David Hedison Chicago Con Report
I got up Thursday morning - with everything packed into an under seat duffel and an overhead rolling suitcase. I was going through Atlanta to get to Chicago O'Hare - the two busiest airports in the country. I thought about packing prayer beads, but settled for getting a flu shot over Labor Day weekend instead. Both worked.
The plane was an hour late getting in and I originally only had a 40 minute connection. I ran. I made it. They didn't like my duffel under the seat on the first leg, but she graciously found room in the overhead for it. My roller was an inch smaller than the size wise - but still did not fit in the overhead bin. Until I took something out and placed it inside my zip tote, which was also packed away. Then I had three bags.
So after I ran, and made it onto my second flight, I was stopped again. I had to check my regulation suitcase, because now I had "three" bags. The overheads in the back of this plane were full before any of us got on. I was in row 27. My duffel bag ended up stuffed in one of the last empty spaces above row 13...
We landed at O'Hare and three terminals later, I found the hotel shuttle pick-up point. I was dropped off at the con hotel. I checked in, took a much needed shower, and called John to tell him I had arrived. I was unpacking and debating a 24 hour cafe box dinner when my cell phone rang. I knew it couldn't be John, so that left ... David. I recognized the cell number as it flashed by on the screen, flipped the phone open and said, hi, David!
He sounded so good and strong. I confirmed I had checked in and dear man that he is, he asked after my flight. I told him he didn't want to know. I was there, that was all that mattered now. He pressed and I told him parts of the above horror story – the plane was an hour late - I had to run in Atlanta. He, of course, had a great non-stop flight in on Wednesday.
He then said; I want to have lunch with you tomorrow. What's your room number? I told him. He said he was writing it down. David has a black pocket calendar that he writes everything important in. He said he'd pick me up at noon. I assured him I'd be ready to go. David doesn’t like to be kept waiting. He mentioned he was out with friends and that he would be in quite late. I told him to have a good time; I'd see him tomorrow and hung up. After that, I was fine.
I went down, bought the box dinner and brought it back to the room. I was half-watching one of the live action Scooby-Doo Movies on HBO. I don't pay for HBO at home. I can see why. The turkey sandwich was soggy on the bottom and the 16 oz. bottle of water was overpriced, but it was dinner. I finished unpacking and then tried to sleep. I couldn't really get comfortable in the hotel bed; the cover was too heavy.
When I got up in the morning, I made some instant oatmeal with the coffeemaker. I ironed my polo shirt and then basically read the paper, while listening to the TV. I was half-tracking the tropical storm, but once it plowed into Mexico, it was no longer an issue for John. John was very happy that I was lunching with David. That meant I would be taken to the Fly screening and he didn't have to worry about me riding the train alone 28 miles out there and back again.
I went looking for bottles of water. I can’t carry it on the plane, but I always try to get water for David, because of all the talking he has to do. I carry a bag of throat lozenges for him as well. David never wants much; a small 16 oz. bottle will suffice. Finding it and then hauling it back to the hotel for the con table is the hardest part.
I decided to check out the vending machine on my floor. There were 20 oz. bottles of water for sale in the machine at a better price than the 24 hour café 16 oz., but my machine was sold out of water. I climbed up the stairs to the 8th floor. It was sold out as well. I went on up to the 9th floor. The machine there sold me water. I bought four bottles. I tried again on Saturday to get water from the machine on my floor, but it was still sold out. So I climbed up the stairs to 9 again and got water two more times. That machine would take my money and give me water.
David showed up promptly at noon and knocked on my door. I opened it and there he was; in a moss green cuffed sleeve denim shirt with a green under t-shirt over light blue stonewash jeans and bright blue and white sneakers. He looked great. His white hair was shorter on the bottom than I remembered, but that could have been a Tuesday trip to the barber.
I invited him in and got a great hello hug. He seemed really glad to see me. I grabbed my bag and we left. We started catching up as we walked down to the elevator. I was in room 736, David was room 538 and he remarked we had similar rooms. They gave us both king bed rooms – for one.
I asked after Bridget. To my surprise, David said he had persuaded Bridget to stay home. Cons weren’t her thing. I then asked after Carol Summers, the woman who had booked the con and who was supposed to run his table. Carol wasn’t there, David explained, as the elevator came and picked us up. She had hurt her back and was unable to get on the plane with him on Wed. He had told her to stay home in bed. David decided to come alone and handle things himself.
David had apparently spent the previous day kicking around, waiting for his friend Steve to get off work and come get him for dinner at their house. He had walked all over the industrial park convention area where we were staying and said there was nothing around; only the three hotels, a parking garage and the (empty) convention center.
I was glad David got his exercise in. He gets too stiff from arthritis otherwise. David said he should had Bridget come. They could have gone down to the Loop and done the museums along the Lake Michigan shore line or shopping on Michigan Avenue.
I teased him that he didn't want Bridget to go shopping, there would go all his money. David laughed. I got the idea he was really glad to have someone he knew and who knew him there.
We walked into the hotel cafe for lunch. I let David pick where he wanted to sit and we looked over the menu. I ordered unsweetened tea and David had water. He looked thinner in blue jeans. His pleated tan khakis are probably extremely comfortable, but they don’t fit him nearly as well as those jeans did.
David took a while to decide what he wanted. He didn't seem to like the menu very much. I settled for the turkey burger, but offered to go someplace else, if he wanted to. He declined. David finally decided on the Patty melt (rare).
Turned out we should have followed my instinct and left. David's 'patty melt' turned out to be on sourdough and not what he was expected and my turkey burger was raw in the middle... David said send it back. I ate around it and left the rest. The French fries were really good.
