The 2nd semiannual Twilight Zone convention was held at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn in Hollywood on August 21-22, 2004. Once again, we planned our vacation around this event, since there were many stars there that we wanted to meet and talk with.
We left Omaha at 6:30am on Wednesday August 18, thanks to our daughter, Kristen, who got up at 4am to drive us to the airport (we'll be doing the same for her when they go to Las Vegas in September). Our daughter, Serena, and her fiancé, Aaron, were taking care of our animals while we were on vacation. We flew into LA on American Airlines (it was a great flight), and went to Dollar Rent-a-Car to pick up our car. The shuttle bus was jam-packed, but it didn't clue in to us that this might mean the agency office was jam-packed as well (we're getting old). At the office, there had to be 500 people in line waiting for a car, and I'm not exaggerating. We joined the line, which did move on occasion but not very fast. The gentleman in line in front of us was as upset as we were, and we all tried to devise ways to get in the Fastlane line, Dollar's premier service program. I called our daughter at home and had her sign us up for it, but you can't use that until 72 hours have passed. Steve kept going up to the manager to get the line moving, get us expedited, whatever, but in the end nothing worked and we were there for nearly two hours standing in line. I am highly upset at Dollar for this, because we missed a chance to visit Forest Lawn cemetery because of the wait, and nearly missed our 3pm appointment to view the historic Wattles mansion on Curzon Street in LA.
We had to call Frank to tell him we were stuck at the rental office, and he jumped in the car to come and get us; we'd worry about the rental car later. By the time he got close to the office, however, we had the car, a Chrysler 300, so we met him at a McDonalds off the La Tijuera exit, and followed him to the Wattles Mansion. We were about ten minutes late, which upset me but couldn't be helped.
Old postcard of the mansion from the 1910's
Gurdon Wattles, who was an Omaha businessman, had built a California summer home in 1907 in LA to escape the harsh Omaha winters. The house in LA is now recognized as the only extant intact mansion from before the advent of Hollywood. When Wattles died in 1932, his family lived in the house until it was sold to the city of LA in 1968; Wattles' widow continued to live in the mansion until 1972. It sat there for the next 10 years, neglected and plagued with drainage problems while the neighborhood deteriorated around it, until the Hollywood Heritage group acquired it about 20 years ago. They have spent those years trying to restore it to it's former self, and have done a remarkable job.
View of the mansion from the garden
The gardens have been restored to nearly their old state, and the house, though without furniture, has been restored as well. It's well worth a visit, which you can do through their website. It's also available for weddings, parties, movies, etc. You can join the group and help keep this and their other projects going.
View of the garden from the mansion
When Gurdon Wattles died in 1932, he lay in state, in the casket, before this fireplace
After the mansion, we went off to Complete Post, where Frank had some production work to finish. We toured the facility and then drove over to Westwood Memorial Park, the most amazing cemetery I've ever seen. It's surrounded by condos and tall office buildings, and sits in the heart of the business district. You have no clue it's there till you go in the gates. Marilyn Monroe is buried there, as is Jim Backus, Walter Matthau, Jack Lemon, George C. Scott, and many more luminaries.
Frank took us to the Apple Pan restaurant for dinner, which is a tiny place that's been in the same location since 1947. They has at the most about 25 seats at the counter, and I found just three open spots and saved our places while Frank tried to find a place to park. They have the best hamburgers and fries and a few other sandwiches, and the most heavenly cream and apple pies on earth. I hadn't had food like this since the Music Box lunch counter closed in the 1970s. It was fantastic.
Thursday morning we set off for San Diego. The drive down was pleasant, and we saw some gorgeous country, mainly because we got off course and came down on the 215, not the 15 like we should have. I wondered why the roads were not as busy as I'd been led to believe. Because of this, we missed the Old Town exit and almost went across the Mexican border. We turned around and asked at the tourist center, and finally found the right exit. In Old Town we were going to visit the Whaley house, a museum in the oldest house in San Diego.
I'd wanted to visit this place since I was about eight years old, due to a story in one of the first Disney magazines (back in 1966 or so) about it's being haunted by the ghost of Yankee Jim. We saw no ghosts, and I even took my own psychic with me (Steve). It was fun nonetheless, and very evocative of the early days of California. There is a graveyard a block or two away, which has many of the earliest inhabitants of San Diego in it.
