I have been reflecting a lot over the past 2 weeks about the Burt Reynolds Monument Unveiling at Hollywood Forever last month…
I went back a few days ago to visit and enjoy the serenity of the cemetery. Burt was a wonderful guy – a true super star I had the pleasure to know. He was larger than life but down to earth and very talented in front of the cameras and behind the scenes too. He had a great sense of humor and wouldn’t take BS from people. He was a great guy – he was human, he wasn’t perfect, and he had many crises to conquer in his sometimes very complex lifetime but as he is often quoted “No one else had more fun” and he did. My friend Dan Tirman was one of his students at his theatre in Jupiter Florida and was very fortunate to be there. Burt loved to teach and was excellent at it. As his former wife beautiful Loni Anderson talked about at the dedication her relationship with Burt continued after their tumultuous divorce and they reconciled and were friends. She is very sweet, sincere, intelligent and down to earth.
Both Loni and their son Quinton spoke eloquently at the private ceremony attended by an intimate group of people who knew Burt and loved him. Tyler Cassity, president of Hollywood Forever spoke first and then unveiled the beautiful bronze bust designed by Caroline PM Jones. Burt’s longtime manager Erik Kritzer also delivered thoughtful sentiments and a warm message from Burt’s niece, Nancy Lee Hess, was included, “Thank you, Burt, for making the world a better place – you are missed. You touched millions of people around the world for decades and you were very talented.”
After the gathering we joined several hundred fans on the Fairbanks Lawn to watch the premiere of Network Entertainment’s “I Am Burt Reynolds” a great new documentary directed by Adrian Buttenhuis that I highly recommend. My friends Ruta Lee and Elaine Dupont also attended the exceptional, long to be remembered, evening as did Stefanie Powers. “I had the joy of working with Burt several times” notes legendary Ruta, “Our every meeting, work or social, was loving and laughter filled! Spending a few moments at Burt’s Monument, at Hollywood Forever, was another touching visit with him! It was also very special to share the memorial with two ladies that were prominent in Burt’s life… my beautiful, good friend Stefanie Powers and his former wife Loni Anderson who is lovely inside as well as out! The evening was a beautiful tribute to gifted Burt Reynolds by his many celebrated friends and FANS!!!”
Much to my surprise when I woke up the next morning, I discovered Associated Press had used a photo of my hands holding the programs to tease the story globally – I am honored and still surprised, and amused. The photo is now part of Burt’s famous legacy, and I am honored.
As I mentioned earlier, my friend Dan Tirman was one of Burt’s acting students in Jupiter Florida and loved it. He noted ” I had the pleasure of being a company member and student at the Burt Reynolds Institute for Theater Training “BRITT” during the 1994-95 season… Burt played an instrumental part in each of our lives as a teacher, mentor, and friend. One day he gave me a Tuck and Patty CD with specific songs marked for me to listen to that he felt would encourage me. I gave him a CD of the late great jazz singer Jimmy Scott, and he told me he had brought the whole cast of Evening Shade to see Jimmy perform. I was a bit older than the other company members, so Burt and I could talk about the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era with relish. He told me Lucy (Ball) was always happy and that she was a triple Leo. It was easy to be happy around Burt. A bit of an eccentric, Burt liked to give us midnight acting classes… That meant, scene study class with Burt began at midnight and lasted until 6 a.m. He philosophized that a condition of extreme sleepiness would make us more natural and honest. He’d say we’d be too tired to “act”. The midnight classes were fantastic and special. We had so much fun being too tired to act, and Burt was a fine acting instructor. We all learned a lot about being authentic in a scene. One of the perks of being under the tutelage of Burt Reynolds was the pals he invited to give us classes. Charles Nelson Reilly, Anne Wedgeworth, Jose Quintero, Dom Deluise, and other important theater masters brought us great instruction and insight. At our graduation ceremony Burt was accessible, warm, and genuinely happy to spend time with our families and friends. He and my mother hit it off quite nicely. He kept trying to tell her how I made him smile and laugh while she kept telling him how good and healthy, he looked. Burt became like family and even years later, on seeing him on a set or an event, he always retained that welcoming sweetness. Burt was a generous man who took pleasure in “giving back” and providing opportunities to young artists in support of their creativity, goals, and dreams. He found great reward in that, and we shall love him for it, always”.