David insisted I have dessert - I think to make up for the mess that was my sandwich. I didn't eat at the cafe the rest of my stay because of that. I have since filled out the Hilton questionnaire they always send; because I'm Hilton honors. And I questioned why I was served a raw turkey burger...
Any who, the raspberry crème brule cheesecake was to die for. I wanted David to have some, but he declined. I ate all but the end. David knows I love cheesecake and asked me why I didn't finish it. I told him I was trying to eat less and that I hoped I would not have a sugar crash from it later on. I doubted it, with the adrenalin rush of being with David all afternoon and evening.
David asked how I was. I told him I was fine, now I was with him. He made a disparaging remark about being an "old fart." I looked at him across the table and replied - apparently with some conviction - I didn't care that he was old! He never mentioned it again.
He told me what he'd been doing; mostly traveling about California wine country with Bridget, her brother and his wife for the last ten days. I knew he had been "off" somewhere. I wasn't getting replies to my emails and he answers me, when he's there. They had a great time, with a side trip to Yosemite, but that had left David with only one day (Tuesday) to turn around and get on the plane Wed. for Chicago.
David seemed confident that he'd be fine by himself. I didn't argue with him, but I did notice I got drafted as soon as I arrived. He knew I was coming; we had exchanged emails on that turnaround Tuesday. I had given him my flight number, arrival time and cell phone number. Apparently those were written down in that black pocket notebook before he left.
I had seen Alexandra on the TV Tuesday night on Dancing with the Stars and they had replayed the clip on Access Hollywood on Thursday - because Jamie Lee Curtis had a movie coming out. We had both read the movie review in USA Today - delivered free at the hotel. David mentioned he would have to go see the film now- for Alexandra's friend. I said, shouldn't have read the review. I didn't know Alexandra was in LA, but since her aunt and uncle were there, visiting from South Africa, that made sense.
We chatted about my family. I told David it was much harder logistically now to get to my parent's house since they had moved to southwest Georgia. Now, I pick up my uncle, we go to my sister's house across the state, her husband drives us to GA, we come back to my sister's house in Tampa and then I go home the next day - 5 day minimum.
David said he had enjoyed visiting his friend, Steve. They had made him a nice dinner and brought him home around midnight. I asked David if he wanted to go for a walk. He told me he had done that on Thursday, tramped all around the hotel and found there was nothing there. David likes to at least find a drug store, if case he needs anything. He did work up a good sweat, however. It was 90 on Wednesday and 50 on Friday, with rain in between, that cleared out nicely by our event time on Friday night.
David talked me about the screening at lunch. He said the Theater had someone taking the money for the photos and to let them run it their way. I assured David I would only help, if I was asked to pitch in. If not, I was perfectly content to hang out and be “The Fly Author” for the evening.
Carol Summers goes way back with Ray and Sharon Courts. I showed David the plastic badge that John made for Anaheim – the one that says in very large letters – David Hedison – Personal Assistant. I suggested I become his personal assistant for the weekend. David said, fine, wear the badge. So that’s what I did.
I asked after his Free Enterprise cameo and David told me, he was all set to go, had studied his script for a week, really knew his part (a rich Republican who was hosting a senate candidate), had gone to wardrobe, been fitted and then the day he was supposed to shoot, they called and said it was postponed. Then they never called him again.
I told David I had read on the internet that one of the producers had failed to pay everyone and the production was shut down. He wondered what had happened. I replied that's what was posted. David was disappointed. He had been looking forward to doing this cameo. He seemed to really enjoy telling me all about it.
Patty Duke had canceled. David thought it might have scuttled his big newspaper interview, because it was supposed to run as part of hers. It did run in The Chicago Tribune on Thursday, in a much shortened form. He was also wondering if Barbara Parkins had also canceled, as there went The Valley of the Dolls reunion. I mentioned I had read recently, while doing research for our Five Fingers book, that he had given Barbara a basset hound puppy when they were dating in 1965.
David said that was true. It was a great dog, but what happened was they both got TV series and then were too busy to care properly for the dog; so sadly, he ended up giving it away to someone who could.
He may have been the only actor with two ex-girlfriends there. He didn't know Lana Wood was coming until I told him at lunch. She was a last minute addition.
Meredith Baxter came over more than once and Britt Ekland seemed to know David quite well, but then the Bond actors do tend to get thrown together a lot at various shows. There always seems to be a pack of Bond girls going somewhere. They like being paired up with this particular “Felix.”
David was wearing his hearing aids, so I was able to converse with him most of the weekend without issue. David wanted to find some change, as he had already been there two days and had already spent most of what he had brought with him. There was no ATM around that he could find. Anywhere. He had expected the hotel to have one in the lobby.
I grinned. I had money for David up in my room. I had emailed him that I was bringing pre-sold photos for him to sign. I told him I'd be happy to give him the money after lunch, if he would come back to my room and sign the fifteen pictures. David was fine with that; he likes to work for his money. So I gave him $288.00.
David insists I take 10% on whatever I sell for him. I had deliberately brought his “share” of the money in tens, so he wouldn’t have to find change for his table. Hotels never have change if you need it, particularly on weekends. David paid the meal check and we went back up to my room to sign pictures.
He saw where I had his money stashed and warned me that wasn't a safe place to keep it. I told him it was only there temporarily and I had remained in the room when it was cleaned to make sure. I was touched he cared enough to tell me that. I value his experience and always listen to David.
I made sure to mention the hotel water was cheaper out the vending machine rather than at the café. He said he had enough water. He had purchased bottles at the airport. He did buy his breakfast – bottled orange juice and some bran muffins, at the 24 hour cafe. David doesn’t put anything in his morning coffee, he likes it black. At least that was provided free.
Before he would sign anything, David had to see the Fly books. I took them out of the dresser and showed him I had, indeed, brought him Fly books to sell. He wanted to sell them all at the screening. We agreed I would wear my Fly T-shirt that evening.
He didn't like the boxes I brought the books in. ‘You brought me books in trash bag boxes?’ I used those boxes because the books fit tightly into them (less damage) and they fit in the duffel bag. I could see things were going to be fine between us. David was giving me a hard time, as usual. TSA didn't like my trash bag book boxes, either, but that was because the books all blended together into one square blob they couldn't scan through. Once I explained they were books... they made it through security.
I showed David a blurb for a Bond signing that would be held at Pinewood Studios in the UK in November. He looked at it with an eye to perhaps going, but then decided since it was only for one day; it wasn't worth the trip over. These are all British actors, he said. I wondered how David knew that.
Then he noticed his picture on the web page sidebar under events - I had listed him there to get folks to come to the con. It worked. We had loads of Bond people at this show. You get the con listed on any one of the Bond web sites and you're home free.
So after David signed all his pre-sales; I went with him to his room to collect the pictures he wanted to sign at the screening. He picked out which plastic string folders I was to take. I put them all into his empty red suitcase and brought everything back to my room, so I could pack his pictures in with my books. Took me about an hour, after I left David.
I then filled my zippered tote bag with throat lozenges, water, woolen scarves for both of us, the camera, my meds, and anything else I thought we might need out there. David's voice did go during the screening, so I handed him a lozenge. In fact, I kept giving them to him all weekend. He did a lot of talking. About the third time I did it, he turned to me and remarked, “You keep doing that.” Well, people wanted to talk to him and he did take them and it did help.
David was also looking for a box to ship his pictures back home in, as Fed Ex had destroyed the one he used to ship them to Chicago. We went down to the business center, but it was only an internet place. The Bellman, Mohammed, found a nice big box for him to use.
So David and I set the time to meet in the lobby for the screening. I went down a few minutes early to see David’s table set and put out some Fly book cards. They have the publisher’s website and order info on them. We would miss the Friday night “early bird” show preview, where attendees could wander around and buy while the dealers were setting up – if you paid extra. I put the book cards on the freebie table and tried to pick up our badges, but she said, come back in the morning. I mentioned I’d be setting up David’s table at 8:30 AM. That would be fine.
David came down a few minutes early. The car hadn’t arrived yet, so I asked him if he wanted to see his table. He liked where it was in the room and the size of the room, so we were all set. I felt it wouldn't hurt to have the staff see me with him, as I wasn’t badged yet. I also showed him a flyer from the lobby display that said Barbara Parkins was going to be there.
While we were waiting for the limo, David wondered if had gotten cold out yet. I invited him to step outside to see if he was going to need his black cloth jacket later on - it had white piping and probably would have looked fab on him, but he never put it on.
I had my fleece jacket with me and I never used that, either. We stayed inside. I had brought scarves for me and David, but we didn’t need those, either. I ran around in a black T-shirt all weekend: Fly on Friday and Sunday, 007 on Saturday.
David likes it cold, so it was fun to watch him go out and revel in it: he told me when he came back in that it was going to be great later that evening. I was glad, September and October in CA can be beastly hot and this would be a nice change for him.
David asked me if I thought it would it be a good con for him. It was a well-known show, been held in this city for several years. They had moved to this hotel the previous year, so people knew where the venue was, plus three-quarters of the actors signing were first timers at this show. It was also David’s first time there. He always does well when he hasn't been someplace before and I told him that.
Two actors who might have been competition for him were not there. Robert Culp, had he lived to attend, would have definitely been a draw. He was only beginning to tour and had done two other shows, both in LA. Patty Duke would have been the other draw, but she was hired to do a TV movie. We were all happy she got an acting job, but this was the third time she had canceled doing this show.
We waited a few more minutes. This huge white stretch limo pulled in. Is that us? David nodded; it was the same guy who had picked him up at the airport. I was impressed. David gave me the idea he would have been more comfortable in a town car. Jay came in and told us it had taken him an hour and a half to make it to Rosemont. He predicted that would take us that long to get back out to Naperville, as it was Friday night and rush hour. The bellman put David's rolling bag in the truck. David asked if he could sit up front. David always wants the front seat for some reason... so I sat alone in the cavernous back, up by the window slot, so I could talk to the guys.
The limo was at David's disposal. They picked him up from the airport and took him back in it. David was okay with that, aside from the sheer size of the vehicle. David asked Jay if he couldn’t drive him around in something less huge …as there was “nothing” back there, if he sat up front. I piped up, with “Hey, I resent that!” David laughed and said, “Sorry, sweetheart.”
Jay said no. The twenty foot fifteen seater was what the theater paid him to drive. No one on the interstate wanted to be behind us, either, so they were constantly going around us and pulling back in front of Jay. He was a very good driver, particularly with the slow pace we were moving at. At least he had a transponder device for the tolls, so I spent a little while explaining that technology to David. We have transponder toll payment in Florida, but it apparently hasn’t come to LA yet.
We creeped our way west on 294 and merged over onto 88 and finally about an hour later, we got off on Route 59 and then crawled down 59 until we finally got to the theater.
Jay and I chatted about Chicago: he knew the street where my grandmother had lived and currently lived in the same neighborhood as my aunt. We encouraged David to tell us LA traffic horror stories; anything to pass the time.
David’s hearing aid batteries died in the middle of the trip; so he asked Jay to go find a drugstore during the screening to get him some replacements. We were now in a mall area, so we knew he’d have no problem. Jay hung out with us all evening, which worked out very well. David made sure he was taken care of and got something to eat.
