Friday, February 1, 2008

True Hollywood Story

We saw Charlie Wilson’s War on Saturday. It wasn’t our first choice, but we ended up really liking it. Ned Beatty made a brief appearance as a committee chair in the House, and my husband had to hear for at least the third time about how I met Mr. Beatty when I was 12.

We were in Wildwood, New Jersey for the weekend, and as we were walking down the boardwalk, we were approached by a man with a clipboard. Were the three of us (myself; my sister, then 11; and a 10-year-old neighbor we’d brought with us) interested in appearing in a scene in a movie that was being filmed? My mom was immediately suspicious, but the man walked us over to a booth at Morey’s Pier and we all saw that he wasn’t kidding…there were cameras and equipment everywhere, and Robert Hays, who was starring, was about 8 feet away from us. The man told us that Ned Beatty was the other lead; now, my mom was really impressed. Our job was to play a game at the booth while Hays and Beatty shot a scene in front of us; we were background. My mom signed the release (she signed on our friend’s behalf too. At first they weren’t going to permit her to be part of the scene since she didn’t have a parent on hand to sign the release, but seeing a 10-year-old girl fighting tears of disappointment was too much for the director; he allowed my mom to talk him into putting her in the scene, too.) We did the scene 3 or 4 times, and ran back to my waiting parents when the director thanked us and sent us on our way.

My dad asked if we’d talked to Ned Beatty, and we said no, we just did what they asked us to do…none of us really knew anything about Ned Beatty (Deliverance was his best-known role at that time, and naturally, none of us had seen it); we were more impressed with Robert Hays, who was cute and had been on TV shows that we’d seen (Airplane hadn’t come out yet). My dad wanted me to go back and get Ned Beatty’s autograph, and I finally agreed to run over there and approach him. This wasn’t an easy assignment for me; I was not an outgoing child, and the idea of approaching any strange adult, much less a movie star, was horrifying to me. But I didn’t want to disappoint my parents, so I walked back over to the pier, where the director was talking with Beatty. I waited until they were finished, and Beatty turned around and was right in front of me. I almost lost my nerve, but I managed to stammer “Mr. Beatty?”

Yes, he said without looking down at me

Um, well, I was in that scene? With the balloon game? And I wanted to see if I could have your autograph?

He looked at me then…YOU want my autograph? Well, I’ll be damned…little girls don’t usually even recognize me…I feel like a Bay City Roller. Sure, do you have some paper?

Of course I didn’t; I was 12 and at the beach…but there were some napkins on a concession stand, so Beatty grabbed one, asked me my name, and scribbled his autograph. I thanked him and ran back to my family, waving my napkin, and my parents were almost as excited as I was…not just because of the autograph, but because they couldn’t believe I’d summoned the nerve to ask for it.

My dad looked at the napkin, and cracked up…it said “Dear Claire. It was nice meeting you. Please don’t blow your nose on this. Best Wishes, Ned Beatty”

I’ve Googled Hays and Beatty, and the only thing I can find that they appeared in together was this. The carnival worker part sounds right, but the release date would have been several years after “my” scene was filmed. I guess it was a very bad movie. But Ned Beatty is a very good actor, and he was a nice guy that day.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Neat story. I think people who play character actors are probably nicer than leading men and women. That certainly was my experience on "Box Of Moonlight." John Turturro would not even look at us extras much less talk to us. The character actors on the other hand were really nice to be around. As was the director Tom DeCillo.

CDP said...

Did you appear onscreen? I have no idea of we actually made it onscreen; I've never seen the movie. And I'm surprised about John Turturro; he always strikes me as an Everyman type. I'm going to look up "your" movie; I've never heard of it.

Sauntering Soul said...

What an awesome story!

I met Sheriff Lobo (Claude Akins) once. Aren't you jealous now?

My dad drank a beer with John Wayne on a military base. That definitely beats my Sheriff Lobo moment.

Suze said...

Cool. They only thing I ever got going to Wildwood was a bad sunburn :)

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Yes, I appear on screen. I'm on in the first few minutes of the movie. I'm the construction worker who is "batting" in the turbine set up scene. Then you can clearly see me as I walk up to be with the other guys to see what Turturro is saying. I'm the blonde haired guy with glasses who is wearing his hard hat backwards.

DCup said...

Ned Beatty always reminds me of my dad. I'm glad to hear he was a decent, funny guy to you.

Great story and how brave of you. I'm not sure I could've done that!

christina said...

cute story! one time i when i was about 12 stayed at the same hotel as a bunch of guys playing in a celebrity hockey game. kelsey grahmer got super trashed and was mean, but gave us his autograph.

you should definitely go rent that movie.

FranIAm said...

What a gift you have for story and what a story you have told us.

That is great!

And CDP, I knew of Box of Moonlight before I knew of Dr. Monkey. It is a lovely movie, very sweet.

And with Dr Monkey in it, even better!

Spartacus said...

I actually met Jerry Stiller and his wife Anne Meara. They were friends with the director of the summer camp I used to attend back in the '70s. However, Ben was never a camper least I can't recall if he ever was.

CDP said...

SS--Your dad drank with John Wayne? THAT is impressive

Suze--My mom has pictures of us in Ocean City, around 1972, with sunburns so bad we could hardly move.

Dr. M--Now I'm going to rent that movie, I looked it up.

Christina--every single story I have ever heard about Kelsey Grammer has involved total intoxication!

Fran--I know, John Turturro, Catherine Keener, and Dr. Monkey...can one go wrong?

Spartacus--Very cool! I love Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. I had to sit through part of Meet the Fockers (ugh), which would have been so much better with his real parents.

CDP said...

Dcup--Yes, that was definitely not characteristic of me, I was not bold at 12. He's very cute in a dad way, isn't he?

The Guv'ner said...

He's pretty rad in my old fave "HOMICIDE" (Beatty I mean). He plays an old crank and always cracks me up. He's one of those guys who've been in everything yet you couldn't name three of them! :)

LOL at the mere thought of Beatty and the Bay City Rollers in one room.

CDP said...

Oh, they're your countrymen, aren't they? Tee hee. I LOVED Homicide, too, that was the best show.

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