Old Show Biz: Would you care for a Bloody, Mr. President?

A President’s Day reminiscence of two Actors-in-Chief that crossed paths with family…

Mr. President

“I come from a good family, I’m rich and I like my work, and so does the public, and the critics, and the Academy. I’m just a physical drunk. I like being drunk.”

“What did you say to that?” I said, really wanting a beer right then and there. Pop shrugged.

“I got it,” he said, reaching for the bill. “Let’s get coffee somewhere else.”

Pop went on about the time Van Heflin, movie star, confessed his love of the drunk. It was at the Ambassador hotel that a working luncheon was called for the rank and file union members across the Hollywood spectrum, from the stars to the little people; if you were a dues paying member of one of the locals, you were invited.

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Old Show Biz: Dennis Hopper

A little levity from the files of Old Hollywood courtesy of my old man… and this time you can believe every word of it.

But First…

Serenity Now*, the halfway house down the road from Olive View hospital in the Westwood district of LA housed twenty men, including Pop, who had just been released from the psych ward after a second attempt on his own life. The drop off the ladder would have snapped his neck but the cross beam was weaker than the force of his weight on the rope, so the game continued.  (* Fake name)

He had graduated from the bin a hero, having accidentally drawn a seeming catatonic out of her stalled awareness by sketching her portrait. Passing the time with pencils, charcoal and oil sticks, Pop zeroed in on this patient, a young woman, twenty if a day, the perfect model under the circumstances, who sat motionless for hours in her corner of the rec room, staring at the floor a foot beyond the hem of her hospital gown.

Her colorless skin and the darkened ridges around her eyes made soft pencils the obvious choice; there was no hue to play with, only the cut-outs of her features against the off white of her skin.

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