Chiller Theatre Expo April 23-25, 2004
The 40th Anniversary
I turned on my camera and it began flashing a dead battery. So I'm frantically trying to change the battery as David was walking toward the table. I get it changed come out the side of the table, line up in front of him and flash him. Gotcha. He sees me, gives me a big hug hello and tells me he's so glad I'm there. I hug him back. As Alan Prigge and I are setting up the table for him, David had to tell me all about his day on the soap set on Thursday. He didn't have any lines to say. David is not allowed (by the soap) to talk about his story line with me but we often discuss his acting and whether or not he feels he's being effective in a particular scene or not.
Then David showed me a Y & R pub picture he had. I loved the pic. It's a family portrait of Jill, Katherine and Arthur. David's in a black pinstripe suit, silver grey patterned tie and blue shirt. Jill is in gauzy white shirt and camel pants and Katherine is in a white satin pantsuit. Very snazzy. It will probably be posted on the Y & R site before long. David wanted to know if I had watched the last two episodes and I said yes and that it was mostly Katherine and Mac, but I did like his scenes with Jill.
David signed for 4 hours and it was pretty steady. There was a box
of Irwin Allen trading cards in his suitcase and I put them up on the
table. David picked up the box and handed it back to me. He asked if
John would like the cards, they had been sent to him for signing the
autograph cards. I knew John would love them. I was so touched that
David would be so thoughtful to bring the cards all the way from CA
for John that I asked David if I could kiss him. He said yes. So I gave
David a peck on the cheek and took the cards. John did love it when
he got back from helping Kevin McCarthy and I showed the box to him.
John told David he'd kiss him, too, but he didn't think David would
appreciate it. David grinned.
One of my tasks as table helper was to keep our area policed and neat. David would get this amused half smile when I would straighten pictures sleeves or flip over sleeves or generally tidy up the table top. He likes things neat. David brought about 20 different pictures from The Fly, Five Fingers, Lost World, Voyage, Live and Let Die and Licence to Kill, plus some publicity head shots.
They did two group shots of David and the Voyage guys Friday night,
holding a larger sky blue banner. Del is very nice, Allan is a charmer
and Terry Becker acted like a grouch, but was actually good company
once he got to know us a bit. I mostly stayed out of the way, so David
could sell and sign. Once I did block the aisle between Del and David's
table. I didn't realize I was doing it, until David (teasingly) yelled,
"Diane, get out of the way." I moved. David grinned at me.
Guess he knew I'd respond to his voice.
David was very tired Friday night, apparently he had a very long flight from CA that he had to be at the airport for at 4:30 AM, so when he said he was "off" at 9 PM, we were glad to see him go. I hugged him good-night. He left us with Alan and a couple hundred photos to pack up with orders to return with the suitcase at 9:45 AM Saturday morning. We had gone almost nonstop for four hours, and this was the first real lull. My legs hurt from standing, which I hadn't done in some time. I soaked them in the hot tub Friday night after we closed and that helped.
David wanted to know how I was. I told him I stopped ordering books
for the year the day before I flew out. I teased him about the soap
magazines saying he might be getting married. David said he couldn't
say anything. He did mention he had five more episodes in the can and
was giving out the May 5 and 6 air dates. We had printed up Y &
R cards with David's Y & R info on it. We passed them out all weekend
to encourage folks to write CBS and tell the network they love David
on the show. You can write CBS at email@example.com.
I asked Kevin McCarthy Friday night if he wanted some water. He said no, he wanted whiskey. Okay, I said and finished the water run. That done, I went back. "Mr. McCarthy, what kind of whiskey?" "Chivas Regal and soda. A double. If they don't have that, vodka and tonic." Skyy vodka was fine. I went over to the bar and ordered Chivas, not knowing if I was pronouncing it right. The shot in the plastic cup looked pretty measly, so I ordered the double, paid the bartender, tipped and carried his double out the side door, across the packing lot and presented it. "Here you go, Mr. McCarthy." He was 90 and somewhat deaf, but very game and enjoyed himself at the con. John had a blast helping him.