We had an open invitation from Dede, on the Combat! list, to call her when we got to San Diego, if we had time, so Steve called her and she came down to Old Town. We went to the Mexican restaurant voted the best in town and talked for several hours. She was extremely gracious and we had a blast. Steve doesn't often get to talk Combat! with someone who's a real fan.
On the way back to LA, we ran into the famous traffic jams I'd heard about. Five lanes of cars all moving slowly. We still made decent time until we got to the LA county limits, where there was an accident that had traffic stopped for almost 45 minutes. We didn't get back to Frank's until about 7:30.
Friday we had a lunch appointment with the folks at Image, and did some driving around Chatsworth. There was a fantastic reptile store that had some huge tortoises, which I wanted to take home. Unfortunately, the airline wouldn't let me do this, and I'd have to ship the tortoise back as cargo which would have taken more time than we had.
We toured the Image facility, saw them working on the Combat! DVDs, and talked about the 1980's Twilight Zone DVD release. Cindy Jason was originally supposed to be at the lunch, but she had a business crisis and couldn't attend. Instead, she said we could drop by the Wine Locker to see her, the business Rick and she had built for wine storage. We drove out there and had a nice talk with Cindy about Rick and Combat!, as well as a great discussion with one of the wine locker owners, and also had a tour of the facility. Rick Jason had built the storage lockers on his own design, with minimal help from a carpenter. It's a huge place and looks deceptively small from the outside. We also met Foxy, Rick's German Shorthair Pointer, who made us miss our own dogs.
Steve and Cindy Jason
Friday night Frank had purchased tickets to the AMPAS showing of the restored "The King and I," which was being shown in it's original 55 millimeter aspect ratio for the first time ever. Only "Carousel" and "King" had been shot in this format, and after that last film it was never used again. There were no projectors built for it, so it was always shown in a 35 millimeter format. The print looked better than I had ever seen it. Marni Nixon was there to reminisce about working on the film.
On Saturday we were up early and off to the Twilight Zone convention. We had about 100 pounds worth of pictures to get signed, and it was a rich, full day. We went to Ben Cooper first, who was marvelous; he was wearing a cowboy hat and a holster. He asked if the video camera was on, and when Steve said yes, he pulled out his six shooter and cocked the trigger, giving us a steely eye with a twinkle in it. Steve had two "Chartroose Caboose" lobby cards for him to sign, and Ben had some great comments about working on the film. Busby Berkeley was originally brought in to direct but was fired after a week, and Edgar Buchanan had been a dentist before becoming an actor. Ben and Don Durant, who was sitting next to him, joked about Gary Merrill when they saw the TZ shot I had for Ben to sign. Ben commented on my name, which is the acronym for the Seattle rapid transit system. He signed the TZ photo with the line, "Thanks for the ride." ;-) He said I'd have fun explaining it.
Ron Masak was at the end of Ben's table, so we went to him next. We bought a copy of his TZ photo for him to sign, and also one of his role in "Ice Station Zebra." We had a shot of him from "Tora, Tora, Tora," and he loved it when he saw it. He talked about the extra on the film, who had a career after that because Ron got him on screen. He also had a shot of himself, Angela Lansbury and William Windom from "Murder, She Wrote," signed by Angela, that we bought. We had Ron and William sign it as well.
We had missed Paul Comi at the last convention, so we had several pictures for him to sign. I had a nice shot from "People are Alike All Over" with Paul and Roddy McDowall, which Paul asked for a copy of, and a shot of him from my favorite episode of "Lou Grant." Steve had a shot with David Macklin and Paul from "12 O'Clock High," and he bought a shot from Paul of Gregory Peck and himself from "Pork Chop Hill."
William Reynolds came in as we were talking to Ron, and since he was in "The Purple Testament" with Ron, William was put right next to him. I brought out the shots from that episode that I had made, and he thought they were great. I promised to send him the pictures via email. William's son was there with him and he looks exactly like his father; it was uncanny. Michael Vandever was on the other side of William Reynolds, and was another of the cast of "The Purple Testament." We had the correct shot of him from his "Combat!" episode this time, since we'd brought a shot of the wrong actor last time, and also one from his TZ episode.
George Takei was only scheduled to be there on Saturday (but he was actually there both days), so we ran over to him before he could get away. Steve had a shot of George from "The Green Berets," which he was happy to see. George said he was the only one left from the movie, which he couldn't believe, but he said he wasn't planning on dying for a long time. I had a shot from his TZ episode, "The Encounter," with Neville Brand in the picture, for him to sign.
