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Feb 22 2013
Signature Move: The Hollywood Show Switches It Up Comments (11)


Above, the then-and-now gallery

I've let almost two months (!) go by since the most recent Hollywood Show, which actually moved spaces to the L.A. Westin. Regulars were wondering if the site change would gut attendance, but people definitely showed up. To make sure I get this out there, I'm going to do a somewhat shortened (but still ridiculously expansive) review.

Be sure to check out the gallery above for then-and-now pix of (in order): Robert Conrad, Tony Dow, Adrian Zmed, Debbie Gibson, Greg Evigan, Donna Douglas, Max Baer Jr., David Mandel, Erin Murphy, Ann Robinson, Christopher McDonald, Coleen Gray, Francine York, Jimmy McNichol, Kay Lenz, Lori Petty, Lynn Holly Johnson, Parker Stevenson, Paul LeMat, Renee Taylor, Richard Kiel, Ron Masak, Ryan Guzman (then = now) and Sam Harris.

Keep reading for notes and photos on the show...



Adrian ZmedDSC03997Adrian Zmed, 58

The looker from T.J. Hooker (I obviously have a soft spot for him) had us a little nervous; it's always worrisome knowing you're a big ol' queen approaching a famous guy you're not sure will be receptive to your drooling praise. But he was very game if not very gay. When we joked that he should remove his shirt for us, he didn't miss a beat, saying only, "I would, but this doesn't seem the right place." I would've slipped him my room key, but these days they look so much like credit cards I was afraid he'd try to run it.


Greg-Evigan DSC03994Greg Evigan, 59

Another straight guy my gay group hit on pretty hard was  Greg Evigan of B.J. (I mean, hello) & the Bear fame. And he was not feelin' it. He just sort of smiled and cut looks to his table-neighbor Judy Landers. But he was friendly enough considering I presented him with a Japanese clipping of himself in a pube-baring Speedo. I also asked him to sign the above shot, which, although it's hard to see from the scan, comes a circumcision away from showing the tip of his dick. I'd have paid another $20 to hear what he said about us when we left.


Donna Douglas, 79

Yes, y'all, the "teenagers" from The Beverly Hillbillies are now older than Irene Ryan was playing "Granny" to be on the show. Donna Douglas and Max Baer Jr. surprised us by being available for their meet-and-greet the evening before the show began, so we pounced to avoid the long lines (they were the biggest draw the following day).


I had been leery about meeting both because I'd read enough to know they were both very conservative. Sure enough, as I was in line, I heard that the cast of Deep Throat, announced to attend, had been eighty-sixed (rather than sixty-nined) because Douglas refused to appear on the same bill with them.

Donna-Douglas-Max-Baer-Jr-Beverly-HillbilliesCaliforney is the place ya oughtta be...

And yet, when I met her, Douglas cooed over my vintage photo of her, recalling that the gown had been designed by Mr. Blackwell—a total flamer. "Oh, I loved him," she said, telling me he did all of her "dress-up dresses." So perhaps she's a Christian who at least loves the sinner.

Max Baer Jr and SrMax Baer Jr., 75

Baer Jr. (who later in the show was heard to exclaim, "I'm as right-wing as they come!") was also friendly. I thought I'd blow him away with the photo I brought of him in one of his college boxing matches, but it didn't faze him at all. In fact, he had a shot of him with his boxing-star dad that he told me had been taken right after the very match in my photo! He said he looks somber in the posed shot because his dad was telling him what  he'd done wrong. One thing he definitely did wrong was wear a bizarre sort of girdled pant, presumably to show off his admittedly admirable weight loss.


