From Show Biz to Sunday School
By Sharon Leann Wyatt aka Sharon Leigh
LINDA AND THE BARROOM BRAWL (Part Two)
A candy glass window was getting a paint touch up. Stunt girls were putting on their flat shoes. One diminutive stuntman was dressed as a saloon girl; he obviously was going to do some specialty stunt he was known for. The director was overseeing everything very carefully. And there stood Linda and I, who had still not been given any directions.
We began to wonder if we were even needed on this set. But time, and the script would tell differently. The director spotted us and headed over with a broad smile on his face. “And my two beauties, this is what you will be doing when the action starts. First off, you will be flirting with the two principals,” something I found that I was very adept at. Then he added. “Linda, when the fight starts you will hoist yourself up on the bar, grab a bottle and hit the stuntmen on the head with it.” Linda tried to explain the bar seemed too high for her to gracefully execute the move, and offered some suggestions that may have been of value. But the director said, “You can do it Linda.” So Linda walked in on the set and stood at her designated spot at the long high ornate oak bar. The director, then begin to give me my directions. “Now, Sharon, you will be sitting on the bar, when the fight starts, Doug McClure will lift you off and put you on the steps, be
careful of the stuntman who will be falling down the stairs, be sure and duck from any flying objects, and do not be in the line of gunfire, as we do not want to kill you off. So just act as you would if you were in a real situation such as this.”
The entire cast assembled on the set for a “walk-through.” No one did any actual stunts, we just moved from one place to another. No props were touched no one touched anyone else either. Then the director said it was time to do the real thing, and that he would like very much to do it in one take, and that was up to each and every one of us to do our own parts perfectly. This would also keep accidents from happening, and anyone from getting hurt.
The scene was “chalked up,” and sound and speed of film set, then the director said, “action!” The music, on a honky-tonk piano began to play, and all sorts of motion began. Doug McClure began his scene with me. We flirted back and forth, while he sipped a beer, (yes, beer is authentic, but what is supposed to be liquor is tea or coffee, depending on the color they want). On Doug’s cue, he lifted me from the bar and set me on the staircase, tipping his hat, and set about to do his part in the melee. Doug was cute, in a boyish sort of way. He was one of those properties, at Universal Studios, that the powers-that-be had very high hopes for. He had a very casual view of life, and seemed to enjoy playing his guitar and singing country-western music, his favorite being “King Of The Road,” which he sang incessantly. Other than that, he was never offensive, and did his work.
Meanwhile, back on the set! The brawl continued at a furious pace. Bodies flew in all direction, and props were breaking left and right. “Oufs” and groans filled the air, and the camera rolled on. The director smiled with sheer delight as the well thought out scene progressed.
It was Linda’s cue to placed herself up on the bar, the camera was well on her, and a key light lit her beautifully. She placed her hands on the chest high bar that she was standing with her back to, Linda got a good grip, and begin to do as she was directed. The awkward position of her arms, due to the height of the bar, made her look ungraceful as she tried to lift herself up, and her first effort was an abysmal failure. Undaunted, she gave it another go, this effort was even more noticeable than the one before, because the feather in her hair flopped over to one side. Once again Linda gave it her all, (continued next month)