Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tag, I'm it!

Apparently the way this works is Ridley tagged Caroline and she tagged me and now I have to reveal five of my most closely guarded secrets to total strangers. Okay, fine -- here's what you won't find out from IMDB or the tabloids...


I was about 4 at the time and don't know how much of this I remember for real or how much comes from my mother repeating the story. Marilyn was in Banff, Alberta shooting "River of No Return" with Robert Mitchum. She wandered into a Calgary coffee shop one morning while Mom and I were in a booth and took a shine to me. She and Mom had breakfast, talked about babies and when she left, Miss Monroe asked if I'd like to go home with her. I said, "Yes". She laughed and left -- setting a pattern for me and hot blondes that has endured to this day.


Officially, just cracked, but still. This was a baby Komodo about 3 feet long guesting on "Beastmaster". I asked the trainer if I could touch him. He was okay with that. The Dragon was not. He whipped his tail around and smacked me. It felt like getting hit with a baseball bat. At the time it didn't seem there was much damage, but by morning I was in agony with a cracked jaw and three teeth broken below the gum line. I spent the next month doing story meetings in the morning and root canal in the afternoon. To this day, I'm sure the LA guys remain confused at why I was suddenly so quiet about their input.


Although I studied to be a classical actor (Will Dixon's dad was probably my finest teacher) I never did one single classical work as a professional actor. Despite Shakespeare being my favorite playwright and trying like crazy for years to do his plays, Greek plays, Roman plays, Moliere or Lorca, I ended up being most famous for playing either a Nazi or a Carebear.


Plane took off. Engine exploded. Wing caught fire. Followed by increasing weirdness as the pilot turned back for the airport, dumped fuel, discovered he couldn't get the landing gear down and took us in. His last words, "Folks, this doesn't look like our day, but I'll sure give it a try."

He did and most of us walked away. Two things I remember most. The incredible quiet as the plane went down. And next morning -- the sky had never been as blue and the birds never sang so loud. The best lesson I ever had in appreciating what you have.


The Summer of '69. The band I was with was chosen as the opening act for "The Zombies", touring behind their monster hit "Time of the Season". We met them at the airport. Four scuzzy, hairy hippies like us got off the plane and one said "Hey, how y'all doing?" in the thickest Texas accent I'd ever heard. It seems "The Zombies" had broken up before the record came out, so some canny promoter had flown 11 bands to NYC, taught them to play four of the Zombies' hits and one member to speak with a British accent to do the onstage patter. The rest of the set was whatever each band actually played. The bands were then simultaneously dispatched to tour parts of North America where they wouldn't be recognized, to milk every possible summer concert dollar available. More in Wikipedia if you're interested. Our "Zombies" would eventually achieve fame with one less member as -- ZZ TOP.

Rather than name names, I'm just gonna tag whoever's reading this. Your turn in the barrel.


Unknown said...

Wow. You've had more cool bad things happen to you than I've had happen to me.

I'm still deciding if I should aspire to that though.

ME said...

Wow. Highly impressive. Thanks for playing along and being such a good (and entertaining) player.

Diane Kristine Wild said...

Wow, you're waaaay more interesting than I am. Don't let it go to your head though - my cat is way more interesting than I am.

jimhenshaw said...

Trust me, my cat's way more interesting than I am too.

wcdixon said...

You were always the old man's favourite...

Kelly J. Crawford said...

And I thought I had a life filled with pain, disaster and intrigue. Thanks for sharing, Jim.


Good Dog said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Callaghan said...

Probably my favourite of all the top 5 lists. A plane crash, ZZ Top and a Komodo Dragon? Are you kidding me?

About Robert Gordon and Fred J Eaglesmith, that Robert Gordon gig was one of the best shows I've every played. They brought in these extra stage monitors because Robert insisted that he needed to hear his voice crystal clear. And he entered through the crowd. Wicked.

Eaglesmith showed up, unannounced, at a benefit concert that I organized for Alejandro Escovedo when he was sick. He pulled up, parked his bus outside the El Mocambo, played 3 songs, shook some hands, then left. Classic. Then my band had to follow him. So I like to pretend that HE opened for US.

Riddley Walker said...

Jim, if this was the only result of tagging Caroline, I’d be immensely happy!

Drinks are on me when I’m in town.