May 27-29, 2005
It all started very early Friday morning. We were booked on the 7 AM flight to Atlanta, the one no one likes out of West Palm Beach, but it gets you there. It was a much larger jet than the standard “ferry to Atlanta to catch your connection,” which surprised me. I chalked it up to it being Memorial Day Weekend. I was glad for larger overhead bins as we had two very heavy rolling carry on suitcases, an over full lap top case and an 18 in duffel bag crammed to the seams with pictures and signs for David’s table. We had agreed to do all the heavy lifting for the show, so David would only have to bring his small carry on and have nothing to check. We took our van to FX in Orlando, this was our time hauling show items by plane and everything got there. We had large jets on both flights - to Atlanta and then on to Louisville, so we did not have to check any of the carry on bags, only my 28 in suitcase with our clothes. Clothes we could replace.
Both flights were on time. Nancy Appelhof was waiting for us at baggage claim. Godzilla - my 28 hard side is very large and very GREEN, so it won’t get lost in a sea of black bags - came through the chute first thing and we were out of there. We checked in at the Executive West hotel and left John to put David's big table sign together, while Nancy and I went out for two hours. To see her horse, the neighborhood and to shop for the supplies I couldn’t bring up on the plane, like the case of bottled water.
The farm where Nancy boards Partly Cloudy was beautiful. Cloud was out in the pasture so we tramped out to meet them (with carrots), so he and his four buddies were glad to see us. On the way back, Nancy gave me the nickel tour of Anchorage, which was quite impressive, then we went to her house to meet Maggie, her basset hound and pick up any publicity from the local paper for David to see. Then we drove to the store and got the water and anything else we needed. She dropped me back off at the hotel at five PM to wait for David to come in.
David arrived at 6:10 PM via Chicago. The con picked him up. He promised to call my cell phone when he arrived at the hotel. So at 6:10 the cell rings and it's not David. So I took care of that call and waited another 12 minutes. This time I let John answer it. He and David talked for a few minutes and then John handed the phone to me. David said give him 15 minutes and he’d meet us “for a drink.”
David was very easy to spot; he was wearing that lovely cream sweater he had on in Swindon. John hugged him first and then I followed. David gave me a big hello hug back. David had his vodka rocks and John had a Diet Coke and I had ginger ale. We settled in and talked about our plans for the table and future events. David stayed for almost an hour. Then he wanted to go. We walked him across the lobby and showed him which corridor to take in the morning to get to his table in the dealer’s room. I handed him one of the purple con programs with a map, just in case. David had to tape something for the con at 9 AM and then he'd be down to sell. We promised we’d have everything ready for him. David told me later, he ordered room service and the food came right away. He ate and went to bed. He’d been up since 4:30 AM getting ready and driving to the airport and was really tired.
We went in search of Steve Iverson (for our dealer badges), so we could put David’s name banner up on the wall behind his table. Found Steve, got the badges and gave him the Voyage episodes he’d asked for his suite party. Now properly badged, we were allowed into the dealer’s room. We started to hang up David’s banner. No, this guy said; don’t tape it, the wallpaper is brand new. So Lee (the guy in charge) rounded up three hotel maintenance guys with a ladder to hang the banner up with huge push pins. That took care of that. John pasted a David Hedison sign to the tablecloth in the middle of the middle table (there were three of them along the back wall) and we were done. David had more table space than he’d ever had before (12 feet) and we used every inch of it.
First thing Saturday morning, David was scheduled for two live TV spots for local TV. David called me at 8:20 to go over what he wanted to say, before the con person arrived to take him to the shoot. There had been a title change on his film Death by Committee. It is now called Reality Trap and is scheduled to be shown in France, June 16-19. http://www.avignonfilmfest.com/avignon(2005).html
I told David Bob May had come down to hotel restaurant while John and I were having breakfast and announced to the room at large he had already done his spots. David agreed I should try and find him. I knew where Bob May’s table was in the B9 Robot Builders Room. There were lights and cameras in there, so I went there. That is, once we took everything down from our room that John needed to set up David’s table in the back of the main dealers’ room. The B9 Robot room was at the opposite end of the hotel from the dealers’ room. David lit up the moment he saw me. They stopped me inside the door, but I crooked my thumb at David, flipped up my dealer badge that said “David Hedison sales team” (John’s idea) and said, “I’m with him.” They let me stay.
