AG '99SM Annecdotes


Unless special circumstances warrant, AG '99SM is the last of our regular, annual events.

What follows are the annecdotes and memories of a number of folks who attended AG '99.

go back to the AG 99 LINKS PAGE

All material used with permission. (Thanks everyone!)

From Fred Decker Sep 20, 99 11:37:12 am -0400

Subject:     Did I miss the AG reports?
To:" <>

Is everybody so tuckered out that not a single post on the AG has made it here yet? <g> I don't think anyone replied to the person wondering why it would be a quiet weekend, explaining that a lot of us were at the gathering.

Well, it was a great time, I know I have tons of stories and can't wait to hear all the others. Kris and the committee did a wonderful job and put on a great week and, of course, a fantastic dinner party that no one wanted to leave, least of all the stars!

I did make it on the first flight out once the Raleigh/Durham Airport opened on Thursday (Dixie, we crossed paths!), that got me in time to go to Kris' and meet everybody near the end of the party that night. Great food! I have lots to share, but I am going to bed for a few hours.

I would like to politely suggest that we suspend the 5-message limit just for today in case I get carried away. <g> Either that, or I will have to post a couple of really LOOOOONNGGG messages! LOL







From Sep 21, 99 02:24:51 am EDT

Subject:     My AG Report (pt. 1 - Thursday)
To:" <>

Greetings, all!

I'm one of those folks who usually prefers to lurk on the List, but I had such a *fantastic* time at this year's AG that I just *have* to burble about it. Since I was fortunate enough to be there for most of the weekend, my report will by necessity have to take a few installments.

This was my first AG, and I was eagerly looking forward to attending. And neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night -- or a Class 4 Hurricane — was going to stop me!

Thursday morning was entertaining, to say the least. I live in northern Virginia, a stone's throw from Washington, DC and in an area threatened by nasty old Hurricane Floyd. Wednesday night had brought many varying reports of where Floyd was going to land and much fretting on my part as to how that would affect my flight out. I was scheduled to leave at 7:00 and had every finger and toe crossed in the hopes it would ward of Floyd long enough for my plane to take off. To my great relief, Floyd took its time making its way up the coast to Virginia, so my flight out of DC went off without a hitch. When I arrived in Burbank, I was met by Kristin at the airport and practically the first thing she said (after hello, of course!) was how lucky I was to have gotten out of DC when I did. Apparently the airport *shut down* an hour after I left! Talk about great timing! Whoa!

It was early afternoon when I arrived in Burbank, so I'd already missed the first 'event' of the AG -- hiking at either Paramount Ranch or Vasquez Rocks. Drat.

However, I was in plenty of time for the AG Welcome Winding at Kristin's house later that afternoon. Can you imagine my initial surprise upon walking in and seeing a one sheet from the terrible "IT" hanging on Kristin's wall?? I was shocked! I was aghast! And then I was rolling with laughter, because the poster had already been creatively and lovingly defaced by the guests before me. On the floor in front of the poster was a container of markers and pens, and an open invitation to join in the fun and add to this collective work of art. A much more clever and entertaining game than, say, pin the tail on the Sonnefeld would have been! <g>

The evening was a nice, laid back little gathering. We feasted on assorted munchies and beef and chicken tacos (my compliments to our chef, Lady Luck!) while getting acquainted.

After dinner, and a bit of wrassling with a temperamental 16mm projector, Kris treated us to a showing of Ross Martin's episode of "M Squad." Now, for those of you who have never seen "M Squad," this was a show that ran from 1957-1960 starring Lee Marvin as a plainclothes Chicago detective -- and it took itself *very* seriously. Which is what undoubtedly made it such a perfect target for the later (and better-known) spoof, "Police Squad" with Leslie Nielsen. The minute the "M Squad" episode began, everyone in the room who'd ever seen "Police Squad" started to chuckle -- because it was obviously a *perfect* parody of this very straight and stiff cop show of the late 50's! It was fun to watch the young and (as always) very good looking Ross Martin as he played the cocksure pickup man of a dope smuggling ring against Lee Marvin's humorless detective.

And what would an AG Welcome Wingding be without at least one ceremonial showing of a Wild Wild West episode? (...The 16mm projector proved much less temperamental this time...) The bill of fare was TNot Man-Eating House, which a few of the guests had not seen (or hadn't seen in so long that it was new again).

The party broke up around 11:00-ish, as several of us wanted to be up in time to make Friday morning's private viewing of the Ross Martin Special Collection (but not before Hurricane Floyd blew in Fred Decker who had managed to escape soggy North Carolina). The Welcome Wingding was a great party, and just a taste of the fun yet to come!

As a bit of warning ... pt. 2 of my "What I Did on My AG Vacation" report will consist of much burbling about the Ross Martin Special Collection. (A pilgrimage that *must* be undertaken at least once by loyal Members of the Church of Artemus.)

-- Cal


"When you cannot confound the enemy, then you have lost to him."
-- the *original* Artemus Gordon (accept no substitutes!)

"Don't look at me, it's *your* wild west!"
-- Andamo




From 21 Sep 1999 10:04:27 EDT

Subject:     My AG Report (pt 2 - Friday) - LONG!!
To:" <>

When I first seriously considered attending AG '99 about 2 months before the event, I pretty much talked myself out of it right at the start. The cost of airfare alone was frighteningly prohibitive. (Why is it that airfare wars with all the nifty low prices always seem to stop the day *before* you want to book tickets???)

Then came Kristin's announcement on the List that that, as in previous AGs, the library at USC would allow a private viewing of the Ross Martin Special Collection. When it was mentioned that the USC library would shortly be undergoing renovation, and that the Collection would probably not be available for more than a year, I knew that I absolutely *had* to go. I *had* to see this Collection ... because I didn't know when (or if) I would ever have such a rare opportunity again.

As quite a few of you already know, I am a loyal devotee of Ross Martin. Have been since I was 9 years old. My love of Artemus Gordon introduced me to a fabulously talented and handsome actor, and the actor introduced me to myriad characters and roles. Is *still* introducing me, actually, as I continue to discover "new" roles (such as the recent WGN airings of his Hawaii Five-O episodes). Not only Ross Martin the actor, but also Ross Martin the man & humanitarian. In 1972, I was one of those who was fortunate enough to see -- and remember! -- the Merv Griffin show devoted to RM's first celebrity tennis tournament to benefit the Children's Asthma Research Institute and Hospital in Denver (CARIH). Appearances on game shows and telethons had enabled me to look through a small window at what Ross Martin the man was like, and the coverage of his charity tennis tournament for CARIH gave me the best insight into the humanitarian. There could be no mistaking that benefiting the kids at CARIH was as much his passion as playing tennis.

Ross Martin is, was, and always will be my hero. How could I *NOT* go to the AG and see the RM Special Collection?

Those hardy souls who planned to attend met in front of the Doheny Memorial Library at about 9:45 a.m., for a scheduled viewing between 10 and 12. We were a small but enthusiastic group. The USC Cinema-Television Library is a wondrous place. We were given a brief overview tour of the facility by Ned, the Archivist. (BTW, I must pause here to offer my sincere apologies to Ned, our gracious library host, and any of the list members I met during the weekend -- I am absolutely *terrible* with last names.) The library is available to USC students and researchers of cinema history, and has a huge collection of books, manuscripts, and private collections donated by folks from all walks of the entertainment industry.

The Ross Martin Special Collection fills more than 15 (archival safe!) boxes. To see the entire collection and truly appreciate every item would take *weeks*!! Since we were limited to 2 hours, Ned by necessity could only bring forth a select few boxes of items for us to enjoy -- but OH, what items!

The items were brought into a private reading room and arrayed in a way that they were easily accessible to us. Under the friendly, and very helpful, supervision of our host, we were allowed to touch, read, and examine anything/everything present. I cannot stress enough how very important that was, since many libraries/archives with similar collections are strictly prohibitive about actually *touching* an item, much less several boxes worth at one time!!