John pretty much left me with David Friday night. I hung out behind
the easels John had put up and watched the action. John went and had
dinner, but I stayed, figuring David would not stay the entire session
until 11 PM with his early flight out of CA. David would talk to me
when the traffic was slow about the soap and we spent a very pleasant
evening selling his photos.
Linda Delaney took the car mat out of her jeep for David to stand on and aside from me having to take it out of the tent and wring it out once, that worked really well for him. David was slightly uphill, down by Terry Becker's end of the tables it was a puddle. Not good.
Later when they tried to take David's suitcase chair away, I informed the guy in no uncertain terms that he needed to give us a dry floor. He backed off and let me keep the chair. John had easels for the computer prints display - took him a while to get the prints up - but once up, they sold very well. I laid out the photo sleeves the way David had them the day before. "Voyage" on the bottom row, The Fly, Five Fingers, Live and Let Die, Licence to Kill left to right on the 2nd row and "The Young and the Restless" promo cards in the center of the table.
John helped David at the table all day Saturday. My husband and David really like each other. John would ask the fans waiting in line to decide on a picture, then take the picture out of the sleeve and lay it on the table for David to sign. David would take it from there. John would put the sleeve back in its place on the table and start with the next person. It really helped move things along.
I was in and out. I had other actors who needed to be looked after. I got bottled water and lunch for Ron Harper and John D'Aquino. A funny thing happened during the first water run. Someone informed me Lou Ferrigno wanted water, too. I replied, "does he know we are buying it out the vending machine?" The person said no, he wants someone to go get it for him. Since I was going anyway, I also got water for Lou Ferrigno. Lou sees another bottle in my other hand and says he wants that one, too. I said, "No, Mr. Ferrigno, that's for someone else," and walked away. I was not about to give him two free bottles. So I took the bottle down and gave it to John D'Aquino, for whom it was purchased.
David had brought down his black leather knapsack. It has his initials ADH on it and is really nice. He pulled this plastic cello bag of yellow smiley face buttons out of it and spread them out on the table. He gave me a certificate from the World Smile Foundation with his name on it that says he's a World Smile Ambassador. I put the certificate in a standing frame and we put it up on the table.
David then had me pin this 3 in smiley face button on his green sweater and he gave out smiley buttons to his customers for the rest of the day. I took one down and pinned a smiley face on John D'Aquino. He was perfectly fine with it and wore it all day, as did I. It turned out D'Aquino was a friend of David's. He came down to visit during David's Q & A session and didn't know where we had gone. He came down again before closed for the day to yak with David. David walked around a bit during the con to talk to people he knew. He had a quite a few friends there in additions to the ones we ended up helping.
John D'Aquino and I had running joke the entire con that I was the
*other* seaQuest guest, because of my Roy Scheider book. . John let
me put out book flyers on his table for the Scheider book (I sell them
at www.half.com) and he spent a good part of Saturday reading one of
the Scheider books I had brought to the show. We talked a little about
his seaQuest experience, and the internet and fandom. I enjoyed John
D'Aquino very much. He will be a guest star on Crossing Jordan May 9.
Try and watch it.
I had left the prints and sign with Del Friday night, after showing him a letter he had sent me 10 years previously. He recognized his own handwriting, even though he didn't remember me and graciously accepted our sign. Later on, I was told he wanted to know where I had gotten the photo on the computer print from. I explained that a friend of mine, Margo McDonnell, had visited the Voyage set in 1967 as part of a fan club convention. Margo used to be in Del's fan club and he was the one who got her on the set to take the picture. After we talked a minute or two, he remembered Margo. Margo used to write Del regularly in the 60's and 70's.
Allan Hunt found out I wrote a book on Roy Scheider and asked me a couple of questions about ALL THAT JAZZ. I told Allan there was a whole chapter on that film in my book. I went behind David's table and dragged out another one of my books for Allan to read. He kept it at the table most of the day and toward the end of the day, Allan told he really liked my book. So I told him he could keep it overnight. I trusted him to give it back to me. Allan grinned and told me he would make sure I got it back. I sold three books at the show, so I was glad I brought some with me.
When Grace Lee Whitney, David's neighbor, asked for water, I told Grace it wasn't mine, but I'd ask. Linda Delaney gave me one of her bottles for Grace Lee. I put a K on my cap - John and I could share, but I didn't want David to pick it up thinking it was his. If I put a D on it, he would think it was his.