David immediately walked over. “You found me.” I smiled. David gave me his black leather bag and glasses to hold. He had signed Fly resin kit certificates for Steve Iverson in his bag. I said we’d drop them off. Steve was in front of us and to the right, so it was easy to ferry stuff back and forth between our table and his. I also gave David the fives and tens he asked me to get for him so we could make change. I asked if he was okay, sometimes his voice is a little rough first thing in the morning. David wanted some water. I spotted one of those square hotel water containers against the back wall, walked over and got him a plastic cup full. He drank most of it before the first live spot. David did well; he talked to the local weatherman about Reality Trap and his Bond films. Reed told everyone to come on down to the show. Then we waited another 20 minutes for the spot on the other channel.
I tried to give David back his glasses after the first promo, he said no, keep them; he had another spot to do. I noticed the glasses had fingerprints on them, probably mine, so I cleaned them. After I found the water, David noticed there were also doughnuts. He walked over, looked, but decided he didn’t want any. He talked to Mark Goddard for a while at Mark’s table. Then they called him for the 2nd segment with the Chinese woman reporter. David was fine working live – the spot was only two minutes long and they asked him *stock* questions he could answer easily.
David had UK souvenirs for me in his black bag. He brought me the sign from the door at Infinitely Better Store in Swindon and buttons and postcards and Voyage calendars that were brought to Basildon by the Irwin Allen News Network (as giveaways). I kept a few and gave the rest of those away in Louisville. I was very touched. I promised David I would frame the sign he had hauled home from Europe for me to have. It’s up on the wall as I type this.
David was getting impatient; he wanted to be signing before the early bird period was over. We ended up with about 15 people waiting in line for him. John kept them entertained until we got there. We explained the last live spot was at 9:40 and we had come as soon as we could. David started signing pictures and didn’t stop for nearly three hours.
Joe was an early bird and bought three pictures. He enjoyed David and came back a few more times with different items. The next fan to make an impression was Dori, from Pennsylvania. She said she had read that he was going to be here on the group and she had decided to fly here and see him. Her husband (nice guy) took her picture with David. David couldn’t believe she came all that way to only see him. She assured him she had. Dori came back a couple of more times as well and was pleased when I remembered her name.
David was having a bit of trouble hearing some of the fans, so I would lean over his left ear and repeat (and spell it) as needed. One of David’s earliest visitors on Saturday was Rik Newman. Rik asked David if he remembered him -- they had worked together on “The Enemy Below” in 1957. David looked at him and said Newman! They began chatting about their time in Hawaii and many other things. Rik is now a modeler and was helping out at someone else’s table, but he came back on Sunday. David sent him home with a Fly picture – signed to “my old friend.”
My friend Martha came to visit. We finally found her a chair, which we placed in the back corner of our cul de sac. David could walk to the southwest corner of the table for pictures. We didn’t want the fans behind the table or him in front of the table (too many people) but meeting them there for a pose worked great. Martha loved watching all the people come up to buy pictures, while she knitted. David would walk by to take pictures and he finally commented that her poncho was growing. Martha left around noon in search of a panel (that she thoroughly enjoyed) and then came back later in the afternoon to show David the finished poncho. She got two pieces done that Saturday.
A fellow showed up with some odd magazines. One was a TV Star Parade in Russian. My curiosity piqued, I came out around the table and asked if I could look at them and he let me. That’s when I saw his nametag. It was Darrell Hovious, who I first met at an Irwin Allen convention in 1983 – the same con where I met David’s former fan club president, Vieve Yarborough. Darrell also came to Dixie Trek in 1993 to meet David, at David’s first 3 day con. I hugged him and Darrell (very kindly) told me I hadn’t changed a bit in 22 years. I rolled my eyes and said, more grey hair, Darrell. I should have known from the magazines. Darrell has one of the best collections on David I have ever seen and was very active in David’s fan club in the 1970’s and 80’s, before it disbanded in 1997. It was really nice to see him again.
Then there was Brother Damian, a monk in a Hawaiian over shirt, with Birkenstocks.
He admitted he didn’t look much like a monk, either, when I told him I liked his t-shirt, a much more well-worn version of The Fly t-shirt I had on. Damian was a huge Fly fan and great fun. He bought one of David’s Fly Lobby cards for his wall. It’s a really nice picture of David. Another guy brought David a fly swatter and had him sign that. Not sure why.