Maxwell-CaulfieldMaxwell Caulfield, 53

I'd met Maxwell Caulfield before, but he's so sweet and is definitely one of my all-time biggest wet dreams, so there was no way I'd be passing him up. He is the kind of actor at these events who will sit and tell you anything you want to know about his career, even about jobs he may have hated at the time or, like Grease 2, come to hate for having impeded his progress. I'm actually not a huge, huge fan of that film, though have loved him in other performances and, of course, could waste hours staring at photos of him. A dear guy who works with Parker Stevenson and Pamela Sue Martin allowed me to have the photo that I had Maxwell sign, which reveals about every inch of his body. He laughed when he saw it and when asked what was happening in it said he was doing "deep meditation before the jet-ski event...foolish!" If so, he should be foolish like that all the time. Speedos go with everything. P.S. He flashed some bare, washboard-flat tummy while I was taking a shot of him at his table.


Renee-Taylor DSC03990Renée Taylor, 79

I was tickled pink to meet Mrs. Bologna since The Nanny is a huge favorite in my house. But I also admire that she and her husband are a true creative team who have taken risks and gotten things off the ground without waiting around for studio help. On that tip, I brought a vintage shot from their 1971 gem Made for Each Other. To my great surprise, Taylor took one look at herself in it and got misty! "I gonna cry!" she croaked, but quickly recovered. My friend Brian told  her everyone loved her and we took turns doing head-to-toe red-carpet poses with her since she was all gussied up. A real sweetheart.



Parker-Stevenson DSC04013Parker Stevenson, 60

My pal Roy of Baby Jane fame had sold me several never-published photos of Parker Stevenson as a 19-year-old from the first thing he ever did, A Separate Peace, so I was excited to show them to the actor, whom I'd already met and bonded with once before. Parker enjoyed seeing the photos (but doesn't strike me as overly nostalgic in general?) and then quizzed me all about me again, the sign of a class act. He was seated next to Pamela Sue Martin, and  it didn't take "Nancy Drew" to figure out how popular their table was—reunions of any level brings all the fanboys to the yard.

Parker-Stevenson-Pamela-Sue-Martin DSC04025"Wait, Shaun is missing? We should investi—ah, he'll turn up."

I also snapped a shot of Stevenson and Martin chatting during one of their pro photo ops. Unfortunately, the show no longer uses Craig Damon, whose shots are always flawless, so I shied away from indulging as much as possible, with only one exception (which I'll go into later).


Sam HarrisDSC04004Sam Harris, 51

I think I may have known Sam Harris was gay before he did, but only if he were a slightly late bloomer. That "Sugar Don't Bite" single cover was my first clue. At the show, he was engrossed in his cellphone, all business, but it went with his sleek look. A recovering alcoholic, he looks incredibly fit and healthy, years younger than he looked years ago. He was nice, but my complaint is that he took the record sleeve I'd been protecting for 30 years and promptly drew a mustache on himself while signing it. I think he meant it playfully, but it definitely disfigures the item a bit. Crazy purists would have lost their shit over this. I just found it perplexing and chalked it up to his sense of humor.


Debbie-GIbsonDSC04015Debbie Gibson, 42

I was a pretty die-hard Debbie Gibson fan in college. She was kind of like the Britney Spears of my late teen years, except she never (convincingly) went slutty like Britney (convincingly) did. I liked the pure-pop thing from her, like a latter-day Annette Funicello. I memorized her first album, and enjoyed Electric Youth so much that I went to a convenience store in Hyde Park, Chicago, in the dead of night to purchase the same-named perfume in order to get a unisex black tee with the logo on it. I told Debbie that and she smiled and said that was great. I think it's hard to be impressed by the divadom of a girl who's basically my own feels a little forced. But she couldn't have been nicer and looks pretty as ever.


Kay Lenz DSC03976Kay Lenz, 59

Let's face it, the '70s were Kay Lenz. I have this recurring soundbyte in my brain from some TV ad that probably existed 35 years ago, wherein the announcer states with disembodied gravitas, "Starring Kay Lenz." It might have been from White Line Fever (1974), but if we're talking Kay Lenz, it was really all about Breezy (1973), the ultimate runaway flick. My pal Rich had flown out for the show mainly to meet her, so we gave him his time with her and she didn't disappoint. She was filled with stories and wanted to indulge every request. Really good sense of humor and looks good to boot.


