Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Not sure if it was the killer grin, the curly hair or the fact that Peter was the middle son. Either way, when I used to watch Brady Bunch reruns as a kid, Peter was always my favorite. Happy 55th Christopher Knight!
Check out more of today's birthdays HERE:
I didn't post on the 5th, but I wanted to note the birthday and loss of actor Jon-Erik Hexum. Jon would have turned 55 this week.
Back in 2007, when I first posted about Jon, blog reader Ferrariboy reccounted an exchange with Jon shortly before his death. Not sure how many of you read the comment section, so thought I would share it again here.
I was fortunate enough to meet Jon just before he died. It was on 6 October 1984, in New York City when he was a guest on the TV show FIVE AT FIVE at NBC in Rockefeller Center. At that time I was a photographer’s assistant, and went along to help carry heavy equipment. The foyer and lifts where absolutely crammed, so I decided to rather take the stairs up to the third floor. Big mistake!
Halfway up, I got stuck. Just then, a gent (more like a hunk, actually) in a black jacket and white trousers on his way down, offered to help me as he could see I was now blocking the rather narrow staircase. Turns out the gent in question was none other than Jon Eric Hexum, rushing to take a telephone call prior to the show and clearly also thinking the stairs would be quicker...
I recall him saying, "Here, let me help you get this thing outta the way before someone trips over you" in that deep macho voice. "Are you going up?", he asked pointing at the door he had just come out of. I nodded like a drooling zombie as he grabbed the one end of the bag. I was gob smacked! I just couldn't believe it! Jon Erik-Hexum was offering to help get me out the way! I was a fan, but this seemed almost surreal, like a dream or something! But worse was to come...
Hexum, you understand, had grabbed the bag and was going backwards and upwards while pulling it, so theoretically he only had to push the door at the top open to go through. But, as luck would have it, the damn thing seemed to be jammed. He tried to push it with his back (I recall him grumbling that it wouldn't open), but after a few attempts it suddenly gave way and he and the bag stumbled into the crowded 3rd floor foyer - with myself still in tow!
And then it happened. As if in slow mo, he suddenly let go of his grab of the bag - which swiftly ended up on his left foot, overhead lights and all! I just couldn't believe it! He grimaced as he pulled his foot free, but said he was ok. He looked over at me for a few seconds as if to say, "Hey man, what's your story?"
I was mortified! I apologized and shook his hand - as if that would have made things better! He simply said "I'll be fine, ta. See ya" and, smiling that million dollar grin, excused himself with "I must now take a telephone call" while at the same time gesticulating down the stairwell. He patted me on the shoulder and then promptly turned on his heels...
Needless to say, I was too embarrassed to move and just stood there motionless for a few seconds looking at the door and trying to take in what had just happened. For the rest of that evening I kept thinking that he'd be limping on the set of 'Cover Up'.
Days later, when I heard on the evening news on 18 October 1984 that Jon Erik-Hexum had died, I was totally shocked. I emediatly thought of that charming, handsome man I had met on the stairwell that evening and who was kind enough to help me with that damn bag while others simply passed by.
Yes, even to this day I still remember his face (albeit grimacing) as clear as if it were yesterday, and I am still filled with sorrow when I think that someone with such promise is gone forever, taken by the most stupid of mistakes. A real tragedy, and a terrible waste indeed… The well-known axiom “Only the beautiful die young” could easily have referred to Jon Eric Hexum. And I still haven't the heart to get rid of that old duffel bag. And why should I?
Love these shots with Heather Thomas from a swimsuit issue from an 80's issue of US Magazine. US Magazine was at one time a favorite magazine of mine to pic up in the late 80's and 90's before it morphed into the trash can worth US Weekly.
I have written before about my introduction to soap opera. Like many kids growing up in the eighties, each day I would get home from school, make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and join my mother in the rec room. By 3:30pm she was about half way through her stories (and about half way through a deck of smokes). My mothers shows were those on NBC, Days Of Our Lives, Another World and for a brief time Texas.
By the time I got home from School Days was over and by the time Texas began, I was usually bored and left the rec room to do something else. But, for a few years the 60, then 90 minutes of Another World were a bit part of my childhood. By the time I started watching, it's glory days were already starting to wane. Mac and Rachel were still on the show, but many of the shows biggest draws; Iris, Steve, Alice and Pat were gone.
I starting watching at about the age of seven or eight, but it was a few years later when I was about 11 or so that I became really drawn to Another World. The main reason was the addition of the incredible Anne Heche. When I was watching, Anne pretty much was the show, playing twins Vicky and Marley Love. Some of the hunks that roled through Another World while I watched were Richard Burgi, Paul Michael Valley, Russell Todd, Robert Kelker-Kelly, Hank Cheyne, David Forsyth and my favorite, Matt Crane (who I could not find a decent image of). I am not sure I have ever seen an actress so dynamic, and her dual roles, bad Marley wig and all, were compelling viewing. I am not sure I have enjoyed Heche in anything as much since and when she departed the soap in 1992, I stopped watching as well. I never again turned on the show, not even the finale episode.