I felt that Billy Mumy would try to bolt when it got a bit less busy, so we went to him next. Our family had always loved "For the Love of Willadean," a 1964 Disney TV movie, that Billy had been in, so I had a shot of Billy, Michael McGreevey, Roger Mobley and Terry Burnham from that film. Billy remembered it well and said they had a lot of fun filming it. I had a shot from "In Praise of Pip," and from "It's a Good Life" for him to sign, and Steve wanted one of Billy's own photos from "Lost in Space."
I had a shot of Suzanne Lloyd from her TZ episode, "Perchance to Dream," and she was much more subdued this year than last time. We went to Barbara Stuart, to get her signature on a shot from "Airplane!", and she loved it. She asked for a copy of it, and also for a shot from her TZ episode, "A Thing About Machines," which I promised to send. We talked about residuals with her, and it was a big topic with everyone.
Ruta Lee was sitting next to her, and I had a shot from "Wild, Wild West" and from her appearance on "Fractured Flickers" with Hans Conreid. She loved them both, and we talked about how gorgeous Robert Conrad was.
Theodore Bikel was off to the side, and I'd been dying to meet him. I had a shot from "I Bury the Living" that he laughed over, and said that he was only 30 when he made the film, but they made him up to be a 60 year old and he spent most of his time in the makeup chair on it. Steve had a shot from his "Combat!" episode, "Mountain Men," and he also signed the Combat! Recon T-shirt. Peter Mark Richman cornered us, and we promised to be back in a bit.
Lloyd Bochner was free, and I had a "Thriller" episode shot for him, "The Prisoner in the Mirror," which he'd never seen. He mentioned that quality TV doesn't exist anymore, and that they used to make shows that were good to watch. Steve had a shot from "Battlestar Galactica" of Lloyd standing next to John Colicos and the Nomen characters, which Lloyd loved. He said that Lorne Green was a very special person in his life, and got a little misty-eyed. I then had to bring out "The Night Walker" shot I meant to bring two years ago, and he smiled at it. He mentioned that Robert Taylor was an extremely nice man.
Warren Stevens was very pleased with the shot I had of him from his TZ episode, "Dead Man's Shoes," and asked for a copy of it, which I have sent to him. I also had a shot from his NTZ episode, "A Day at Beaumont," with him and Kenneth Tobey in it. He also loved that and said he and Ken had been good friends.
Terry Becker had not been to the first TZ con, but it was a pleasure to meet him at this one. He is a funny man, and joked with us during the entire visit. Steve had a shot of him from his "Combat!" episode, "The Party," and he couldn't believe anyone remembered he'd been in it. He said he remembered running around a lot on that episode (a common remembrance for "Combat!" stars). Steve also purchased a photo Terry had from "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."
Fredd Wayne was open, so I handed him the shot I had for him from "The Secret of the Pirate's Inn," which he remembered and couldn't believe that anyone else remembered; he said, "Is that Ed Begley??" next to him in the picture, and it was. He mentioned that on his TZ episode, "Twenty-Two," many people had been awed by the glasses he wore, and one guy had talked to him for half-an-hour about them today. It really stumped him. I mentioned that I had also noticed them, and since it was a black and white episode those flat black glasses really stood out. I told him that I had wanted to tell him for years how much I loved his "Bewitched" appearance as Benjamin Franklin. He said he hadn't seen the episode in years, but that quite a few people have said that over the years.
I had a shot of Jacqueline Scott from her TZ episode, "The Parallel," and she liked it very much. Larrian Gillespie, who had been in "The Night of the Meek" with Art Carney, as an elf, was there with a great photo of her and Art from it, sitting in the sleigh. I had to get one and she was very gracious. Denise Alexander was astonished to see a shot from her "Combat!" episode, and was also astonished that we asked her to sign Steve's Recon 2000 T-shirt. I had her sign the shot I'd done from her TZ episode, "Third from the Sun," and she commented that she'd done two "Combat!" episodes, not just the one. Steve and I were now astonished, and finally remembered that she is also in a season two episode, "The General and the Sergeant," so she might be able to do a commentary for the DVD. She asked for a copy of the shot and we'll send it to her.