Tony-Dow DSC04112Tony Dow, 67

He wound up being one of the very last stars I met, but it wasn't because I wasn't curious to meet him. Tony Dow had been a major crush for me when I spotted him in Leave It to Beaver reruns, and I think he must still be a crush for pervs considering the breadth of shirtless poses of him that exist all over the 'Net. But my time was sucked up Saturday due to the way the show arranged the Robert Conrad Q&A and photo op, so I found myself running into the banquet hall and hurrying along the handsome grandpa he's become in order to get the goods. Dow is now a sculptor, about the last thing that "Wally" would have grown up to be.


Christopher-McDonald DSC03984Christopher McDonald, 57

I was a bit indiscreet with Mr. McDonald, who to me is like Joe Piscopo's hotter brother. I just think he looks like he'd be so good in bed I couldn't help laying my cards on the table, telling him I think he's such a great actor, such a funny actor and so handsome. He blushed and thanked me, signing a shirtless (shoulders only) head shot from the vast array of original hand-out materials he brought from throughout his career. As we spoke, he mentioned he would soon be in Lucky Guy on Broadway with Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari, which was quite a coincidence since I already had tickets for it.


José got us tickets for Lucky Guy and also Ann (with Holland Taylor) because I'd been raving about the semi-reunion those shows meant for the cast of Bosom Buddies. All we need to make it complete is for Donna Dixon and Telma Hopkins (Wendie Jo Sperber and Lucille Benson have passed away) to show up. I'd already gone to Taylor's recent Q&A about the show and been rewarded with some playful interaction with her (she tweeted me to ask for a copy of our photo together and told me I'd written the best thing ever said about her, that she "shits fabulousness") as well as the above autograph.


Francine York DSC04150Francine York, 74

Popular TV actress and star of The Doll Squad Francine York sure makes one's seventies look not so bad. She had to look down to be sure not too much was showing for our photo op, not usually a concern at her age. She looks flawless and is the type of star who's bundles of fun at these shows—not shy to sign racy images or to reminisce about when they were made. When Rich and I approached, she asked, "Are you two...together?" Rich said, "Oh, yes!" and I had to jump in and say, "No, Rich, we're not." He wasn't catching her drift. I wondered which Hollywood actors she'd asked that same question of in the '60s and '70s...and which ones had said, "Yes, we are!"


Richard-KlineRichard Kiel, 73

The malevolent "Jaws" from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979), Kiel is actually closer to my heart for two other appearances: (1) He was the hungry alien in the "To Serve Man" episode of Twilight Zone, one of the show's best, and (2) he danced afool in the horrendous So Fine, a turn that landed him in that recent Scissor Sisters fan video for "Let's Have a Kiki". Unbelievably, he had never been told he was in that video; the lady with him (his wife?) took down the name of the song to check it out. (Gee, I hope they're not displeased...I am just now reading that he's a born-again Christian.) Anyway, Kiel was nice but distracted, and he encased my head and pointy hair in his enormous hands for our photo, leaving me flat the rest of the day.


Coleen-Gray DSC04010Coleen Gray, 90

This lovely lady had a long career in film and TV, and was most interesting to me for having appeared in Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956). Just imagine: She starred opposite Victor Mature and Tyrone Power and John Wayne, all of whom are long gone. But instead of all that, we spent a lot of time talking about the odd press photo I'd found and brought for her to sign. She couldn't get over the odd positioning of her feet and had no idea when it was taken. Again, I didn't realize until later her religiosity—she once testified before Congress on behalf of prayer in the schools. I'm wondering if there isn't a generalization to be made that right-wing stars are more likely to do these shows because they're more capitalist???


