Just for the hell of it, I’m going to post random stories that aren’t in Late Bloomer.
My book, while fairly thorough, skipped around some and I left a lot of tidbits out. Some by accident; I simply forgot them. John has reminded me of a few I wish I’d included. I’ll write up some of those at times, when the mood strikes. Others I omitted because I didn’t want the book to be overlong.
One friend said I should have put in a lot more Hollywood stuff: stars I’d met, people who came to our house, etc. I chose to keep that to a minimum. Why? For one thing, I thought too much name-dropping would be kind of obnoxious and detract from the story. For another, we’re talking about another time — celebrities from 40-50 years ago. If I mentioned some of these people, at least two-thirds of my readers wouldn’t know who the hell I’m talking about.
For example, any of you remember Gig Young?
Didn’t think so.
Gig Young was a suavely handsome actor who did movies in the 1940s through the early 70s. He could do both comedy and drama and he was quite talented, but he never made it to leading man. He was always the second banana, the sidekick, the co-worker, the best friend. He was one of those actors you knew you’d seen before, but you couldn’t remember his name.
Here he is in some pictures from a popular episode of Twilight Zone:
Yeah, I know… what kind of a stupid name is “Gig”? Again, remember the time. Back then, actors had names like Rock, Tab and Skip.
He was married five times, including to Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched.
In 1969, he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in a dark little film called They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? But after that, his career declined.
In the early 70s when I was living with my dad, he had a friend who was a chef and owned an Italian restaurant in what was then the Beverly-Comstock Hotel (today, it’s the Beverly Hills Plaza Hotel). We went to this restaurant all the time, gorged on mountains of pasta and hung out talking with other patrons. On any given night, you could find Gig Young sitting off by himself at a table, chain-smoking and drinking himself into a stupor.
One night, my dad and I were there, along with the daughter of one of Dad’s oldest friends (coincidentally, she too was named Erica). After we ate, at Dad’s lead, we got up and went to join Gig at his table. He was charming, in a slurry drunk sort of way.
Don’t know if you guys have ever noticed this, but a lot of times, intoxicated people will say the most mundane things and think they are profound, amusing, or profoundly amusing. My father, who’d had his share that night, said out of nowhere, “How many other tables do you think there are in the world right now, with two Ericas sitting at them?” Uh… Dunno, Dad. Didn’t give it much thought, really.
He then lifted his glass, gestured to include Gig, and added, “Or how about two Ericas and a Gig?”
I decided to cut him off. “I don’t know, Dad, but I gurantee that nowhere in the universe is another table with two Ericas, an Everett and a Byron.” My father’s birth name was Everett. And Gig Young’s real name was Byron Elsworth Barr.
Everyone snickered, especially Gig, tickled that I knew that bit of trivia. I’d out-profounded my father, and I wasn’t even drunk.
When it came time to leave, Dad got up and gave Gig a man-hug and a clap on the back. He then turned away to help the other Erica on with her jacket, so I reached up to give Gig a hug too. And he very quickly shoved his booze-pickled tongue in my mouth.
Shame on you, Byron. I was 15, for heaven’s sake. I didn’t tell my dad, though. I was already well aware that people do weird things when they’re plastered.
So whatever happened to jolly old Gig Young? In 1978, three weeks after marrying his fifth wife, he shot her to death, then turned the gun on himself. He was 64.
Yup, fun Hollywood stories! But people do enjoy them, I suppose. John is always fascinated with my celebrity stories. His one brush with fame was meeting Buddy Ebsen once, when his family went sailing. Apparently Jed Clampett had a boat too.
Oh, and a side story about that restaurant. For a while, a maitre d’ worked there — a young man (20s) with a loud voice, an overabundance of energy and wildly curly hair. He had a habit of telling people what they should and shouldn’t eat; I recall one time when he very pointedly told me that I would have been better off choosing a salad over the fettucini alfredo. (Yes, thank you, I know I’m chunky. Fuck off. I want my fettucini.)
Any guesses at who he turned out to be?
EDIT, 10/17: Karyn was the first to guess correctly — it was Richard Simmons.
One more bit of trivia about Gig Young. He was the first actor cast to play the Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles. However, he was replaced with Gene Wilder when he kept showing up to the set with DTs.