Some other collectibles that passed through on Saturday were a Voyage lunchbox, several board games, two built flying subs, a built Aurora Seaview (that was 39 years old), and some Voyage comics. David also signed a Mexican Lobby card that had him billed as Hal Hedison. One fellow came with a stack of Voyage board games and other collectibles and there were two of everything. Twin girls, he said.
David had a posed shot of him and Barbara Bouchet (from “Left Handed Man”) but she’s in a bikini that she never wore on the show. That picture perplexed Nancy, she couldn’t place it from an episode until I told her it wasn’t IN one. David had a special caption for this particular photo that had everyone who bought it, laughing.
David signed a poster that was then walked around to all the other guests. I believe it was auctioned off for Charity. I asked if she wanted my Roy Scheider book, and she said yes, so I signed it. I sell my Scheider books at www.half.com
The con brought David his badge. He asked if he had to wear it. I told him, do what you want. He put it into his pocket. This worked fine until David had to use the men’s room that was out of the room and across the hall from the entrance. John wasn’t sure they would let David back in without a badge, so he went with him. The (off-duty) cop did stop David coming back in, but then recognized who he was and let him go through. After that, David had no further trouble going in and out. David said most people recognize him, even with the beard. I asked him if he ever got tired of being one of the oldest guests at any particular show. David rolled his eyes and shrugged. It’s a good thing he enjoys younger people. John continued to go with David when he went to the men’s room, more to make sure he made it across the very large, crowded room and back without incident, than anything else. On the way back John would take David over to a table where there was Fly merchandise for sale. John would tell the dealer he needed to display the item more prominently. The dealer would then say there was no room. John would come back with, “Well, THIS guy thinks the same thing” and the dealer would look up and see David standing there and jump a foot. At least some of the dealers met David. David had no idea there was that much stuff out there to buy. John enjoyed being his guide and made sure David saw all the good stuff in the dealers’ room over the two days.
There were two young boys on Saturday. One brought David an original Fly painting he had started and David signed in one of the still blank places on the canvas. I gave the proud father a web site card and told him to send me a jpg when the painting was complete and I’d put it up. We both encouraged the boy to finish it. The other young man wanted David to sign his wrist cast. I told him that wasn’t the best idea, as they would cut it off soon. He assured me that he would save it when they did. David was especially attentive to all the children who came to his table.
We had several Bond fans. David signed two movie posters, one from each of his Bond films and when one fellow told John, David was the best Felix Leiter ever, John said, “Don’t tell me, tell him!” and pointed to David. So when the guy came over for his signed picture, he did tell David. Another man asked David whether or not he still got residuals and David answered, occasionally. When they inquired about a specific show (I don’t remember which one now), David said the check was for 14 cents.
Vickie and Mary were in line for while. I spotted them and said Hello, Vickie. Once their pictures were signed and they got their pictures taken with David, they plopped down on the floor in the SW corner that Martha had vacated and watched David take pictures with other people. I left to go get lunch for Erin Gray. I offered, she accepted.
I went down, ordered, came back, sold more pictures and then went to pick it up. Vickie and Mary came with me. I met the restaurant person coming down the NE corridor with my bag of paid for sandwiches. We went back, fed Erin and David said I could have 20 minutes “off the clock” for to eat my sandwich and visit with Vickie. So I sat in the corner with them and we chatted.
David would walk by to take pictures. He posed with someone’s dog. If they bought a signed picture, we would let them take any pose they wanted. Vickie remarked how good David was with the dog and how calm the dog was. I said, oh, David had once owned a dog, in fact, he had two dogs. So when David came back past us, I said, “David, tell Vickie about your dogs, Sam and Highway.” And David did.
Sam was a Samoyed and quite a handful, with a mind of his own. David said when he moved to England in 1970, Sam had to stay behind. The people, who rented the house from David during that time, liked Sam and kept him – he came with the house – and lived with the renters until he died two years later.
Highway was a mutt. David said Highway was the best dog he ever had, always did whatever David told him to. David loved that dog. He said Highway used to “run off” to find a girlfriend, but the dog would come back every couple of days, show himself at the screen door to let David know he was all right and then he’d take off again. Highway had to be put down when he was 16, but he and David had many good years together. I told David about the web site picture of him sleeping in a chaise on the porch with Highway in a basket above his head and how people were amazed the dog would do that. David shrugged and said that basket was where the dog slept. He never had any trouble getting the dog to use it.
