Historically Speaking: A few celebrity moments from yesteryear


Movies. (Photo by Anika Mikkelson via Unsplash)

Tom Morrow

Back in 1969 when I was a staff writer for the Associated Press, I was assigned to go out and interview actors on a movie set east of Apache Junction, Arizona.

The movie being filmed was “The Ballad of Cable Hogue,” starring Jason Robards Jr., David Warner and Stella Stevens. I was introduced to Robards first, who promptly told me he didn’t give interviews but was happy to show me around the set. He was very cordial as we visited for about an hour. I had put my notebook in my hip pocket, but I didn’t tell him I had a good memory. Some of his most memorable roles were in “The Country Girl,” “Hour of the Gun,” “A Thousand Clowns” and the 1976 blockbuster “All the President’s Men.”

Historically Speaking by Tom MorrowNext, I was introduced to British actor David Warner.

He was a pleasant enough fellow but wasted no time in telling me how much he “hated” America. It had something to do with the Vietnam war, which was going on at that time. I did take notes when chatting with Warner, but I didn’t write much about him.

Stella Stevens was busy in the makeup trailer, so it was small unforgettable talk as she primped in the mirror. All I ever saw was here image in the mirror. The story went out over the national AP wire and, understandably, Warner’s comments gained the most coverage. I never heard back from any of the three, but for actors used to seeing all sorts of publicity, my jottings were a blip on the wire machines and their publicists.

To tell the truth, I’ve forgotten what Robards told me that day, but this old sailor remembers all too well Warner’s rantings of hate. For someone who has a dislike for this country he’s made a pretty good living from the many Hollywood films he’s appeared in on this side of the pond. You may have seen him in a number of big films such as “Titanic,” “A Christmas Carol,” “The Omen,” and as dozens of American TV films and series.

Jump ahead 10 years. I took my teenaged daughter to see the classic Broadway musical “42nd Street” at the Civic Theater in downtown San Diego. The play was the first Great White Way musical which began as a popular Depression-era film that ended up in New York. The reverse had been the norm up until the smash-hit 1933 movie. It starred Warner Baxter, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, and a number of cast members who went on to become stars in their own right (Ginger Rogers for one).

That evening, the theater was near-capacity. Final minutes before curtain-up, an elderly lady made her way through our row and took the empty seat alongside me.

The play that evening, of course, was a big hit with the audience. After the final curtain, the director came out on stage, thanked the audience and announced the film’s main actress, Miss Keeler, was in the audience. The spotlight suddenly illuminated our role. The old lady sitting alongside of me struggled, but finally stood up and waved to a thunderous ovation. I glanced at her proud, smiling face, but then I couldn’t ignore the elderly dancer’s feet, which were wearing shoes with holes cut out of the toe-areas, obviously knurled from years of stage work.

It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime classic moments.

Of course, my daughter only took my word for the importance of the moment, but since then she’s watched the original movie and now appreciates what she witnessed.

Our Staff Sage

Longtime friend and local journalist Cecil Scaglione, who publishes Mature Life Features, told readers about the 1978 midair collision of Pacific Southwest Airline’s Flight 182 in San Diego. Cecil and I both covered that tragic event, although at that time we worked at different newspapers. I’ve known and worked alongside this Canadian-born wordsmith for more than 45 years. He has an infectious sense of humor and some of his “Think about it” one-liners are classic. Here are a few examples of his classic wit and wisdom:

“Everyone owes it to themselves to become successful. After that, they owe it to the IRS.”

Keep in mind that your tongue is always wet, so it can easily slip.”

I just learned of the death of a neighbor who didn’t leave his wife much when he died, but he left her a lot when he was alive.”

“Curiosity can be costly. Paying good money to see how fast a horse can run has chewed up many fortunes.”

That old ‘You’re Next’ poke in the ribs you used to get at weddings isn’t so funny now that you’re attending funerals.”

I’m gonna make a sign for the bathroom in my church: ‘No Restroom For The Wicked!’”

If you’re faced with a choice between two evils, pick the one you haven’t tried yet.”

Tom Morrow is a longtime Oceanside-based journalist and author who contributes to OsideNews.

Columns represent the views of the individual writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the North Coast Current’s ownership or management.