Tag Archive: Martin Landau


MISSION: EMBARRASSING by Tony Piazza

      One fine summer day, A.T.A. (during the Age of Television Antennas) I decided to go visit my father on location for an episode of “Mission Impossible” (The original T.V. series, C.B.S.). Actually the company was shooting the prologue for a number of episodes where Phelps gets his instructions via the most advanced technology of that day (1970) – a reel to reel tape recorder! These were hidden in various locations around the city -San Francisco Zoo, Golden Gate Park…a telephone booth?* and later they would dub in the voice giving the instructions… “Good morning, Mr. Phelps,” etc. (you know the routine). This day they were at Civic Center at the library building across from City Hall. I had met and talked with one of the I.M.F. members, Rollin Hand (MARTIN LANDAU) on the set of “They Call Me Mister Tibbs” (He was married then to another “Mission” member Cinnamon Carter (BARBARA BAIN), but now I was going to meet the big boss himself…Mr. Phelps (PETER GRAVES). I made two mistakes that day however; one was that I brought a high school friend with me, and the other was that I brought this high school friend with me. Yes, it was that bad! No sooner had we arrived and started walking towards the location when Peter Graves stepped out of a building in front of us and my friend shouted to my extreme dismay, “Hey, look…there’s James Arness’s** younger brother!”

IMF Team (Landau, Graves, and Bain)

“Good morning, Mister Phelps…your assignment if you wish to accept it, is to kick this smart mouth kid in the…”

Well I guess that summed up my attitude at that moment.

Graves was a good sport about it, but I’ve never forgot it!

Martin Landau and myself (1970)

THIS MESSAGE WILL SELF DESTRUCT IN….

As an aside, I first met the director of photography, MICHEL HUGO on that show. Subsequently he would become my boss on “The Streets of  San Francisco,” “Bert D’ Angelo, Superstar”, and two TV movies. He and his wife, Gloria also became good friends. Sadly he passed away a couple of years ago.

Cinematographer Michel Hugo, lobby of QM Studios 1970s 

* What writer with a massive salary came up with that gem!

** For my younger readers- James Arness was Matt Dillion, Marshall of the long running TV show “Gunsmoke.”

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 Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel; “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His next novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” has just been released. He was an actor/extra during the 1970’s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden.

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A Thanksgiving on the Set with Sidney Poitier by Tony Piazza

This movie memory goes back 43 years to 1969, when I was 15 years old! Where has the time gone?

 

My Father was assigned to a SIDNEY POITIER movie, “They Call Me Mister Tibbs!” during the winter of 1969. It was a sequel to the highly successful “In the Heat of the Night” where he again portrayed the detective Virgil Tibbs. “In the Heat of the Night” won five Academy Awards including  Best Picture. It was based on a book by John Ball.

The company had a tight shooting schedule which required my Dad to work on the Thanksgiving holiday. This was a big disappointment to my family- doubly for me, since it was also my birthday. However, as it turned out, we (my Mother and I) were invited down onto the set to share a Thanksgiving meal with the crew. This was served up by the motion pictures’ caterer- I believe the Paso Robles Inn- it has been many years now, so I can’t remember exactly-but I do recall the excellent turkey and all the delicious trimmings!

The location was the San Francisco Hall of Justice, specifically, the communications room. Earlier I had met Sidney Poitier and took a picture with him. I was really impressed with how friendly he was. He really went out of his way to make us feel special.  I’ve met many actors, some very personable, others not. Poitier was the former. He made us feel important and more than welcome on the set. I believe I also got a happy birthday wish from him. He was thoughtful that way. We  also had a chance to visit with MARTIN LANDAU at another San Francisco location- a church on Potrero Hill . He was a great guy, down to earth, and interesting to talk with. We had another picture taken, which he readily posed for. I particularly remember my mother commenting to him about how beautiful his then wife BARBARA BAIN was, which he acknowledged proudly. If you recall, they were both regulars on the “Mission Impossible” television show at the time.

It was a cold, rainy Thanksgiving that November in San Francisco, but the warmth of that experience still lingers with me today- especially because I do not have either of my parents to share the holiday with me as we once had. They were wonderful times.

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Tony Piazza is author of the 1930’s Hollywood murder mystery novel; “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His next novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” is due out early 2012. He was an actor/extra during the 1970’s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden.