it. Some people like one side of their face better than the other. Tina
Louise, who played Ginger on "Gilligan's Island," is one of those people.
She had it in her contract that she could only be photographed from one
side. Don't know which side. They both looked good to me.
When I was a young sprout I was a photographer. I had
a company called, "GOTCHA." I even had a camera. My film subjects were
actors and actresses that needed 8x10s for their interviews. Many of them
had a favourite side to be photographed from.
I had always thought that my face was symmetrical.
Except for a mole on my right cheek. I thought both sides of my face were
the same. I would have bet on it.
A lab technician, at the photo lab I took my exposed
film to, disagreed. Sw we set up an experiment. I had recently had most
of my hair cut off for the role of a gladiator. It was less than an inch
long and combed forward so it looked the same on both sides. I got a photographer
friend to photograph my face straight on. The lighting was the same on
both sides. I had a black turtleneck sweater on with a black background
so that the photo would only show my face.
The film lab man made two 8x10 negatives of the face
shot and printed one photocopy. Then he cut the two negatives in half,
top to bottom. He took two half negatives of the left side of my face and
flipped one over and put the two left sides together. He did the same with
the right side and printed a copy of each. It's easy to do, just takes
a little time.
The three prints side by side showed three different
people -- very different people. My face made from two right sides looked
like a tough no-nonsense cop. The middle me, the mirror image was
my old self. But the face made from two left sides was scary. The face
looking back at me was evil. A face only a mummy could love. I wouldn't
follow that face down a dark alley. I couldn't introduce that face to a
friend and expect him to keep the friend. So much for being symmetrical.
Tina knew what she was doing.
Gilligan's Island wasn't an island. Well, the plot
was shot in Hawaii but all the other episodes were shot on a sound stage
at the corner of Laurel Canyon and Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, in
the San Fernando Valley. The lagoon was a cement puddle between the sound
stage and the parking lot. Sometimes it's what you don't see that creates
the magic of film.
The cast, the writers and the producer provided the
other magic in Gilligan's Island. The actors were having a ball. Wouldn't
you? Jim Backus called on Mr. Magoo to keep folks smiling. Dawn and Tina
were easy on the eye and Bob was Gilligan. Allan Hale, Jr. was really Santa
Tina and I rehearsed some of our scenes in her dressing
room. The room was elegantly decorated with flocked wallpaper and beautiful
rugs and antique furniture. I sat down on a one hundred year-old carved
chair and broke the back off. Not a good start to the rehearsal.
In the scene it called for Ginger to slap me on the
shoulder. The part of Tongo, a poor man's Tarzan, fit the title of the
episode. "Our Vines Have Tender Apes." Tongo fainted when he saw animals.
I almost fainted the first time Tina slapped me. She really liked that
Gilligan's Island has never been off the air. They've
been rerunning the show forever. Of the requests I got for photos or autographs,
G.I. fans outnumber all the rest.
The part of Duke Williams, a surfer, is a puzzle to
most real surfers. They want to know how anyone can surf without a wave.
I'm not a surfer and told the producer, up front. He said not to worry.
"We have stock footage of a surfer that looks like you surfing a thirty
food wave off Hawaii." "Then we'll cut to you coming across the lagoon
on your surfboard. Just hold on to the board and try to stay on your hands
and knees." "OK, I can do that."
They drilled a hole in the nose of the surfboard and
put a steel bolt through the hole. They they hooked a cable on the bolt
under the board out of sight. The cable went clear across the lagoon, under
water, and was attached to a motorized winch on the back of a truck.
I got on the board on the far side of the lagoon. They
rolled film. . . "Action!"
The board got going so fast I thought he, I bet I could
stand up. I did. The board hit the beach so fast I turned a somersault,
stood up, and heard, "Print."
And that's how you surf without a wave. Sometimes it's
what you don't see that creates the image.