Judy Strangis was next; her TZ episode was "The Bard," and I'd brought a shot of her from it, standing next to Jack Weston. She liked it much better than the one on her table (which I think I provided to the con's organizers, so oops on that one). I talked to her about "Electra Woman and Dynagirl," and she said everyone remembers that series. Judy was very bubbly and talkative, and much like her TV persona.
Judy was sitting by Ben Cooper's
table, and as we walked by Ben said to Steve, "He's here!" I wasn't
paying much attention, but Ben pointed to a man standing next to Ben's table,
and the man's companion said something about "Sammy, the Way-out Seal."
Steve seemed to know what he was talking about, after a moment, and he ran
out to the car and got the "Chartroose Caboose" lobby cards again
and ran back in. Apparently, Michael
McGreevey, who was in "For the Love of Willadean,"
"Chartroose Caboose," and also "Sammy, the Way-out Seal," had stopped by to talk to Billy Mumy and Susan Gordon, two child actors he had worked with. Billy Mumy had told him about the people who had a shot from "For the Love of Willadean." (Michael went, yeah, sure, when he heard that :-)) When Michael went over to say hi to Ben, Ben mentioned we were there with the lobby cards. So we got Michael's signature on the shot and the lobby cards, and it was a real bonus. I never thought in a million years we'd run across him, since he wasn't acting anymore. The only thing that would have made it better would have been Roger Mobley walking in the door at that moment.
Then, Michael mentioned to Susan Gordon that he'd worked on "Fame" for four years, and we did a double-take. Steve said, "Did you say "Fame?" Michael nodded, and I told him we were staying with someone who worked on "Fame," named Frank Merwald. Michael looked surprised and said yes, he knew Frank very well and he was a great guy. Steve had asked Ben Cooper if he had a copy of "Chartroose Caboose," but he didn't. When Steve asked Michael if he had a copy of the film, he said that yes, he had a copy but it was a black and white print from a local station. He looked a bit funny, and said "Do you know who got me that print?" We shook our heads and he said, "Frank Merwald." It was a very funny moment, and I felt like we were definitely in the twilight zone at that moment. Frank hadn't seen the lobby cards the night before, because all we showed him were the screenshots. It was as if the cosmos had aligned perfectly for a few moments, because if we hadn't gone to Ben Cooper and Billy Mumy first, Michael would have come in and gone before those two stars saw the pictures we had for them to sign. Unfortunately, Frank does not have a copy of that movie now. Michael's friend took a picture of us with him, which is below.
Martin Milner was next to Susan Gordon, and we had a "Route 66" picture for him to sign, and a shot of him with John Wayne from "Operation Pacific." Steve mentioned that our granddaughter, Bobbi, loves "13 Ghosts," and uses the 3-D glasses to view the ghosts. He smiled and said, once again, Steve's taste needed work, since that's such a bad film.
Ted Post, who was there for the directors of TZ panel, was seated down from Martin. Steve had a screenshot of him from the Action Channel's "Back to the Front" documentary on "Combat!," and Ted said he had a terrible look on his face in it, but I just said he looked like a tough director. He and Steve talked a bit about "Combat!" and Ted said he enjoyed everything he did on that series. He was very grateful that someone remembered what he had done, and was happy to talk about whatever.
On our way to Read Morgan, Alan Brennert found me and we talked about the 1pm NTZ panel, and the fact that CBS couldn't find some of the stereo masters for the series, now that it's going to DVD. So, unfortunately, some of the episodes will be in stereo and some won't.
Read Morgan was finally free, so we brought out our shots for him. We had one from "Time After Time," which Read played a policeman in, and one of Read and Arlene Martel from their TZ episode, "What You Need." We also had a shot from "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," in which Read played the father of the boy who had long hair. He enjoyed looking at them all, and talking about them. He mentioned how great Malcolm McDowell and David Warner were, and about the scene in "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" where the gumball machine breaks in the barber shop. Read mentioned that Steven Spielberg dropped by every day on the set of that film, because Zemeckis was his protégé. He also talked about Warren Buffett, when he heard where we were from, and that Warren had made a lot of money for him.
