From Showbiz to Sunday School
By Sharon Wyatt
THE LIMO SCARE (part two)
We were placed so far away from the camera, that we were being given our directions by a third assistant director. The camera was perched on a boom, about two blocks away, and would follow the action from high up in the sky.
The assistant didn’t tell us anything of what was taking place, but we were to cross the street as soon as we could see the camera clear the top of a particular building. There was no rehearsal, that wasn’t too unusual. But from our location we had no idea if what was happening was being shot or not. Far off in the distance, we heard the director yell out action over the bullhorn. So we watched for the camera to rise up over the roof of a brick façade. When it came into view we started our jaunt across the street.
Danger, real danger, was headed for us at about seventy miles per hour. Adrenaline and confusion swept over us. Was this in the script or what? We were not given directions on how to act. Then reality took over, and not too soon, for a black limo was only a few yards from us. The stunt driver hit the brakes, and did everything he could to miss us. Everything happened so fast, the car stopped only inches from Linda, who had fortunately leaped or she would have been a hit for certain. I was barely clear of the car myself. The instant the car stopped, out popped three of Hollywood’s most accomplished stunt men. Their genuine concern and attention was quite appreciated by two pretty shook up girls. The consolation didn’t last too long, for the director was quickly on the scene. From his vantage point, it appeared to be much more of a disaster than it really was.
When he saw that we were all right, he began to read us the riot act, for having been in the way. Neither of us were so weak that we couldn’t stand up to him instantly and inform him that we were doing as we were directed by his number three man. The assistant was very much on the defensive, and attempted to lie, saying that he never told us to cross the street. Well, that was all Linda and I needed, and we immediately became indignant. How dare he resort to such fabrications, then others came to bear us out. The burden of proof was once again the responsibility of the third assistant. When the debate was over, the stuntman returned to our sides and continued to comforting us. The driver, whom I considered a true hero for the way he handled the car, even when the brakes locked, was Chuck Courtney. He had been a child star turned stunt man, and what a darling he was. In the future he and I dated some and would become good friends.
The crisis began to settle down and Linda and I went over to stand on the curb. We looked back on the scene, and started to laugh hysterically. There, directly in front of the car, facing in two different directions were Linda’s high heels. The punch line of this is, “she didn’t know which way to run.”
There were the good old days when anyone could get a job, anyone at all! At least it seemed that way when I recall some of the characters that made crosses with me. No I’m not referring to religious work, but quite literally making crosses in the background going back and forth. Many times in some production, usually a television show on a low budget, they would hire 10 people to represent 200. I’d walk across the screen, removed my coat and return immediately to walk back across the screen. Change something on that side of the camera and go again. This monotony was not necessarily the exception, but rather the rule. Nothing has changed I still see the same tactics used today. But to get back to the unusual array of extra talent, I shall begin with Betty. She was also known as the “cat woman,” are you ready for the reason? She had more than 125 cats! Talk about a cat house! Forgive the cheap joke. Anyway, the first time I was employed on the same show with Betty, we were on location at Orange County Airport, now known as John Wayne Airport. I was a stewardess and Betty was a passenger. The job was for us to mill around in the terminal, and “look busy.” I was on a silent bit that day so I felt good about the situation.
( continued next month 77)