DIXIE TREK 1993 At the Sheraton Century Center Hotel in Atlanta, GA.
David Hedison takes the mike at Dixie Trek Fri. night at the Opening Ceremonies.
Gary Connway, Nichelle Nichols, David Hedison
Sun. Q&A session included questions about Voyage salary.
One of David Hedison's Q & A sessions.
"I tape recorded David's two Question and Answer sessions at Dixie Trek in May of 1993.Here is what is on my tapes."Diane Kachmar
Saturday and Sunday, May 14-15, 1993.
The con was held at the Sheraton Century Center Hotel in Atlanta, GA.
"Ladies and gentlemen, would you please welcome David Hedison!"
(Much clapping and whistling)
David was wearing a green checked shirt, brown pants and white running shoes. David took the mic off the lectern and starts pacing back and forth on the small raised stage in the Holiday Inn Ballroom.
"I'm so vain, I took my glasses off. (Laughter from the crowd) I saw all these flashing cameras and said no way. (More laughter) Hi! I understand this is called a Q&A, questions and answers. So, who's got the first question. Sir?" David points the mic at a person in the audience.
"Welcome. What was it like doing the James Bond movies?"
"I have to tell you I had so much fun doing both films, Live and Let Die with Roger Moore, and the last one Licence to Kill with Timothy, and it was great fun because they treat you very well and there's lots of time to work on this stuff. ah...it's just a great way to work. I wish I were doing more of them, and anyway, I had a great time doing them. Any more questions? Yes?"
"Whatever happened to the film that you went to Italy to do a long time ago?"
"Well, you know, it's very funny, It was called Off Season, at least that was the name of the film when we made it, and then nothing happened with it and no one seemed to want to buy it because it was, because it turned out to be a very artsy kind of film. So, that was the end of it. Then, somebody finally did buy it and they changed the title of it, and they called it Kemek, K-E-M-E-K, and I understand now that they sell it in the cassette stores, the video stores.
"What is it called?"
" It's called Kemek, but I've already seen it, and it's turned out to be quite a terrible picture."
(Audience laughter) "The thing is they used about half of the film that we shot, and then they got somebody that looked somewhat like me and doing other scenes in the film, which has nothing to do with anything. So it turned out to be a very very boring film. The original idea I thought was quite exciting, but it didn't work unfortunately. But it is in the stores. Kemek, K-E-M-E-K."
"Is that the original title? What was Amalfi Drive"?
"Yes, the original title was called Off Season."
"What was Amalfi Drive? Was that something else you were going to do?"
" Oh, that too. That was the original title. You're absolutely right. When we first got the property, we called it Amalfi Drive, and then the director called it Off Season, and then Kemek, and now it's junk. (Laughter) Any more questions? Yes sir?"
"Have you and Roger Moore worked on any more movies together?"
" Roger Moore. . . yes, we did a film called The Naked Face, that we filmed in Chicago and Rod Steiger was in that, and Anne Archer, and ohhh, I don't remember. The mind is going. Anyway, Anne Archer, and . . ."
"Elliot Gould, that's right, and somebody else. Art Carney. And it was quite a good film. It wasn't bad at all, and it's called The Naked Face and it's based on the Sidney Sheldon novel."
"I really enjoyed Ffolkes. I thought that was really good."
"Thank you. Originally that was called Esther, Ruth and Jennifer. And then somebody said, We can't have that title, it sounds like a Bible picture." (Audience laughter) " So that's when they decided not to use that. In England they call it North Sea Hijack, and then of course here they changed it to Ffolkes, which I thought was a terrible title. And that was his name in the film. F-F-O-L-K-E-S. Forget it! (More laughter) Yes sir?"
"What happened to the Seaview? Did they sink it or what?"
"No, they didn't sink it. I think they just slowly took it apart, and piece by piece it went on to other sets and other places, and I think that's the end of the Seaview. They kept the flying sub for awhile and then they got rid of that too. So, most of that is gone, and it's very interesting because I met a young man who had written a script for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, he wants to make a film of it, a real movie movie, and he's got some great ideas, and he had the most incredible artwork done for the various scenes and sets that he had made up. I wish him luck with it. Yes?"
"Would you tell us what it was like to make The Fly?"
"What it was like to make The Fly. I tell you, I personally loved that picture." (Applause)
"I remember when it first came out it was a short story in Playboy Magazine (laughter), and naturally I read it. . ." (lots more laughter).
"You only read the articles, right?"
" Oh, give me a break." (More laughter). "Anyway, I read the story, and then Twentieth Century Fox, I was under contract to them, they were going to make the film. And they offered it to about four other contract players before me, because they didn't want to play it, they were too vain, they didn't want to play a third of the film with a black cloth on their head. So, finally they sent me the script and I loved it. I thought God, this could be a wonderful film, and I got so excited about it that I ran to Buddy Adler, who was then head of production at Twentieth Century Fox, and I said, 'This is going to be such a wonderful film'. I said, 'This is going to go through the roof'. I said, 'Could we please have progressive make-up instead of a mask?' In other words, when she pulls the cloth off, if he in fact could have partially his face with some sort of heavy make-up on, and then maybe just part of my eye being seen, I think it would be much more horrific, and he didn't seem to want to do that. He wanted to do it as quickly as possible. I went running to the make-up artist and he wasn't interested either. [Nye] said, 'Geez, you don't want to get up at five o'clock in the morning do you?' So I said, 'Sure I do, I'll get up at three!' I said because it'll be exciting, but no, they went with the mask. I think it turned out very well, when you consider it was made in '58. The story was very interesting and, to me, very believable. And I did enjoy the remake with Jeff Goldblum very very much. I thought Jeff was fabulous, and he did some great work, but I thought it was just a little too gory. They had a screening at Twentieth Century Fox and I brought my wife, and she stayed for 20 minutes, and that was the end of her. She left." (Audience laughter) "But I watched it through. I really appreciated it, but I think our story was much more interesting. Yes sir?"
