Yesterday, I volunteered at the 75th Anniversary of Republic Pictures event and had a blast. Republic Pictures was one of the San Fernando Valley's great movie studios of Westerns and B movies. As a lover of California history and Hollywood's past, I enjoyed every minute.
Many of the Republic Pictures stars or their children were there to speak on panels and sign photos. Since I was working elsewhere on the CBS lot, I wasn't able to see many of the events. But I did spend my last two hours checking out the memorabilia and taking photos.
Awkward Celebrity Moment!
What's the matter with me, flirting with a man in his 80s? How inappropriate! When I came upon Hugh O'Brian (Wyatt Earp) signing photographs, he asked, as I checked out his photos, "Do you see anything you like?"
So I pointed to a photo of him - bronzed skin, wearing only a skimpi mankini - and said, "Yeah, that!"
Then he said, "You show me yours and I'll show you mine." After some more inappropriate back and forth that's now a blur, the blonde lady to his right asked me, "Do you want to purchase anything?" Then Hugh mentioned his "Wyatt Earp" DVDs. But I muttered something about my DVD player not working and scampered away when someone else came to ask Mr. O'Brian a question.
So there it is - I flirted with Hugh O'Brian and then ditched him when he gave me a sales pitch. Yes, I am pathetic.
Of course, I meant no disrespect to the still charming Mr. O'Brian. I honestly do have a broken DVD player and am watching my dollars.
Cool Hollywood Encounter
After my Hugh O'Brian blunder, I turned around to find an elegant older man, looking cool and refined in spite of the 100 + degree weather, dressed in a pinstriped seersucker suit. He took my right hand in his hands and looked into my eyes. I smiled and said, "And how are you?" To which he responded, "Fine right now." And then I moved on.
I asked one of the event coordinators, "Who is that elegant man in the pinstriped suit?" and told her about my encounter.
"Oh, yeah, that's A.C. Lyles, Mr. Paramount."
Intrigued, I Googled him when I got home. Yep, A.C. Lyles is one of the great Hollywood producers. He started as a young man in Hollywood under Adolph Zukor. So cool!
I adore old Hollywood! (photo: A. C. Lyles posing with costumed event attendee)
More fun Hollywood Moments
I met beautiful Republic Pictures actress Linda Stirling's son Chris Nibley, a Director of Photography. Since his parents met on the Republic lot (his father was screenwriter Sloan Nibley), he practically grew up on the Republic lot. A real sweet guy, Chris had great stories about the caves that were once there, the Gunsmoke set, the L.A. River before it was paved over and how his mom faked knowing how to ride a horse to get her first starring role as "Tiger Woman".
I never tire of hearing about Hollywood history. Those stories are how imagined Hollywood to be. They're why I moved to Los Angeles and dreamed of being in movies. I told Chris that the Hollywood I encountered didn't really live up to my dreams, "You know" I said. "Too many dirty old camermen asking me if I wanted to look into their cameras." D'oh! Could I stick my foot in my mouth any farther? He's a cameraman.
Chris just laughed.
Another great guy I met was Ben Costello, author of "Gunsmoke: An American Insitution" and "Jack & Walter" about Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. I love Lemmon and Matthau, and struck up a conversation with Ben and got to hear some of his jaw-droppingly wonderful Hollywood tales of Jack Lemmon, Steve McQueen and more.
So I just had a blast spending the day with so many kind, creative and entertaining people, while soaking in the Valley's history and hearing some great Hollywood stories. In spite of the 100 plus degree heat, all seemed to have a great time.
The Studio City Neighborhood Council and San Fernando Valley Museum put this entire event on for absolutely no charge. Great job!