Do Stars Really Twinkle (Part Two)
Linda and I stopped in our tracks, hardly able to believe our eyes. Surely he wouldn’t remain there while the tram pass by? But he did! And even though the tram passed within only a few feet of him, on what is a narrow street, he nonchalantly acted as though it weren’t there at all. But as soon as it passed, he dismounted the hood and went back into his dressing room.
Curiosity got the best of us, and we waited a few minutes until another tram was on its way. And so another started up the hill, and Linda and I stood at our outlook waiting to see if what we expected would indeed come to fruition. Right on cue, Peter bounded out of his dressing room, and lit upon the hood changing the pose ever so slightly. The two of us were almost too astonished to believe our eyes, but the rest of the day, looking at Peter was for us a most amusing thing. I guess that some stars really did try to “twinkle.” And perhaps his desire to be seen as such is why he is still working, while others more recluse ‘stars’ are not.
It was one of the directors on Laredo that I would one evening see across the driveway from my mother’s kitchen into our rental next door. The curtains were not drawn, and I saw a familiar face, as he stood before the window in polka-dotted shorts and not much else. I turned quickly away, as this was not what I wished to see. Less than a week later Linda and I were on the Laredo set and lo and behold who should be the director, but our neighbor’s nocturnal visitor. I smiled at the man, and whispered “love those polka dotted shorts.” Linda and I both made money that day. I guess theses things can work both ways.
Another western Linda and I worked on, more often than not was “The Virginian.” This too was filmed at Universal, the television division was called Revue Studios, but it was all the same lot. The Virginia had its share of characters as well, but these were more of the rodeo type, and not the city-slicker-gone-country type that were some of the cases on Laredo.
Either shows I enjoyed working on, as there was rarely a dull moment. One actor on the Virginian that was always amusing was Clu Guligar. Linda’s first experience with him was as a stand in for the female principle on the show. Norma Cobb was the usual stand in but she was also a stunt-woman, and this day she would be doing stunts, so Linda was called to be the stand in. Norma warned Linda that Clu was very married, but loved to embarrass the ladies. The best way to halt his constant propositions was to threaten to take him up on them. His efforts were usually unwanted, but as Linda was told he was fairly harmless. He would try to steal a kiss, or tell you how beautiful you were, and if that didn’t get your attention or embarrass you enough, he’d switch over to what his real name, supposedly, was. In my case it was Sammy Strange Squirrel. I remember going over to Linda to tell her what I had just learned about Clu, and she said, that’s funny, last week he told me his name was “Little Bad Dog!”
At this time he kept moving his chair closer to Linda, she would move hers’ away and on it would go, as he whispered what he desired to do to her. Finally the director called action, Norma did what was called for which was being thrown from her horse. Then as they set up for the next shot, Linda took Norma’s place on the ground, laying on her back as the stand-in. Suddenly Clu ran up and threw himself on top of Linda. To which Linda replied “well Clu, it’s about time I’ve been waiting for you, lets get it on.” Now it was Clu that was embarrassed, and he quickly got up. And all had a roaring good laugh at Clu’s expense.
On another day Clu made his way over to the two of us, and started another line, which would, as they did, ended with a “proposition.” It was time to shoot, and the opening scene would be on the star of the show, the Virginian himself, James Drury. Bless his heart, he had a bit of a weight problem, that would have been just fine for a character actor, but not at all what the studio had envisioned for the leading man. So, it was at these times of overindulgence that James would don the corset, the studio provided. Such devices were not that unusual for some actors.
(continued next month)