" First off, I'd like to say I believe you have a birthday coming up in a few days, and wanted to tell you happy birthday." (Applause)
" It feels wonderful to be 39."
(Laughter and applause)
" I hope when I'm your age, I look as well as you do."
"Thank you, thank you."
"Well now, a question. Did you do your own stunt work on "Voyage" and in the Bond films?"
"Ah . . . no. In the Bond films, certainly not. I did a lot of the stuff, but in Voyage I did a lot of my stunt work, particularly in the first year. I did all the underwater stuff, and all of that in the. . . when I was inside the whale and all that stuff I had to do. And then towards the end, like in the third or fourth year, they used a lot of the stock footage. Stuff I had done before, they used again, or they would use a double for some of the dangerous stuff. I remember I did one segment of Voyage called Man Wolf and they called my stunt man in, and he didn't work a day because I wanted to do it all myself. I was having such fun doing that particular segment. I was having a terrific time. Yes?"
"What was it like working with Richard Basehart?"
"What it was like was fantastic! I was a very lucky actor to be working with him. You know, originally I had turned down Voyage I remember Irwin Allen, I had done a film for him called The Lost World which I hated, I just hated that film, and hated working in it and I was very depressed doing it, so then when Irwin called me about a film called Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, I thought no way do I want to do that. But at the same time, I didn't want to get put on suspension. I said to him, I told Irwin I just don't want to do it now, I think I'm going to be doing another film, and this sort of thing. Well, luckily I wasn't put on suspension and thank God I got out of doing the film. So, then a year or two later the movie came the series and I ran like crazy. I didn't want to touch it because I knew the kind of thing it was going to be and I wanted to do something more like "The Man From UNCLE". You remember that series?" (Applause) "Something like that. What are you applauding for?" (Laughter)
" We liked it."
" So did I."
"Wasn't your main complaint that your character was one dimensional?"
" Yes, yes, exactly. And all the emphasis was that the characters were one dimensional and all the emphasis was on photo effects, and of course in the fourth year, which drove me crazy, every monster in the world -- fishman, frogman, rockman, God, I don't know, it just drove me nuts. And I said this is a sure way of getting canceled. So, that was the reason. But I'm getting off the subject. We started talking about Richard Basehart. That was your first question. He was a wonderful man. He taught me an awful lot, because I don't think I was as good an actor at that first year as I was when the series ended. I think I learned a lot from him and I'm grateful, and I love you Richard!"
(Applause as David looked up to heaven.)
"Two questions: How do you like working daytime soap opera and. . ."
David makes a screaming noise.
" . . .and what was it like working with Vincent Price in The Fly?"
"Let's take it back with Vincent. Vincent was a. . .we know he's a wonderful actor and it was great working with him and I remember I was deadly serious about my work when I was doing The Fly. That was my second film, the first being The Enemy Below with Bob Mitchum. And in The Fly I was very serious about it and I was conscientious and I always got to work extra early. I took every scene very seriously, and I remember when Vincent came on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as a guest star, and I was kidding him around and I'd go by and goose him, and I'd do something silly like that, you know I'd be telling funny stories, and he said Dear Boy, I remember you as being so terribly earnest in The Fly. And I said Well, you know when you play a fly you have to be earnest." (Much laughter) "But he was a terrific fellow, a very very nice man, and I loved both his wives. His first was Mary, and then of course Coral Brown, who died recently."
" Is Vincent still alive?"
" Yes. He's not well, but he's still alive. And then you asked about Another World. How does it feel to be on Another World? It's very difficult, because as I was saying to a crowd yesterday, (there was an opening ceremony Friday Night that David attended). "I am so used to a show, like a one hour show on TV in six or seven days that when I first started Another World, I would have to do an hour show in a day. From the morning to the evening it had to be finished, you couldn't dribble over into another day. And I found that difficult. I've been on the show now for a year and a half and I still find it difficult to learn the lines, and it's something you do. It's a job and you have to do it. It's difficult. I got up very early this morning and worked for a couple of hours to learn Monday's work, and then I'll get up tomorrow again about six o'clock and work for two hours and that sort of thing. But you do it. After a while, the brain is like a muscle and it begins to take in more and more stuff. So, it's working out very well. I like the part and I like the people, and, again, you know I've done so much in this business -- the stage, the movies, TV, everything. Now I'm doing a soap. It's wonderful." (Applause) "Any hands? Way back there, yes sir? Speak up loudly, I'm deaf."
" Do you know anything about the state of the Bond films, and would you like to reappear?"
"I know nothing about the state of them, they keep talking about doing another one, and I don't know if it would be with Timothy Dalton or what the situation is. I certainly would like to do another one." (Applause) "A job is a job is a job is a job. This young lady just said that Live and Let Die was on in Atlanta on Lifetime. Yes sir?"
"I was just wondering. I've seen a TV Guide photograph of you from 1965 that showed you with the Seaview models. Could you kind of set the scene on how they arranged that?"