Bill Erwin was next. Steve had a shot of him in the "I Love Lucy" show, and he said he must have been about 10 or 11 when he was on the show, very tongue-in-cheek. We also had one from "Somewhere in Time." We had a shot of "Land Before Time" for our granddaughter, since Bill did the voice of Grandpa dinosaur. He commented on the rarity of the picture, which was really a screenshot from the film with his own picture down in the corner that I'd put together. He's still a very wild and woolly guy and fun to listen to. We interrupted Joseph Ruskin eating his lunch, but he didn't seem to mind. I finally had a shot from "The Longshot," now that it's out on DVD, and a shot from his "Outer Limits" episode, "Production and Decay of Strange Particles."
Hazel Court had been extremely busy, but she was now free so we ran over. Steve had a picture from "Twelve O'Clock High" for her to sign for a friend, and I'd taken a bunch from "The Raven." She signed all of them, and mentioned that one of the reviewers of "The Raven" had said something very complimentary about her cleavage when the film came out. I also had a screenshot of her and Peter Mark Richman from her TZ episode "The Fear," which she thought was very well done.
We had five minutes until the 1pm panel started, and Carolyn Kearney was back in her chair so we raced down to see her. I had two screenshots of her "Thriller" episode, "The Incredible Dr. Markesan," for her to sign, and she loved them. She said Boris Karloff was the nicest person, and he had breakfast with her every morning on the shoot. She mentioned that the makeup on Boris and the other actors truly scared her.
We then went out to the New Twilight Zone panel discussion, in another room. Alan Brennert, Jim Crocker, Rockne O'Bannon, Harlan Ellison and Michael Cassiut, all writers on the series, where there to talk about working on it. This was a real treat to listen to, an entire hour of nothing but stories about the making of the series. Harlan Ellison, true to his reputation, held nothing back and was quite outspoken. Every one of them said it was the best experience of their career, and they talked about their favorite episodes and how their careers took off from working on it. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. This group was a delight to listen to and makes me even madder that CBS trashed the series so thoroughly.
After the panel, Gail Kobe was finally available; she had been constantly busy the entire day. I had a lot of photos for her to sign; her "Outer Limits" episodes, "Specimen: Unknown" and "Keeper of the Purple Twilight," as well as her "Combat!" episode, "The Sniper" and one of her TZ episodes, "In His Image." She talked about the dresses she got to wear, and that they were just to die for, and she thought it was great that we were there to see everyone. Gail said this was her first convention, and I told her how honored I was to meet her, since she was in so many shows.
Lia Waggner's shot, from "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street," had been a big success. I had taken a shot of her panicked expression as the action heated up, which I also had for her to sign. She said this was her first convention and she was having a really good time.
William Schallert was stumped by the first shot we gave him, which was from "The High and the Mighty," and he said "My God, that's Regis Toomey!" in the shot with him. He talked about William Wellman, who directed the film, and Richard Erdman, who was sitting next to Mr. Schallert, told us about his own encounter with Wellman, which broke Wellman's thumb and got Erdman in a lot of trouble. He didn't remember the "Thriller" episode shot I had him sign, with Ed Nelson in the shot, but said it had to be him because it was his lousy posture. I then gave him a shot from the NTZ episode "Shadow Play," and he remembered working on it and that Peter Coyote was the guy in the episode with him. He explained the story to Dick Erdman perfectly. We next handed him a shot from "Peege," which he took a minute but then remembered well. He then went on to explain the entire story to us, about how it was Randall Kleiser's student film, which Schallert did not get paid for initially. The script seduced all the stars who were asked to be in it, and it showed on the Canadian networks, then on NBC several times then no more. He said that they were supposed to get 2% of the producers net, which meant just about nothing; Dick Erdman put his finger to his head, like a gun, and said this is what that meant, and we all laughed. But, since this film became the biggest selling educational film, Schallert eventually got about $30,000 for appearing in it. I told him we had taped it off cable many years ago and had never seen it since. It was filmed around Santa Monica in the outside scenes, which don't look like it at all. We also talked about "Grandpa Doc," the follow-up to "Peege," which he didn't appear in, and about Bruce Davison.
Garry Walberg was free so we hobbled on over, and handed him a shot from his "Combat!" episode, "No Hallelujahs for Glory." He was surprised about the shot and asked for one, which I promised to send him. We talked about Nebraska, and he said his first wife had come from Milford, Nebraska, and that many years ago he used to work in Buffalo, NY, and hitchhike across country to Milford for the holidays. He also signed the Combat! t-shirt.
Susan Harrison was next; she'd been up and down so much that I hadn't been able to get over to her before she was gone again. I had a screenshot from her TZ episode, "Five Characters in Search of an Exit."
