Saturday, October 25, 2008

Six Degrees of Separation


I've read my customary quota of newspapers.

Nothing. Zilch. Gornicht. Nyet. Cropotkin. Zero, bubula.

So, as a change-up...

Of late, I've been playing a lot of Six Degrees of Separation.

This is the mindless, time-wasting and way fun game of thinking how close you've come to serious celebrity.

Now, because of my years in broadcasting, I have already met some very interesting folk:


Oscar Winners
Ginger Rogers
Russell Crowe
Faye Dunaway
Sammy Cahn
Shelley Winters

Oscar Nominees
Director Curtis Hanson
Director James Bridges

Tony Winner
Carol Channing

Emmy Winners
Dizzy Gillespie
Betty Carter
Tony Bennett
John Denver
Cleo Lane
Smothers Brothers
George Grunz
Leiber & Stoller

Law & Order's
Michael Moriarty
Steven Hill
Exec Prod. Rene Balcer

The Best of the Rest

Joey Bishop
Buddy Ebsen
Frankie Lane
Phyillis Diller
Leslie Nielsen
Tippi Hedren
Stacy Keach
Soupy Sales
Brenda Vacarro
Jane Russell

Paul Mercer Ellington
Harry B. Stanton
Harry Hamlin
Robertson Davies
Don Harron
Peter Gzowski
Bruno Gerussi
Arthur Erickson
Toller Cranston
Murray Pezim
Mordechai Richler

Prime Ministers

And 1001 MP's, MLA's, social workers, mothers, doctors, lawyers and Indian Chiefs; Drug addicts, murderers, scoundrels and saints.

On public policy, education, health, justice, sports, food, sex, and rock 'n roll...

But wait - that's not the half of it.

Lately, I've been obsessing (What? You don't obsess? Come on, get real!) with near brushes with even more illustrious stars of the movie firmament.

For example:

Last night I was watching George Stephens' magnificent 1956 move of Edna Ferber's tale of Texas, "Giant."

Or as the Italian posters had it, "Il Gigante."

Starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, the 3-hour epic was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning only for Stevens himself for best director.

An absolute piece of shit called "Around the World in 80 Days" won for Best Picture.

And look at who was in the running for Best Actor:

Other Nominees:
  • Giant (1956) - James Dean (I)
    - This was James Dean's second consecutive posthumous nomination.
  • Giant (1956) - Rock Hudson
  • Lust for Life (1956) - Kirk Douglas (I)
  • Richard III (1955) - Laurence Olivier

  • How's that for a list of actors and movies in one year?


    Here's my ONE Degree of Separation.

    Starring as Luz Benedict II was Carroll Baker. Her scene with James Dean in the empty restaurant is still considered an actor's workshop and there are many famous stories about what went on behind the cameras.

    So...I had a long and delightful lunch in, of all places, Edmonton, with Carroll Baker some years ago when she was finishing a run of a play at the Stage West Dinner Theatre and I had just arrived for rehearsals for our 4-month run of "Tribute."

    She was warm and charming and funny and we talked about that famous scene, among many other things.

    So there's my One Degree of Separation from Liz Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean.

    In the same cafe in the same setting under the same circumstances I had a similar lunch with Anne Francis, who, when she left Edmonton to return to California insisted that I take all her kitchen supplies to my apartment.

    Anne Francis was a co-star in "Funny Girl," "Blackboard Jungle" and "Forbidden Planet."

    Hence, my One Degree Of Separation from Barbra Streisand, Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier and Walter Pidgeon, who appeared in both "Funny Girl" and Forbidden Planet."

    Next time, I'll tell you about my One Degree of Separation from Marlon Brando - twice!


    Anonymous said...

    Well, I certainly couldn't begin to play celebrity six degrees, but I did see Sandy Dennis and Stella Stevens in "The Odd Couple" in 1987 at Stage West when my husband and I were at the U. of A. for the year. I wish we had something like that here -- it was great fun. Very cool especially to see Sandy Dennis as I was a fan of hers.

    David Berner said...

    Stage West Dinner Theatre was a first rate operation and it's a shame it never really worked here in Vancouver.

    I played twice at Stage West Edmonton, once in Winnipeg (both for 4 month runs)and saw Gabe Caplan in "Groucho" at Stage West Palm Springs.

    The productiosn were very often beautifully mounted and well acted.

    Martino said...

    What? No Deepak Chopra on the list?!?

    Anonymous said...

    I once met you, David.
    Does that count?

    David Berner said...

    Oc ourse, that counts!

    That gives you one more degree of separation (in these cases, Two Degrees)from Liz Taylor, James Dean, Rcok Hudson, Barbra and so on...

    David in North Burnaby BC said...

    Ah, yes, separation, a topic near and dear to my heart ... oh ... wait.. this is about ... never mind.