Ann Robinson DSC04139Ann Robinson, 77

This glamourpuss is the sole surviving cast member of one of history's most beloved sci fi films, The War of the Worlds (1953). Now a flaming-red redhead, she told me she's happy and proud to be around to represent it. The way she said "represent it" was filled with a lot of unspoken expression about the deaths of her co-stars. Her flamboyant helper (might've been her son, but I didn't want to speculate because some people think "flamboyant" is an insult) took our photo, which unhelpfully was half behind a movie poster. Nice lady, a sharp dresser and sharp as a tack.


Jimmy McNichol DSC04144Jimmy McNichol, 51

Jimmy was a pure teen-mag idol in his day, gracing the pages of Teen Beat and its ilk issue after issue for a couple of years. It didn't hurt that his big sis was a movie and TV sensation. As much as she hated doing PR, he loved it. He was reallly nice to meet and natty in a blazer. He's not a born-again Christian, for a change, but is apparently an environmental crusader. I didn't ask him about Kristy, but she would be a huge draw at one of these things.


Paul Lemat DSC04146Paul Le Mat, 67

He hit the big-time with American Graffiti in 1973, but Le Mat's claim to fame in my heart is as "Melvin" in Melvin and Howard, an Oscar-worthy role and still enjoyable to this day. Pleasant guy, he was cracking jokes about the surroundings. I'll take that any day over the ones who seem icked out to be where they are, meeting fanatics and signing their name for money it would take you or I a lot more work to make.



Ryan-Guzman DSC03981Ryan Guzman, 25

As is becoming more and more common, younger, more relevant performers are doing these autograph shows. This time, the freshest meat was Ryan Guzman, sizzling star of Step Up Revolution. I couldn't resist meeting him based strictly on how hot he is. It was like a "Guydar" encounter, except they know they're being shot! My friend Brian hollered when he saw Ryan, saying he had to get a picture just because he's so sexy, and then pored over all of the revealing photos the actor had brought. Ryan thought it was hysterical and was happy to pose. He'll go far in this biz.


BewitchedDiane Murphy, 48 & David Mandel (aka David Lawrence), 40s

I wish I had more to say about the Bewitched kids—along with Bernard Fox (who's 85 and frail)—they seem to be the only surviving cast members of that wonderful show. But I only had a minute to grab them while they were leaving, thanks to Mr. Conrad (see below). Both were nice even if the brevity of our meetings meant they couldn't be magical.



Ron MacakRon Masak, 76

Though I'll always adore Masak for playing "Sheriff Mort Metzger" on Murder, She Wrote, I don't think I'll discuss Madonna with him again. When we went up to get his autograph, her name came up (a friend blurted out that I'd had a photo taken with her) and he and his daughter began talking about how they liked the old Madonna, but not the new Madonna. It was kinda surreal because I wouldn't have guessed that the sheriff from Murder, She Wrote would even have an opinion on Madonna, let alone be professing to have liked the one from 1985, when he was almost 50.


Lori Petty, 49

I screwed up and missed A League of Their Own (1992) star Lori Petty; she was gone by the time I emerged from my Robert Conrad event. But my pal Jaime was able to snap her photo (see the gallery above) the next day. She is making a funny hand gesture as if to say, "See, Matt, it's me, and I really signed your photo." She would've been a hella better person to talk old vs. new Madonna with.


Lynn-Holly Johnson, 54

I mainly had to have her sign this photo because of the hot guy. My real fave movie of hers is the Bette Davis suspense movie The Watcher in the Woods (1980), which is really kinda bad but still good, y'know? I saw it with all my buddies for one of my birthdays (presumably my 12th), and I must say: When you're going to see a Bette Davis movie for your 12th birthday, you're gay. I didn't meet her for the same reason I missed Petty, but Jaime again saved the day.


Kevin Brophy, 59

I didn't get an autograph from Brophy, who is best known for the '70s series Lucan. But Rich did, so I snapped this shot of him signing. He was in a great mood. Gee, maybe it's because some millionaire perv left him and Peter Barton the bulk of his estate, obviously because he lusted after their teen selves. Good for him, and I hope it does revive his career.


