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Volume 4584

DENNY MILLER FLASHBACKS
Denny shares anecdotes from his long career in show business
PAGE XIV
.Contents
1. Two Special Artists
2. Acting with the Lord
3. Lights Out



Denny and Nancy

"Denny Miller Flashbacks" is an ongoing feature in ERBzine
in which Denny will share a different anecdote each week.
Readers are reminded to join us each Friday for a new Miller flashback.
MAIN CONTENTS PAGE: ERBzine 4550

EDITOR'S NOTE FOR FANS OF DENNY:
 We thought it might be fun for our readers 
to write anecdotes about the first time they met Denny 
- either via the screen or in  person.
We'd love hear your stories.
Send them to our ERBzine e-mail account:
ERBzine@westman.wave.ca

TWO SPECIAL ARTISTS
Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell 

Boris Vallejo
John Carter and Dejah Thoris on Mars 
Art by Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell: John Carter of Mars Movie Site

DUM-DUM. I'm not talking about singing along when you know the tune but don't know the lyrics. I'm not stuttering  about the state of someone's brain. I AM talking about the sound of the jungle drums in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan stories. They call the Mangani - Tarzan's Great Apes and natives - together.

The 2003 gathering was held in Louisville, Kentucky. The Burroughs Bibliophiles came from all over the jungle. Natives blew in from all points of the world. Two came from Vienna, Austria, one from London and the rest were from all over the United States and Canada.

George T. McWhorter was the host. He's hosted more meetings than any other native. Why? He has the world's largest, most complete Burroughs collection. And he's unrivaled as a host.

I've attended many Dum-Dum's. As an X Tarzan, I have a lifetime pass. They are great fun, these fans of ERB. Among them you'll find serious book collectors, movie buffs, toy collectors, authors of books about the men who have played the role of Tarzan on film, and artists who have illustrated the books and the posters and lobby cards and the calendars for ERB stories.

Boris Vallejo and his wife Julie Bell are two of the most famous and talented of these artists. They were the guests of honour this year.

Their fans knew Julie and Boris were going to attend the Dum-Dum. So many of them brought artwork for them to sign.

The waiting line stretched for metres across the huge room.

I've been to a lot of these fan conventions. I've watched big-name stars from Steve Allen to Buddy Hackett, Don Knots, Bruce Bennett, Anne Francis and others to see how they receive this outpouring of adoration from their fans.

Some make it an assembly line experience for the fan. The star very seldom makes eye contact with the adoring fan. The star keeps signing their photographs, head down, ignoring the excitement, the pure joy that they are being bathed in.

Other stars and artists take the time to let the walls down, open themselves to this strange ritual. They talk with each fan. They are sincere in their "thank you's." After all, these admirers have wept and laughed and been entertained for years by these actors and artists. The fans are showing their gratefulness, and yes, even their love by giving the star money for an autographed photo or illustration.

I could see Julie and Boris appreciated it. They appreciated this aura, this kindness -- a gift, a tribute from their fans.

Have you ever seen or talked with people that are completely comfortable in their skin? They are satisfied with who they are. They have easy access and welcome yo into their world. The password is, "Hello." Julie and Boris are like that.

Their art shows the human body as the Greeks saw it in their Golden age. Julie and Boris have developed their muscles. The layman calls it bodybuilding. It's a very simple process. A muscle grows when you make it work harder than the day before. The next day you work other muscles, while you rest the ones you worked today. You feed the muscle groups nourishing food and they will become stronger, bigger and more defined. The key word here is WORK. Let me correct that. HARD WORK.

In their illustrations, they present the human body in the beauty that it can be. they capture perfectly-developed men and women in action, or poised to spring into action. We admire these humans as fantasy. But Boris and Julie know they are real. They have lived in that world.

