Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Night I Danced With Christopher Reeve

Yep, it actually happened. Well, kinda.

According to IMDb it must have been 1980 which sounds about right. I was eating lunch on the KTLA lot with Sally and her friend Gay--an entertainment reporter for one of L.A.'s all-news radio stations. Gay had an assignment to cover a premiere that night and she was trying to talk Sally into going, but Sally was busy so she turned to me.

I looked down at what I was wearing--a plaid wool skirt topped by a belted sweater. Yeah, early 80's. Clearly not a glitzy Hollywood premiere ensemble.

But Gay shrugged it off. Said she was going in what she had on--which wasn't much fancier than my outfit.

"You're sure I shouldn't run home and change?"

"Nah, you'll be fine. I'll swing by and pick you up around five."

Yeah, well you can guess how that turned out. By the time Gay swung by to pick me up, she'd magically changed into a sexy black jumpsuit (again, early 80's). I felt just like my heroine in Lights! Cameras! Love! Ordinary, plain, and definitely not dressed appropriately, but oh well. Too late to do anything about it. Lesson learned.

We entered the theater and took our seats. Immediately behind me (behind me!) sat Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. (Sidenote: Eerie to realize now that within one short year, she'd be gone and her death would cause one of the most frantic work days of my life, but I'll leave that story for another post...) An emcee announced the Wagners had seen a screening the night before and loved the movie so much they'd come to see it again.

Anyway, the movie turned out to be FAME, and I echoed RJ's and Nat's sentiments. LOVED it. All those talented young hopefuls getting their big breaks in a story ABOUT big breaks.

After the movie ended, we were directed outside to the party. (Later in life, I dated a guy who provided the rentals for these shindigs but at this point, I was simply amazed by the surroundings, the food stations, the bars, the people...and I was soooo horribly self-conscious in my school-girl outfit. Reliving it makes me positively shudder!)

And, y'know...it wasn't like I could blend in and make the best of it. Oh, no. 'Cuz remember, I'm with Gay--of the sexy black jumpsuit Gay--and she's on assignment. Within minutes, she dragged me into the VIP circle where I found myself hobnobbing with the cast and crew. (I have to say, though, I give credit to Gay for not shoving this embarrassing creature--me!--into the background. Or were we both young and insecure??)

Anyway, Gay KNEW people from having interviewed them. So right away, she introduced me to Marilyn and Alan Bergman, and I mean, wow. Be still my beating heart. I play the piano and had all their sheet music. (And thank God that meant I could actually hold an intelligent conversation with them, horrible plaid skirt and all.)

Next I found myself chatting with the cinematographer. By then I'd ingested enough cocktails to think I was holding an intelligent conversation. Oh, yeah. This green newbie to the film world was full of heady opinions. All I remember now is that either the man was very kind or I was good at the technical schmooze thing, cuz he didn't run away.

Finally, a band began to play and...well, you know sexy black jumpsuited Gay--once again she dragged me into the inner circle of VIP dancing.

And there he was. Not only Superman, but the hero I'd fallen in love with at a screening of Somewhere in Time. Christopher Reeve in all his 6'4" blue-eyed glory.

Dancing next to me.

Our eyes met. He smiled. And for one moment, for that one moment, this somewhat naive 27-year old in a wool plaid skirt danced with Christopher Reeve!

Looking back, memories of that night conjure up a variety of emotions. Sadness for what the future held for Natalie and Christopher, surely. And nostalgia for a career I eventually left. But a sense of gratefulness, too. Appreciation for having had the opportunity to sample that lifestyle even if just for a few moments, a few years.

Which is also why I turned to the setting I did for Lights! Cameras! Love! There's a little bit of me in Daphne...although I didn't make her wear the wool plaid skirt. And she may not get to dance with Christopher Reeve, but there's this guy named Josh....


Reagan said...

Fantastic story!! (And excellent teaser- I've GOT to read your book now. Perhaps as prep for a trip to L.A.? Soon!)

Randy said...

Just remember to give me enough notice!!! To do things like...um...well, y'know...basic house repair that I've been meaning to get around to for...awhile. ;)

Teresa aka Journaling Woman said...

First time here and...love it! Funny and endearing story, Randy. I saw you over at Carols and thought I'd check you out.

Randy said...

Hi, Teresa! Thanks for stopping by!