The next night Jay drove the Bond ladies out to the other theater and I'm sure he was doing other airport runs for the con the entire time. They called Jay’s cell when we were about four lights away from the theater and he said; we were almost there.
We finally arrived. We were met by the manager at the back door. I took in the suitcase, so all David had to carry was his black knapsack and jacket. He really didn’t want me to do that, because I’m the woman and that’s not right; but then he didn’t want to have to fool with it, either. So I told him, let me take it and he did. I had my assistant badge on. Everyone accepted immediately, I’d be following David around with his rolling bag of pictures.
David wasn't due to come out into the lobby yet, so we were given a tour of the all eight gorgeously themed theaters. The theater was also a bar and a restaurant, so they immediately offered David a drink. He wanted Ketel One vodka, but settled for Grey Goose. I'm on meds that can’t be mixed with alcohol, so I got a nice tall ice tea with a sprig. Perfect. So I wheeled the suitcase into each and every theater and enjoyed the tour.
We were then taken upstairs through the projection area to wait in the owner's office until they were ready for David in the lobby. I sat on one side of David and the manager sat on the other side, which I didn’t realize made it difficult for David. Finally, he turned to face the manager, after apologizing for turning his back on me.
I then got up and moved so we both faced him, as I did not want David to be uncomfortable. I try to remember to be cognizant of David's chivalrous ways. He won't let me pay; he stands up when I come in. I always thank him for treating me like a lady, as I am so not used to that. I'm usually out by myself, either working or running errands. I can't remember the last time someone got the door for me or waited to sit down until I sat down. David does.
We went down to the lobby for David's first signing. I opened the rolling suitcase and helped the person from the theater put out the pictures and books from inside it. We priced everything with post-its. David was set up with a higher table and chair to the left of us. After they paid us, they got in line for him. There was quite a line.
I know that made David happy. He spent time with everyone, particularly the Chicagolandhaunts.com staff member with Down's syndrome. David works with the Southern California Chapter of the Special Olympics (SOSC) in LA; he has always been able to relate to anyone.
I kept busy, signing Fly books when those went through, taking pictures, helping the theatre person sell photos, telling folks what they were from and telling them how the mask was made and how the spider web was white glue… that sort of thing.
The theatre staff (about 6) let me go everywhere with David. It worked out well. It was a little hard to miss me in my T-shirt that says THE FLY in large read letters on it and has David’s picture on it. It’s a limited edition run Fox licensed in 1993 for the 35th anniversary of the film and has served me well at several shows. They only made 1958 of each item.
David had never done that particular signing set-up – where someone else sells and collects the money and all he has to do is read the name on the post-it and sign whatever. I have been at other people’s book signings where they do this – Barnes and Noble comes to mind – but he hadn’t.
They then took us over to the Mayan themed theater for David's Q &A. The MC had briefly gotten lost on his way to the theater, but he showed up right before David was due to go down, so I didn't have to fill in, even though my offer was accepted. I told David I would sit in the front row, where he could see me, if he needed an answer.
David was fine with that. He drained his vodka rocks, set it down, I told him to knock them dead and he was off down the stairs to the front of the theater. I followed three steps behind, as his personal assistant.
David did fantastic, he told great stories about all the movies scenes they wanted to know about. The only thing I had to do was give him the bottle of water from my bag, when his voice went a second time and he asked for some.
I told the audience as I zipped up my bag again and resumed my seat. “That's why you bring your PA.” I got a good laugh. They finally had to start the movie, as we were well past the scheduled screening time by now.
As David left by the left set of stairs to raucous applause; fans seated on the aisle reached out for him. He shook hands with several, and stopped at the top of stair, by a college age woman. She informed him this was her first time seeing the film and she couldn't wait. David asked her if he could have one of her waffle French fries. She said yes. So he ate one. She was so happy. With a final jaunty wave, David exited the theater.
The theater staff kept asking David if he wanted to eat and he kept saying later. After the movie started, we were taken back up the owner's office. Ted had driven over from the other theater where he was working on renovations and wanted to meet David. There we were treated to anything we wanted on the menu.
David wanted to fix his hearing aids first. He left the battery package Jay had given him down on his signing table. I said I had to go to the Powder room anyway, so I would go back down and get them for him; they were probably still sitting on the table.
I went through the projection area, down the elevator, found them on the table and carried them back up to David. He was much happier once he got his hearing aids working again. He did fine with the batteries dead, he told them to speak up and he lip read. David wore his hearing aids more this trip than ever before.
They brought David another Grey Goose (on the rocks) and we ordered - salads in huge bowls and I had a dish of Crab Rangoon. David doesn't like Chinese food, but he did try one at my request - and agreed it was really good, particularly with their plum sauce. I couldn't believe David finished his “Beverly Hills” salad. I couldn't.
We had a long and wide-ranging conversation with Ted, the owner, while we ate and the movie played. We talked a little politics. Ted told us about his plans for his two theater complexes. What movie themes he was using, where he got some of his set pieces, how the renovation was progressing at the other theater. He was excited about his new Chinese Restaurant there, based on the famous LA landmark, The Formosa Cafe.
He asked David about working with Robert Mitchum in The Enemy Below; apparently Ted's Dad was a Mitchum fan. David told him a few stories, the one he always tells about Mitchum ragging on his New England accent and a new one about jumping off the boat in his life preserver from a height of about 25 feet. It was his first film and David thought he was required to do it. David doesn't like heights and was not comfortable, but since he was getting paid to do it, he did it. And it was fine. Afterward the director, Dick Powell, told David he could have asked for a stuntman. They were only testing him, to see how brave he really was.
I told David he had done it right - holding onto his jacket as instructed - and that he had looked good doing it and that kind of macho test was done to all the new young actors in those days.