My friend, costumer Juliet Hyde White, adds “When I was early in the Costuming business, I worked on games shows back in the early eighties. Loni and Burt were both on one I did, called Win, Lose or Draw hosted by Burt Convy… I took care of her clothes and helped her get dressed. I was probably 19-20 years old, and they were the King and Queen of Florida back then. And he treated her so. He was lovely and so was she and made everyone feel comfortable and important. Good memories indeed! Burt was a real gentleman and treated her like a Queen, it was very apparent, even to me at that young age. I have vivid memories recalling this and how they were together. Once Burt came walking by our little wardrobe working area, quite a brisk walk with his cigar in mouth and said, “Don’t ever take up cigar smoking, it’ll kill you”. It was a serious message, but he was so funny!”
My late great columnist friend Army Archerd loved Burt and was very loyal to him. I remember Army visiting Burt once on location – it was Hollywood Royalty visiting Hollywood Royalty. Army was and is my entertainment reporting, columnist idol and I was really pleased I was when he mentioned me in his column when I was hosting a local broadcast of a TV show about Katharine Hepburn which featured director Mark Rydell, Karen Sharpe Kramer, and Kat Kramer “Aunt Kate’s” namesake. Kat & I ran into Burt once when he was out for dinner with his close friend Charles Durning at West Hollywood’s trendy AGO – We gave them postcards for the show… “Plug plug plug”… that’s Hollywood. Karen appeared on an episode of Gunsmoke with Burt but weren’t in scenes together. The family of the late great Hollywood filmmaker are very enterprising… daughter Jennifer Kramer stars in and wrote the very impressive film short Nakusa and sister Kat Kramer is getting raves doing stand-up comedy!
Burt’s handsome monument is located on the north side of the pond under a tall palm tree and is reminiscent of his beloved Florida. Kudos to Hollywood Forever’s Tyler Cassity and his staff for all their hard work and dedication!
My friend legendary Hollywood actress Mamie Van Doren also wanted to sing Army Archerd’s praises… ” Army was the first columnist I met when Universal introduced me as Mamie Van Doren. The moment we met we became fast friends. He always wrote good things about me, and he was drop dead handsome. I couldn’t wait for my next interview with Army. He was a trailblazer for all the Hollywood pundits who came after him. Army was simply the best!” Still drop dead gorgeous and active Mamie is very pleased to be part of Rapper Casanova Ace and DJ Staunch of Staunch Moderates new album The First Realm which also features music giants Doobie Bros., Steely Dan’s Jeffrey Skunk Baxter and Tears for Fears. The album shares the movement’s story through music with Input by Lou Ferrigno and Barry Goldwater Jr. and features amazing guitar solos by Jeffrey Skunk Baxter. It is now available on all major streaming platforms.
Visit www.StaunchModerates.org – Thank you to Edward Lozzi & Associates Public Relations for this exciting news!
“I’d like to thank the Academy… the Academy Museum that is” and Finn Partners for the invitation to attend their breathtaking dedication and official ribbon cutting ceremony last week attended by civic and cultural leaders and officers of the Academy Museum and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It was truly fantastic and upbeat and filled with joy and good will. Immediately following the ceremony, the Academy Museum opened its doors to the public and welcomed its first visitors . Bill Kramer, Director and President, Academy Museum and Academy executives and staffers have done a tremendous job creating the museum which was a dream of the Academy for over 90 years. The dedication began with remarks from Mr. Kramer followed by remarks and a beautiful uplifting spiritual blessing from Jimi Castillo, Tongva Spiritual Leader, followed by Virginia Carmelo, Tongva Community Leader, Dawn Hudson, CEO, A.M.P.A.S. , David Rubin, President, A.M.P.A.S., Effie T. Brown, Producer and CEO, Gamechanger Films, Colleen Bell, Executive Director, California Film Commission, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Nithya Raman, Council District 4 and Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, Netflix.
The Academy Museum designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzp Piano is housed in the former May Company building at the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire. Congratulations – it is beautiful and remarkable, and I look forward to visiting many more times and dining at Fanny’s which is named after the legendary Fanny Brice.
Actor Producer David A.R. White another one of Burt Reynold’s proteges from his Evening Shade days continues his winning streak with his highly successful God’s Not Dead” We the People faith-based film series. I attended the impressive well-acted premiere of We the People last week directed by Vance Null at the Universal Hilton and look forward to their next premier of Love on the Rock on October 13th which will also be a birthday celebration for glamorous actress producer Kira Reid.
