have handed out paper towels with each ticket sold? Sexxxy enough to knock up Melanie Griffith, pre-surgical take-over—I mean, make-over.
He's probably better known for Scarface (1983), but I was surprised to see he had uncredited roles in Valley Girl (1983) (keep reading!) and Body Double (1984), the latter of which he said was a very strange set and which he recently re-watched. (I could watch that movie over and over. Wanna come over now? I'll be like half-way through it anytime any time you stop by.)
Steven was really nice and when he realized I wanted a photo of just him as well as with him, he assumed that meant I needed a picture of him signing his autograph. So he posed as if signing the already-signed photo and looked up at me devilishly. Actor!
Nancy Kwan, 73, is a member of an elite group of actors from the tail end of Hollywood's Golden Age, and she's an elegant representative of that dwindling group. The Golden Globe winner (for 1960's The World of Suzie Wong) was a real golden girl, holding court at her table next door to cackling buddies Jeanne Cooper and Barbara Hale—more on those delightful broads later.
Nancy graciously signed a photo for me and for my friend Greg, remarking on the vintage shot I'd brought that she was "12!" when it was taken.
Brandon Cruz just turned 50 and looks sharp. He was all alone at his table (meaning no helper), so we kept him company for a few minutes. He recognized the photo I presented him with as having been shot during the series pilot for The Courtship of Eddie's Father, a show that I used to find mesmerizingly moody and ponderous. He said anything good about it had been due to the writers and to the adult actors, saying he'd just been told to be himself—a kid. Which he did.
He went on to say that nobody ever has an unkind word to say about his late co-star Bill Bixby, that Michael Landon had inherited that title (well, I can think of a few bad things to say!) and that Henry Winkler is the current title-holder. Apparently, Cruz had been taken to the Happy Days set when that show was first filming and made friends with Winkler, whom he told, "You guys've really got something here!" Good taste, considering Happy Days ran as long as the '50s did.
Charles Shaughnessy, 57, is an alum of one of my all-time favorite TV shows (Top 20?), The Nanny. He's gorgeous, of course. He reacted to his vintage soap-days photo by saying, "Who is that handsome devil?" He said The Nanny was "a fun show" and mentioned that he marvels at the thought that the kids on it now have kids themselves.
He later cock-blocked me with Barbara Hale, but only for a moment—so I forgive him.
Doing Rip Taylor, 78, and Johnny Whitaker, 52, turned out to take a bit of effort. They were seated together because they co-starred in a Saturday-morning fave of mine, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973), but they're clearly good friends. (I think both are gay but neither—no, not even Rip—is formally out.) So when I showed rip a truly eye-popping 1950s photo of himself from his touring days, he did a jaw-drop move and mouthed, "Where did you get this?" noting, "It's my own hair!"
Rip wanted to show Johnny, who was in the middle of a lengthy conversation with a superfan ("...yes, it was a tragedy," the former addict/current drug counselor was saying, obviously discussing his Family Affair co-star Anissa Jones's O.D. death), so Rip insisted we go get it scanned for him after it proved really hard to photograph.
We left and had lunch with our friends, then returned. I hadn't had it scanned but figured I could get it scanned and have his signature PhotoShopped out and e-mail it to him (which I did) so told him a white lie, which got him to sign it. When I asked for a photo with him, he said, "Hurry up!" so I did and we got a nice shot. He was in a better mood for my friend Don, handing him a bubblegum-colored letter "I" and saying, "Now I've given you pink eye!"
Rip was perfectly fine to me, but an elderly friend told me, "He's what we used to call an ASSHOLE." (No offense intended to Rip. My elderly friend is what we used to call hard to win over.)
He proceeded to give us a hilarious demonstration on video of all the various types of double-takes Mary taught him how to do while guesting on Sigmund (at 1:35):
Johnny signed his 45 single "Friends" (made when he was about 14, yet his shirt was open on the sleeve and his firecrotch spread in a pair of skintight jeans...ah, the '70s!) without batting an eye and then signed my Sigmund shot, even offering to sign for Sigmund. He's authorized because he owns 7% of the show! Good for him—I really hope some money is still coming in from that bizarre thing.