I talked with two "Land of the Giants" fans, Fred and Carolyn, who were friends of Jet, the UK webmaster who publicizes David on the Irwin Allen News Network. Jet had asked me to find them and make myself known. They were great people and we had fun.
I was discussing Licence to Kill with a fan at a David's table and she mentioned to David that he got maimed in the film. I said, if he had died, I wouldn't have watched it, because I don't like watching him die. Another woman came up to the table and began raving about the Airborne cold medicine that David did a commercial for last summer. Said the stuff really works and she used it all the time.
I met Stephanie Kellerman for the first time when she came up to me and informed me that the NIMR shirt I was wearing was wrong, that it was the Nelson Institute OF Marine Research, not FOR Marine Research. I told her the shirt was one of about 15 made ten years ago by someone else and a special order and I hadn't made the stencil. I told her I had another NIMR shirt with me and that I would go change, next time I went up the room.
So while David's afternoon tea was brewing, I put on the correct NIMR shirt to wear to the Voyage Q & A. I had asked David if he wanted his tea break before or after his 4 PM panel and he said before. He was about halfway thorough the tea, when Linda Delaney came over to escort him to the panel. David went with her, tea in hand.
The Voyage Q and A went well. The guys talked about their experiences on the show, David talked about Irwin Allen and his name change, Allan Hunt told a hilarious story about how Bob Dowdell got hired as Chip Morton. Terry told several stories. All the guys were quite taken (after a day and a half) of how fondly the show was remembered and how they were our heroes.
That we looked up to them (as the crew of the Seaview) and how we wanted to grow up and be like them, stalwart, brave and capable. Many folks told them that they went into Navy or became marine biologists because of them. I think Del was the most deeply affected by this. He had no idea how much all of us liked him as Kowalski. There are real player files of this panel available on Mike Bailey's web site. www.vttbots.com.
Alan Prigge left the table for a while after we came back from the panel and I slipped into his chair. My legs were killing me. David saw me sitting there and told me I looked lost. I told him my legs hurt. He quite emphatically told me to stay seated. It was getting warm in the tent - I had asked them to bring in a fan - they refused, said it will cool off. So I sat until I got my second wind. David has amazing energy for being 76 years old. It's all I can do to keep up with him. He loves meeting people and is really good at any event he does. All the guys were gracious and kind and everyone who met them at Chiller enjoyed them.
David invited John and I to have a drink with him in the bar after the Saturday session - to thank us for volunteering to help at his table. We were pleased to be asked and immediately said yes. Later on in the day, he mentioned that Stephanie Kellerman wanted a 10 minute interview and was going to join us in the bar. We said fine.
David said meet him in the bar at 7:15 PM and left us to pack up the table. Alan Prigge was coming to the bar as well, so the three of us went up to our room, dropped off the suitcase, got ready for drinks and went back down.
I spotted David at the bar almost immediately, he still had his olive green sweater on. I slipped in beside him. "Hey, sailor, whatcha drinking?" David laughed and asked me what I wanted. "A Shirley Temple." David shook his head. "You should have something better than that." I replied, "No, I've had all my meds and that's what I want. It can be our tradition, that every time I'm with you, you can buy me a Shirley Temple." David gave in and ordered the drink and a Diet Coke for John. Alan had his usual tonic and teased David about his Dutch vodka. David gave the bartender an 8 dollar bill that had Arnold Schwarzenegger's picture on it. The barkeep pulled up short, and said, "Wait a minute."
David laughed. He then gave her real money. I have no idea where he got the fake money from, but he was having fun with it. There was a fellow next to David, who asked me to carry one of the three drinks in front of him, and that's how I met Bruce Basehart.
We went over to the table - David had bought a drink for all six people there, so we had a toast. Alan had to go, so he bid us good-night. David started to talk to Stephanie, but stopped when he realized there was too much din in the bar area for her tape recorder. "This won't work," he said. "I have a room," I volunteered, "with two beds and two chairs. I think we will all fit." "Let's do that," David said. We all picked up our drinks and went up to my 17th floor hotel room.