" No, they set the scenes. They just said you stand here and you do this and you do that, and that's what we did. Are you talking about the cover?"
" That was with Richard Basehart, wasn't it?"
"No, this was an inner article where they were just discussing the miniatures and the series and
what they had done. You are coming out of the water holding the Seaview up, and I wondered
how they kind of prompted all that."
" I just think it was an idea they had and they said, Why don't we try this? They must have had, you know, about 150 pictures, and they thought that looked kind of nice so they choose that one. Yes sir?"
" Mr. Hedison, I'm a Voyage fan and one thing I've never been able to see are a few bloopers from the show." (Laughter) "And I'm such a fan of you and Mr. Basehart and you've got to tell me, you guys had to have a. . ."
" There were a lot of bloopers. I don't remember what they were but we had a lot, and Irwin Allen was going to save them and show them at the Christmas party, that sort of thing, but you know, he never did because he was embarrassed by them. He didn't have that much of a sense of humor, I think as you can tell from Voyage." (Laughter) "He liked the serious and the grim stuff. I remember once Richard Basehart and I had a scene, it was in the first year, and it was about, oh, a four page dialog scene. And we found a way of playing it that was quite amusing, and, we thought, terrific. And would you know, that Irwin made us reshoot the scene and play it the way he wanted us to play it. I was very grim, and Richard was very grim, and everything was very serious. That's what we did, we reshot it. And those are the things that drove me crazy. But, what can I say? He did it, he was the salesman, he was the boss and I worked for him and I worked hard on it, and God love him. Yes sir?"
"You're a diver, right? Do you dive?"
"Yes sir, I do, I used to do a lot of it just before I did Voyage. I went up to the coast of Catalina in Los Angeles, and I'd do a lot of that. I learned through a friend of mine, Patrick Cunningham, so it was really really very interesting. I liked it a lot. I haven't done it lately, though."
"Where's the most exciting place to go?"
" Catalina Island." (Laughter) "Yes?"
"I wanted to ask you about what your future plans are if you ever stop working for Another World."
"I don't know. Now on Another World, my contract ends in July of next year, which is '94. After that, they could renegotiate and say they want me for two more years, or another year. I don't know. Whether or not I want to stay, I don't know that, either. But I think what I'd like to do when it's all over, I would like to do a play. You know, in New York. A play. And then after that play, what I'd like to do, what I'd really like to do is a half hour sitcom." (Laughter) "Like where they go in there for like four days and they rehearse Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then on Friday they tape the show. You know, like Cheers and all those shows. I'd love to do something like that. That would be great fun, and also I think I'm very good at comedy and I'd love to do some comedy. Because everything, even now, on Another World, I'm very serious and it's life or death situations. But, I think I want to do a comedy."
" You're very good on Another World. I'm wondering how your character is going to evolve?"
"I wish I knew. You know, I get back there and I grab the scripts, you know, in my mailbox, and I see a script and I grab it quickly, it's like a mystery novel. What are they going to do with me this week?" (Laughter) "And I only really know about a week in advance where my character is going or what's going to happen. So, that part of it is exciting. And since they've decided to darken the character of Spencer Harrison a bit, it's even more interesting to play. He's not just Mr. Goodie Goodie Two-Shoes who's only worried about his sons or his niece Kelsey. Not interfering in their problems, it's having a bit of a life of his own. It's fun. Yes sir?"
"How did you like working on Who's the Boss and Perry Mason?"
"Oh yeah, they were fun. Those were. . . What was the other one you said, Perry Mason and what?
"Who's the Boss."
"Who's the Boss."
" Mona. Oh, Mooooonaaaaa." (Laughter) "I'm losing my marbles. Mona, Mona. Perry Mason, first of all, was the first episodic thing I did. I had done a series called Five Fingers, which ran for, I think, sixteen shows because it was on opposite Gunsmoke and Have Gun Will Travel. So, it went nowhere. And when that was off, I was not working for awhile and they asked me to guest star on Perry Mason, which I did and, you know, it was fun. I don't remember too much about it. Mona, we thought, was going to possibly turn into a series for Kathryn Helmond, and it didn't and that was the end of that. So we just did the pilot. But it was interesting and I think it would have been a fun show. The pilot was terribly good, but it could have worked, I think. Yes sir?"
" My question, when you did that final Voyage episode, did you know it would be the last curtain call?
"Not really. I think we had a feeling that it was the last season. I certainly did. I thought, uh, I knew I was going to be going to Italy to do this film that I mentioned and I just didn't think that the series would go on. No one did, because it just seemed you could feel it was sinking. And not only the submarine, but the whole damn show." (Laughter)
"The fourth year was much better."
"Did you like the fourth year? Hard to tell. You know it's amazing too, every now and then I might see one, and the shows that I didn't like particularly, some of them, they can't all be good, and I'm amazed at how well they stand up. You know, I'll think Well gosh, this one wasn't so bad, what was I going on about?" (Laughter) "You know, I was all right in that scene and all that stuff that you go through. It's very funny. It's like a piece of writing. You know, you write something, and you think it's a piece of garbage and then you look at it five years later and you say, This isn't so bad, I should have kept this up and finished it, or whatever. Yes sir?"
"Specifically on Voyage, one of the scenes that I enjoyed the most and it's there in almost every episode is when, say . . . "
"The rock and roll."
" Yeah. How did that work?"