David walked back by another time and teased the three of us about how much we were talking. I grinned and told him (teasing back) that he had interrupted the unofficial monthly meeting of “The Hedison Harem.” David smiled, shook his head and went back to his chair to sign more pictures that John was helping sell. Vickie and Mary left shortly after that to see what else was going on at the con.
Nancy showed up around 1 PM and after she told David all about her morning riding lesson, she claimed the now empty chair in the SW corner and people watched for a while. It was starting to slow down. Her husband, John, took some pictures for the web site and then wandered off to see the rest of the show. Nancy offered to stay with David (and hand him the pictures to sign) while I went up to my room to make David his afternoon tea. She wanted to ask David about her stage fright and get his advice on how to overcome it. I think she asked the right person as they were still talking about that when I came back.
I heated the water in my room, set the tea to brew and put everything else in my pockets for the trip back downstairs. I set the cup down in front of David and then started pulling stuff out. I felt like I was doing a magic trick. Presto! Here’s the sugar and the stir sticks. Here’s the milk. Here’s a bag of walnuts and blueberries to have with your tea. I brought Nancy a cup of my favorite green tea and waited until David had all the milk he wanted in his tea and then I drank the rest. David liked the walnuts and blueberries. He hadn’t wanted lunch, to the concern of several women who were there that day. They mentioned this to me (after he left on Sunday), so everyone was really glad to see him finally eat something on Saturday.
John brought the famous King Kong artist Joe DeVito http://www.jdevito.com/ over to meet David and then he went off with Joe for a while (when it was slow) to visit Joe’s table (in another room) and visit with some of the other artists at the con
Erin Gray had gone to her panel, so I plopped into the chair on the other side of David.
I invited Martha to sit in Erin’s chair, so we were all sitting there listening – Nancy, her husband John, my John, Me, and Martha. No one was buying, so David sipped his tea and taught us all how to make a proper vodka martini. James Bond has it all wrong you know, shaking it lets too much water melt into the drink. It has to be very dry (very little vermouth), stirred just enough and then served immediately with a twist of lime.
Nancy wanted to know if she could tell David about me climbing over the fence at the horse farm in nothing flat when one of the other horses thought I still had carrots and wouldn’t take no for an answer. So I went someplace he *couldn’t* follow me anymore,
over the fence. I used to have horses. We sold the last one when I was 20 and went away to college. Nancy said I scaled that fence like I was 20 again. Your average horse weighs 1000 lbs. I wasn’t going to risk getting stepped on or bit or kicked on the eve of a show. I told David I possess a finely honed sense of self-preservation.
So I told one on Nancy. Her basset hound (all 85 pounds of her) was so glad to see me on Friday at the house; she jumped all over me, no matter how much Nancy and John told her to stop. Every time she jumped, she licked my arm. So I’m in the bathroom later, getting “unlicked” and the dog pads in and starts drinking out the toilet beside me. I told Nancy, now that was class!! David cracked up, particularly when I referred to the dog as a “komodo lizard with fur.” Biggest basset hound I ever saw. Dogs are okay, but I prefer cats, when given a choice.
Nancy and Martha left right before we closed. The con was very insistent that we leave immediately at 5 PM. They said we could leave everything set up, but we didn’t want to, so we let David go. We promised to meet him in an hour for an early dinner in the hotel restaurant. Then we packed up the pictures and anything else of value and left the signage. We hauled everything back to the room, then cleaned up and changed for dinner. My Fly t-shirt might be fine for the dealer’s room, but I put on something more appropriate for dinner. We went down a few minutes early, not knowing if we’d get an elevator easily or not, but we did. I knocked on David’s door and he opened it. He was on his cell phone. He waved us in anyway. He had a nice little open two room suite with chairs, a table and a sofa in the front. We moved away from the door and tried not to listen to his phone conversation. After a few minutes, he hung up, said he had to go, some friends had come.
David then told us we were early. I explained about the elevator. I also know David; he likes people to be prompt or early. John complimented David on the suite. David showed him around. It was a lot more functional than my room – which had my closet across from the vanity area of the bathroom, so our clothes got good and steamed every time we took a shower. If you left the closet door open, you couldn’t get into the bathroom and if you left the bathroom door open, you couldn’t get into the closet. David wanted my room, he liked my high backed chairs and small table better than what he had and I wanted his room set-up. So there we are.
John poked his head into David’s bathroom and said the bathtub was way too small.
David shrugged, said he wasn’t going to use it anyway. He had shuttered windows, about eight of them, so we helped David close all his inside wooden shutters before we left. He was on the ground floor; we didn’t want anyone peeping in on him.
David had never been to the Golden Targe Tea Room (the whole hotel had this 60’s baroque Mary Queen of Scots kind of medieval interior) which was more like a diner, but the food was good, if southern. We warned David there wasn’t much ambience. I asked David if he wanted a booth by the window, he said no, so they gave us a table for four on the left side of the room. We ordered drinks, water for me, Diet Coke for John. Early on Saturday David decided he wanted to eat with us, as a reward for all our hard work, so we let him be generous. I had been with David all day at that point, if he had wanted to eat alone in his room, I would have definitely understood.
I told the waiter all I wanted was a Caesar salad with Chicken – with the dressing on the side. David objected. I had already looked at the menu the previous night and knew I really didn’t want anything greasy or with tomato sauce. I knew John was going to order the prime rib, so I pressed my hand on David’s arm and said I’d have dessert. David knows I love cheesecake. He subsided. David was hungry. He ate most of his dinner salad, ordered a shrimp cocktail, and then had prime rib with a baked potato. They brought me a very generous salad that I made last. John and I talked to David about many things, whatever he wanted to talk about.
Mark Goddard came over to the table from his booth by the window and asked to join us. David offered to buy Mark a glass of wine and Mark ordered a merlot. Mark mentioned he had five kids and I blurted out-- You have five kids? God bless you! He and David talked about their respective ages and how good they looked and they agreed they wouldn’t tell anyone how old they were any more, since no one believed them anyway. Mark is 69. I told Mark, are you kidding? I pointed to David. He’s got 31 years on me and he’s always leaving me in the dust!
Mark then talked about working with kids and how he loves being asked to mentor.
I told Mark David had been helping me with my stage fright for two years now and how I was a much better presenter at national conferences now because I do what David taught me. Then Mark mentioned he watched Bill O’Reilly on Fox as the dessert was served and we all groaned and told him he needed to find something better to watch.
That led to a rather long political discussion about Bush and the war in Iraq and what we were fighting for over there and over here, now the Republicans have a majority in Congress. Mark has a Master’s in Special Ed, but he could not sway any of us to his side, so he left after David paid for a second glass of wine.
I knew John would order cheesecake when I did, but I was a little surprised when
David said he’d have a piece as well. It was really good. I thanked David after the first bite. The bill came and David picked it up for everyone. David filled out the slip and then turned it over so John couldn’t see how much he had spent. David is very endearingly old-fashioned at times.
We stopped in the hotel convenience store to look for orange juice and cereal for David (for the morning) but they didn’t have any for sale, so David said he’d get room service again. He gave me some 20 dollar bills to get change for selling in the morning.
We were crossing the lobby when David mentioned that his bad shoulder was really hurting him and would I massage it for him so he could sleep. Of course. David plopped down in the waiting area by the front desk and unzipped his jacket, tossing it on the couch, and then peeled off his sweater. He sank into the side chair and said “press hard.” So I start working on his shoulder with my thumb, trying to loosen up the muscle and we have “the” conversation: Here? No, Lower. Here? That’s it, press there. So I kept pressing there until David told me to stop.
About halfway through this, an older couple approaches us and says, excuse me, we don’t mean to bother you… David turns his head sideways and says hello, nice to meet you and they say what a thrill it is for them to meet him and all the while I’m still working his shoulder. Finally, they left.
David leans back in the chair when I’m done and throws his sweater over his shoulders so the sleeves are hanging down in front. I’m looking at him and you know what, he still looks like a movie star. We say it’s late and decide to walk him down to his room. He says we don’t have to, but we do and then say goodbye for the night.
I had arranged for Stephanie Kellerman to come early on Sunday (at 9 AM) so she could interview David (again) for her Basehart book. She was early, David showed up with his suitcase to store a few minutes before the appointed time, so I let David have his favorite high backed chair, sat Stephanie on the other side of the table and she asked away. David spent about half an hour answering her questions to the best of his recollection. When Jack Basehart came to visit the Voyage Set, David had lunch with him. David was very cooperative.