I started with the 5 scrapbooks of clippings, beginning from the mid-1950s. Within these books were reviews, articles, and program books RM had collected throughout the years pertaining to his career and myriad roles. Every now and then a clipping would have a notation in the margin in RM's distinctive handwriting. One of the memorable ones I encountered was a color brochure for listing those films that were eligible for voting/nominating for the 35th annual Academy Awards. The first film mentioned was Blake Edward's EXPERIMENT IN TERROR and included a list of the cast beneath -- probably for the benefit of those who had not yet submitted their votes for nominee for that year's best actor/actress award. Conspicuously missing is Ross Martin's name (a publicity campaign that billed the psychopathic villain of the piece as Mr. Blank, and which worked too well). On the brochure, RM has circled the paragraph and written a little comment about the classic "omission." There were brochures and reviews from his stage performance as "Beckett" -- a play in which he and the other lead (whose name escapes me) would occasionally switch roles. One night RM would play the martyred Beckett, and the next the accusatory Henry. (And I discovered that in 1976 RM played John Adams in my favorite play of all time, the musical "1776!")

Other marvels in the scrapbooks included Western Union telegrams (pre 1970's email) to RM from friends and associates upon various occasions, such as Jerry Lewis' thank you for RM's agreeing to attend one of the first televised Muscular Dystrophy Telethons. My personal favorite was from John Vivyan, who played the dashing title character in the MR. LUCKY television series. For those who have been fortunate enough to see this classic show, you'll know the best known catch phrase of Andamo (Ross Martin), Lucky's Latino partner, is "that's it and that's all." The telegraph from Vivyan, on the eve of RM's opening in Beckett, says simply, "Break a leg. That's it and that's all. John Vivyan." The scrapbooks were a rich time capsule of RM's career, up to, including, and after the role of Artemus Gordon that we've all come to admire him for.

Against the back wall of the reading room was an array of large color photographs of RM in just a few of Artemus Gordon's disguises. These photos were originally part of a photo collection (or rogue's gallery, if you will) on RM's wall at home, and included beautiful close-up shots of him in such roles as the elderly priest from TNOT Skulls and the chef from TNOT Big Blackmail. Arrayed on the table before the pictures were samplings of scripts from Wild Wild West and, a first for this viewing, MR. LUCKY. These were RM's personal scripts, and full of pencil notations in the margins, dialogue changes, doodles and sketches. Acting is very much a hurry up and wait occupation, requiring lots of sitting around while camera angles and light are set up, or waiting for your appearance in a scene. Some of the doodles on the covers and margins are abstract little things -- we've all done them, haven't we? -- and others are sketches that have taken some thought. Some of the The Wild Wild West scripts include his pencil drawings of proposed make-up for Artie's disguises. His "vision," for instance, of what the official at the end of TNOT Skulls should look like, down to the glasses and muttonchops.

On the back of one piece of paper, RM has thoughtfully drawn and mapped out his plans to landscape his garden at home, including a grocery list of some of the items he'll need to buy to begin!

Oh, so many scripts, so little time! I had to be very selective, and started with the MR. LUCKY scripts -- but only those episodes which I'd been fortunate enough to see. In that way, I felt I could better appreciate any changes RM had made to the dialogue. Well, folks, let me tell you that the dashing Andamo's clever wit and joyful sense of humor is just about 98% Ross Martin! In each of the MR. LUCKY scripts I looked at, just about every line Andamo has is *subtly* changed with little pencil notations from RM. And every single one of them is a change for the absolute best. A line as written may be cute, but in those instances where RM has simply omitted a single word and added another they become *funny* -- and another delightful bit of Andamo. Much of the banter between Lucky and Andamo is enhanced by RM's notations -- several scripts have him *adding* lines for John Vivyan. And remember that catch phrase from the series I mentioned earlier? The one that was *the* most recognizable line, a sort of private in-joke between the characters, and which made an appearance in just about every episode? On one of the pages of the script for the very first episode, "The Magnificent Bribes," RM has added a line for Andamo in response to something Lucky has said. Penciled in quite clearly in the corner is Andamo saying "That's it and that's all," a phrase that does not appear in type anywhere in the script. Did RM invent that little Andamo-ism? Very probably; and seeing that little bit of trivia was a delight.

RM has made similar notations and changes in dialog from TNOT Lord of Limbo, TNOT Big Blast, TNOT Murderous Spring. Did you know that the "Who were you expecting, President Grant?" was RM's line? So was "It's me, remember? Artemus Gordon, Mrs. Gordon's son." Subtle changes to the original dialog that have given us what we see and remember today. Exhibiting Ross Martin complete understanding of the character he was playing. Where Artie's dialog in some of the WWWest scripts are somewhat stilted and/or simply there to further the plot, RM has made a few of his deft little pencil changes and created wit and humor and the warmth we've come to know as Artemus Gordon.

Other items on display were some of the WWWest merchandise, given to RM by the companies that made them. There was a mint condition set of the WWWest board game, the metal lunchbox and thermos, and WWWest comics. RM's personal scripts and stills from THE GREAT RACE (a *fantastic* film), the gripping EXPERIMENT IN TERROR, and both Wild Wild West reunion movies.

To me, there was one very special item among all of these others -- a care worn, leather-bound script binder embossed in the lower right hand corner with Ross Martin's name. Inside, in pen, is an August 1972 date and a notation in RM's hand. He tells us that this was the *only* script binder he used from Dorso, DA (1958), through the entire MR. LUCKY series and the WILD WILD WEST, THE GREAT RACE, etc., until August 14, 1972 when the spring binding finally broke while filming the McCloud episode "Solid Gold Swingers." Signed Ross Martin, Beverly Hills. How on earth did the man know to donate such a thing -- that fans such as myself would be thrilled and awed by such an artifact years later?

As a personal little note, the binder was not only special to me because it was something RM used constantly through his best-loved performances (and is exactly as old as *I* am), but because it broke -- and the notation within written -- at almost exactly the time I received the handwritten note from Mr. Martin that is my most prized possession. Now, looking upon and actually touching the binder, I can imagine Mr. Martin writing that little note to me, and know that he was filming the McCloud episode at the time... I'll never see that performance in quite the same way again.

I am *very* grateful that Mr. Martin had the foresight to donate these wonderful items to the Library archives for the enjoyment of future generations of fans. (And considering the sheer volume of what was contributed, the man was a total pack rat!)

Noon came around entirely too soon, and we had to bid adieu to the items and our gracious host. It was hard -- just a fraction of the collection arrayed before us, and none of us could take all of it in. If the AG consisted of nothing but this rare private viewing of RM artifacts -- items that had the hand and spirit of Mr. Martin all over them -- then IMHO I *still* would have been content and found it a trip *well* worth making. Many, *many* thanks to Ned at the USC Cinema-Television Library for graciously hosting us -- and a resounding, heartfelt *thank you* to Kristin for setting it all up. For me it was a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Now all that remained was a pilgrimage to The Gene Autry Museum and a chance to worship at the hem of THE JACKET of ARTEMUS. (But that would have to wait until Saturday.)

The Friday night Barbecue and Poker Party may sound anticlimactic by comparison, but it certainly wasn't. Lady Luck officiated over the grill on the deck, turning out very yummy hamburgers (...well, in all honesty, I can't speak for the salmon burgers...). Those in attendance also feasted on pork ribs, salad, and assorted munchies -- and a lucious ice cream mud pie for dessert! -- and then crowded round the table for a few hours of playing nickel-anti poker before calling it a night around 11:30. Saturday was going to be a big day -- the AG!! -- and we all needed our beauty rest.

BTW, I should warn anyone who may in future find themselves in a position to play poker with James, Ross S.'s younger brother (forgive me, Ross, for not remembering how to spell your last name!) Don't let the kid fool ya -- he's a card shark in disguise. Anyone under 15 years of age that can produce that many winning hands of poker has gotta be a midget in disguise!!!

