My Saturday and Sunday with David
Wonderfest 16, May 28-29, 2005
by Nancy and John Appelhof
I was tickled when Diane told me that she and David were coming to a con in Louisville. Diane had first introduced me to David at FX. My husband John and I were in Florida on family business, and we took a detour from Clearwater to Orlando. It was exciting to meet David at FX. He was very gracious and kind. I bought a couple of pictures and we actually talked. I was looking forward to meeting him again.
Diane and I have become quite good friends, corresponding via e-mail, so I was looking forward to her coming. Diane and John arrived at 1:40. I picked them up at the baggage claim and took them to the hotel. Diane and I then drove out to the farm where my horse lives so Diane could meet him. When we got there I introduced Diane to some of my riding friends and my trainer. My horse, Cloud, had been turned out with some of his buddies, so we went out into the field to say hi to him. I knew Diane had had horses when she was a kid, so I wasn't worried about taking her into the field with the horses. We took some carrots with us. Cloud came up to say hello, and because of the carrots, so did all of his friends. Right before I could get the gate and open it, I guess Diane thought enough was enough, and she very nimbly climbed up and over the four-board fence and jumped down the other side. I was impressed!
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped and Diane picked up some bottled water, and a few other odds and ends that she needed. When we got to Diane and John's room we knocked to get John to open the door because we had our hands full of supplies. He answered our knock by yelling back, "I'm naked."
Of course we thought he was kidding, but when he opened the door we could see that he wasn't kidding!! He was naked. Well, not exactly. He had a towel wrapped around him from the shower. Then he said, "I told you I was naked." I decided retiring was the prudent move at this point and said good-bye, and that I would see them tomorrow and went home. We told David about this incident Saturday afternoon during tea and he cracked up. Diane shrugged and replied, ”That’s John.”
On Saturday, I got to Wonderfest around 1:30. I'm not exactly sure of the time. I had to ride that morning and I went home and cleaned up before I went down there. I was not to show up with hard-hat hair and smelling like a horse! By the time my husband John and I got there, the crowds had died down somewhat, and it was a bit slow. We found David's table which was at the end of one of the rooms off of the main room where all the dealers were. He had a lot of space, and his table looked great. John had made a great sign and it was very nicely displayed. The whole table was very inviting and organized and well put together. Diane and John had done a great job. I went up to the table and said hi to Diane and John and David. It was so neat to see him again. He looked absolutely fabulous in black khakis, a white shirt, and a terrific looking light blue sweater.
I wasn't sure if David would remember me or not. He meets so many people at these conventions. I said hi and he said hi back like he did remember. Maybe he was just being gracious, but it made me feel good! I talked some to Diane while David signed pictures for people, or posed with them. He was so gracious and kind with everyone who came up to his table. After a bit, things got pretty slow. I bought a couple of pictures, and David signed them. He knew I was into horses from our previous meeting. When I got there Saturday, I was telling Diane and David about my lesson that morning. I asked Diane if I could tell David about her and the fence, and she said yes. So, I did, and she mentioned that she used to have horses too. I told him about she had gotten stuck between the two carrot hunting horses, and how impressed I was by her leap over that four board fence! Then Diane got me back by telling him about Maggie, the Komodo dragon dog, and her favorite drinking bowl. David asked me what kind of a dog I had. I told him, and he said he loves Bassett Hounds. They told me that earlier that day someone had brought their dog in and had David pose with the dog for their picture. I knew that David was a dog person and that he had at least two, a Lab mix and a Samoyed. I told him, jokingly, that if I had known that he liked Bassets, I would have brought Maggie with me! I could see Diane looking a bit horrified. I know she is NOT particularly a dog person, and Maggie IS a piece of work!
Erin Gray came over to talk to David a moment. John had told her David had worked with Tom Tryon in a film. Erin wanted to know if David was familiar with a book Tom had written (the title was unfamiliar to me). Yes, David had read the book and he agreed with Erin that it would make a wonderful film if she could get it optioned. Erin was very gracious to everyone at her table. It was a good back corner of the room to be in.
My husband John took some pictures of all of us, and then took a walk around the floor to see what the dealers had to offer. Diane went to get tea. I stayed at the table with David to get out any pictures for him to sign, but it was pretty quiet. I also met Diane's friend Martha. She sat down too, and was crocheting. She showed me some of the baby bonnets and things she had done. I asked David if he would answer a question for me, and of course he said yes. I was wondering if he ever got stage fright, and what he did about it. I sing in a couple of choral groups, and stage fright is a problem for me if I have to sing a solo. I asked him if he had any advice. He told me that right before he goes on stage, he gets a little jittery. He said most actors do, but as long as you are well prepared and rehearsed, when it's time you just go on, and it's okay. David said it's different when you do it for a living, you have no choice. You have to go out there and do it. The kind of singing I do is for enjoyment and I have the option to if I didn't want to do it. I agreed that was true. Even if you are doing something because you choose to or because it's your job, you still have that commitment to do the best you can, because it's important to you. David agreed with me and advised that when singing a solo, or public speaking, to treat it like something you had to do, as a job rather than a hobby. I asked him if, basically, he was telling me to "suck it up and do it," and he said yes. Diane mentioned that she had to present an award in June at her National Library Convention. She listened intently to what David was telling me and decided to also take his advice and "go out and do it." Nothing like advice from a pro! Thank you, David!