He left to go down to yet another interview with the local horror host. I realized John and I needed to get down there and set up the table for when he was done. Stephanie went with us, waited until the room opened, came and found our empty chair in the SW corner and parked there for most of the time until we left at 1:15 PM.
We did almost no business on Sunday. Which worked out, since John and I had stuff we needed David to do for both the web site and his sponsor. That passed the time. Most of what we discussed that morning is already up on the site, the rest will follow shortly. I asked David if he minded me setting up the three interviews he did at the con and he said, not at all.
One of the items I brought to him was an item about an opera (based on The Fly) that Howard Shore had in development for the 2007 season of the LA opera. Marty Baumann – who runs the B-monster web site -- wanted to know what David thought of the idea. David looked at the blurb, looked at me and said, “Tell him I’m going to audition for the lead!” I wrote down what David said and asked if I could send it to Marty. David said okay. I then said, “Just think, David, a job when you are eighty! David looked up at me, and replied, “Oh God, don’t say eighty.”
After David signed a picture as a thank you for someone who does web publicity I leaned down and hugged him. I then thanked David for letting me do publicity for him these past two years. David said he was glad he made me happy.
I had a notebook full of web site page printouts that I had previously sent David URLS for and he had a good time reading the hard copies about the Avignon Film Festival and The Fly screening at the Bryant Park Film Festival in New York City June 27. http://www.bryantpark.org/calendar/film-festival.php David was very pleased to see all the other films he was listed with. I told him look at the company you are in - White Heat, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Suspicion - to name a few.
A woman marched up to the table, told David she had driven 15 hours (from Texas) to meet him, took his picture, posed for another picture with him and then didn’t buy a signed picture. David knelt down to pose with one little girl and she thought she had to kneel down, too, so they were up and down and up until David took her gently by the shoulder and told her she should stand up. He is really good with children.
Andrew Probert, one of the major guests of the con – he designed the Enterprise 1701A (ST: The Next Generation) and also worked many of other ST designs http://probertdesigns.com/Folder_TECH/Probert_HOME.htm – came to David’s table Sunday around noon. He told David he was a fan and he wanted to thank David for his contribution to Voyage, that he and Richard hadn’t been such good actors, the show would have been awful, but because they did so much with the horrible material they were given, people still love and watch the show to this day. David was pleased. Andy also told David he looked great, all he had to do was shave off the beard and he could step right back into the role, only now he’d be Admiral Crane. All I have to do is shave off the beard? David answered, teasing.
As Andy was walking away, I told David who he was and that he was in “the business.” John was sorry he missed him talking to David. He was coming back to the table as Probert was leaving and John asked Andy if he had told David who he was, and Probert said, “Your assistant took care of that.” We first met Andrew Probert at a DeForest Kelley con in 1987 and we had visited his table Friday night and chatted for a while. Nice guy. John loves his work.
David talked about “The Young and the Restless” with me and Nancy Appelhof Sunday afternoon. He’d like his character to return to Genoa City, but it doesn’t seem likely with the budget cuts. They had to trim 3 million dollars and there have been other layoffs of actors since David left. David said he had been trying to track what had happened to Jill and Katherine since he left and it seemed that they hadn’t been on much. I told David that tracked with what I had observed. They have part of one storyline (the takeover at Jabot) and that’s about it, nowhere near the air time they had when David was part of their storyline. The most recently fired actress (Camryn Grimes) still had almost a year to go on her contract when her character was killed this past May. I told David I understood why she died (for the storyline) but I thought killing off a 15 year old was too much. I also mentioned I was having a deuce of a time tracking Mac, Katherine’s granddaughter, now the actress who played her had been changed. As far as I read, the actress who played the role with David didn’t want to leave, either, so it had to be another money decision. David laughed and said he liked how I said, “replaced her with a cheaper (i.e. lesser known) actress.” That’s only speculation on my part, but that seems to be what is happening. More than once since David’s budget induced departure.
We packed up at 1:15 PM for David’s panel. We should have left earlier, it was dead. We exited the dealer’s room and David took off down the hall. He gets about five strides in front of me and I said, “Hey, Hedison, you’re leaving me in the dust!” David pulls up short, waits for me for catch up and then walks with me all the rest of the way down the hall to the elevator to my room. We collect his suitcase, do the last minute packing and let David freshen up for the panel. I look at my watch when he’s ready and say, we have to go, its time. David grabs his leather bag and I take his rolling suitcase. We go up the back stairs to Theater A. I popped the suitcase handle down and carried the bag up. David offered to take it. I say no, I’m okay and we need to keep moving, or we will be late. The bag was very light, which I was glad of. We wanted David to have an easy time flying in and out.