"The rock and roll. Well, I'll tell you what happened, how we did that. It was very simple, and no one can believe it. There would be one of the men on the crew who had a pail. Okay? A little old bucket with a hammer in the other hand. When he hit that pail, we would go flying to the left (Laughter) . . . and the camera would go jiggling to the right (More laughter) . . . and then when he hit the pail again we would go flying to the right (Laughter) . . . and the camera would go jiggling to the left. (Pandemonium) Back and forth. Bam, bam. Of course, you never heard the sound of the pail in the actual film, because they put the sound effects in and what not, but that's how we did it. And that was Irwin's idea and it worked very well. I mean, you really think that the place is going to fall apart. It was very exciting. Yes sir?"
David is demonstrating the rock n roll as he tells the above story. "We would go flying to the
left . ." David staggers left. "And then when he'd hit the pail again and we would go flying to
the right..." David staggers stage right. The audience went bananas, cheering and clapping.
"You were talking while ago that you had talked to a guy about he'd put together a script for a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea movie. Would you do it if it came about?"
"Sure." (Laughter) "I mean, the thing is I'd be happy to do it if I liked the script and I liked the way Captain Crane was written. The thing is, I haven't read the script yet, but I've seen the pictures and all that stuff, but I don't know too much about the story. But I'd be very happy to do another one. I thought they were going to make one of, do a movie for television, but that never transpired. I think that if Richard were still alive, they probably would have done something. And I think the very fact that he died, and that he was such a strong power behind Voyage, I think that's probably one of the reasons they just let it die. That's what I think. Yes sir?"
"Why do you think Barbara Eden didn't make the switch from the movie Seaview to the TV Seaview?"
"Barbara Eden? Ohhhh... I don't know. I'll tell you why, I do know. Because I didn't think that Irwin wanted women on the Seaview in the TV series. And I'll bet you don't know why, do you?"
"You have no idea, do you? 'Cause I do." (Laughter)
"Well, then tell us."
"Exactly, because he was very tight with the money. And you know, getting David Hedison ready takes five minutes. You just slap something under his eyes to take the dark circles away, and then that's it. I'm finished. With a girl though, the hair, getting it right, and the curlers, the dryer, she's half an hour late, her make-up is wrong, the costume doesn't fit right. It takes time, and time is money. And he said he didn't want to bother with any of that with the women. And that's why we didn't have too many women. Even though one year I thought they were, what was it...Tiffany [Loveland] was the name of the girl they were going to have. And that never transpired. Which saddened me." (Laughter) Such is life. Yes?"
" Can you tell us a little about what it was like to work with Bob Dowdell?"
"Bob Dowdell. Bob was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed working with him. We were neighbors, as a matter of fact. He lived right across the street from me, and I think it's all right to say I got him the job, Yeah, I did. Really. I got Captain Crane and he lived across the street and I said you can play Chip Morton, and I went to Irwin and I said I've got the fellow to play Chip Morton and he didn't give me any problems. Bob had done Stoney Burke before that, with Jack Lord, and Irwin looked at a couple pieces of film and that was it. He got the job and we became good friends. Except I haven't seen him in about ten years. But, I'm sure he's fine. Any more questions? Yes?"
"You were shot by Vernon Wells in The Undeclared War. Vernon Wells, the scummiest guy on the screen. What was he like?"
"Oh, Vernon is very funny. We had a lot of laughs. I was in Poland when I did that. I haven't seen the picture, but, boy, I think the most..."
"We'll send you a copy."
"I'm sure I'll get one, but the thing is, it's the most dangerous stunt work I have ever done in my life because there's all that nonsense going on in the church. You saw it, did you? Yeah, well, there's the explosion in the church and the shooting, and I'm an ambassador and they're trying to kill me, and I've got a baby in my arms. Then I have to go running out into the street and I have to go down the steps of the church, go running along the sidewalk to get into my car, and just as I get towards the car, the damn car (makes explosive noise) is supposed to blow up. And this stupid director said to me, Don't worry, just before you get there we'll blow the car up. I was scared silly. I don't think I've ever done anything like that in my life. And sure enough, we went for the take, and they're in a rush, and the guys are putting the explosives in the car, and everyone's running to car, and I thought I must be crazy! I could kill myself doing this. So I came down, and then when I came running out of the church, before they get to that take, they gave me a fake baby of course. You don't kill a baby, but me. . ." (Laughter) So, I've got this fake baby I'm holding and I go running down the steps with the baby, and I get there, and I'm holding the baby like this, you know (David paused to demonstrate). That car, that explosion was so bad it blew the windows out of all the stores around. I mean, that's the amount of the explosives. I was scared to death. But the shot looked good, and that's all that counts." (Laughter) We're paying you for this, you know. That's their attitude.
"What do you like to photograph? I know you're a photographer. What's your favorite subject?"
"People. I love photographing people, and I've got some wonderful pictures that I've taken of Richard Basehart, and I just enjoyed it very much. I took black and white film with a Nikon camera, now we're talking the sixties, you know the late sixties and seventies, so it was the old fashioned that you really had to focus, and I found that as time when on and as the eyes started to go, the focusing was not what it should be. And it's hard when you wear glasses and you're trying to focus with the glasses on and it doesn't work the same. But somebody told me once they can put a lens in the camera itself, so I may go back to taking pictures again. I don't know."
"Did you see the movie The Hunt For Red October, because that reminded me a lot of a very high tech Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."
"Yeah, it did."