Robert Conrad DSC04106Robert Conrad, 83

Robert Conrad is, of course, one of the hottest men ever to walk the face of the earth. It was all I could do to keep from touching it while watching reruns of him in The Wild, Wild West, let alone in a Speedo as a team captain on those Battle of the Network Stars specials.

But it's been a long time since he's been in fighting shape. Hard drinking is the villain—he was drunk-driving when he got into a serious car crash in 2003, an accident that left Conrad with nerve damage and partial paralysis (he didn't sign anything at the show, instead opting for a Q&A and a photo op), and that severely injured the driver of the other car, so seriously that the young man died two years later.

Robert Conrad Wild Wild West outfitDSC04064
Robert Conrad outfit DSC04065A couple of Conrad's original costumes

The way the Conrad event was set up, we had to arrive early in the afternoon on Saturday, meaning I needed to get as much done with the other stars as possible before and after since my Sunday was spoken for (it was the Golden Globes day). Oddly, they called us up to the conference room an hour early, and he started several minutes before the scheduled time, being helped to the stage and basking in the room's adulation.

Conrad always played tough guys, even when selling batteries, and of course had a gun in just about every one of his roles. Still, it was a bit surprising how nutty the gun nuts were among his admirers, with one nerdy, middle-aged lady casually bringing up that her guns would need to be pried from her cold, dead hands.

Robert Conrad DSC04104Conrad today

Throughout the Q&A, Conrad mercilessly razzed the hapless host and directed the proceedings, still every inch the macho man and quite a Hollywood prima donna. Not that it wasn't entertaining! Far from it. He still oozes charm and knows how to keep his audience on the edge of their seats with his stories of bare-knuckle brawling, working in the tightest pants ever made, why he did his Eveready commercials ("They showed me the payday and I said, 'I'm doing this.'") and bumping into Will and Jada Pinkett Smith after Will had massacred The Wild, Wild West on the big screen.

Robert Conrad DSC04091

Richard Kiel DSC04101

Robert Conrad Richard Kiel DSC04097
Connie Stevens Robert Conrad DSC04078Joined at his Q&A by former co-stars Richard Kiel & Connie Stevens

I filmed a lot of it and will upload that soon, so I won't repeat it all, but the best bit was when he told a sexy story with a question-mark ending. In the early sixties, I think, a pal called him up and asked him to come over to his place that night without Conrad's then-wife. Conrad questioned why she couldn't come, but the pal insisted. So he showed up and a glamorous, major star emerged to greet him. His pal said this was why he couldn't tell him. "It's her birthday and you're her gift."

I was dying to know who it was...Marilyn Monroe? Elizabeth Taylor? But Conrad thinks it's tacky to kiss and tell, which means I won't be buying any forthcoming autobiography.

Robert Conrad DSC04116
Robert ConradDSC04110Posing for photos, then making a break for it

After, we rushed downstairs for the photo op, which had degenerated into chaos. It felt like Conrad hadn't been fully aware of what would happen, and they were making him stand around for photos despite his paralysis. Finally, he wandered down the line to greet people and take a break as some people who had flights to catch begged him to stand still for a quick snap.

Robert Conrad DSCO4117

When he went back to his position on the backdrop and it was my turn, I asked him, "Were you aware of all the guys who loved watching you when you were in those tight pants?" He said, "Yes!" I followed up quickly with, "And did you mind that?" He said, "No! I didn't care at all and was happy to have any fans I could get." (Paraphrasing.) He's quite right-wing and I've heard homophobic, so this was a good answer. Then, as we posed, he asked through clenched teeth, "Is this ever gonna end?" while we surveyed the huge line. I replied, through equally clenched teeth. "Nope." He let out a small laugh, so my pic-with was actually a pretty good shot of him, even if it was a bit  tightly framed for my taste.


Sorry I took forever to report on this one. Before you know it, the next show (end of April) will be upon us, and that one has Angie Dickinson, Earl Holliman and Mamie Van Doren so...yeah, I'll be there.