Mark is standing in front of the table, talking, when we walk in. David waited politely in the back of the room until Mark was done. Mark finished telling everyone what he’s been doing currently and then introduces David. David makes his entrance down the center aisle to much applause. David sits down in the other middle chair to the left of Bob May. Mark won’t sit down in the chair to the right of Bob, he preferred to pace back and forth in front of the tables. David talked for a few minutes about his most recent project, Reality Trap and the French Film Festival it was being shown at.
The three actors then talked about how they were hired by Irwin Allen. Bob is the grandson of Oleson & Johnson - a vaudeville act - and got his start in Jerry Lewis movies. Mark was in “Johnny Ringo” and “The Detectives” before he hired for “Lost In Space.” Mark asked David how he was hired. David replied, (throwing down the *top this* gauntlet). “I slept with all the right people.” The audience died laughing.
It is fairly well known that both Guy Williams and June Lockhart were not happy when “Lost in Space” became the Will, Robot and Doctor Smith show. Mark joked that June Lockhart was attributed as saying, “Who do you have to sleep with to get OFF this show?” The Audience cracked up again. David then said, with a gleam in his eye, “I thought she said who do you have to ***k to get off this show?” The audience went bananas. Mark had to wait a bit to say, “I cleaned it up.” And they were off, each story wilder than the previous one.
David told us about working on The Lost World and skipping the Voyage movie (he went to Japan to do Marines, Let’s Go instead) and how Irwin Allen pursued him and pursued him and pursued him to do the Voyage TV series. Called him in Alexandria, Egypt. Called him in London at 3 in the morning. Finally David agreed to do the series when he found out Richard Basehart had signed on. David couldn’t figure out for the life of him, why Irwin Allen wanted him so much, there were so many other actors he could have hired, until they filmed the episode Turn Back the Clock 1st season and it hit him. Allen had all this stock footage of David from his Fox Movies he could use (and did). David said he was devastated.
David would stand up when he would talk and put in his right hand into his pants pocket. He was very relaxed and mostly content to let the other two actors talk. He did almost fall out of his chair laughing at some of the things Mark or Bob said. This was really fun to watch.
David was asked how he was hired for Live and Let Die and Licence to Kill. He was in England working, in 1972. He was friends with the LALD screenwriter, he read the script, liked it, took a meeting, and was hired to work with Sean Connery. Connery quit and then Roger Moore was hired. In 1988, David was in a restaurant, Cubby Broccoli was there, David waved, and Cubby stopped by on his way out. David went to FL to do a play, they called him in on his day off for a meeting with Director John Glen, and he got the part.
David was asked about working with Peter Lorre in the “Five Fingers” TV series. Lorre didn’t want to do the show at first, but finally told his agent he would do this “perfect piece of shit.” David said Peter needed the money. David remembered that they were shooting in a Beverly Hills hotel and the scene called for Lorre to be eating caviar. It was supposed to be jam, David said, that would pass as caviar, but Lorre ordered the caviar, ate it (as directed) and charged it to the production. They were not happy with that bill. Not happy at all. But that was Peter Lorre.
David was asked about The Lost World and working with Claude Rains and Michael Rennie. David said there was always one good thing about making a film and Claude Rains was his silver lining on Lost World. Claude was very patient and would indulge
David when David would ask him to tell him stories about making all the great movies he did in the thirties and forties. David enjoyed listening to his stories immensely. Didn’t like the script at all, but loved working with the actors in that film.
The three of them were asked if they were ever injured doing Special Effects shots.
Bob May told a LIS story, Mark told an even better LIS story and David said the guys
on Voyage were pros and never hurt him, but he was on this movie set in Prague called … and David looked up for a cue from me, for the third time - and I said, "Undeclared War."
They were supposed to blow up David’s car. David was uneasy about the stunt and questioned the director, but Ringo Lam told him he'd be perfectly SAFE. David came running around the corner and hit his mark. KA-BLOOM. The explosion blew out all the windows in the square. There was glass everywhere. David was down with blood on his neck and shoulder from the flying glass and he said his knees were shredded and bloody. David said it was good thing they got that first shot as there could be no second take in the condition he was in after that.