Alan Hunt, who was there with his aunt, Marsha Hunt, was on "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," and Steve wanted to get his autograph on the same photo that Terry Becker had signed. We also bought a shot of Walter Koenig, signed by him, and Alan Hunt. Marsha was on the TZ episode "Spur of the Moment," and I had a shot from that for her. She wanted a copy of it, and I said I'd send it to Alan for her.
We finally got around to Peter Mark Richman, and had him sign the shot of Hazel Court and himself from his TZ episode, "The Fear." He liked the shot and I promised to send him a copy of it. I also had one from his other "Outer Limits" episode, "The Borderland," for him to sign. We bought his latest book as well, which he said was a story of old Hollywood in the 1940's, which he inscribed to us.
Harlan Ellison had promised to sign my NTZ laserdisc cover, but not till he was outside, and I had to run to get him before he drove away. He did so with aplomb, and then I had to run inside to get Rockne O'Bannon to sign it before he left. Jim Crocker and Michael Cassuit had signed it after the panel ended.
We went back to Susan Gordon, who was available finally, and I had her sign a screenshot of "The Tormented," with the MST3K version. Steve bought a photo from her film, "The Five Pennies." We then went over to Richard Erdman, who was in the TZ episode, "Four O'Clock." I had a shot from that episode for him, as well as a shot from "Trancers." He commented on the fact that "Trancers" used a device from his TZ episode, a watch that did a long minute, which I'd never thought about.
Next we went on to Kathy Garver, who still looks like Cissy on "Family Affair." She had done some TZ episodes on radio, and had them for sale; we purchased her performance on "The Fever." She signed a cast photo from FA for us as well, and Steve was quite happy. Don Durant was open, and we rushed over. I had a screenshot of his TZ episode, "A Piano in the House," with Barry Morse, and he loved the shot. We promised to send him a copy of it. Steve and he had a long talk about the lady who does his website, Jackie, who had set it up long before she met Don. She happened by his real estate office one day, took one look at him and said "I thought you were dead!" and almost fainted. He asked her to come in and sit down before she passed out, and a great friendship was begun. Don could not say enough about Jackie and how wonderful she was. Don is still looking for copies of "Johnny Ringo" on 16 millimeter film with original commercials.
Sara Marshall, the mother in "Little Girl Lost," was next. We had a nice talk about her mother, Edna Best, who had also been an actress.
We went on to William Windom, who was very tired. He mentioned that he driven nine hours from Winnipeg, and eight hours from Toronto the day before, and he'd been on the go for many days. I told him he had been doing much more than we had. We had a "Combat!" shot of his episode, "Off Limits," directed by Robert Altman, and one of his TZ episode, "Five Characters in Search of an Exit." I also had a shot of William and Robert Conrad, from the "Wild, Wild West" episode, "The Night of the Flying Pie Plate," which he very much liked.
By now it was about 4:30pm, and the stars were beginning to filter out for the day. I had two shots for Dana Dillaway, but could not find one of them, which I believe I had left in the car. We promised her to come back on Sunday, since she was just about to leave. We let her go, and went to collapse from exhaustion in the Beverly Garland restaurant.
We went out to dinner with several of the people from the Combat! discussion list, to Micelli's. Pierre Jalbert and his wife Joy were there, along with Terry and Dion Osika, Marty Black, Michael, and Don and his wife, Mary. The food was good, but the singing waiters were infinitely annoying and you couldn't hear anyone to talk to them. Pierre was just about ready to shoot the waiters, I think, by the end of dinner. We went back to the Beverly Garland hotel, to have a drink in the restaurant, and Pierre talked about Napoleon and Lafeyette and George Washington for hours. He's a learned and interesting man who has many interests and hobbies.
On Sunday morning, Frank cooked his world-famous pancakes for us, and then we went off to the second day of the convention. We first went to Howard Morris, who had not been there on Saturday. I had him sign a screenshot of his "Thriller" episode, "The Lethal Ladies," and bought one of him as Ernest T. Bass with Don Knotts. Howard seemed in good condition but was very fragile looking.