I had a horse show coming up, and I figured that would be a good place to try his advice, and it worked very well for me that day. He was so nice about giving advice, and sharing his own experiences with me. I also told him about one of the choral groups that I sing with, the Louisville Bach Society, and he seemed very interested in what we do. That was something I had noticed about David in January and I saw it again at Wonderfest. He listens to people and seems very interested in what they have to say. He makes the person talking to him feel very special. The way he does that is truly a gift.
Diane came back with David's tea and some of her favorite green tea for me. She put David's cup down, and then, like Merlin, pulled all the extras out of her pockets: sugar, stir sticks, milk, napkins, and even a bag of walnuts mixed with blueberries. That tea really hit the spot, and David offered to share his fruit and nut mix. He used some of the milk, and Diane had the rest. My John returned from his tour of the dealers' floor and stood in front of the table. I was sitting behind the table next to David. Martha was behind the table, too, sitting where Erin Gray had been. She had gone off to a panel discussion. Diane was on the other side of David. We talked about all kinds of things and how refreshing the tea was. This led to a lively discussion, mostly between David and (my) John, about before-dinner cocktails, and the relative merits of different types, specifically vodka and bourbon. They talked about which brands they liked best, how they liked to have it served, and then David instructed us on the proper way to make a vodka martini. He said James Bond didn't know what he was talking about. Stirred is much better than shaken. Shaking it makes it too watery. He said he barely uses any vermouth and John's gotten to the point where he doesn't even bother with the vermouth at all. David was so entertaining and genuinely nice the entire time I was there. He was so easy to talk to. I felt that I had known him all my life.
John Kachmar took David off to look at one of the dealer's tables, and my John wandered off again. Diane and I spent some time visiting, and I also talked with Martha. When David came back, things started to get busy again. Lots of people were coming up to the table and buying pictures which David was signing. Some folks asked if he would pose for a picture with them, and he always was happy to oblige. They would use the Southwest corner next to the table which was out of the way of traffic and a good place to pose. It was nearly 5:00, which was closing time, when I went to find my husband. When we got back to the table, things were still quite busy. I didn't want to be in the way, so I said a quick good-bye to the Kachmars and to David, and told them I would see them tomorrow.
On Sunday, David was scheduled for a panel discussion at 1:30. I had to go to church in the morning (to sing in the choir), so Diane told me to check David's table area first, and if they weren't there, to go up to the room where the panel was. Along with David, the panel had Bob May and Mark Goddard from Lost in Space. Church got out late, so I went right to Wonderfest without even changing clothes. I went to the table, no one was there. Then I went up to the panel room. Bob May and Mark Goddard were already there, but no David. Turns out the others were a little early. David had gone to pick up his luggage, as he was leaving right after the panel. I kept walked out of the room into the hall and finally I saw them coming. By this time the room was full of people-standing room only. When David walked in the door, Mark Goddard announced him. Everybody clapped as he walked to the front of the room. John Kachmar took a seat in the back row, and Diane and I stood together behind him at the very back of the room.
It was fun listening to the three of them talk about their experiences working with Irwin Allen. David also talked about some of his other acting experiences. Sometimes when he talked about a film, he would need to have a name or a title supplied and he would look up at Diane standing behind the back row of seats, with his suitcase. She would then supply the information he needed. After the second time this happened (during the Bond question), you could see people in the front rows look at David and then crank their necks around to see who he was looking up at and where the voice with the answers was coming from. It really was kind of funny.
While I was watching and listening to all three actors, I remembered something my voice teacher is always telling us. In order to truly succeed when you are performing a piece, you must find a way for the audience to feel some kind of connection, on some level, with the music that you are performing. Watching David, and listening to him talk, I could really see that happening. David’s ability to connect with his audience is truly amazing. I'm sure it comes from all those years of doing live theater. The other thing that is obvious is that David loves what he does. When he talks about acting, he GLOWS. And people relate to that. He reaches out to people, makes that connection and makes them feel a part of it.
David also spoke quite eloquently about Richard Basehart, and what a fine actor he was. He said that often actors do films or TV where the scripts are so well written that anyone could do them and do a good job. He said Richard Basehart took material that was awful, and made it believable, and for that he deserved an Emmy for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Everyone applauded.
When the panel ended, David had a whole crowd follow him out into the hall. Diane had some of his stuff, and so did John. David wanted to carry something, but John told him to hold the handrail going down the stairs. So David grabs the rail, and starts tottering down the stairs. All the while he's talking in this rickety old man's voice, saying, "John, I'll be okay. I'm holding the rail," and he did this all the way down the stairs. Everyone was laughing. In the hall at the bottom of the stairs, lots of people came up to him to tell David how much they liked his films and TV shows. Many asked to have their pictures taken with him. He was gracious and charming to everyone and posed for several pictures.
It was time for him to go to the airport, so Diane was kind of edging him toward the lobby. I had walked a bit ahead of the crowd. Finally he and Diane caught up to where I was waiting. I went to say good-bye to him, and was telling him how nice it was to see him again. From behind me I heard Diane say, "Oh, give him a hug, for heaven's sake. He won't break." She knew I was dying to do that! I gave David a hug good-bye, and he gave me one back and a kiss on the cheek. He was wonderful. David is my hero. Then he hugged Diane and John goodbye, boarded the van, and went off the airport. It was a great Wonderfest!
Later that evening Diane and John joined us for dinner at a restaurant called the Fifth Quarter. We had a really nice time talking and visiting with each other. They left the next morning. From start to finish, the weekend was terrific.