As I was leaving, I realized he'd forgotten to charge me. "Don't give it away!" I warned. He sat down, looked back up and me and winked, "I have—many times!" Jody!
I was terrified to approach Valley of the Dolls star Barbara Parkins, 70, because I'd heard she was difficult and didn't do photos. As we got closer, a guy was explaining that the autograph he wanted was for Sharon Tate's sister Debra, which she signed gratis, so that seemed promising. When I asked her helper, it turned out she was happy to do pic-withs, though she did cover her face with her hair and shriek when Ivan appeared to come in way too close. (He wasn't too close; my camera can be an inch from your face and still do head-and-shoulders.)
She saw my cleavage shot I wanted sign and said, "Oh! Boobies!" and laughed.
I asked her about her lesbian-themed episode of Hotel, to which she said, "What?" and then, "A series called Hotel?" Her helper had to name-drop co-star Carol Lynley before she remembered. As my friend Jeff—who'd sent me to get an autograph for him—said, she did do a LOT of TV in her life!
"She's a lesbian [said to sort of rhyme with "comedienne"] and she wants to get back with me," she remembered. "They wanted me to give her a kiss and I said, 'No, I will not,' because...that's not what I would do. So I tweaked her toes."
From here: Just for the record, neither woman is gay in real life!
Comparing this story to the story Carol Lynley told me at an earlier show ("I'm not gay!"), I have to say—they definitely had some hang-ups about that tame episode of Hotel!
She was really nice, though, proving rumors wrong. I like our photo together. It's now framed with an endless loop of k.d. lang's version of the Dolls theme playing in the background. (Not really. But I like it.)
Dallas dudes Ken Kercheval, 77, and Steve Kanaly, 66, were sweet. Kercheval marveled at the hardhat photo of him I selected because he apparently never sells it but had sold it al day that day.
Kanaly pointed out in the vintage shot of him I'd brought that his character on the show was never not seen in a plaid, long-sleeved shirt. And he'd come with two to wear that weekend at the show, too.
Alex Meraz, from The Twilight Saga, is only 27 so was the youngest person there aside from a dog. I told him I'd worked with him a bit for the teen mag I used to edit and he was very personable. The photo he signed, in which he's flashing his abs, made for a great signature. Gulp! Something about seeing your name written on a young gut-minus.
Debi Storm, now in her early fifties, looks fantastic. She played "Molly Webber" on an unforgettable Brady Bunch episode, the one in which her awkward character All About Eves Marcia, accepting a free transformation and then duking it out with Marcia for a spot on the cheerleading squad. How many times have I seen that?
Debi was selling original headshots from her collection, so I chose the most "Molly"-esque shot possible, which she signed beautifully. She told us she'd been in the running to play "Jan," and that the producers had an entire set of blondes and an entire set of brunettes for all the kids, ultimately going with the blondes.
Probably the most fun I had all day was mock-dogging Gerard Christopher, 53, the drop-dead sexy star of The New Adventures of Superboy and a one-time model. As I approched him, some gays were having him sign revealing swimsuit photos, but none were for sale at his booth. "Are you crazy?" I teased him. "Where is all the shirtless stuff?" He laughed and played along, telling me he had a bathing-suit shot in the car...? I demanded he go get it and sure enough, he did.
He came back and we talked about how he'd worked with brilliant beefcake/fashion/art photog Ken Haak, something of which he is and should be proud.
Later, I dragged all my gays back and told him, with a straight face, "We want a picture with you with your shirt off—would you be more comfortable outside or in the men's room?" He cracked up and said he never posed with anyone "taller or more hung" than he is, but he did just that and took our $20—even if we didn't force him to disrobe.
Unfortunately, my Gerard Christopher memories were marred because as game as he was in the moment, a woman who was standing with him and helping to take the cash wrote me angrily to demand I remove the video I took because she appeared in it and she didn't "want to be associated with that type of content." She said Gerard felt the same, then said "regardless" as if perhaps she were overreaching, and demanded I remove it. She had already complained to YouTube before even asking me, too. I removed it because I'm not trying to upset anyone, but it was upsetting to me what a big deal she made. A lot of people feel they have an absolute right to not be photographed or filmed, which actually isn't the case. But regardless, I complied. Superbummer.