I told Ted to go the USS Whitehurst page and read about the filming; how the boat was crammed with the regular crew and 88 cast and crew from Hollywood and how they miscalculated the barrel drop and almost blew the stern off the boat with a depth charge. David said, oh, yes, they really did set off those depth charges. He then told the story about his mom insisting the Providence, Rhode Island theater manager put up pictures in the lobby of 'her boy' when the movie came out in 1957.
Ted was a huge Civil War buff. He knew all about the Elon J. Farnsworth (my relative) monument at Gettysburg - so we talked about the Civil War for a while. It was a good talk. David enjoyed it and he told me things were going really well.
I said we'd know when the movie was near the end, we'd hear everyone screaming when she tore the cloth off his head. We ended up going down a little early, so David could be interviewed by Eric Schelkopf. I had told Eric to show up at 7:00 PM - before the Q & A. They came up to tell us he was here, right in the middle of dinner, so David said he’d talk to him when we came down again.
After the interview, David signed for whoever was out in the lobby. He signed for the staff; he had to pose with the nine foot Grim Reaper. He signed Fly books, Fly lobby cards, Fly posters, shirts, DVDs, anything they brought in. One guy who had purchased a Fly book came back after the screening and raved about the parts I had told him to read. David's sixteen page interview - David's sixteen page bio chapter - the behind the scenes making of the mask by Ben Nye. He loved it. That's a Fly fan!
Things finally wound down about 10:30 PM after David was asked to pose with the Hearse guys. I packed up the remaining photos. There were a lot less of them. Jamie, the person from the theater, got tired of trying to catch David in between photos to give him his check for the appearance, so she handed it to me. David was free about a minute later and I handed it to him. Even in an envelope, David knew it was his check.
David was very happy with the night's work. We got back into the limo to go back to the hotel. It only took 45 minutes via the mostly deserted Interstate this time.
I told David I would take charge of the suitcase and bring it down to the table in the morning. He brought me up to his room, to pick up his wall poster and get the rest of the photos for the table, so I could set up without him and he could do whatever he needed to do in the morning to get going without interruption.
He walked me back to the elevator; he wanted ice to chill his orange juice overnight. I asked if he wanted me to get him up in the morning. He thought about it and said call his cell at 7:00 AM and he'd come down to the set-up table at 9:00 AM for early bird selling.
So I gave David a good night kiss on the cheek by the ice machine and left to get ready for bed myself. I changed what I wore to bed, and that helped me sleep better, but I didn't want to miss getting up on time. So I got up at 6:50 AM, waited until 7:00 and woke David up.
I went down to the hall with both rolling bags at 8:30 AM. I tried to put up his poster with masking tape on the wallpaper. It would not stay up. I then introduced myself to our neighbors, Robert Dix and his wife, Mary Ellen. I told them Carol wasn’t coming and briefly explained who I was and what I did for David. Dix played Henderson - the first agent murdered in Live and Let Die. Bob was looking around at what other people were doing with their signs. He then offered me his roll of grey duct tape and told me to put the poster up on the wood panel. That worked.
David came down in the middle of the masking tape debacle, saw I wasn't ready, saw no one was there yet and said he was chilly in what he had on, so he was going back upstairs to change. When he came back down in his grey sweater, I had the poster up and was working on the table display. I was trying to set the table the way David had asked me to, but all his plastic folders would not fit on the table. He had too many.
He dragged Meredith over to our table in the middle of my set-up and wouldn’t let me continue until I showed her "the picture" I had made up for the show with both of them from The Cat Creature. Meredith did not remember the TV movie that well, except that she had a really bad wig and wanted the picture to put in her book to illustrate that. David insisted she take one of the pictures.
She didn't want to, but I told her, go ahead. I offered her what I knew about the provenance of the photo and gave her my University business card to follow up if she had any trouble getting it cleared. I assured her I was legitimate and could help, as I was a published author and had done this. She smiled, and said, of course I was legitimate. She knew that, or I wouldn't be with David.
So after she left, I convinced David to put one picture on the table (as a sample) and I began putting the rest of them into one of the trash bag boxes the Fly books came up in. The table set John and I use to sell when we book him. I got one of every picture David brought out on the table for everyone to see. He liked that.
David complained of feeling feverish as well. He had told the Limo driver the previous night he was getting over a cold, so I went back to my room and brought down my low dose aspirin for him to take. He had a full bottle of water. It was quite a while before the con offered him any and he said, no thanks, mostly because he had drunk all of mine. David did thank me for getting him up, even though he had been dreading my 'early' call.
No sooner had I put a picture down, a fan picked it up and bought it. So David pointed to the blank spot on the table and told me to put another one of those down. So that was my job; to take the money, make change and keep one of all his pictures out on the table at all times. I also had to take pictures of David with his fans, if they paid for it. I'm getting pretty good at working cell phone cameras and I took my first I-phone picture this con.
David noticed I did not have the yellow chair I was supposed to. The stars got leather chairs, the help got cloth chairs, but my cloth chair was MIA. He told me to, ‘Go find a chair. I will not have you standing up all day.’ I know that tone from David - not angry, but it was something I needed to take care of. Now.
So I went and asked the con for a chair. She said I was given one. I answered, I know, but someone took it. So she went over to the closet, opened the door and gave me a chair. I carried it back into the room, brought it behind the table, and put it beside David. He showed me where he wanted it and we were set.
Marcia Wallace said hello and informed us all that David had made the gag reel when he had filmed his 6th season episode of The Bob Newhart Show - something to look forward to when the DVD comes out. She was fun. Marcia told me, I sounded very experienced selling David's pictures, when she asked me a couple of marketing questions at the end of the day.