"And also, looking at you now with the beard and mustache, you could play Marco Ramius." (Laughter)
" Well, when they do a remake." (Laughter) "What was I going to say . . . oh, yes, The Hunt For Red October. I remember talking to Mrs. Irwin Allen and she seemed very uptight that they were making, that Steven Speilberg was going to be doing this new series called SeaQuest, which they're working on now and it'll be on in the fall. And she thinks it's going to be too much like Voyage simply because the submarine is a scientific vessel, that sort of thing, like ours was. And she's a little upset. And I said, Good Lord, it doesn't mean it's like Voyage, there's no Captain Crane on it, there's no Admiral Nelson. But she didn't like the idea at all. Too bad." (Laughter)
"Would you respond to the difference between working with Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton?"
" The difference? Ah, such an easy question! Roger Moore has a fabulous sense of humor. He is very witty and very funny. Timothy Dalton is very serious, like Al Hedison used to be in The Fly. Very earnest, very much the work thing, never a joke, no gags, nothing. After working hours, he'd be all right. But working with Roger was a joy. He's so funny and he's so generous and he's so giving to his fellow actors. He's an incredible man. Did I answer your question?" (Laughter) "Any more questions?"
"What's your favorite program?"
"On television? Cheers!" (Laughter) "That's my favorite program, Cheers, and I can't wait for Thursday nights."
"Voyage, not overall. Your favorite Voyage?"
" Oh, Voyage. I'm sorry, what is that, a TV show?" (Laughter) "My favorite segment, my favorite segment. I had so many. Oh, I know which one. My favorite segment would be the one that I enjoyed acting in most. Obviously, it doesn't mean it's the best show. All right, it was called Return of the Phantom. First The Phantom and then Return of the Phantom, and I had to do it with a German accent. But not just with a German accent, I had to do it in the same accent as the fellow who was playing the part was using, which was wrong." (Laughter) "His accent was not good. But I had to copy that to sound like him. So, I worked on that and I had great fun doing it. It was a very bizarre story and there was a lot of great stuff in it that I did that they cut out, because I had a scene with a girl, and I was being very sexy and turned on. And Irwin didn't like that. No, that's not for the kids, and listen, he said, this is a Sunday seven o'clock show, you know. That took care of that. Yes?"
"A couple of questions. When did they change your name from Al to David?"
"That's the first question. Okay, let's answer that one first. When did they change your name from Al to David? All right. I was under contract to Fox as Al Hedison. I did The Enemy Below as Al Hedison, I did The Fly as Al Hedison, and then I did Son of Robin Hood, that minor classic! (Audience laughter, David made heavy sighing noises). Another one. God, I say that word and I get shivers." (Laughter) Anyway, I was Al. Okay, fine, then I was going to do a series for Fox and NBC called Five Fingers and they had great plans for it. And NBC didn't like the name Al. I think this was now 1959, and Al just didn't have enough class for NBC. And they wanted to change my name, and I said Why do I have to change my name, I think Al is a perfectly good name, or Albert, or whatever? No, no, no, they had to have something more formal like Mark Hedison, they suggested, or John Hedison. I said no, I don't like those names at all. I said I didn't want to change it! And they said, well look, you're under contract here, and we're going to change your name whether you want to or not, and this is the way it is. So I said, okay, if we're going to change my name, let's use my middle name, which is David. David Hedison, and they bought it. So, that's how I became David Hedison. And then years later, somebody at the studio, one of the heads, said to me, Just why did you ever change your name?" (Laughter) "I was ready to kill him." (Laughter) "His name was Lou Schrieber, and he was like assistant to Buddy Adler. Anyway, that's ancient history, it's finished, it's over, and I'll stop crying. Now, second question?"
"Exactly how many Aaron Spelling shows did you do?"
" My God . . . exactly how many Aaron Spelling shows did you do? Quite a lot. I did a lot. I did Charlie's Angels a couple of times, I did Hart to Hart, I did the Love Boat, I did The Colbys, I did Dynasty. I did them all. You know, a lot of them. Just a lot of them."
"How many Fantasy Islands?"
"Oh, Fantasy Island alone, I must have done four, five? Something like that. I did a lot of them, my God, I did a lot of those shows." (Laughter) Any more?"
"I know that several years ago, well quite a few years ago, you did an article looking back on Voyage. Do you think you've mellowed as to. . .?"
"You mean the things I've said?"
"Yeah. You talked about things . . ."
"I think I was knocking the show."
"Yes, you were."
"Well, I've got to tell you right now, I hope God will forgive me, and Irwin. That was very naughty thing to do. One thing you don't do in this life is bite the hand that feeds you. And that's exactly what I did, and I think I was young at the time and not as appreciative of a job as I should have been. So, as I say, that was not a good thing to do."
"Are you surprised as to how many people are interested after all these years of showing Voyage?"
"It was incredible. I think it's wonderful. It seems that it will go on like this for a long time because you can't make shows like Voyage any more, really, the way we made them. A lot of the shows that were made in the late 50's and 60's, it just isn't the same today. I don't see as many good action adventure or science fiction shows on TV as there were then. I may be wrong, I don't know, but that's the way I feel."
" Hear, hear." (Applause) "Yes sir?"
"Didn't Robert Duvall one time appear..."
"Yes, he did."
"What was it like working with him?"
"Well, at the time, he wasn't a star, he was nobody then. Well, of course you had to be nobody to be on Voyage." (Laughter) "But, he was a very nice guy and a very good actor, I could see that. It seems to me that he had a bald head in it."