We went back to William Windom, since we had to get his signature on the "Murder, She Wrote" photo we had purchased from Ron Masak. Next to William Windom was Edson Stroll, who was very gracious and very nice as well. He loved the screenshot from his TZ episode, "Eye of the Beholder," and asked that we send him a copy of it, which I will do. He also gave me a DVD-like coaster with his picture on it, and I thanked him for that. Steve purchased a picture of Edson with the Three Stooges, which he liked quite a bit. This was his first time at a convention and both he and his assistant said they were having a great time. He shook our hands and was a great guy; his wife was also there are she was very friendly and interesting. I was so impressed by him I forgot my folder of pictures at his table!
Next we went to Barbara Luna, who was the only star who did not want to be videotaped, so we turned it off. She signed a "Star Trek" photo for us, and an "Outer Limits" shot. We mentioned that we were waiting for Mariette Hartley to show up, and Barbara said she was definitely coming and that she would introduce us to Mariette personally when she arrived.
Mariette Hartley arrived just before noon, Barbara did introduce us, and this was her first time at a convention. H. M. Wynant came over and gave her a hug, saying she is a wonderful person. They talked about her working with John Houseman years ago in "Antigony," and Mariette just loved talking about it. I had a shot of her and Bill Bixby from "The Incredible Hulk" marriage two-parter, for which she'd won an Emmy, and she just started crying over it. She mentioned that her son and Bill's son were best friends, and that Bill was a fantastic person and one of her best friends. We're all standing there crying about it, and it was wonderful. I apologized, because I didn't mean to get her crying. We bought a picture Mariette and Robert Lansing from her TZ episode, "The Long Morrow," and she told us about meeting Rod Serling after she graduated from college, and asking him for a job. A few months later, she was offered the role in the TZ episode. She also mentioned that it had been 40 years since the episode had been shot, and in it she was supposed to have been frozen for 40 years, so it was like she'd just been thawed out for the convention. She actually got up and hugged us and she said she was glad we were there, and that we had made her day.
We went to Bob May, who was the man inside the "Lost in Space" robot; he was sitting next to Billy Mumy. He was funnier than anything, and we bought several photos from him. He told us the 2nd season of "Lost in Space" would be out in September, which was good news. Watching this series still ensures a good time.
Pierre Jalbert, Caje from "Combat!", had come to the convention with Terry and Dion Osika, and we had a picture for him to sign. Pierre had been an editor on the TZ series, but he had not been credited with it. He remembers talking to Rod during the lunches they had together while working on the show. Pierre was fascinated by our son's video camera, and Steve spent a few minutes showing him how it worked. Pierre took a shot of Steve with the camera, and he was just amazed by it.
Fredd Wayne had promised me a picture of himself as Ben Franklin, and he had it on Sunday. He had also brought in many of his own notices and autographs, and we talked about those and Omaha locations for nearly half an hour. He had worked at the Firehouse dinner theatre and remembered it and the Old Market here in Omaha.
H. M. Wynant asked that we send him more pictures from his Combat! episodes, and we promised that we would. We bought a picture of him from "Run Silent, Run Deep," and talked with him about his Taco Bell commercial; Steve mentioned that he had tried to get the local Taco Bell restaurant to give him the life-size cardboard cutout of H. M., but they wouldn't, and H. M. was surprised. He hadn't even known there were cutouts made, and he wanted one as well, now that he knew. He also had TZ radio plays done by him, and we purchased "Deaths Head Revisited" and he gave us another one, "The Trade-ins," just for being there. He and Steve talked about "Run Silent, Run Deep" performance, and he was amazed that Steve knew he had gotten the part because Frank Gorshin had been hurt, in a car accident Steve thought. H. M. said that everyone moved up into a little bit better part because of this. Steve had to give H. M. a hug, because he was such a great person to us.
We went on to Dana Dillaway, and had her sign a shot from each of her TZ episodes, "One for the Angels," and "I Sing the Body Electric." We had a shot of Kevin McCarthy from his TZ episode, "Long Live Walter Jameson," and bought a lobby card of him in "A Big Hand for the Little Lady." Kevin said they took an actual picture from the Civil War, and superimposed his photo over it. Steve mentioned the Marta, Rambling Rose song again, and Kevin started singing it. We told him that Ron Masak sang it on Saturday, and so did William Windom.
