Looking back over my life, I sometimes wonder what if? What if I had stayed in my small farm town after I left high school, would my life be so different? Oh! How different it would have been now that I look and see where friends and family from that time are at this time. How much I would have missed had I stayed there and how boring life would have been. No, I don’t regret leaving when I did, not one bit.
I was a naive, nervous 19-year-old when I left for Hollywood. I had been hooked on films and the thoughts of Hollywood most of my young life and dreamed of going there one day. My girl friend’s estranged father, Douglas, lived in Hollywood and was an independent producer/director at Universal Pictures at that time. He had offered me a place to stay while I looked for a place of my own. To me, this was the chance of a lifetime, Hollywood, at last. Douglas lived in Talouca Lake and this was the first time I had seen such beautiful homes. I thought, “Here I am, living in one of these homes!” Next door was Mario Lanza, on the corner across the street was Gordon & Sheila McCrae and across the street were two homes that belonged to a Director and a Producer. Ed Wynn & his son Keenan lived around the corner and Bob Hope had his estate just two blocks away. Amazing area for a star struck young man.
My girl friend Sue and I would go visit her dad on the set at the Studio and during lunch we would go out in front where there was a beautiful plaza. We would sit on the steps and have a sandwich with a cola. Once in a while a tourist or two would be walking by just to look up at the Studio and its beautiful entrance. They saw us sitting there on the steps and came up to ask us if we were stars. We told them no that we just worked here. Didn’t matter to them as they said that maybe one day we would be stars and they wanted our autographs, so we obliged. What surprised me was how many times this happened to us, so finally we would say that we were small time actors and we would love to sign autographs for them. They were happy and nobody was hurt by it.
Sue had to go back home to her mother in the Central Valley. I started work with Douglas at the Studio as a gofer. It was a fun job as I got to meet all kinds of people who worked on the sets and the films. Even got to meet some great stars who turned out to be the nicest persons you would want to meet. A couple of the people I met became friends and we would go to the beach at Santa Monica on weekends. What a fun place to be, I had never seen anything like it before. Pacific Ocean Park was the greatest place I had ever seen, such fun we had there. Then we would go on down to Venice Beach and watch all the muscle men doing their exercises in order to keep building their bodies up. Some were really gross and looked a lot like they were more animal than human. There were so many beautiful people strolling along the boardwalk. You could sit there for hours and enjoy watching the parade of humanity walk by. This was a fun and wonderful time for me and for the first time in my life I felt free
This was only the beginning of my life without regrets. New adventures and surprises were still to come. So much more to tell, but for now, this will have to do as I need to pause and gather my thoughts before I continue this story. Next time, I will do my best to describe an extraordinary day with Bette Davis and the many other wonderous days in Hollywood.
Part 2 – Rebel Without a Cause – Has been published