"And he was fine, he did his job. He was very good and there were other people, too, who became stars and I actually forget who they were. Well, Vincent, of course, was a star anyway. And then there was another fellow that I always admired in movies when I was growing up, named George Sanders (Applause) . . . and he did one just, I think, before he died. And I figured he was getting on in his life and what not, and I thought gee, how strange and sad that a man of his stature should have to even come and do a guest spot on Voyage. But when you need the money, you need the money, and there's no getting away from it. That's why I'm doing Another World, I guess. Hello, yes? Is that Diane?"
David had talked to me briefly the night before at the welcome party - we had been corresponding for ten years by now. I was surprised he remembered me well enough to call me by name.
"Hi, David. Yes. You've done a lot of work on the British stage. Would you share some of that with us?"
"Well, not so much on the British stage. I think, yes, two things I did. One was called Bad Bad Jo-Jo and the other one was called Catch Me If You Can, which was a mystery they were hoping to bring to the West End. The reason I like working in London, because I like working with the English actors, because they have a feeling of ensemble. They work together. Nobody seems to want to stand out or be the big cheese as it were, like a lot of the Hollywood actors who I think are very spoiled. When you work with most English actors, you work together, you work the whole thing, that is for the good of the play. The story. The success of the play. And I think one works for the unit, and it's a wonderful place to be, to work. So those early years in the 70's, I was there in '71, '72, and into '73, they were really nice, because I did a lot of TV there and I just enjoyed it very very much. And of course I love those tea breaks at 3:00 in the afternoon." (Laughter) "It was fun. Tea and scones. Very nice. Yes sir?"
"What would you have like to have done with the character of Lee Crane?"
"What would I have liked to have done with Lee Crane? It's funny. I had a whole autobiography written before I started the show. Like about eight pages, where he came from, his background, and where he was educated, the kind of person he was, and unfortunately, Irwin didn't want any part of it. He did not want any history of the character, or what he was, or where he came from, or little jokes about his past, or maybe he would have a funny middle name that he was ashamed of and never wanted anyone to know about. All the little things that you can do. And I tried to explain to Irwin, I said, Irwin, we've got to get this thing going so there is something specific that every man can draw to like they recognize something in themselves about this character, which would make Captain Crane a much stronger person. I said we should try.. He would look at me and be terribly confused and he said well, what do you mean by character. You mean, when you're holding a cup of coffee and the submarine is bumping back and forth and you spill coffee all over you. Is that what you mean?" (David changed his voice to a very nasal sounding New York whine.) "I said, No, Irwin, that's not what I mean." (Laughter) "Anyway, we did it and what can I say, the show did succeed, it was on for four years, you're all here, so obviously Mr. Allen knows something more than I do."
"Do you have any children and what did they think of Voyage?"
"Yes, I have two girls. They are 22 and 23. As a matter of fact, the youngest, is graduating from UCLA this June. Voyage was on, it was in reruns, when they were growing up. But I never let them watch it." (Laughter) "Because I thought it was too violent for them. It was too scary, and they were really quite young. They were maybe five and six. So, they really never saw much of that at all. They would see some of the stuff I did on TV, but not even The Fly. I would not let them watch that. Today, if it were on, I'd love to show it to them. We'd have a laugh."
"Do you have any plans to write a book about your life?"
"People say to me, I should write a book. You know so many people, you've done so many things, and I think one day I will. I don't know. When I stop working, I'll say now's the time to write a book. And I'm sure one day I'll get around to sitting down and start writing my memoirs, as they call it." (Laughter) "I'll call it My Life in Art."
" Mr. Hedison, I think my favorite thing, and probably a lot of the people in this room, about the Irwin Allen productions were the lavish sets. On Voyage, when you're actually on the set, were they as neat as they appeared on TV?"
"Oh yes, very exciting sets. They look better on television, of course, because they would go from the real Seaview, and then we'd go to the miniature underwater. And as you were watching the show, to you it's all one thing. No, it was very exciting. We had some very good sets. I'm sure not as mammoth as Mr. Speilberg's is going to be, but for the time they were really good. We had some stuff, some really good stuff."
" Mr. Hedison, a lot of the fan magazines feel that the reason Irwin Allen's shows didn't last longer than they did is because they became a monster of the week show."
"Do you agree with that?"
"I most certainly do. That's why I say I was so disappointed, I think it was the fourth year, where they had a lot of that. The Fossil Man was one, and another one called The Manfish."
"They did a lot of that on Lost in Space."
"Well, I never saw Lost in Space so I don't know what they were doing on that show. I had enough of my own, I couldn't bear to watch anything else." (Laughter) "I needed a little variety in my life."
"Did he do that simply for effect?"
"I think that's what he thought the audiences wanted. I really do. And I knew that he knew he had the young audience, kids, but I don't think he realized that he had so many adults, as well. And I have had people talk to me and tell me they made a family thing out of Voyage. They would go home and they would sit together and have dinner as a family, and then they'd watch Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. So, older people liked it as much as the young kids. It was amazing that he couldn't see that. And if he'd just made it a little bit more adult at times, I think it would have gone on a little longer. I remember once this agent friend of mine had a big journalist, from one of the big magazines, and he had to take the journalist to go see the Beatles, who were very hot at this particular time. We're talking '65, and they were very very hot. So, he went to the Beatles, where they were staying, and those Beatles would not come out of their room until Voyage was finished. (Laughter.) No way, I don't care who this guy is, forget it." (Applause)
"I don't know why, maybe I'm insecure, but I thought they were looking down on the show, but they weren't. They were watching it."