Mark and Bob told Irwin Allen stories. Mark’s was hilarious, he said he was afraid of Irwin Allen in those days and hid behind a (fake) rock once when Allen came on the set to yell at Guy Williams. Williams and Allen did not get along. Allen told Williams, he was a prick and then spotted Mark, and told Mark (for hiding) that he was a triple prick. After everyone stopped laughing, Mark said, that was the only time he EVER got billing over Guy!
Mark and Bob talked about directors Sobey Martin, who apparently used to fall asleep and Sutton Roley, who didn't care about illogical lines, like "It's like nothing I've ever seen before, only bigger." Say the line, Mark. David did not contribute any stories of his own; he just nodded in agreement to all they were saying and laughed uproariously along with us.
David then talked about Richard Basehart. He mentioned that the Industry gives awards for performances that have the best writing, but that’s not right, because when the writing is THAT good, anyone’s grandmother can say the line and win the award. David thought they should have given Richard an award for what he did with the really awful scripts they were given third and fourth season. They did straight and did it well and made the scripts work because they were good actors. And that is why people still watch the show 41 years later. David got a nice round of applause for his words.
Bob then invited everyone to come back to the B9 Robot room with him after the panel.
David had a plane to catch and I had both bags, so we started easing David out of the room and toward the stairwell back down to the lobby. At the top of the stairs David insisted I give him one of his bags. I tell him I'm fine, collapse the handle and start down the stairs. David follows me, insisting I let him “grab something.” Actually I'm balanced, so I say no again and continue to clump down the stairs. John tells David, “Grab the handrail, so you don't fall down the stairs. We don't want to have to call your wife and ask her where to ship the body.” John was concerned with all the people milling around David that someone would jostle him and make him trip on the stairs.
David took hold of the handrail as directed and then proceeded to make an exaggerated theatrical descent down the staircase behind me, playing the “doddering old man” to the hilt, for the 20 odd folks who are following him. David was well aware he had a captive audience, all laughing at his impromptu “performance.”
Nancy Appelhof was behind me and she said she saw him grab the railing, lean over and kind of totter down, all the while talking in a really funny rickety voice. “I---lll … beee O---kay.” I turn in time to see David totter off the last step. He comes up to me and wants his bag. Again. I give him the small leather one (just to make him happy) and kept the suitcase.
I point David to the person on his other side who wants to shake his hand and get a picture. So we do pictures at the foot of the stairs until everyone who has followed him down, gets what they want and he’s only left with his goodbye crew, me, John, Stephanie Kellerman and Nancy Appelhof. We take him to the lobby, and find out there is an airport shuttle in 7 minutes. We sit down to wait for it. Nancy is a little shy about hugging David goodbye, but I tell her, go ahead, he won't break, so they hug goodbye. He hugs me and John goodbye; I get a goodbye kiss as the van pulls up. We give him David his rolling suitcase and he hops up into the front seat. Five minutes later they drive off.
Nancy and Stephanie said good-bye and Nancy promised to come back and take us out to dinner at 6:30 PM sharp. We ended up going to the place Stephanie recommended, a steak house called Fifth Quarter. And it was good.
John and I went back to the con, which still had two hours to run. I took some pictures of the various Voyage model displays, picked up David’s two resin kits from his sponsor and gave them to the pack-n-post to ship home for him. John visited with Joe DeVito some more.
We were headed for the dealer’s room one last time, when I was stopped in the hall by Christopher Dufour. He had to come late (from work) and most the stars were gone - Mark Goddard and Erin Gray left about half an hour after David. I walked around with him for the last hour of the con. He talked to Bob May and took pictures of all the models and enjoyed meeting me at long last. Christopher is another old David Hedison fan club member that I’ve known since 1983. We had a good visit until it was time for me to get ready to go out to dinner with the Appelhofs.
Monday morning, we slept in, had an early lunch, checked out, caught the airport shuttle and left Louisville about 2:30 PM. We changed planes in Atlanta (of course), ate dinner in the airport and finally arrived back in West Palm Beach about 8:45 PM. We made good time, considering it was a holiday weekend and my big green suitcase made it all the way back with us. The limo was waiting and we got home in one piece. I couldn’t get over how light the rolling bags were coming back. We sold a lot of pictures and lobby cards gave away web site cards and stickers and other items. It was great show and we had a blast helping David with his table. Pictures from the show are up at: www.davidhedison.net