I had the pleasure of sharing a meal with them at the Dum-Dum. I have a degree in kinesiology from UCLA. Physical education is what that word means. It's the study of muscles and how they move us through our lives. for years I have signed my letters "Stay healthy." I want to remind people I care about to take care of themselves. After just a few minutes with Julie and Boris, I could tell they don't need reminding. The world they live in reflects the world they create with their art. It's a healthy world and because of that, a world with much beauty.


click for full-page posters
Refs: ERBzine Photo Archive Collages
Boris Tarzan Cover Art
Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell Website
Boris Vallejo: Wikipedia
Boris Vallejo Gallery
Editor's Note:

The Louisville 2003 Dum-Dum was a very special occasion for your Editor.
In addition to meeting Denny, Boris and Julie, I was awarded the Burroughs Bibliophiles Lifetime Achievement Award.
Presented by George McWhorter and Danton Burroughs.
Official Button


.

ACTING WITH THE LORD

Hawaii Five-O was Jack Lord. James MacArthur was his sidekick, but Jack Lord was "the Man." I had heard rumours that Jack was difficult to work with. No so.

I've only had three parts offered me that called for me to cry. I've managed to keep the child in me alive. That may be the reason that crying hasn't been a problem for me as an actor. More likely, the writer has written a scene that is so emotional that it is hard not to cry. That certainly was the case when I played the character on Five-O.

This character was accused of killing his fiancee. That was sad enough to make a strong man cry. Add to this the fact that the character had been so drunk at the time of her murder that he couldn't remember whether or not he'd killed her. I cried when I first read the script. 

I was being interrogated by Jack Lord, in the crying scene. We had gotten off to a good start when someone dropped a hammer off screen. Jack jumped up and chased the guy off the sound stage into the street. When he came back he still hadn't calmed down. He went to his mark, seated on his desk and just sat there. When he was in control he made a short speech. No, he made a command. He said, "Give this man some consideration. This is a very difficult scene and I want complete silence!" I thanked him for his kindness. 

The attitude of the cast and crew takes on the personality of the star of the show in a TV series. If the star cares, they care. The work is a joy, but the hours are long and a leader is needed. The star is that leader.

Jack's professional attitude made that scene one of the best I've done in 50 years. 

The next night we shot my "drunk scenes". The camera truck was attached to a low flat bed trailer. The motorcycle I was to ride was cabled to the trailer. Most camera trucks are small trucks. When its bed is loaded with the camera, the camera operator, the cameraman, the lighting crew, the lights, the sound man, and the director and the assistant director, it looks like one of those bicycle acts in the circus with all fifteen members of a family hanging on. 

The truck was loaded. The character I'm playing is loaded and we're off. It's a Saturday night and we're going down the main street. Ala Moana, in Honolulu. We were in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

The director yelled his directions over the traffic noise. "Swerve back and forth as much as you can. Put your feet up on the handlebars. Stand up. Sid side saddle!" All the moves a drunken rider would do. I was having fun.

We stopped at a red light and out of the corner of my eye I see five real bikers pull to a stop. I gave them a half-hearted wave and they in turn gave me a look that translated to, "You dweeb. You're an absolute dork!"

When the light changed, just to prove them wrong, I grabbed the handle-bars, scrunched down like I was going 100 miles an hour and yelled . . .  "VROOM-VROOM!!!

HAWAII-50 EPISODE
Pray Love Remember, Pray Love Remember *** 1/2
Season 1, Episode 12 
Ref: Ratings of Hawaii Five-O Episodes 
Directing and editing: Fine, with many pleasing images. Especially effective at the beginning with the giantly tall Denny Miller and the little boy. 

Story: Pleasing puzzle with intriguing questions to be answered. The circumstantial evidence builds up against an innocent man, each scene putting another bar on the cage he finds himself in. The engaging scene of the little girl and her "missing fish" report provides a good hook. We get some great teamwork and friendship scenes with the Five-O team.