I asked David if he was going to the Bond screening. He had already told the con he was having dinner with his relatives on Saturday. I knew he had relatives in Philadelphia, but Chicago was a new one on me. He said he has relatives everywhere by now. I was then told I could go on the bus in David's place - they gave me his voucher. I accepted it, more to show David I did have a place to go that night.
David went over to talk to Barbara Parkins and asked if she remembered him. He called her Miss Parkins and she couldn't get around the table fast enough to hug him. David likes talking to all the actors he used to know (and apparently date) at shows. He then walked over and spoke to Lana Wood.
Our table set up was tight. There was one narrow exit between David and Britt Ekland that they both had to use. So did I; Robert Dix and his wife Mary Ellen, when we needed to come out and take pictures with fans. It was like a bizarre twister game, with the four of us trying not to get in each other's way and let whoever out.
I saw after the first two attempted passes by Mary Ellen that David's big leather chair could not stay where it was - not if everyone had to get by. So I gave David the smaller yellow chair, which let him scoot forward far enough, that he didn't have to keep getting up every time one of the three of us wanted to go around him. I moved his larger chair back into the alcove behind where we had to pass by and (occasionally) sat down in it. Traffic flowed much easier after that. David looked at me and my solution and said, Thank God you are here!
I had to get two photos double signed for someone who didn't come. So I went over and paid Meredith to sign the first one. I had had David sign it saying Lori should have been his GA (since he was a professor in this movie - and Lori had worked for one).
So then all the actors, starting with Meredith, asked me what a GA was - Graduate Assistant - I had been one in the library when I was in college, too. Once I explained it, Meredith said her daughter was one, but they called it something else. At Harvard. Small world.
We then talked a little about her career. I teased her that I could not believe she would dump David for Tommy Lee Jones! She said her Nancy character was a bad girl and that she enjoyed playing that and that she had dumped Tommy Lee Jones as well! I watched the show all through college and her character was good and I enjoyed the show. We had a nice talk. Lovely woman.
Then I went out in the hallway to find Edd Byrnes. I would have printed up more of his picture with David, but it pixilated. So Lori got the only one. I told Edd where it was from and he almost remembered the play - in 1969. So what does he write on Lori's picture... that he's better looking than David! I paid him anyway.
While I was out doing that, Loretta Greco and Wendy Karmell came up to David's table. They each bought several pictures. David told me as soon as I returned that I needed to fill in the now blank spots on the table (my job) from the picture box. Loretta caught sight of my plastic badge and said, Diane Kachmar! So this is where you disappeared to! I should have known. I asked who they were, as I had never met either one before. I then showed them some of the photos I had brought with me that didn't fit on the table. Loretta and I used to write for the same paper zine editors in the early eighties. I explained this to David, so he wouldn't feel left out.
Then I picked up my two books off the table and showed them to Loretta and explained I hadn't really left fanfic; I had turned pro in 1997 and that David and I were now working on a Five Fingers book. We actually sold several of the Five Fingers pictures of David and Luciana that I brought. Wendy didn't care that I had turned pro; she wanted me to write fanfic for her again. So I gave her a card with my email. It wasn't the first time that someone would notice my badge, stop me and then thank me for answering their questions via David's web site.
I told David that Edd wanted to talk to him. David asked where he was, and I told him, so the next lull David got, he went out and talked to Edd. Now that's class.
The fans came steadily all day. David nearly always had a line of five or six. They bought Voyage pictures, Bond pictures and Fly pictures. We even had some requests for The Lost World. I had brought several one-of-a-kind photos. We always seem to get a request for Love Boat pictures and I did sell the one I had. David likes it when I can say, yes, I have that, and then I retrieve it out of the box and give it to him to sign.
Several fans told us they had driven four hours from Ohio or Michigan, to come see David. He was the only one they wanted to meet. It had been almost a decade since his last successful show in Ohio (2000) and David had never done an autograph show in Chicago before.
I was informed I was wearing the wrong 007 shirt, as mine said Die Another Day. I told the guy the shirt was black, which made it the right shirt and that the Licence to Kill shirt only came out in white, and I did not wear white T-shirts. At least the guy knew David wasn't in Die Another Day. I also happen to be a Pierce Brosnan fan.
The fans kept asking when the last Voyage DVD was coming out and I said that it was promised for the end of the year and they should track it on the Tvshowsondvd web site. Some knew about David Lambert's posting. Of course, as soon as the con was over, Fox announced the DVD would be released December 21. Now Fox is saying the DVD will be released January 11, 2011. Stay tuned.
David got a lot of Voyage questions. He told one fan, his favorite episode was The Saboteur. We sold quite a few of The Deadly Dolls (the puppet episode) pictures with Vincent Price. David was asked to sign a large box Flying sub model kit from Moebius. He was also given DVD sleeves to sign, but I saw many more books, both Bond and Fly, than I've seen brought in quite some time.
I finally remembered to bring David a paperback book to read, for when it got slow. I brought him the murder mystery I had trying to remember to bring him for the last two shows, sort of a Da Vinci code rip-off. So it was there this time and then David never had any down time to read it. I wonder what subset of Murphy's Law that is.
The fans would ask David what he was doing now. David replied he was staying busy at the Actor's Studio West, teaching acting. I mentioned to one fellow that David was the acting teacher you didn't want to get, but because he would make you work on your part until you made it real - until you found that character within yourself.
When we were at a show in Miami, John talked to Larry Thomas. Larry told John that he not only knew David, but David had given him acting lessons! David likes to teach. I've learned a lot from him in the eight years I've been doing shows with him and working on the two books. He makes you work hard, but you always learn something.