Stephanie had her interview with David for her Richard Basehart biography and David talked for quite a while with Richard Basehart's nephew, Bruce. Bruce is the son of Richard's brother Hubert, who was known as Hugh. Bruce was very soft-spoken and extremely nice and told some good stories about Uncle Dick. I enjoyed the time I spent with him.
Sunday morning we were supposed to met David at 10 to do an interview for Mike Bailey, a webmaster who helps me promote David on "The Young and the Restless." David called five minutes early to ask if he could come up. We said we were ready. David brought up his bags for us to store - he was leaving at 4, but had to check out by noon. We chatted, did the interview and then went down to the tent for the Sunday session.
The weather went bad around noon. I only had a t-shirt on, so I was cold. David was nibbling on the pretzels I had given him the night before. I told David I was going over to the hotel to get my jacket. He asked me to bring his leather jacket down. I did and he wore it the rest of the day. We had a brief discussion about the leather jacket when I helped David into it. I told David he looked really good in it and he told me he liked it for California because it never got too heavy or hot. My hooded velvet jacket became very useful as I was in out of the tent several times in the rain the rest of the afternoon.
Allan Hunt had returned my book promptly Sunday morning. I had offered to let him have it gratis and inscribe for him, but Allan told me no, it was business and that I should sell the book. So I did, later that day, to a "Voyage" fan who was thrilled she got the book Allan had read. I took her down to Allan's table, told Allan he was a great director and that I had done what he had directed me to do. Allan started to laugh. So I had Janis show Allan the inscription, which I use a lot - it's a parody from JAWS - and says "You gotta get a bigger book." Allan cracked up. So we all went home happy.
I went down about 2:30 to see if John D'Aquino wanted lunch. He couldn't decide so I braved the rain again and scoped out the lobby and found out the hotel did not have the deli service they had set up on Saturday. So I offered to get him something out of the convenience store. John said no, he was leaving in two hours for the airport and would get something there.
Several people had remarked how well David looked. After about the 20th observation along this line I told David he had once said in a interview that when he was a young movie star, he had hoped he'd look as good as Cary Grant when he got older. So I told David that now he was 76, he was actually better looking than Cary Grant was at that age. David said no way. But if you compare pictures, David does look better.
About mid afternoon, Linda Delaney arranged for all the table helpers to have their pictures taken with all four crew members. I'm very pleased with mine. The guys were great. Terry kept teasing David about being "a movie star." and David would give it right back to him. It was the first time Del and Allan had seen David since the show ended, so it was special and I was pleased to be there. It was my first time meeting Del, Allan and Terry and they were terrific.
Later that afternoon I again made David his tea, which he was very glad to get. After he finished his tea, he looked up, said that it was raining and that it was time to go. So we packed up. He came up to our room to collect the rest of his luggage. David packed his suitcase and got his carry on bag ready for the plane with a book and the rest of our bag of pretzels. We talked about what had happened at the con and generally enjoyed each other's company until it was time to take David downstairs to catch his ride to the airport.
We found Alan Prigge and Allan Hunt in the lobby. Alan Prigge went to bring his car to the door. David hugged us good-bye and gave me a kiss on the cheek. David thanked us for all the help we had been to him at the con and we thanked David for showing us such a good time all weekend.
The three men were all looking at Allan Hunt's very large 42 inch Pullman, wondering how they were going to get that size suitcase into the back seat of Alan's sedan. David, impatient to be off, went to lift the bag in and John and I said, "Absolutely not."
John got on the passenger side of the car and lifted the bag up into the back seat. I reached in from the driver's side and pulled the bag over. We stood it upright in the passenger seat behind the driver. David was not happy I was loading a suitcase, but I told David I moved books all the time at work and worked in the mail room and he subsided.
David will not stand around and let a woman do anything when men are present. It's very sweet and I love his chivalry, but sometimes the fact I'm 31 years younger becomes the over-riding factor. John and I lifted David's two bags in. We got everything stowed and left enough room for Allan Hunt to sit in the other back seat. David sat up front and off they went. The last thing David said to John was, "take good care of our girl." We waved as they drove off to the airport. It was a great event and I'm glad to have gone. I wouldn't have missed it.
Copyright Diane Kachmar