Posting about today's birthday boy Christopher Knight reminded me of a post I have been meaning to write for awhile. Christopher spent a bit of time in Bay City himself in the early 80's. I had heard a lot about a book, Eight Years In Another World written by writer Harding Lemay. I had read a review which stated Lemay's account of his time with the show was the predominate book to read about television writing and about the behind the scenes drama of working on a daytime soap. I had hunted for Lemay's book for awhile, but it was hard to find. Online editions of the book were going for as high as $150. This summer, while vacationing on the beach, the crew I was with spent a Sunday morning hitting all the flea markets of the town we were staying in. Then, there on a table, between hard cover editions (who buys those anymore...) of John Grisham and James Patterson was the book. The jacket cover was stained and yellow, but the book in great shape. For two dollars, I had found a bargain.
I have always had dreams of being a writer. I have several novels saved on disks and many story ideas all saved in a folder. I have always dreamed what it might be like to create a television drama with a family like The Ewing's or The Sopranos. Daytime television also fascinates me, there is something so interesting about it as depicted in movies, especially Tootsie. The attention and pressure it must take to juggle 30 or so characters to create five, one hours shows a week seems almost overwhelming. Something the former playwright Lemay all too quickly found out. Born and raised in Maine, Lemay's childhood has been described as 'beset by dire poverty, domestic strife, and overcrowding.' This led Lemay to leave Maine shortly after graduation and head to New York to become an actor.
'The year was 1939, the year of the Worlds' Fair in New York City, a year which was still reeling from the effects of the Great Depression, and a year that saw war raging in Europe. With few qualifications for employment, he managed to find lodging at the Brace Memorial Home For Vagrant Boys, an institution dating from the Civil War when orphaned boys roamed the streets. Without strong guidance, these boys became a menace to respectable citizens. The Brace Home gave them a roof, food, and even provided them with job placement so they could earn a salary and improve their lot in life. He worked in a library, returning books to the shelves, and met a librarian who assigned him a classic book a week to read. She would discuss the book with him. This was like having a private tutor.'
'As luck would have it, he was invited to attend a party where he met the brilliant Broadway star, Pauline Lord, who just happened to be a Trustee of the Neighborhood Playhouse. Through her recommendation he received a full scholarship without an audition. After three months at the Playhouse he was drafted and served the next four years in the army, eventually in Germany. When he returned, he completed his training at the Playhouse on the G. I. Bill. His classmates included wonderful actresses like Marian Seldes, Barbara Baxley, and Anne Meacham (whom he later cast as Louise Goddard in ANOTHER WORLD). It was while he was on a forty week tour as Jack in "The Importance of Being Earnest" that he realized he wasn't a very good actor and began writing plays. That was his true calling. Since that time, he has had many plays produced both here and abroad and is currently working on a new one.'
In 1971, Lemay wrote his autobiography, 'Inside, Looking Out: A Personal Memoir'. Impressed with his writing, Proctor and Gamble who sponsored Another World quickly began to court Lemay to join their show. This is where the story gets interesting, and this is where I should stop and let the book pick up. I will tell you that Lemay does not hold back, speaking honestly about the business, the network and the actors. I especially love reading how he pushed out actors he felt could not act (even huge fan favorites) while trying to focus on story with actors who knew how take the words off the page and bring them to life.
I especially loved reading about how the family's and characters of Bay City became so apart of his life, sometimes obsessively, and often making it impossible to focus on his real family. If you love television, are interesting in the writing process, I encourage you to try to find the book!
When profiling actress Jami Gertz the other day, I was surprised in my research that her first role was in the Franco Zeffirelli film Endless Love (1981). I never saw Endless Love until finding a VHS copy about 10 years ago. Although Obsessed as a kid at getting my hands on a copy of Blue Lagoon (for la Atkins), this Brooke Shields film never had the same effect.
Brooke Shields, the person, always interested me. Her hair, her celebrity persona, her Calvin Klein ads. Brooke Shields, the actress, never held the same appeal. Although slightly more skilled at comedy, Shields is simply just not that great an actress, something that sadly has not changed as she has gotten older. I know she continues to work, but I think she is still riding off the fumes of her child star years...
I am going to have to track down another copy of Endless Love to see if I might have missed something. I barely remember the film or it's plot. I do remember Martin Hewitt's beautiful face and body however, which is why I had to hunt down some caps (thanks annoyedchris) to take a look back. If I see anything different in a second viewing I will be sure to report back..