David A.R. White notes “We are enormously proud that this film is being released through Digital C Digital. I feel audiences will respond well to this latest installment in the God’s Not Dead franchise and we are elated that we can have a world premiere outside and will be following all CDC and Los Angeles County Covid-19 safety guidelines and protocols”. The movie was produced by Pinnacle Peak Pictures formally Pure Flix Entertainment. Adds Kira Reed Lorsch, star and co-producer of the film “I loved working with David A.R. White on Beckman. So, when he asked me to come to Malta for director Matty Shapira’s Love on the Rock, after a crazy 2020, I did not hesitate to say yes!” The film also stars Steven Bauer, Jeff Fahey, Lauriane Gillieron, Matthew Marsden and Vincent DePaul. Thank you Roger & Lynn Neal PR for the invites – I always love attending your events!
Chaplin Keaton Lloyd Alley was dedicated at the end of September and was a great day for Hollywood History lovers! The historical event was presented by Hollywood Heritage and well MC’d by Sam Taffel. Kiera Chaplin flew in thousands of miles to honor Grandfather Charlie Chaplin, Keaton Talmadge, Buster Keaton’s granddaughter & my friend Suzanne Lloyd, Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter also appeared. Actor Keith Coogan grandson of the late great Jackie Coogan also attended. Thank you, publicist Margot Gerber, for the invite. It was fun hanging out and joking around with Charlie Chaplin well played by Pharoah Kingsley.
The famous alley filmmaking location was where Chaplin’s The Kid(1921), Buster Keaton’s Cops (1922) and Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last (1923) were filmed – you can’t get any greater than that! Brian Curran president of Hollywood Heritage shared remarks as did film historian John Bengston (who discovered the films had been filmed there), Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, David Totheroh, as did proud granddaughters Keaton Talmadge, Kiera Chaplin, and Suzanne Lloyd.
Beloved popular comedienne Judy Tenuta says “For the last 6 months I have been kicking cancer’s Ass! Thanks to God, my great doctors and all my Love Buckets, for all your loving messages! It did happen! I cannot wait to return to my home away from home: the beautiful Hollywood Museum for their Halloween Gala! Of course, I will be in costume, so you may not even recognize the Goddess! But I will be so happy to hug founder, Donelle Dadigan, Harlan Boll, Roger Neal and all my museum friends who have been sending love for my full recovery! Yes, I’m kickin’ cancer’s ass! It could Happen.” This is the best news ever and we are looking forward to seeing you soon Goddess! The beautiful Hollywood Museum is located at the corner of Hollywood and Highland in the historic Max Factor Building and is a must see!
Celebrated food publicist and Hollywood resident Leo Pearlstein just turned 101! The man who created and ran the highly successful California Cheese, California Eggs, California Turkey etc campaigns is very sharp …. “My family held a small party for me on my 101-year Birthday! It’s good to be alive – I appreciate my life, my family and all of you who sent birthday wishes to me! Cheers to another year on this earth – the best is yet to come!” One of his many accomplishments is the fun star filled book Celebrity Stew with a forward by the late great Steve Allen. Leo shares the greatest stories and his family in Russia is from the same town my grandmother was from called Bialystoc – Who knows, we may even be related!
I attended Juliet Landau’s A Place Among the Dead premiere which kicked off the NoHo Cinefest Friday night. Juliet stars in the well-made and thought-provoking film which she also directed. She won best actress and best director at Lady Filmmakers Festival previously. Juliet and British husband, soul mate and collaborator Deverill Weekes are a great talented cinematic couple for the 21st century.
SceneAroundTown Flashback – It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago this month that late great novelist Jackie Collins was the special guest speaker at the opening of the new West Hollywood Library. Time sure does fly. Sadly, Jackie lost her private battle with cancer and left us much too soon. She was a nice talented and inspiring lady – always very approachable and missed by many.
Hollywood radio host Jody Hamilton had done a terrific cover of Stay Away, Baby Jane written by Chesney Hawke – She sings beautifully. The track was produced by her husband /musician Lonny Paul. Comedian Bill Devlin stars as attorney Chris P. Poultry in a hilarious Jollibee Chicken Sandwich commercial — Congratulations!
Harrison Held a longtime Discover Hollywood Magazine contributor was honored recently to receive the Excellence in Journalism Award from Clinton H. Wallace’s Cote d’Azur Webfest Cannes for his magazine series ‘Hollywood & the Pandemic’ in Classic Images Magazine. He is hosting Memories of Marilyn which will accompany singer Kassandra Carroll’s Marilyn Monroe tribute album. All proceeds will go to the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and Hollygrove which was the orphanage Marilyn lived.