Acting: Denny Miller is engaging as the miserable young man accused of murdering his lady love. He keeps us with him as he sinks deeper into despair. Jorie Remus is delightful as a bourgeois wife. Ron Feinberg also engages our sympathy as a big, dumb, unfortunate schlimazel. When McGarrett's ribs get cracked in a fight, Jack Lord convinces us for the rest of the hour that McGarrett is still in pain. 

Music: Moves the story along well without being obtrusive.

.

LIGHTS OUT


Tim Rossovich  (L) ~ Denny Miller 
Two guys were holding me up. Another stunt man was holding my head trying to stop it from wobbling around like I didn't have control of it, which I didn't. My upper lip was throbbing and wasn't acting like my upper lip, and both knees were wobbling so much that one second I was six-foot four-inches tall, and the next I was five-foot four-inches tall. Thank goodness the guys holding my arms would  catch me on the way to five-foot four.

"Are ya' okay? ARE YA' OKAY?" someone asked. "How should I k now?" I flobbered. "I just got here. My upper lip worked like a board when I talked.

I over-corrected, my head bounced forward, and I got a quick glance at my feet. Someone had been bleeding on my shoes. That was a good thing, I thought. At least I could focus.

I heard some distant voice call, "I think he's gonna need stitches. Get a car over here." In my fuzzy brain that message translated, "Oh good, a car is going to stitch me up."

Someone else suggested that I sit down, an idea I agree with. So I did. The two guys at my sides had to save me once more and guided me to an apple box.

See, when you are an actor and like doing your own stunt fights. . .  I had slipped on some gravel and my face was just eleven inches left and ten inches in front of where it should have been. Tim Rossovich, a two hundred forty-six pound, six-foot six-inch ex-line backer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, just did what we had rehearsed. He threw a right cross. My teeth have never been the same. I was the one that goofed.

Stunt fights are like a dance. They are rehearsed by schooled stuntmen and women. Done right they look very realistic and no one gets hurt. They're planned, choreographed and done over and over in slow motion. Punches missed landing by at least a foot. When the person receiving the punch snaps his head in the direction the punch is throw just as it goes by his head, you'd swear the punch landed. The hand and the head are quicker than the eye. Stuntman Yakima Canutt and John Wayne created this method of movie screen fighting. Before their genius, screen fights looked like a bunch of sissies pushing and shoving and playing patty-cake, patty-cake.

I went off to the nearest hospital, had the gash on the inside of my upper lip stitched up and went back tot he set. Then we did the fight scene again. This time, with stitches in my lip and cotton up my nose and taking care not to slip in the gravel, the fight went like it should have the first time around.

The next day, for the only time in my career, I wore a ski mask. It was a robbery scene. By this time my lip preceded my nose by an inch. I looked like Bart Simpson. I looked a lot like Bart Simpson! The mask covered up the lip problem. The only other scene I had to do was in a bar. I hid my lip behind a full, foaming beer mug.  That shows why stunt people are important. An actor gets hurt doing his own stunt fighting and the production is in trouble.

Several months later and fourteen hours in a dental chair, a bone graft taken from my right jaw and transplanted to the upper left to shore up those loose teeth and I was like new. Universal Studios picked up the bill. I heard it came to over $25,000! Thank you very much.

All of this happened on a show called "When the Whistle Blows". When I came back to the set after being sewn up, I found Tim off by himself crying. He was a pro and blamed himself. I told him it was old klutzy me and we had a good laugh about it. I sure was glad I was his friend. Seeing stars in Hollywood is usually fun, but not when they appear after a punch in the mouth.

One other thin: the morning after the accident, I was home getting dressed to go to work and I noticed a red welt running across my chest. My lip and teeth had all of my attention and the welt never made it to my pain centre.

I asked a few questions at work about my mystery welt. Seems when Tim cold-cocked me I flew back and landed on my back, out like a veggie. Then the only stuntwoman in the group of eight stunt folks blasted me with a breakaway two by four across my front side. In rehearsals I had always been on my hands and knees at that point in the fight. Then the welt would have in the right place, on my back. You ever had one of those days?


 


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