"I personally feel that the first season of Voyage, and also the first season of Lost in Space, were the best."
" Yes, a lot of people say that. You're right. Yes?"
"In relation to this gentlemen's question a moment ago about the sets, the first season appeared, the underwater scenes, the first season appeared to be shot in a lake primarily by the plant life you could see in the set. Would you elaborate a little on that? And then, when it went to color, the underwater sets became more elaborate and everything. Were they shot in a tank?"
"I'll tell you, the first year we shot off the coast of Catalina and they did a lot of that there. When they went to color, they went into a huge tank on Stage B, I remember it well. It was a huge tank so they could dress the tank so well with different colors and all that sort of thing. And that's what they did. Yes sir, back there?"
"I have sort of a trivia question. What movie was the Voyage computer set used in?
"The Desk Set with Spencer Tracy." (Yelled from the audience)
"The Desk Set. And you know something, I never knew that until I saw The Desk Set about two years ago and I went Ohhhhhh, nice set!" (Laughter and scattered applause)
"Tell them who the actors are."
" Oh, the actors in The Desk Set. Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. And the computer. I don't remember what year that was, but it was after . . ."
"Yeah, can you believe it? Those sneaks. Do you have any more questions?"
"You don't suppose Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea inspired the Beatles to write and star in Yellow Submarine?" (Laughter)
"It could've. I never thought of that. You know, you're absolutely right. I've known they loved
that show. They loved that show, and, you know, it's amazing it's played in a lot of countries, as
Gary [Conway] is always boasting that his show is in so many countries." (Laughter) "But it
played in London and they loved that show in London. They played it every week and they did
show the whole 110 hours. People are going crazy. I was getting these letters from people
who've seen it as children and now are showing it to their children, and they've been telling me
how much more they appreciated it today than they did 20 or 30 years ago when it was first on.
It's amazing. Yes ma'am?"
A man starts to speak.
"You're not a ma'am!" (Laughter)
" Looking back at your old press releases and that type of stuff, did you ever get tired of reading how active you were with the ladies? I mean, you were dating everybody, according to the press."
"I hope my wife's not here." (Laughter) "No, I was dating a lot, I was sowing my oats. I was having a good time. I was working, I was dating, I was, I don't know."
"Did you ever get tired of...?"
"Did I ever get tired of dating? No."
"No, did you ever get upset about what you read? Did you ever get upset about what some of the stuff you read about said?"
"You can't. You've got to have a really hard skin in this business, I've found out. I think that. . . Yeah, every now and then the press would say something negative and you feel hurt by it, but that's what makes news. I mean, what makes Madonna such a big star. I think it's that they see so many negative things about her and people love to talk dirt about people anyway, so that's what keeps her up there. And I guess if you're too well liked and too nice, people lose interest. I don't know, I could never figure it out. Look at all these stupid magazines on the newsstand like the National Enquirer. Why does that make so much money? Because I know the people that they write about and most of the stuff is junk. And people know it's junk, but they love to read it anyway. They love it, and they say, Oh, this is terrible, but they really love the pain of what these people are going through; what they're not going through, but they love it anyway. Any more questions? Oh, yes, you that thought you were a ma'am." (Laughter)
" You said while ago that if you knew that it was on, you'd watch it with your daughters. Well, it's on every day at 2:00."
" On the Sci-Fi Channel, but we don't have it in New York and we don't have it in Los Angeles either." (Audience makes disbelieving noises) "No, we don't have it. Because, you know the big cities like New York for instance, we have so many things on the. . . Maybe there's no room, I don't know. But we've got a lot of choices in New York on the cable. The Nostalgia Channel, but no Sci-Fi. But I think eventually they'll bring it in, I'm sure. 'Cause I know a friend of mine has a, what do you call it, a dish and they see it. I hope I'm not going into Nichelle's time. No, I'm not. We've got ten more minutes if you have any more questions. Yes sir?"
"Will you tell the story about sending your picture to John Ford, shooting that western?"
[David looked confused.]
"Apparently, the way I read it was you sent a picture of yourself in your Navy uniform when you were quite young, and he was shooting a western somewhere, and you had your cap tipped back."
"Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I had a cap on the back of my head as a sailor and I sent it to John Ford and I told him I wanted to be in the movies. And he wrote me a lovely letter and he said if you ever come to Hollywood, please give me a call and we'll see what we can do. And, he said, the next time you send your picture to an ex-Navy four striper, be sure and square your hat, sailor." (Laughter and applause) "I remember that now. It all comes back to me." (Laughter) "Yes sir?"
"I saw you on a made-for-TV show years ago, I can't remember the name of it, maybe you can
help me. There was a train crash in it, and you solved. . ."
"It was called, uh, Somewhere in the Crowd was the title of a segment and the show was called Journey Into the Unknown. They never reshow those again. They had sent me to. . . This is incidentally when I was first falling in love with England. I had just finished Voyage. I had just gotten married, and I got married in London, and I came back to L.A. and they were shooting this thing called Journey to the Unknown and they flew me to London to do this. And originally Lloyd Bridges was supposed to do that part and he, for some reason, couldn't do it. He had to get out of it, there was another commitment, so they called me in quickly and I said Absolutely. I thought it was a fun show. I thought it was quite good, didn't you?"
"Yeah, I did."
"Yeah, it was a good segment. Somewhere in the Crowd. That's what it was called. Journey to the Unknown, another sci-fi."