We went looking for Paul Carr, but he had not shown up and in fact never did. Arlene Martel was available, and was sitting there with her dogs. They were adorable; one was a long-haired Chihuahua who was sleeping in her arms and made me very sad that I didn't have my own dog there with me. I had a shot of her and Read Morgan from their TZ episode, "What You Need," and we bought a picture of her with Bob Crane from "Hogan's Heroes." She asked that we send her a copy of the TZ shot, and she wanted us to sign her guestbook, which I did.
Tom Lowell, who had his arm in a sling from shoulder surgery, was only there Sunday. We talked about other friends in the Combat! group, and he was just as great as always.
Antoinette Bower was open, so I brought out the shot from "Thriller" for her to sign, and she was puzzled by it. She was sure it was a composite, but I tried to tell her that it came right off the episode that had been shown in Canada on the Scream channel. She signed it, but was sure it was a fake. I also had a shot from her "Wild Wild West" episode, as well as "Being from Another Planet," done by MST3K. Steve wanted that, for some reason, though it is my favorite MST3K show.
Joanne Linville was next, and I had a shot of her in her TZ episode, "The Passerby," and she just loved it. I told her I would send her a copy of it. We also bought a copy of her appearance on "Star Trek," as the Romulan commander, which is one of my favorite ST episodes.
Celeste Yarnall was next, and we bought a picture of her "Star Trek" episode, "The Apple." We talked about Mariette Hartley and Bill Bixby, and about how nice a man he was. Celeste had worked with him in a film and said he was wonderful. Jean Carson, from "A Most Unusual Camera," signed a screenshot I'd done from the episode.
We needed to get Billy Mumy's signature on the Bob May picture, so we walked back toward him. Bob May practically ordered him to sign it, and Billy called the picture the "bubble-less Bobby," since he was in the robot costume but without the top part of it. Steve thanked Billy for telling Mike McGreevey about us, and he said Mike had been sceptical when Billy had said that there was someone there with a "For the Love of Willadean" photo.
We were asked by a documentary filmmaker if we'd like to participate in his next production, which will be about conventions and shows of this kind. He gave us his card, so someday our insanity while at these cons may be immortalized on film. Then, we bought a few more autographs from a professional dealer who was there, and were truly done. We thanked Bill DeVoe for everything he had done, and he presented us with a prop from the display table; it was the box from "A Penny for Your Thoughts" episode, with the quarter standing up.
Back at Frank's, we found Lee Curreri from "Fame" talking with him, discussing projects and other things. We joined the conversation, as much as we were able, and then I took a picture of them.
I had told Steve that I wanted Mexican food for dinner, so Frank took us to a restaurant not far from his house. We consumed several pitchers of margaritas, and had enchiladas and nachos.
On Monday we were off to Franklin Canyon to meet Teri and Dodger for a tour of the Combat! filming locations there. There was a crew filming something in the canyon; we spied a dried up corpse dressed in rags by a few camp chairs, and the caterers setting up tables and chairs for lunch.
View of the culvert the Combat! cast crawled through numerous times, now sadly overgrown,
Dodger gave us a great tour of the sites, with his commentary of action scenes and other history. It was a great deal of fun to hike around and see the shots that even I recognized from the series. We had a picnic there, thanks to Teri who packed a huge amount of food, and then went to Bronson Canyon to see several other Combat! locations, and the Bat Cave. The hikes around these two locations took almost 2 1/2 hours and I am glad we had the opportunity to gain some of Dodger and Teri's knowledge of Hollywood history. They really know their facts and have spent many, many hours scouting out the various spots. This tour will be featured in the extras section of the Season Five DVD set of "Combat!," due out aroundAugust 2005. Image sent out a camera to Franklin Canyon with Dodger and Teri, and they got the tour down on film.
Dodger pointing out a filming spot
The pipe the Combat! cast hid behind in
The spot where the prison camp was constructed in "The Long Way Home"
That night we were off to see the new "Vanity Fair" at the Directors Guild, which starred Reese Witherspoon. It wasn't bad, but you can't shoehorn a huge book like VF into 2 hours and 20 minutes. It gave no time for character development and though the director, Mira Nair, did manage to follow the book it became a blur as the film progressed; the end just kind of hung there with no finish. VF demands a mini-series treatment, and while this film had flair it just didn't cut it.
The next morning we were up early to get to the airport so we could get home. I was missing my dog, Luka, dreadfully, and couldn't wait to get there. Our son and daughter, Steve and Lilly, and granddaughter Bobbi, fetched us from the airport. I had a tearful reunion with Luka and also with my cat.