-- Cal


"When you cannot confound the enemy, then you have lost to him."
-- the *original* Artemus Gordon (accept no substitutes!)

"Don't look at me, it's *your* wild west!"
-- Andamo




From Fred Decker Sep 21, 99 02:28:01 pm -0400

Subject:     AG Remembrances - Mike Masters
To:" <>

I guess I will break this up by "character", since each person was so interesting, there were so many stories, we only have so much space on the listserver, and who would read all the way through one of my email novellas anyway? <g>

Being one of the first to arrive at the restaurant other than the committee folks, despite missing an exit and having to take some side roads to get to the AG, I asked if there was anything I could do and was promptly told to just find something to do and get out of the way. <just kidding> Kris pointed out that Mike Masters was waiting outside for a smoke and so I decided to go out and talk to him for a while. Mike was a stuntman and is still an actor.

Now Mike is an incredible character. "Flamboyant" would be an underdescriptive term. <g> Looking out the window, I thought I saw "Wild Bill Cody". From his hat, his white long locks and goatee, to his well worn boots, and his shirt open to about his belt exposing a sunbeaten chest, he certainly looked as if he just stepped out of a John Ford movie. I wish I had asked about the pipe he was smoking, because it looked as if it was given to him personally by Wild Bill himself. Somehow, it fit.

There is something about Mike, his charisma. He is quick with a laugh, and even quicker with a smile. You could sit and talk to Mike on just about any topic and wonder where the day went. He appeared in quite a few W3 episodes, and in many other shows over the years. It was great to feed him a question and then listen to his side of the story. In one particular case regarding a slight "spat", I have now heard three versions first hand. Surprisingly, the versions jive pretty well except for who it was that was at fault and whether there was a kiss involved. <g> Seems like those wild west guys were always starting fights in bars. <g> I'll leave it at that in a public forum, since while some of the stories are public knowledge, some of the candid comments are told with the assumption we have discretion. <g> They should know better, I am not repeating all the stories here, but only because I am selling them to the National Enquirer. <g>

When questioned about his "look", Mike did say that he was offered to play in a Wild Western type outdoor show recently that he would have to travel pretty far to do. I would have taken it in a second, especially when I heard what they were paying, but Mike really loves his life right now, and certainly loves California and his family. He just can't see leaving what he has here for something as trivial as work. <g>

Mike talked about Bob, about stunts, and mostly about acting and all the great people he met and funny stories from other shows. I learned that during that time and even after, some people did produce other shows and these things called movies. I guess they just copied W3, or had to find something to do after it cancelled. <g> Mike is a member of the "Reel" Cowboys who meet every Saturday for breakfast and keep alive the heritage of the old west on film. It's a great group and you never know who will show up, anybody that loves westerns is invited.

Mike brought his son Mike Shanto, who had a "plant" in the audience. At the appropriate time, they staged a great wild, wild, west stunt fight and I thought for a second that they were going to take out a real table or the back of the guy falling into it. Somehow, they missed, hit the floor as they should and took their applause. By that time of the evening, drinks had been flowing, and I thought some of the others were going to join the fight. You should have seen the look on one of the waiters faces!

During dinner, Mike sat with Tim Smyth (long "i" sounding Y) and his wife. Somehow they got talking about me, and Pam was over sitting with them and they kept calling me over. They started calling me "Dicker" instead of "Decker" and thought this was entertaining. Frankly, I didn't see the humor in it. <g> Actually, Tim had so many that he thought that was my first name. (just kidding about the drinks). That led to us talking about "Dicker and Dicker of Beverly Hills" and old game shows, and we all sat for a while at that far end of the table and talked about fandom, wildwest, and mostly just people and life these days.

At the end of the evening, when it came time to say good-bye's, out came that great smile and a huge outstretched bear claw of a hand, and the biggest surprise, a heartfelt and crushing hug. Now I am not a man opposed to hugging another man, I am I confident in my masculinity, that's not it at all, but Mike is a big guy and his chest is as big around as a Volkswagen, so when he hugged me there were two things going through my mind, one, please don't break any of my ribs and two, I can't get my arms around this guy! <g> There is no doubt that even though we as fans came around long after the fact, we are all "family". Thank you Mike, and to your family. Can't wait to see you again.






From Fred Decker Sep 22, 99 00:29:43 am -0400

Subject:     AG Remembrances - Robert Phillips
To:" <>

What can you say about Bobby? He is definitely an actor, you can tell by how he likes center stage! <g> Kris asked each person to stand and briefly introduce themselves. I was expecting, "Hi, I am Fred Decker and I am from NC", or "Hi, I am Bobby Phillips and I was in the episodes...". Well, each person stood and gave a little bit more of themselves, which was great, although it did start to take a while and delay dinner a bit. I thought we were home free, being only one short of done with the room, until we got to Robert...

First of all, he brought his entire family and their siblings. Just kidding, but he did bring a few of the clan with him and they brought a shirt with them that they had kept for 30 years. Does anyone have the story on the shirt? It was fun that the stars had their own memorabilia and thought to bring it with them. The title of the show was emblazoned on the back. Either it was a relic from the show, or his daughter sewed it yesterday. <g> She is talented in designing jewelry and Bobby was wearing some of the southwestern flavored baubles. He had on a huge sharktooth fastened with silver and laden with turquoise around his neck. It was a great conversation piece.

Speaking of conversation. Mr. Phillips has mastered the art. We knew we were in for trouble when he finished his introduction, then asked for questions from the room! Kris had been standing for quite a while, and I thought she was going to fall over. This got to be pretty funny as different people started to good naturedly rib him and he tried to remember embarrassing stories about them. He got into a few private jokes with Bill Campbell, but Bill just shot back a few Don Rickles asides back at him and the whole room cracked up.

After all that, does anybody remember what he talked about? <g> Actually, he related some great stories, expressed his thanks to us and his surprise that 30 years later people still want to pay for his dinner. One story he related was about ad libbing an Indian chant for one of the episodes. A discussion ensued over the lack of authenticity, so someone was dispatched to find the actual native American dialog. After much delay, Bobby memorized this and shot the scene with the new chant. Well, Lenny Katzman, I believe was the producer at the time and saw the rushes with the Indian chant and said something to the effect of, "What the hell is that crap???". I am not sure whether they re-shot it, or used the old footage, but the version we see today has the usual, "Hey na na Na, Hey na nah Nah" that Bobby improvised. And they wonder why Hollywood productions are almost always over budget!

I had the opportunity to talk with him later, even though despite having several hours together, there still was hardly any time to really talk and take advantage of all the stories in the room. I remember sitting with the Philips family and talking about acting, the show of course, and designing jewelry. What I really remember from Mr. Phillips was his gratitude. I felt like the godfather who had just done a favor for one of the people in the old neighborhood. <g> He talked about his career and about what the episodes meant to him. In his case it was more than a job, but he expressed that most of his work he never got to see!! What a tragedy, but because of shooting schedules and the lack of re-runs, as well as shelved episodes and other things, he has seen and collected very little of the work he produced. I was reminded of the loss of Ross Martin's library and mentioned it to him and that we were trying to rebuild things like that. Perhaps we can keep out a "Bobby Phillips Watch" if any old episodes of anything come to TV with him in it.

Ah, but back to the gratitude. He would not let me thank him, "No, thank YOU" he said. "It is YOU the fans that have meant everything to us, YOU who watched the shows and YOU who keep them alive. I am so very humbled and thankful that you came here tonight to honor us and remember us for things we did so long ago. Thank you for remembering me." He genuinely could not believe that we cared so much for the show and that we remembered him and his work. He felt it was just the greatest honor to be invited to an event such as the AG and be allowed to bring his family. As he talked he grabbed me with both hands, one holding my hand, the other grasping my forearm. I was moved along with him and it would not be the last time that night. Thank you Mr. Phillips for 30 years of memories, including one more on a cool Los Angeles night in September 1999.






From Wendy M. Luck Sep 22, 99 01:15:51 am -0400

Subject:     My AG Report - LOOOONG -Part 1
To:" <>

I arrived early for the AG so I could help Kris with all the zillions of last-minute details that always seem to be necessary for the AG. I flew into Burbank airport from Denver (no hurricanes or other natural disasters in MY way<G>) with the Guests of Honor in the overhead bin. <G> (For those who don't know, we like to have full-size cardboard posters of Jim/RC and Artie/RM at the dinner and it was my job to bring them this year.)

Wednesday morning we started out by visiting a friend's beautiful 32 year-old Pinto gelding at the stable across the street. He loved the petting, grooming, and scratching and I felt properly set for a western adventure.

Thanks Lucky!

The rest of the day was a whirlwind of errand running including an unsuccessful trip to WalMart to find The Videos. Apparently they recalled them -but they *should* be back in the store with more eps later. <fingers crossed>

Wednesday finished up with a twilight-into-night hike up into Griffith park by Hamilton Slye (no relation to Roy Rogers <VBG>), Kris, Ross Samarzia, and me. What a beautiful park by night! Ham answered an owl hooting "whoooo whoooo whoooo whoooo" with "Ham, Kris, Ross, and Wendy!!" LOL! We also visited the lovely Amir's Garden in the park before nightfall and fed Scrub Jays peanuts out of our hands.

Thursday morning we awoke ready for MORE hiking and went to Paramount Ranch Park. Ross, his brother James, and mother Shirley joined Ham, Kris and I and off we stepped into the set of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman! As a fan of that show, I really enjoyed wandering around among all the building I knew so well. The hike into the hills behind the town was not for the faint of heart - dusty and steep! Kris left early to pick up Cal who had narrowly missed making it to the AG at all. (Cal, I am so VERY glad you made it or I would have never met you in person and made such a dear friend.)

Thursday evening was the Meet n Greet at Kris' abode. Somehow I managed to be the cook again (how did that happen again, Kris??) and whipped up chicken and beef tacos for everyone to munch on. <G> Everyone had a great time as others have reported as well. It's so much fun to meet all those we post with on the List!

Friday was a day of choices for all. Ham and I had already been to the Autry and the RM Collection so we decided to be adventurous. Leaving others to go to the RM Collection, we headed to Valencia and 6 Flags Magic Mountain. <G> I have been a fan or roller coasters since I was too small to ride on them. I always stood up reeeeeeaally tall but couldn't meet the height limit so I make up for it now. :) Magic Mountain has some wild coasters and we rode them ALL - some twice and most in the front seats. <G>

Once we were both completely green and queasy, we headed back for the Poker Party. Luckily there was time for a nap between or I would never have lasted the night. :)

Again being the Wielder of the Sacred Spatula, I cooked the burgers on Kris' lovely deck. At least I was dressed in style this time. <G> I wore my version of the Blue Jacket, complete with black pants and boots, white shirt and black flat-crowned cowboy hat. It was warm near the grill, but I felt a little closer to the Action God and, as First-Class S.A.S.S. I had a dress code to uphold. Pictures will be forthcoming, I hope..... As a non-poker player, I sat around decoratively after dinner and chatted with John and Shirley Samarzia (also not poker players although their sons are!).

Next installment.........PART 2: Saturday and Sunday!





From Fred DeckerSep 22, 99 11:54:50 am -0400

Subject:     AG Remembrances - Lana Wood
To:" <>

Ah... the beautiful Lana Wood! Extra points if you get that reference, true as it is. Answer later. <g>

Lana appeared in two W3 episodes, including the last episode ever aired of the regular series! Of course she is also famous from many other appearances and from having another famous sibling, her sister Natalie Wood.

In my opening remarks when we had to introduce ourselves, one of the things I joked about was that the reason I was there was because of Mala and Lana. She was kept busy at her table because she sat with the Campbell's. I had to wait for quite a while before I could get a word in edgewise. <g> I came bearing gifts and wanted to be sure to bring her something from a friend.

Those of you who know Dick Cangey, know that he had a huge crush on Lana and thought she was not only the most attractive of the Wild West babes, but also the nicest. She made an effort to treat everyone equally important and to hang out with the crew and not only listen to their jokes, but throw in her own punchlines. <g> He gave me an inscribed copy of his book to give to her. I began by saying, "Lana, do you remember a guy who worked on the show, he was one of Bob's stunt guys and his name was Dick Cang...?" She interrupted me right there and said, "of course". We talked for a bit about him and then I handed her the book. She was very appreciative and thought it was very sweet, and shared her memory of he and "the guys".

I did my best to start embarrassing Cang by telling what a schoolboy crush he had and how he gets like a little puppy at the mere mention of her name. She really started laughing, and has the infectious laugh that is described in the book. She made a joke about everybody getting old from the show and that she didn't think she could read the inscription without her glasses, so I read it to her, "To Lana, the sweetest, most beautiful guest star to ever work on the show" She was very appreciative.

Later, after dinner, she called me over and gave me her card for Cang to call her and we started talking about the past. I mentioned that I had seen, although not really met, Natalie while working on "Brainstorm". Brainstorm was filmed on location here in North Carolina, and I was a lowly extra. Sadly, this was also Natalie's last picture, she died before filming ended while on a break back to California. The picture was only released because of the hard fight fought by the director to convince the studio that he could re-work the script to still tell the story. In particular, more detail about a side romance had to be cut, starring a friend of mine, because the scene involved a trip on a lake in a small boat. Not a tactful scene given the circumstances of Natalie's death. If I remember correctly, Douglas Trumbull had to sue the studio, or at least threaten, in order for them to risk releasing the movie instead of just collecting the insurance.

Anyway, this led to talking about RJ and what he is doing now, as well as stars that Natalie worked with. I will say that Lana is honest and has a very dry, sarcastic sense of humor. When she really disapproves of something, her trademark gesture is to stick her finger down her throat and feign barfing onto the table. <g> It wasn't too hard to figure out who she had a high opinion of and who she didn't. <g>

I asked her if people remember her from W3 and what they do remember her for. She joked that nobody remembers her, let alone recognizes her, and then did admit that of course, playing Plenty O'Toole in "Diamond's Are Forever" was what she was remembered for. She then stuck her finger in her throat. She hated that role and felt that there was a period where she was young and silly and made a few poor choices, that being one. It was nice to be remembered for something else.

I'll try not to make this one too long, but Lana was so much fun and we spent a lot of time together that even if I write a long one, it can't cover the whole evening. She has her own casting business now and is having fun with it as well as doing very well. She doesn't miss acting one bit.

After the AG she, a friend and her business associate asked me if I wanted to have a drink next door and listen to a jazz band. So we all went over and listened to a really talented group do their thing. It was a treat because the girls can sing and Lana and her friend treated us to their own versions of some of the songs. <g>

Another "treat" was that I was an easy target for Lana's sense of humor, especially because I get animated like a lot of Italians when I talk and because I remember the entire plot line of any show or movie I like. I was getting mock frustrated that Lana didn't remember when or where about most anything, including her own episodes and was making fun of me for knowing more about her episodes than she did. So I asked her, "Ok, what shows did YOU like?". She named "Magnum PI", which is also a favorite of mine. So since I just got in from a Hurricane, I told her that one of my favorite episodes was "The Storm" or something like that, where a Typhoon is blowing in as Magnum falls for a woman who says her husband is trying to kill her, only to suspect that maybe he is being setup. She remembered that one, so not knowing to quit while I am ahead and her having mentioned an "Ivan" episode, I asked if she liked "Did you see the sunrise", where Magnum has a moral choice of whether to rub out Ivan, who is getting diplomatic immunity after torturing Magnum and his buddies in Viet Nam and doing nasty things as a spy in Hawaii. As I talked, she feigned intense interest, put her hand on her chin and inched closer and closer to be right in my face. I knew where she was going and smiled as I finished the story. When I was done, she acted like she never heard of that episode, she waited a beat, then asked, "What do you do?" It was asked to the tune of, "Do you have a life?" It was pretty funny and she wondered, as a lot of the stars do, how we remember things that were mostly just a job for them so very long ago. Maybe we watch too much TV.

We took turns telling funny stories, and Lana is good with a joke, so you could see the actress in her come out when her joke took on a dramatic, perfectly timed story. After that, I searched for the reference to her in Cang book and her friend was the first to spot that the entire chapter was headed in big, bold letters with, "Beautiful Lana Wood". When her friend screamed that out at the table, Lana's eyes got big and she couldn't believe it. Then she started to laugh, so I read the first two lines, "In 'The Night of the Firebrand', we had the well endowed and stunningly beautiful Lana Wood as the guest star". She started to howl! I continued, "A slight chest cold would be pneumonia to the average girl", Lana fell out of her chair. <g> She has a great sense of humor and can take it as well as dish it out. She was still laughing when making my own sarcastic comment about her sense of humor, I added, "I can really see how truly SWEET, and INNOCENT and totally NAIVE you must have been in Hollywood. It must all be true". So she stuck her finger down her throat.

There was a lot more, but I don't want to post too many long messages. I know some people might like to read them, but I don't want them to take forever to download for the others who want to delete them. <g> Near the end of the evening Lana got very serious and in her best mock sarcasm started in a flourish about "How wonderful" it was to have fans that remembered every little thing and how truly and "especially" wonderful it was to meet me... ad nauseam. So I stuck my finger down my throat. We all laughed our asses off.






From Sep 23, 99 10:07:07 am EDT

Subject:     My AG Report (pt. 3 - Saturday Pre-AG) - Longish
To:" <>

Before I go into this little description of the activities during Saturday before the Big Bash, I'd like to make 2 comments.

(1) I failed to mention that during the Barbecue & Poker Party on Friday night that Ross Samarzia brought his theatrical makeup kit with him and gave us a bit of a demonstration of the art of bruising a hapless victim. Said victim, Randy, sat patiently as Ross applied various colors and textures to his exposed arm and gave him a very real-looking theatrical bruise. (We in attendance were having almost as good a time devising the "background story" as to how Randy got that bruise while watching Ross at work.) Thanks, Ross, for the demo!!

(2) In response to Fred's query about AG staff, and Kris' singling me out as "Cal the co-cook." In self defense, may I humbly say that all I did was help do the grocery shopping (it was shopping by committee, with me more than happy to stand in the background going "uh-huh, that looks good" while Hamilton and Wendy debated the virtues of salsa and whether cilantro actually tastes like soap; or while the deli counter gal tried to work out the logistics of how, exactly, to wrap 2 whacking great racks of pork ribs while Kris and I watched). Oh, and my wielding a very *large* knife to slice & dice the various veggies for the tacos (and trust me when I say I was more of a danger to my fingers than the veggies). The lovely and talented Wendy Luck was the Culinary Goddess for both the Meet n Greet and Barbecue Parties. Nothing like watching the expert flip of a burger on the Barbie(tm) -- oops! Barbecue, that is -- while fashionably attired in black pants, boots, black hat, and a beautiful reproduction of Jim West's Blue Bolero Jacket!! Incidentally, for those who haven't had the great good fortune to meet Wendy, she is a genuinely delightful, warm, and buoyantly good natured person, and meeting her was definitely one of the highlights of the AG for me.

While I'm throwing around compliments, I should also mention that this was my first time meeting the AG/List-Goddess, Kristin. (Who right about now is probably looking for something to throw at me, cuz she really is very *very* modest. Tough beans, gal friend. This is me, about to sing your praises in public. In the key of C. Most probably in harmony with quite a number of people with similar feelings.) Kris is a *delightful* person -- warm and friendly and fun, with a sharp sense of humor and a genuine love & respect for all things Wild Wild West. And very generous. When it looked as if I couldn't make the AG because of finances, she unhesitatingly opened her home and welcomed me with open arms. She busted her butt on this AG (and I can only imagine that this was just a shade of everything she's done for past AGs) and deserves a standing ovation at the very least for bringing together such a great group of devotes of the Wild Wild West and the industry folks who made the show happen.

In meeting both Wendy and Kris, I feel as if I've made friends for life; another lovely experience I can take home with me from my first AG!

Now, about Saturday. It began with breakfast at Big Jim's Restaurant in Sun Valley with the "Reel Cowboys." This is a group of character actors and behind-the-scenes men and women who have worked on movie and television westerns throughout the years. They meet every Saturday in a back room for breakfast, to reminisce, have a good time, and conduct a bit of business. All of the "Reel Cowboys" members were friendly and welcoming, more than happy to talk about their previous experiences in the industry and to show off a prop or two. (The sawed-off shotgun from Steve McQueen's Wanted Dead or Alive being one of them. Kewl!!) In addition to socializing, the "Reel Cowboys" host a charity auction of Western memorabilia, the proceeds of which go toward their annual Christmas Party, an event that serves to provide Christmas dinner and a safe holiday atmosphere to victims of Domestic and Child Abuse. It's a very, very worthy cause, and one of which they are very proud. (I believe Kris will be putting up information at thirdside about the Reel Cowboy's charity auction. If you're in the LA area at the time -- Nov 6th, I believe -- please consider attending! Tickets are only $15, you'll have a great time with a great bunch of folks, and all proceeds go toward a very worthy cause.)

The "Reel Cowboys" breakfast was also my first meeting with Mike Masters and his son, Mike Shanto. Mike Masters is a very outgoing, fun, and warm individual -- a rugged teddybear of a man attired in Western gear, cowboy hat, and gunbelt and 3 prop guns. In large groups I tend to be a bit shy, but Mike didn't let me hide for long! Within minutes of sitting next to you, he'll have you talking like old friends and will happily reminisce about his previous works. I didn't know, for instance, that in an earlier B&W Wild Wild West episode, it was Mike Masters that Artemus sends flying into the bubble bath in the men's washroom -- and Mike, sopping wet, when Artemus returns a moment later to hand him money for information as to the whereabouts of the missing James West. (Can anyone remember the episode title of this one from such a brief description?)

Later that morning, I took a photo of Wendy sandwiched between Mike Masters and his equally powerfully built son, Mike Shanto. Wendy was looking very snug and happy between these two very good looking men who towered over her by more than a foot!

Eventually, we drifted out of the "Reel Cowboys" around noonish. Kris had pre-AG errands to conduct, so Wendy and I set off to find something to occupy ourselves in the interim. (We *did* try to pry information out of Kris about some of the goodies planned for the AG, but she wasn't talking! We had to wait like everyone else. Drat!)

With Stan as our escort and hardy companion, we went forth and found (without getting lost!) the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage. If you have a love of anything Western, be it cinematic or historical, this is definitely a place for you. It is a beautiful museum with a wondrous collection of memorabilia celebrating our American Western heritage. Elaborate silver and gold saddles and bridles that made us wonder how a horse could bear up under such weight -- *before* ever a rider was added to the mix. Costumes, posters, Indian artifacts ... so much to see, so little time.

But I had a mission, and I was determined to carry it out. For I could not be counted a full fledged Member of the Church of Artemus <cue Artie's Theme> without first worshipping at the hem of THE Jacket. You know which one I'm talking about .... Artie's suede and corduroy travel jacket with the fringed sleeves, from W3 seasons 3 and 4? Ever since I was a kid I have *loved* that jacket (in no small part because of the dashing & heroic gentleman who wore it). It is currently on display alongside Jim West's blue bolero jacket and shares a case with costumes from other tv westerns, such as Gunsmoke and the Lone Ranger. Both jackets are in fabulous condition and beautifully taken care of; certainly Ross Martin's jacket (donated to the Autry by his lovely wife, Olavee) looks as if it were new ... It was coupled with Artie's light brown ascot and brownish-gold vest with little eagle buttons (... yes, I got that close. Hope they were able to get the noseprints off the Plexiglas...). Looking at the jackets side by side, I could myself facing our intrepid heroes, Artemus Gordon and James West.

A second pilgrimage accomplished -- first the viewing of the Ross Martin Special Collection <*dreamy sigh*> and now my homage to THE Jacket of Artemus. ("I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!")

Next up, the Main Event -- AG 99!!!!

-- Cal


"When you cannot confound the enemy, then you have lost to him."
-- the *original* Artemus Gordon (accept no substitutes!)

"Don't look at me, it's *your* wild west!"
-- Andamo




From Wendy M. LuckSep 23, 99 09:48:13 pm -0400

Subject:     My AG Report - LOOONG (pt 2)
To:" <>

Saturday morning dawned cool and hazy but we were all pumped up to be heading to Big Jim's Restaurant for breakfast with the Reel Cowboys. Mike Shanto (Mike Master's son) invited us all. Others have done a great job of explaining who and what the Reel Cowboys are so I won't.

As we filed in we were greeted very warmly by the members of the RC (are these initials coincidental?? I think not<G>). They don't usually have such a big group to accomadate but they just cheerfully shifted tables and chairs around so everyone would fit. One of their members (who goes by the name Mal Function <G>) serenaded us on guitar while we ate and shmoozed. =

Being from Denver, a room full of cowboy hats made me feel right at home.

We got to look at and handle some of the stage guns - many of which are quite real, just unloaded. Mike Masters had 3 black-powder six-shooters.

He said you packed all six chambers for all three guns cuz you wouldn't always have time to reload. :) To give you an idea of Mike's size, he wore them as if they weighed nothing and they were heavy! The Reel Cowboys are a great group of people who sponsor a wonderful charity at Christmas and I was very honored to have met them.

After breakfast, Kris had something up her sleeve for the AG Dinner that night so, while she went about her nefarious scheming <GG>, Cal, Stan, and I went to the Autry Museum. I have been there before when James Nottage (curator ? of the museum) took us into the Sacred Precincts where they store and care for the WWWest garments. The picture of me with the Blue Bolero Jacket from a previous AG is on the website. We met Mr. Nottage at the museum and he showed us where the WWWest items were on display and chatted with us a while about what items they had and the show in general.

Cal and I just couldn't get enough of staring at the two jackets. My favorite is Jim's Blue Bolero but I always loved Artie's suede and corduroy jacket as well. I thought for sure Cal was trying to figure out how to climb into the case with that jacket. <G> Mr. Nottage admired my imitation of the Blue Bolero and said the color is VERY close! Their jacket is quite faded but not behind the lapel. Mr. Nottage also checked to see if I had put the lockpick and throwing knife pockets on my jacket. :) I haven't because I didn't have time before the AG but I assured him I would. <G>

Then there was a required stop in the gift shop to get something for Stan's kids (cookies) and see if there was anything from WWWest there. Cal found a WWWest t-shirt in something other than Large so I pounced on it. It's a black shirt with the central credits box with the cowboy leaning to one side and the logo (same as can be gotten on the website but those are all L and XL). Thanks again Cal for your sharp eyes! We also both picked up a great still of Jim and Artie.

So then we headed back to get ready for the Big Event - <drum roll> the AG Dinner!

After all the usual girly getting-ready-for-a-big-party stuff, we loaded up Kris' car and the Samarzia's minivan with things for the dinner: VCR's, extension cords, duct tape, and a large and mysterious box. <G>

Off to the Smokehouse!

This is a large and old-but-classy restaurant literally across the street from Gate 1 at Warner Brothers. (Bill Campbell said it was the ONLY restaurant years ago so they always ate there since it was so close to the studio. Robert Conrad RSVP'd on Kris' answering machine and said he had fond memories of the restaurant. He also said there should be turkey on the menu in "honor" of the movie.<G>) We had a huge room all to ourselves and a fleet of waiters to attend us. As things were set up, people began arriving. =

I cannot talk about everyone who was there and for that I apologize but it is difficult to get to see and talk to everyone at these dinners because so many people come. :)

People have already mentioned Bill and Theresa Campbell and Lana Wood who sat at the table with Ham, Cal, and me. They were wonderful. I just love the Campbells. Lana Wood is an avid reader and owns something like 10 dogs including a Catahuela (sp?) Leopard Dog. <G> She described how she fell 16 feet into the pool in Diamonds are 4Ever and says it terrified her. She also said it's the one thing she's done that she hates that everyone remembers. <G>

Victor Buono' brother (David?) and brother's wife came and brought Victor's portrait - the prop from TNot Eccentrics. The portrait is a VERY good likeness of Victor. David said he remembers that every time Victor looked at him like that he was about to bop him. :) David was tall and slender and had very white hair and had Victor's nose. He said he works as a longshoreman and drives trucks. A great guy who obviously misses his brother.

Paul Comi arrived, handsome as ever. Mala Powers and her friend Coral were there and sat near the Samarzias. No one could miss the arrival of Rob Phillips (Roach in TNot Fire and Brimstone) and his family. He came with his wife Bobbie, daughter, and son-in-law. Rob Phillips was very happy to see Bob Herron (there were many Bob's in the room <G>) and spent alot of time reminiscing. Rob told me a story about how they got the hat he wore as Roach and how he insisted on keeping it. He still has it today and I pity the person who might try to take it away from him! <G> He also told a great story about how he came up with a fake Indian chant. The director wanted *real* Indian (Mr. Phillips is 1/4 Chippiwa) chants so he learned some Sioux. The director hated it so they went back to using the fake chants. <G> =

Tim Smyth sat near the Phillips'. He has a very blunt way of speaking. <G> He said that being asked by fans to remember a specific bit from a show is like asking a subway conductor to remember a particular brick as he whizzes down the track. It was just a job to him. :)

The stunt fight between Mike Shanto and his friend (planted in the audience) about scared me to death because I was sitting with my back to the room when it started. <G> The room HAD seemed big until these two large guys started whacking each other and flinging themselves around. It was great! :)

BTW, Mike won. :)

The large and mysterious box proved to contain a huge poster from "The" Movie that had been made into a dart board centered on Smith's and Kline's faces. <GG> Everyone took turns throwing darts at the board. Prizes were awarded and Bob Herron got first prize - a James West doll. I think Sue Kesler ran off with it. <G> Interestingly, most people aimed at the dart board circle around Smith's face and not the one around Kline's. ;)

We also saw a short film that was a result of Kris's and Joe's (sorry I don't remember his last name) sneaky efforts. :) "Celebrity Deathmatch" (an MTV spoof) between Will Smith as James West and Robert Conrad as James West. Needless to say, RC proved to be the REAL James West! Was there ever any doubt??

I guess I should mention dinner itself <G>: steak or chicken or fish. I had the steak and it was HUGE. But delicious. Judging by how fast the food vanished I'd say everyone liked the food. The meal was topped off with chocolate ice cream with coffee beans in it. Yum. Everyone who knows me knows I consider ice cream to be a food group of its own. <G> Everyone stayed quite late chatting, playing darts, signing books and reminiscing.

All too soon we had to clean up and head out after saying goodbye to those we may never see again and to new friends we will (this means YOU Cal!). By Sunday many people had already left the AG, but Kris, Cal, Shawn, Susannah, the Samarzias, Ham, and I were still around. Ham headed off to find a friend who plays John Conner in the Terminator 3D show at Universal. Cal stayed at Kris's to catch up on sleep and some reading and the rest of us went horseback riding in Griffith Park. I always think of this as the perfect ending to an Anniversary Gathering for a western show. :)

After riding Cal, Kris, and I ate lunch at Beaver Fresh.......oops.......I mean Viva Fresh, a good Mexican Restaurant near the LA Equestrian Center. <g,d,r> Then it was time to head for the airport which wrapped up another AG for me. Mega thanks to Kris for making it happen!


<Riding off into the sunset on a shiny black horse.........>





From Sep 26, 99 11:24:39 pm EDT

Subject:     My AG Report (pt. 4 - the Main Event!) - LONG!
To:" <>

Here's the last installment in my AG saga, ladies and gents...

When last I left Stan, Wendy and myself, we were touring the Gene Autry

Museum of Western Heritage. Well, actually, Stan and Wendy were *trying* to tour the museum. I was too busy trying to find a way into the display case containing the sacred relic, the Holy Fringed Jacket of Artemus. <...some day...>

Wendy and I returned to Kris' apartment around 4:00-ish while Stan went off to find something to occupy himself until the dinner. Now, Wendy has already mentioned that Kris was being a tad secretive throughout the day. Actually, she was being downright clandestine. You'd think that having the honor of staying in her home would give us bit of a leg up on some of the festivities planned for the evening, but NOOooooooo!! We were to be kept in the dark along with everyone else, and had to *wait* like everyone else. Poop! Not that Wendy or I didn't at least *think* about prying open a flap of the whacking great piece of cardboard taking up an entire wall in the hallway to see what was inside. Or listening at the den door when Kris, phone in hand, disappeared to plot some mayhem with Mike Shanto.

However, I *was* allowed to admire the two nice, B&W poster-sized pix of Jim and Artie that Wendy had done up for the occasion. Very very nice. (If only I could have found a way to smuggle them onto the plane when I left Sunday evening...)

When it came time to leave for the restaurant, the mysterious whacking great hunk of cardboard proved a bit of a challenge. It wouldn't fit in the Samarzia's minivan -- not that everyone didn't give it a valiant try -- but fortunately one of Kris' neighbors came to the rescue with their station wagon. Everything arrived in one piece and in plenty of time to set up the back room at the Smokehouse Restaurant where the AG would be held. (Did I mention the rendering of the ceremonial Bronx Cheer in the general direction of Warner Bros. studios, home of the Terrible It, directly across the street?)

While Wendy and Stan performed triage on an ancient movie screen provided by the Smokehouse (...ah, the marvels of Duct Tape, the handyman's secret weapon!...), Kris made certain the audio/video equipment was set up and functional for the "surprise" video to be revealed later that evening. (Those on the List may recall Kris' call for the names of episodes containing a scene where Artemus throws a smoke bomb. Well, later that evening, we found out why she needed it. Oh, and why on earth she needed an 'itty bitty chickie' .. not one of which was to be found in the wilds of Northern Virginia, tho’ I searched high and low a month earlier..)

People started drifting in around 6:30ish, invited guests and attendees alike. Everyone seemed very excited and pleased to be there, and there was a bit of mingling going on over a table of fruit and veggie munchies while folks got acquainted, got comfortable, and eventually gravitated to tables. There was no assigned seating; no "honoree" table for the invited guests, which was quite wonderful. Everyone chose their own seating, which pretty much gave all present a chance to spend time with the guests on a more intimate level. Wendy, Ham and I were quite honored to have Lana Wood, and Teresa and Bill Campbell at our table.

I sat directly across from the Campbells and they were absolutely *delightful* (not that I expected them to be otherwise). Throughout the evening, we discussed everything from his role in Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte (with Victor Buono), his great-great grandfather (a Union soldier in the Civil War), and what computer they should consider buying. We also discussed the late DeForest Kelly, and Ross Martin, a friend of Mr. Campbell's. He told me that a month before Ross Martin died, they had lunch together, wherein Ross was eagerly extolling the virtues of celebrity tennis tournaments as charitable fund raisers. As many of you know, Ross Martin pretty much invented the celebrity tennis tournament for charity, with his first in the summer of 1972 to benefit CARIH. Since then, Bill Campbell and his lovely wife have organized several celebrity golf tournaments, as well as a science fiction/fantasy convention called FANTASTICON, the proceeds of which to go benefit the Motion Picture & Television home and hospital.

About the time everyone gravitated to their seats in preparation for dinner, Kris asked all present to take a turn introducing themselves. (Would that I could have crawled under a table; I *hate* speaking in public. Ack!)

When Bill Campbell stood, he did more than just introduce himself and his wife Teresa. He dropped a bit of a surprise -- a very *wonderful* surprise -- into the laps of those gathered there. Mr. Campbell and his wife are currently working on plans for a celebrity *tennis* tournament to benefit the Motion Picture & Television Home & Hospital -- a tennis tournament in memory of Ross Martin!! What a *wonderful* tribute!! I only wish that Mrs. Martin, who was not feeling well that evening, could have been present to hear. (Mr. Campbell later assured Kris that he would call Mrs. Martin to tell her...)

It was also a joy to meet Victor Buono's brother. He is a lovely gentleman, who graciously brought with him the prop painting of Victor as Count Manzeppi from TNOT Eccentrics. He told us that he loves the picture, because it is so *Victor* -- that it captured the sly look his brother would always give ... just before he bopped him or did something else equally brotherly sneaky. <g> There is much love in his voice when he talks about his brother, and he misses him every day... Mala Powers is a very lovely lady, bright, cheerful and enthusiastic. She was a very very good friend of Ross Martin's and speaks of him very highly. Rob Phillips was very outgoing and more than happy to reminisce. Such wonderful stories! When someone would try to thank him for coming, and for his work on the Wild Wild West, he would exclaim, "Oh no, thank *you*!!"

In addition to a delicious dinner (I was one of the few who went for the chicken, which was quite yummy -- and *dessert*!! MMMmmmmmmmm....) The entertainment for the evening including a stunt fight between Mike Shanto and a friend planted in the audience. Mike was seated when said friend pretended to trip over Mike's foot. Mike tried to apologize, but within seconds a fight broke out -- and was played quite convincingly as it made it's way to the center of the room (but not before passing *very* close to a startled Wendy). Bravo, gentleman, on a fine performance!

As Wendy has already revealed in her post about the dinner, the whacking great mystery cardboard contained a huge poster of the Terrible It, with dart boards centered on Smith and Kline's faces. The "game" for the evening was to take turns flinging sharp, pointy darts (yay!) at the poster and, as Wendy has also pointed out, most folks aimed for Smith. A bit of therapeutic revenge. <g>

And why did Kris so desperately need a clip of Artie throwing a smoke bomb? Why, as part of her video surprise -- a clever, homegrown stop-motion version of MTV's "Celebrity Deathmatch" pitting W. Smith and Robert Conrad (dolls) against each other to determine who was the *real* James T. West! (...the itty bitty chickie mentioned earlier was apparently one of the items up the sleeve of the false Artemus, until the *original* Artie -- insert film clip here -- came to the rescue with smoke bomb in hand, from TNot Two-Legged Buffalo.) A very clever bit of video! (Next bout, Michael Dunn vs. Kenneth Branaugh ... who is the *real* Dr. Loveless?? NO contest!!!) <g>

The evening ended entirely too soon. Several of the invited guests lingered as long as they could before finally drifting out the door. I believe the Campbells were the last to leave...

This was my first AG, and in my own humble opinion it was a *huge* success. I had a fantastic time, not only because of the chance to say *thank you* to those who worked on the show that was such an important part of my childhood (at the age of 10, it was as much a baby sitter for me as a source of entertainment) but because I made several new, and already dear, friends (and that means YOU Wendy *and* Kris...)

Well, now it winds down...

On Sunday morning Kris, Shawn, Wendy, Susannah and James and Ross Samarzia when horseback riding in Griffith Park. I opted to remain behind to relax a bit, pack my suitcase, and ransack Kris' drawers of her Ross Martin pix. (Just kidding about that last, but I did ogle the pix a bit... Nothing like suddenly discovering that Ross Martin played John Adams in my absolute favorite play, "1776," during the Bicentennial. Waaahhh!! I want to *see* that!!!) Oh yes, and I had a lovely conversation with Kris' cockatiel, who was quite happily chirping (or laughing?) as I tried to figure out the logistics of stuffing clothes and sundry articles into my suitcase which suddenly seemed 2 sizes smaller.

When Wendy and Kris returned from riding, we went off for a bite of lunch at a nice little Mexican restaurant near the Equestrian Center, BeaverFresh ... er, I mean, *Viva* Fresh. Then it was off to the airport so that Wendy could catch her flight home.

My flight wasn't until later that evening, so Kris and I spent a pleasant afternoon together touring Griffith Park, which included a mini-hike to visit to Bronson Cave (TNot Returning Dead). All too soon, it was time to leave for home (and to see what Hurricane Floyd had left in its wake in the Washington, DC area...)

From start to finish, I had a most wonderful, memorable time! Many many thanks to everyone who came, to all those I met, and very special thanks to Kris for all of her hard work putting it together!

Viva la AG 99 and Wild Wild West!!

-- Cal


"When you cannot confound the enemy, then you have lost to him."
-- the *original* Artemus Gordon (accept no substitutes!)

"Don't look at me, it's *your* wild west!"
-- Andamo




From Sep 27, 99 10:12:20 pm EDT

Subject:     Want to thank you
To:" <>

I'm sorry I haven't written sooner about the AG. I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful time. I am so sorry that I was unable to come the come to the AG Appreciation Dinner. All the same I had a wonderful time the two nights I did attend. I enjoyed meeting you all and playing poker and losing. I'm no Frank Harper at cards.

Anyway, the Ross Martin collection was fabulous and I was fortunate to able to view it. Thank you to all who made that possible. The Wild, Wild West movie poster defacing was a riot. It's nice to see other people enjoy the show as much as I do. I'm not the only West fanatic.

Best wishes to all and keep in touch,

Randy Derchan





From Stan McCormack Sep 30, 99 08:54:40 am -0500

Subject:     AG 99
To:" <>

Finally getting a moment to report a few tidbits from the 99 AG:

Friday morning I attended the Ross Martin collection of goodies. Cal did a fine job of describing the collection in an earlier post, so I'll spare redundant details and just say the two hours flew by, but was an excellent way to start the trip. Thanks Ned!

Friday evening: BarBQ @ Kris's.... Darn good food enjoyed by several folks. Hats off to the cooks & those that prepared the feast - Kris, Wendy and Cal. Played poker and enjoyed good conversion until about midnight. Only won two hands all evening.

Saturday morning at Big Jim's restaurant - wow! I betcha every western series and big screen film between the mid 1950's and early 1970's was somehow represented by someone in the room. Either as a stunt person, character actor, etc. Didn't know any names of those in attendance besides 'our' Mike Masters, Mike Shanto and Bob Herron, but most everyone sure looked familiar. Chuck Conners son was introduced to all. These folks get together every Saturday for fun and business. I believe their biggest 'benefit' is to provide a Christmas time dinner for abused women and kids. Way to go guys and gals!!!

Saturday evening AG - I'll attempt to make several postings over the next few weeks on this 'action-packed' event. Here's one for now: Robert Phillips and Bob Herron were discussing Bob doubling for Robert. (The whole time, I assumed our Wild West) However, Robert is right handed and Bob is left handed (check out the opening scene of Deadly Bed, he's Captain Jackson) and they were somewhat facing each other acting out the movements of two cowpokes in a knife fight. They would move the knife from hand to hand so as not to confuse the viewer. You see, if Bob would have kept the knife in his left hand while Robert would have initiated the fight with the weapon in his right hand then, well, inconsistency, blooper material. Hope this makes sense. Anyway, they both looked up at each other and remarked one after another "McKenna's Gold". A 1969 flick I believe.....







From Sharon Devol Sep 30, 99 08:12:23 am -0700

Subject:     My AG '99 report
To:" <>

Unfortunately, work and music rehearsals kept me from several of this year's AG events, but I did manage to make three.

Friday night's BBQ in Burbank was a lot of fun, especially meeting some of the list participants: Cal, Wendy, Stan, Randy, Hamilton, John & Shirley and their sons James & Ross, and, of course, Kris. I brought a friend and fellow W3 enthusiast, Corey, who can play a wonderful rendition of the W3 theme on guitar. Too bad he didn't bring his guitar to demonstrate! The BBQ ribs and burgers were delicious and we all had great fun defacing the official movie poster to YKW (You Know What), adding appropriate knives, hangman nooses, blood, changing the wording, etc. Some people are very clever! I left when the poker games began, since I haven't played in years and didn't want to lose all my money in one evening.

Saturday morning was the "Reel Cowboys" monthly breakfast at Big Jim's in Sun Valley. A LOT of movie and TV history in that room! They all seemed to have a wonderful friendship and camaraderie in this group. We were serenaded by a guitarist/vocalist who sang tunes from "days of yore" (and yes, I'm old enough to recognize all the songs he sang!) The MC talked about an upcoming auction on November 6 at which time, among other movie memorabilia, a knife used in one of the W3 will be offered! He didn't say which episode, but that comment solicited quite an "Oooooohhhhhhh!!!!!" from our AG section! :-) A few of us, unable to attend the auction, donated funds toward their worthy cause: providing Christmas dinner to battered women and children through the YMCA, I believe.

Saturday night was the hightlight--the AG dinner at The Smokehouse, a restaurant I've been to many times. Best garlic bread in town! I sat opposite Alex and Camille, friends of Kris' originally from Romania. We had a nice chat, although I didn't get to talk to too many of the AG honorees. However, I did get a good close up of the portrait of Count Manzeppi, since it was propped up right next to my seat! I took a photo of the portrait--I hope it turns out. What a shame there's no artist credit on the painting, as it's really quite good.

Part of the festivities included pre-dinner munchies of veggies and fruit; a rousing game of darts with Misters Smith and Kline as the well-deserved targets; a "claymation" video of Smith vs. Conrad (betcha can't guess the outcome!); fascinating introductions of everyone in the room; and a delicious dinner. Because I had an early Sunday AM call, I left at around 10:00 p.m. but it was a very interesting evening of memories with fellow W3 fans. I'm glad I came!


Canyon Country, California





From Ross Samarzia Oct 4, 99 05:11:21 pm

Subject:     My AG Report (Part 1)
To:" <>

I had a great time at the AG!!!! Starting from time I made it into the California area. Wednesday Night, Kris, Wendy, Hamilton, and I went on a hike in Griffith Park. Griffith Park is beautiful, the nature around is the type that captivates you. Truly every bit of the hike was something to remember.

Thursday morning my mother and my brother joined Kris, Wendy, Hamilton, and I on a hike in Paramount Ranch. It was very nice experience.

That night there was a Meet and Greet at Kris' place. My complements to the cook. The Food was Great!!!! We all got to see Ross Martin in an episode of M-Squad. Then we all watched The Night of the Man Eating House, an episode of The Wild, Wild West that I haven't seen in quite awhile. It was a great night.

Friday morning I had the great opportunity to view Ross Martin's Special Collection. I really enjoyed it a lot. It was a wonderful experience to have had the chance to view Ross Martin's personal scripts, scrapbooks, and more. I have looked forward to being able to see Ross Martin's Collection for quite sometime now, I'm very glad that I had the chance to have seen it.

Friday night we had a Barbecue and Poker Party. My complements to the cooks again. The food was even better. I gave a demonstration on how to apply theatrical make-up, just before a few of us sat down to play poker. My brother, Dr. Loveless in disguise kept winning the poker games. It was great fun, at least my brother thought so.


Gratefully Yours,