"Working with Irwin Allen sure was interesting. What did you like best about it?"
"Working with Irwin Allen? Fighting with him, I guess." (Laughter) "We were always fighting about something. I remember once going to him and having a big argument because I thought I deserved more money." (Laughter) "And I wanted more money. I didn't like what I was getting, and we had a big row. You know, all that junk that all young actors go through. And he said, (with whining New York accent) "There is no more, Basehart's got it all." (Much laughter)
"No no no, screaming, yelling, it was a big big big row, I'll tell you. So, I went on the set and I was really angry. So, then he comes on the set like he always did, checking to make sure we were grim (Laughter) . . . and finally I was playing a scene and I knew he was there and I purposely was doing it in a very light, sort of comedic way. And I knew he didn't think I was. . . He said, (again with the bad New York accent) "No, that's not the way you play it. He says, Play it more manly, more manly!!" (Laughter) "And I said, Oh, for these prices you want character work!"
(Loud laughter and applause)
"Ah, that was fun. God bless you Irwin, I love you." (Laughter) "But he was good to me, he was always good to me, and the very fact that he was patient with me, and the very fact that he, you know, he wanted me, he cast me in The Lost World, he wanted me for the movie of Voyage, he wanted me for the series, he called me several times after I had turned it down, he called me in New York, he called me in London. He really liked me and I basically liked him. You know, if he had thought the way I did, I would have liked him more." (Laughter) "Naturally, right? Yeah?"
"Did you see the Second City TV show that did Irwin Allen shows and Shelley Winters said . . ."
"Oh, it was a spoof? Oh, that's funny. No, I never saw it, but she did the Poseidon Adventure with him. That's right. He did some good films, I must say. Poseidon Adventure, Towering Inferno. All those really good films. It's too bad it couldn't have. . . He was really trying to come back, you know, when he got ill. He wanted to do another series and I think it would have done very well because he was a sensational salesman. I mean, he could sell a network on anything. He would have these big posters and he would, uh, you'd go into his office and he would sell you. I mean, he could sell you anything. This is this, that, over here, and he'd go to the next picture and the next picture and the next picture, and he explains everything to you, and my God, you're in awe about what the man is saying. He was really quite wonderful that way. Very very enthusiastic and he loved his work."
"You were talking about God, didn't you play next to God in The Greatest Story Ever Told?"
"I did, the apostle Philip. And I was in it much more than I . . . I worked on that film for nine months, which is a long time, and we filmed in Page, Arizona, Pyramid Lake and outside of Reno, and in the desert, and it was a long shoot. And by the time they cut the whole picture together, it must run about eight hours. And then they have to cut it down to three, or two and a half, so a lot of my stuff is gone, and they felt that Jesus Christ was more important than Philip." (Laughter) "They left more of his stuff in."
"Is this your first convention?"
"It's my very first convention. I've always been too shy." (Laughter and applause) "My first convention and you're an incredible group of people and I love you all. I think you're so, just the very fact that you're so enthusiastic about all of this stuff is great. You'll stay young forever. Keep your enthusiasm. Thanks very much." (Applause) "Oh, wait a minute, one more question."
" I just wanted to make a comment. You're alluded a couple of times to your series Five Fingers.
I thought that was an incredible series and I'm sorry that didn't run longer."
"Well, if it hadn't been on opposite Gunsmoke and Have Gun Will Travel, maybe it would have
lasted for awhile. But I really enjoyed that too. It was great. Well, good night all and see you
later." (Tremendous applause)
At the autograph session later that Sunday:
One of the most popular items David was asked to sign at the Sat. Session. Everyone was snapping pictures.
It was fun watching all the VOYAGE stuff go by. They brought David books and comic books, board games and built models to sign. Some of the items David remembered and some he had never seen. He would ask the person in line about the item, if he was curious.
David was pleasant and friendly, shook everyone's hand. A young boy brought David a flying
sub model and David whooshed it through the air before setting it down to sign, it was really
cute and the line loved it.
David took extra special time with all the little kids. He would get down on his knees to pose
with them and hold them gently by the shoulder, so they wouldn't run back to Mom or Dad
taking the picture. There was a little toddler girl that Mom held up to David. The two year old
apparently loved to watch Lee Crane on the Sci Fi channel, but couldn't quite understand who
this white bearded gentleman was talking so nicely to her. His voice was making the kid crazy .
. . She knew WHO that was. Mom kept saying, Look honey, it's Lee Crane, and the kid would
stare blankly at David.
David was very pleased so many people wanted his autograph. I went through the line with items for the Con Charity. The German Lost World lobby card raised David's eyebrow a little and he asked me about it. He remembered the 1988 play we saw him at once he signed the
program I donated. David had the longest line for autographs and he made sure no was left without one, even if it meant going over time a few minutes.
John and I had a marvelous time at Dixie Trek. It was the 2nd time for us meeting David. I
would travel to see David three more times in the 1990's, to an Another World Fan Club
luncheon in April of 1995, the Play Rough Crossing in Lincoln, Nebraska in June of 1996 and
the Palm Beach Film Festival in 1997. Each of those have their own memories.
;David was always glad to see me. He is the kindest and most generous actor I have
met in thirty years of going to conventions. The first actor I met was Leonard Nimoy in 1973
when I was in 10th grade and I've lost track of how cons it's been since then. But I will always
remember the good times I've had with David.
Diane Kachmar 11/24/03
All photos were taken by Diane's husband, John Kachmar.