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Volume 4588

DENNY MILLER FLASHBACKS
Denny shares anecdotes from his long career in show business
PAGE X

Contents
1. The Olympics and Rafer Johnson
2. Say Goodnight, Jay et al
3. Coach Wooden, The Wizard of Westwood



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

The Olympics and Rafer Johnson
It is time for the Winter Olympics. Every time I watch the Opening Ceremony I think of my friend, Rafer Johnson. In 1984 Rafer carried the torch up a long, steep stairway to light the main torch to begin the games!

I met Rafer when we were student-athlete and Basketball teammates.  He was also training for the Olympics as a Decathlete, along with C.K. Yang.  He was an excellent student and managed to find time to serve as Student Body President.  In 1956 he was a Silver Medalist.  In 1960 he took the Gold, as the “World’s Greatest Athlete!”  He has never stopped striving to be the best in all his endeavors.

Rafer served at the Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Special Olympics, in California.  He has worked tirelessly to encourage all to be the best we can be.  We are all winners when we work at being our best.  I have always looked up to him.  He has achieved much in his professional and personal life.  He is now a grandfather and can still slip into his Olympic outfit.  He stays fit and is a great role model for us all!

There are many former athletes that can be seen in Hollywood movies.  I am a prime example.  How ‘bout this for a bit of trivia...Rafer Johnson was in more Tarzan movies than me! I was only in one production, in 1959. Rafer was in two Tarzan films: (Tarzan and the Jungle Boy ~ Tarzan and the Great River) and one Tarzan TV show (Prodigal Puma)

More than four decades have past, and he is still a winner!  I am proud to call him a friend.

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Tarzan and the Prodigal Puma
NBC 1966 Tarzan TV Episode with Ron Ely and Rafer Johnson

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Say Goodnight, Jay et al

Nancy and I have watched the TONIGHT SHOW for many years.  And now Jay Leno is retiring after 22 years on the show.  Nancy commented that she “has gone to bed with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno most of her adult life!”  That got me thinking. 

Every time you turn on your TV, you are inviting an actor or a bunch of actors into your home. Day after day, for hours at a time, they are in your living room, kitchen, bedroom, wherever a television set is on.  People begin to form an attachment to your character or you.  You share experiences with them.  That is why soap stars get wedding presents or baby gifts when they get married or have on a baby on their series.

It is no surprise that when people see actors at the grocery store or at a sporting event or just walking down the street, they recognize you.  After all, you have been a guest in their homes!  When I attend festivals it is very gratifying when a fan comes up and shakes your hand and thanks you for so many fond memories. I have had people tell me that they grew up watching WAGON TRAIN on their grandfather's knee.  To me, that is delayed applause for my efforts.   Often I am asked to do the Tarzan Yell and I sheepishly have to admit that I can not do it. But TARZAN launched my career and I have always been honored to have portrayed such an admirable and much-loved character!

Fans will ask “Who did you think was prettier, Dawn or Tina, on Gilligan’s Island?”  I admit they were both terrific and great to be stranded on an island with!  Or someone will stop me and say “I have eaten a whole lot of fish sticks because of you

It amazes me that people are willing to pay money for my autographed photo; how flattering is that?   I have had a long and varied career in show business,  and I thank each of you the opportunity to be a part of your lives and memories; it is truly an honor!

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COACH WOODEN, THE WIZARD OF WESTWOOD

Back in the day, the 1950s that is, most university athletic teams had one training table.  At UCLA, ours was in the cafeteria, on campus.  We were served good, healthy meals and Coach Wooden and his assistants joined the team. We would discuss basketball and our academic classes.  One day the subject of rough, physically tough games came up.

Remember when your brother, Kent, was thrown out of a game for fighting and he wasn’t even in the game?  He was sitting on the bench, watching the game, with the coaches and subs.   Remember when that big guy from Stanford ran into you and knocked your knee out?  I was on crutches for three weeks.  Remember when Jim came off the bench and punched the Oregon player?  Those were rough times; really touch players!

Coach picked up his tray and dishes and said, “Yes those were touch games.  I remember a game where the ten players were ready to start, the Referee blew his whistle, the two Centers crouched, the Ref tossed the ball in the air for the jump, and the two Centers ignored the ball and punched each other in the face, starting a fight before the game ever got started.”  Coach Wooden looked back at us and said, “After that it got rough.  See you tomorrow.”

Coach didn’t tolerate that kind of rough play or showboating from his players.  He always said, “The bench is my friend.”  If you did something he didn’t like, he had a spot for you, on the bench.

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