Several folks complimented David on how good he looked, that he didn't look (or act) his age at all. Most thought he was much younger than he is, even some of the other celebrities. They couldn't believe how busy David was, and how he was so gracious to everyone and kept signing and greeting people all day long. David would smile and then tell them he "had good genes."
A few would sidle over and ask me his age. I would confirm that he turned 31 two months before The Fly was released 52 years ago and for them to "do the math." After some finger counting, they would then walk off shaking their heads.
The other question I would get was: ‘Are you a relative?’ Which was understandable; a lot of the actors bring their wives or one of their children to the shows to help them. Only thing is I don’t bear any resemblance to David at all, particularly if you have seen either of his daughters. Wish I did.
I said no, I'm a friend – which was David’s idea -- who helps out. Known him for years, used to be in his fan club in the 1980’s… One woman insisted that I did look like him. Around the eyes, she said.
Our table neighbors, The Dixs, were lovely people. We had a little alcove behind us and we managed to get all our stuff stowed in it and not be on top of each other. They were always kind and would ask me nicely to move out of their way, whenever necessary. I helped them, if they needed a picture taken. I had told Robert my husband was a huge Forbidden Planet fan.
I had seen Robert's feature - where Roger Moore talks about how Dix was cast - on the Live and Let Die DVD. Dix enjoyed hearing about John meeting his Forbidden Planet co-stars; Warren Stevens, Leslie Nielsen and Richard Anderson. At the end of the day, he gave me a signed Forbidden Planet photo for John, for helping them all day. I didn't mind helping them, they were really nice folks. They were busy, too.
We had quite a corner; Marcia Wallace stayed busy, too. A lot of people had their pictures taken in that corner. I had fun talking with the Dixs all day, we exchanged show stories and a lot of different tips about what worked at our tables.
Steven Lundin brought David a copy of the Thursday Chicago Tribune his interview had appeared in. I read it over David's shoulder. It had been cut down to almost nothing, but David had the biggest picture in what was left. I asked if that made him the headliner. David shrugged. We were certainly selling like he was.
Steve came back around mid-afternoon and he and his son Nick videotaped David. This video is now up on You Tube. David came back to the table to find freshly made tea, the way he liked it. I was able to get him milk at the coffee stand in the lobby.
I had a nice talk with Michael Gross. He was very popular, either for Family Ties - he and Meredith posed together a lot - or they wanted to talk about the Tremors movies and TV series. I told him that one I liked the way he played Stephen Keaton and it was nice that he put a Dad out there like that.
Then we talked about Bert Gummer. Bert was my favorite character in Tremors. Normally, I don't watch films like that, it's not my genre, but like The Fly, Tremors was a film you could watch and enjoy, because the characters were so good. Michael had a lot of fun playing Bert and it turned out he liked many of the same episodes that had showcased Bert as I did. I complimented him on his range - Bert is about as polar opposite from Steven Keaton as you can get - I told him that made for a great audition reel. He liked that. Great guy. Very popular.
A fellow came get a signed photo and told David a story about standing around outside in the rain outside a pizzeria for four hours during the filming of The Naked Face here in Chicago in 1983. He was told the actors might come out and eat around midnight. He waited all that time and only David came out, so he watched David eat his sandwich and have his coffee, but was too shy to come inside and actually talk to David. So he said, now 28 years later, he was finally going to talk to David. And talk they did.
Roger Moseley came wandering through the room late in the afternoon. I didn't recognize him at first, he had a cap on, but when I did, I asked how his show was going and if he wanted to wait until David was back from his break. He said, no, he was merely walking around, seeing whoever was there.
In the late afternoon, David read over some pages I had brought him from the Five Fingers book and approved them. He was very complimentary. I was so happy he liked what I had written; I forgot where we were and kissed the top of his head. That was the only part of him I could reach, as he was sitting down in the chair and I was standing up. His hair is really soft.
I noticed there was a hearing aid battery on the table by David's markers. I asked David if it was his battery. He took off the left hearing aid and the compartment was open. So he stuck the battery back in and put it back on. I think maybe the unit had broken, because the next day he didn't seem to be wearing it. The bulk of his unit fits behind his ear and then curls over the top, so from the front, you can't always tell if he has them on or not.
Toward the end of the day, David was feeling it. He turned to me and said his hand hurt. I didn't doubt it. I told him it would be over soon. He wasn't that unhappy, he was making money, but it was beginning to wear him out. I rubbed his shoulder in sympathy as I passed behind him; He said again he could use a nap. David did stay until closing time on Saturday, mostly because we kept selling pictures.
David asked me to empty his suitcase so he could take it upstairs to pack it for a quick exit on Sunday, so I put all the extra picture folders from his into mine. I gave him back his bag and told him to scoot at the end of the day.
He asked; Are you sure? David is too much of a gentleman to leave me to do all the clean-up work. I told him I was fine and to go. He didn't need a third nudge. He really wanted to take a nap before his relatives came to get him for dinner. So with a grin, like a kid let out of school, David was gone.
Having already done one five hour screening with David, I decided to stay home from the Bond event. I needed to sort the pictures into better order in the Fly box, so I could find them faster and rest my aching feet. I had to work the next day.
I ended up on the elevator - with my pictures and other paraphernalia - with the con runner. I asked Ray if he had filled the bus going to the Bond thing, He said it was the first time he had more celebs wanting to go than he had room on the bus! They got four of the five Bond actors to go and everyone had a really good time out there.
So rather than ride on the roof, I stayed home, sorted pictures and ordered chicken soup to go from the bar. It was really good soup. That night I slept.