I quickly snagged Deborah Foreman, 49, because how could I not get the star of Valley Girl? And how could that movie be rapidly approaching the 30-year mark?
I saved the oldest stars for last!
Jeanne Cooper, 83, just released a juicy memoir and was having a great time gossiping with a steady stream of fans. She was bantering with her table-neighbor (and former co-star) Barbara Hale, 90. Typical exchange: "They used to make me work with HER!"—Barbara, "They PAID me to work with HER!"—Jeanne. It was hilarious.
Jeanne gave me a signed bookmark and a great photo and told me she was proud her book was high on the Barnes & Noble sales charts considering it was "my first effort" in the field. I love that someone who's 83 is speaking like she's a new author and there will be tons more books to come—that's a great attitude.
Jeanne chatting with my pal Michael Stern, the ultimate Lucille Ball fan
The Barbara Hale line took forever because she was gaily gabbing with everyone and made each and every autograph lengthy and personal. The funniest thing was that when she missed the last show, I mailed her my totally unique glamour photo I'd found—vintage, unusual—and she'd never sent it back. I told my friends, "I bet she'll have copies of it for sale this time." And sure enough, she did. It was pretty annoying, because it was an expensive photo and I just know that whoever does her mail found it and copied it. Which is fine, but...send me back the original, dear! I even enclosed an SASE.
But hey, she's 90 and as nice as can be, so what am I gonna do, bitch her out or enjoy meeting her? I did the latter.
We got right up to her when a man whipped out about 20 vintage posters or more for her to sign. It took probably 30 minutes. When he left, the line applauded. Then came my flamboyant and highly memorable pal Brian. Then came Charles Shaughnessy. So when I got to her, I said, "How can I follow the guy with all the posters, the flamboyant guy and Charles Shaughnessy??? Here," and jokingly dropped her photo to sign with no fanfare. She laughed and said I was just great (which she then wrote).
She was a doll, and stood up for each pic-with, too.
Speaking of the older girls, I got some funny Ann Rutherford gossip from a source close to her. She was apparently quite salty, even if she "acted like a nun" around certain Hollywood doyennes. At a big event in the '80s, she'd left her seat to use the bathroom when Virginia Mayo plopped into it. Her friend told Mayo that the seat was held and Mayo replied, "I didn't see anyone there. If I move, I can't see the stage." Finally, she left. When Rutherford returned and heard what had gone on, she said, "Don't worry—Virginia Mayo always was a cunt."
The other Rutherford dish was that she'd been a close pal of Michael Jackson's, and was defending him to her circle during the abuse charges. "So he sucked a dick, so what?" she insisted. When she was told, "Ann, the dick he sucked was 10!" she paused and then shrugged, "Well..." That's the kinda stuff you don't hear about at Gone With the Wind conventions.
Before leaving, I couldn't resist trying on Madonna's robe from Body of Evidence. Roy also owns the (spoiler alert!) bloodied blouse from that movie, but I didn't try it on for fear it would fit in the front.
I also had to have a pic with soap actor Francisco San Martin, who is about to shoot a part as some Liberace finger-food in that Michael Douglas biopic. He was helping a friend at a table and was only to happy to oblige:
I missed getting Tom Hatten, 84, who was in the crowd but who could've had a table. A TV host and actor, he was recognized by Ivan, who spoke to him briefly. Weirdly, I watched the Joan Crawford creaker I Saw What You Did (1965) when I got back to NYC, and later realized Hatten was in it.
Also cool was my trip to the flea market, where I found a slew of vintage autographs, some from the collection of an army guy who had nekkid pictures of his wife, olden-days swinger mags and then signatures of guys into guns (Jock Mahoney, George Montgomery), and some from the collection of a pro shooter named Bill Berkheiser. The latter contained great sigs from Joel Higgins, Gregory Harrison and Lorenzo Lamas—special faves of mine—as well as a terrific Paul Newman signed letter to Bill and non-personalized, signed photo. Probably the most interesting stuff I've found at a flea market in ages.
All in all, a fun time, even if some of the stars there were people I already had, like Dean Cain. My friend Brian wound up getting Dean to let him pick him up for a photo—if you haven't seen a 6'4" fan hoisting Dean Cain into the air, you ain't seen nothin' yet: