It was December and 1968 was boiling to a close while everyone hoped that things would calm down in the US and Nixon would make good on his promise to end the war and bring us all together! So far nothing had changed and I’d come to Los Angeles for Christmas with my family.
Barbra was shooting “On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)” at Paramount and she invited my brother and me to lunch at the studio.
There was a pass for us at the gate, the DeMille Gate made iconic in the movie, Sunset Boulevard as Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, driven by her chauffeur, played by Erich von Stroheim drives majestically through it. We drove through with a lot less majesty but a lot more anonymity and were guided to Barbra’s bungalow on the lot.
We were warmly greeted by Barbra’s maid Gracie who told us that Barbra would be with us in a few minutes but she’d been called to the stage for a minute.
Barbra did her own makeup and had an elaborate makeup table set up. I was happy to see that she’d installed full spectrum lights above the mirrors so that her makeup would look natural and not overly made up in exterior sequences. She also had had two baby spotlights set up behind her when she sat down at the makeup table. In those spots were various colored gels for interior or special sequences that had different lighting requirements.
I smiled to myself remembering all the conversations I’d had with her about color temperatures, Impressionist painting and even the way that Joseph von Sternberg had lit Marlene Dietrich to enhance the iconic bone structure of her face! I’d even read that before Dietrich made any kind of public appearance she’d visit the location before the event and check the lighting.
My friend Beth Rudin DeWoody used to always ask, “Is it love — or thelighting?”
Barbra was an an attentive student and an astute learner. And right on cue, there she was, apologizing for having to be away on the stage. She smiled at my brother and asked him a question she always asked him: “Do you still have your Morgan?”
An explanation: my brother and my father had gone to the Laguna Seca road races when my brother was a teenager and that race was won by an english Morgan car, one of a well known series called Baby Doll of which only 11 were ever produced. My brother loved the whole idea of that car and told my father how one day he’d love to have a car like that Baby Doll.
When it became time for him to have a car of his own, he learned that that very same Baby Doll was available for sale and my father bought it for him!
Gracie had ordered lunch for my brother and me and it arrived as we visited with Barbra.
But soon we were interrupted again as Barbra was needed on set. It was nice to be with her but it was obviously not a good time for much of a visit! It was, after all, a busy work day for her with no small amount of pressure.
After more conversation with Gracie, we decided to leave and let them work — so excusing ourselves, we left.
Chris Whorf was the younger brother of Peter Whorf who looked so much like me that people mistook him for me and me for him! Their father Richard Whorf, a Broadway actor and subsequently a very successful movie director, made for me some very impressive encounters.
Famous people would warmly approach me in Beverly Hills and tell me to give their best regards to my family! One day, having my hair cut in Beverly Hills, the barber told me he’d seen my father earlier and I said that my father was in Fresno up north. Much confusion. It turned out that he was Peter’s barber and thought I was Peter!
Peter was also the graphic art director for Herb Alpert’s A&M Records and had designed the company logo and record covers.
I once visited him at the studio and the guard at the gate waved me through without even stopping me! Peter had told his staff that they had a surprise in store and so they were warned but they were stunned at the resemblance when I appeared!
Peter took me on a tour of the studio and we walked onto a recording stage where Alpert was rehearsing his group. Seeing me, he stopped the rehearsal saying “WHO THE HELL IS THIS?”
Afterwards, Peter and I wondered what it would’ve been like had we not known of our remarkable similar appearance and had I just appeared as an illustrator during a business appointment! It could have so easily happened!
His brother Chris was also a graphic designer and had worked for my brother Richard who had reorganized and was running the legal department for Dot Records/Paramount Music.
I wasn’t going to be able to spend much time in California as I had jobs waiting for me in New York and also my agent had given me a gorgeous male Persian kitten who was only six months old then and who was being cared for by Annie Rieger and Craig Caswell.
I did make time to visit Patty Sauers and Philip Carlson, who were now married and living in Hollywood where Philip was now a working actor.
I also visited Doreen Gehry (sister of architect, Frank) who had married Rolf Nelson who now had an art gallery in Los Angeles.
Doreen had been my cousin Adrienne Albert’s roommate and close friend who I’d known her since my UCLA Days.
I was pressed for time but Philip Carlson invited me to Universal Studios and I couldn’t resist another visit to a movie studio. He and Patty had become friendly with my brother and sister-in-Law, Nancy.
We all went to a Chinese restaurant for a last time for all of us together.
And just before leaving for New York I did go to Universal with Philip.
I’ve been fascinated by the fantasy possibilities of a movie studio! As a kid, if we had to go somewhere remotely close to a studio I’d beg my family to drive by s l o w l y so I could digest and dream about what amazing events were happening behind the imposing and excluding walls.
There were no studio tours in those days!
I couldn’t possibly not accept an invitation to go inside — behind the barricades.
So there we were on the set of the television show, IRONSIDES. I was wearing my New York clothes — even wearing a fur coat — and was getting more attention than the actors!
As we left the stage and were walking to our car in the parking lot, a tour bus drove by and Philip and I were surprised to find the guide pointing us out to the tourists who were grabbing their cameras to get a quick picture of us!
Funny — we’d just been saying what fun it would be to go on the Universal Tour!