I told David to show up at 11:00 AM (when they opened) on Sunday. I didn't get down as soon as I wanted to. I could not get the self service boarding pass printer to print, but the front desk had no problems. So I grabbed Mohammad, the bellman, who took my clothes instead of the pictures. We got that straightened around and I went down and got badged. Guess who came in right behind me and the luggage rack.
I was set to go, so I put down the box of pictures, his pens were already there - David set his name plate where he wanted and we immediately sold a picture. I put out all the pictures we only had a few left of; we sold out of several pictures by 1:00 PM.
John had asked me to put Robert Dix on my cell phone. He wanted to thank him for the picture. But first, I paid Mr. Dix to sign his other Forbidden Planet picture as John wanted both of them. Dix plays Grey in the movie; he's the first crewman to be killed by the "Id" monster. Turns out the cell reception was really bad in the hall, so they really couldn't hear each other, but it was nice of Mr. Dix to try. I asked John if he wanted to say hi to David, and David immediately said, 'Don't put me on the phone, I won't be able to hear him' - which was true.
So I told John I had to go and that I loved him. David turned slightly in the chair and said, "Tell him I love him, too." I did. David then informed me he had been talking to Bridget on his cell in his hotel room because that was the only place he could hear her!
David had a new silver cell phone, a slider.
After my delay with the boarding pass printer, I knew the front desk could do it. I asked David if he wanted me to go get his boarding pass printed. He pulled out the black notebook and wrote down his confirmation number for me. I took that to the front desk and brought back his boarding pass. One less thing he had to do at the airport.
We had a lot more items brought in for David to sign on Sunday, mostly Bond stuff. One fellow brought in his Bond cigar humidor. He thought he was going to get four signatures on it, until I pointed out he could also get Mr. Dix to be number five.
Anders Fredjh tapped me on the shoulder when I was out on the floor, doing a paid photo-op and I gave him a big hug hello. I could not believe he came all the way from Sweden to see David. He wanted a special inscription on his picture - for his Bond Web site and for me to take some pictures. So I did.
Doug Redenius of the Ian Fleming Foundation brought David some lovely on-set photos of the wedding that never was and David's 'crane' accident. Doug said the wire broke and that's why David went sprawling. David said he felt it, but he was glad (in a way) that he went first and the equipment did not fail when Timothy was hooked up to the crane - or they might have lost their star. David graciously let me scan these photos for the web site and when I was done I mailed them to him. Doug gave his permission for them to be on the web site, so look for them in their own spotlight later this year. Doug had a great shot of him standing at David's shoulder (as a member of the wedding party) that David signed for him.
A lot of these fans bought the Felix Leiter portrait I had found for David's table. The last time he went to NEC in Birmingham; I wanted him to have a new LTK picture as he had done this show previously. So I sent him that one to print up and it's been one of his most popular ever since. I'm always happy when that one sells.
David said he wanted to talk to Larry Manetti, so he went out into the hallway for a while and said hello to Larry and anyone else out there he knew. I never got a break from selling to actually see who was actually out at those tables.
I went over to Meredith right before she left and gave her money to sign The Cat Creature photos for the David Hedison Facebook Store. It never occurred to me not to pay her, she had been nice to me and we had fun talking (several times) over the weekend. It helped I was with David, of course, but she truly was nice to everyone.
I bring the pictures back and David immediately wants to know if I paid for those.
I told him; of course, I wanted Meredith to have the money. He then said I should have asked him to do it and he would have gotten them signed for free. He had known Meredith like forever and she would have done it for him. I hadn't wanted to bother David with this and I didn't want to gyp Meredith. It was also too late to do what David wanted now, she was gone.
I had put out a Fly picture that David hates - I was surprised he had any with him - and I was trying to get rid it of it. One guy almost bought it, then David told him he hated it, so the guy dithered some more and finally decided to buy something else.
After the guy didn't buy The Fly picture, David reached down and tore it in half. I think part of it was for effect (being dramatic) because the guy dithered, but it could have been David really hates that Fly picture. Well, he got rid of it and made sure it didn't go home with either one of us. I threw the torn up pieces away.
David had to leave at 3:00 PM to catch his flight home, so we started packing him up around 2:30. I helped him lift his suitcase up onto the table and he told me I didn't need to do that, so I let him lift it down fully loaded by himself.
I let him pack. David picked out what he wanted to take home and we stuffed the various photos into his white string folders and (thankfully) they all fit inside. I didn't zip the bag closed right, so David fixed that how he wanted it.
Jay walked in and David knew his ride was here. Actually, I had told David I had seen the limo pull in out front, much earlier than this, but he didn't believe me. Jay had taken Meredith out to the airport and then had come back for David.
David walked around the room to say goodbye to Barbara and Lana and anyone else he knew. David wasn't the first to leave, but after he did, so did most everyone else. I gave him my smaller box - which I had brought DVDS up in - to put whatever photo folders we could cram in there and then we put the rest of them into his suitcase. He gave me his wall poster to take home, as he didn't want to check it going back. David pressed money into my hand at the last minute; to pay for my hotel room.
I didn't book this con, so David didn't have to do that, but he's that way. He gave me a long, heartfelt good-bye hug; told me not take any wooden nickels. I told him I would stay until closing time, then pack everything up and mail out his photo box for him. I took his bigger box and packed a box of my own, everything I didn't want to haul home on the plane, including the duffel they didn't like under my seat. There were only five of us left in the room by 4:00 PM.
I had to get up at 5:00 AM to catch my Mon. flight so once I got the packages sealed and left for UPS to pick up, I packed my suitcase. I was much lighter going home, which was fortunate as once again I had to run for my connection. It was already boarding when I arrived, but I got everything home. It was a really fun weekend and I was glad I was there to help David, particularly since he sold so many pictures.
Diane Kachmar 11/4/10