Tag Archive: The Streets of San Francisco


B’ Day Card Discovery! Famous Signatures by Tony Piazza

   Imagine searching through your parent’s memorabilia and coming across a birthday card to your dad from work. It is signed by all his co-workers with well wishes for his special day.  Now imagine that this job was with a television production…and those co-workers were celebrities and crew from that show. That is exactly what I came across this morning and am sharing with you today. The show was “The Streets of San Francisco,” and I worked with my dad on it through its run of five seasons.

 

It looks common enough from the cover, but when you open it up!

Look closely you will see Karl Malden.

And this page has Michael Douglas, Jill St. John, Zazu Pitts, and SF journalist Herb Caen amongst others!

Now that is one birthday card, wouldn’t you say!

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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 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden.

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A Special Tour through Disney Studios by Tony Piazza

   In 1967 we were given a tour of Disney Studios in Burbank, California. The tours were, and still are as far as I know, by special invitation only. Ours came through the head of transportation at Universal Studios, a man nick-named “Frenchie” who was a friend of my father. Visiting the studio was always a dream of mine, and I had hoped to someday work there as an animator. One of my talents was as an artist, and I had won awards for my artwork. I did not end up in this profession however, although as you probably know through my blog site, I did work for ten years in the entertainment business.

   Campus-like atmosphere of Disney Studios.

   We drove up to the guard at his post at the front gate of the studio. He removed his clipboard and scanned the names on the attached pages. Locating ours, he waved us through and indicated where we should park. The reception area’s interior design was still reflecting the 1940s in which the studio was built. The original studio was on Hyperion Avenue but closed in 1940 and the work transferred to this new studio on Buena Vista Street in Burbank.  As I sat on the couch, after we announced our presence to the pretty receptionist at the main desk, I glanced around the surroundings taking in one large wall that was covered by a montage of  Disney characters, movies, television shows, and theme park images. Each was placed artistically so they formed a pattern that stood out in a three-dimensional relief. Shortly, a guide introduced himself and we took off with two other men, guests as ourselves to a door that directly opened up to the start of the back lot.

   Disney Hyperion Sudios.

   The back wall of the administration building was fronted by false store fronts that could be seen in numerous Disney films as downtown “Medville”…any small town U.S.A., complete with a small grass park in its center. This tour didn’t provide trams to take us around. There were no need, the studio was very compact, and within a few paces we were crossing a college campus-like surrounding to the old Animation Building located near the center of the complex. The individual streets we crossed were named after Disney characters, and I was amused in passing signs announcing “Dopey Drive” and “Mickey Avenue.”

   Inside the Animation Building we were taken to the individual departments. Each room had a story to tell. Inking displayed the many different colors and categorized formulas that were crossed linked to the character’s complexions and costumes. A system set up to guarantee consistency of color schemes throughout the project’s animation process, or several if they were doing “shorts.” In the background department we were told of a woman who had worked all night detailing the background of Sleeping Beauty’s castle stone by stone, only to drop the illustration board and watch her paint flake off. She left in tears. We were also shown the Xerox mimeograph machines that revolutionized animation, and made 101 Dalmatians possible. However, the most fascinating of all was seeing the multiplane camera that was created in 1937 for the animated short, The Old Mill. It was still in use to create those three dimensional- like effects on their feature animations. Finally we were escorted into an animator’s office and were able to visit and watch him at work. The animator was Ken Anderson and he was working on The Aristocats at the time. His assignment was the old lawyer, and he showed us with simple line drawings how he was applying a routine used by comedian Dick Van Dyke to the movements of his character. The lawyer was old, so he used his cane (Van Dyke style) to uncurl his legs and help him stand. He flipped through a series of  these drawings which came instantly and convincingly to life. At his work station, one of the other guests commented on the fact that he did not have a mirror. Mirrors were common tools used by illustrators to capture expression- as the animators themselves usually were the actors. His was missing however, and Mr. Anderson said with a smile that it was in his closet, because the last thing he wanted to see first thing in the morning was his reflection!

   Entrance to old Animation Building.

Just as a side note; when Mr. Anderson was asked what animation projects were yet to come, he rattled off a number that eventually hit the screen years later.  They planned that far in advance! For example, Robin Hood (animated) and Black Caldron were two that he mentioned back in 1967.

Multiplane camera.

   After spending a half  hour to forty minutes with the animator we were taken to the theater used for screenings and also utlized by the music department for scoring. The control panels for sound mixing were incredible. The theater was not in use at the time, but aside from the orchestra area you could also see sections were actors could be posted for singing or dubbing.

Animator Ken Anderson

   Next we walked along the residential block back lot and I could pick out the homes of the Absent-minded Professor– complete with unattached garage where he discovered flubber, the home of the Shaggy Dog, and Pollyanna. The Zorro plaza came after, and then a wilderness area with stream and covered bridge.

   Zorro Set.

   The tour also included some soundstages where shooting was actually taking place. I remember seeing the interior cabin set, and an actor sitting off to the side in his chair. The film was Rascal and the actor who nodded to me as I gazed over in his direction was veteran character actor JACK ELAM.

  Actor Jack Elam

   It really was a special experience for me which I will never forget. Less than ten years later KARL MALDEN shared a private performance of his reverend character (his sermon speech) from Pollyanna.  He did his bit for me in between the shooting of The Streets of San Francisco. It’s funny how things seem to come around in life.

 

One last item: My father worked with Disney Productions during the filming of the 360 degree America the Beautiful attraction in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. He even got in the film! In the San Francisco segment you would have seen him directing traffic at Fisherman’s Wharf.

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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 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden.

 A Visit to Warner Brothers Studios by Tony Piazza

   I was in Hollywood on April 22nd 2010. I hadn’t planned the trip, and the reason for being there was not a happy one. A dear family member passed away and was buried at the Forest Lawn Cemetery (Glendale) the previous day. She had a beautiful ceremony in the same chapel that Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman was married during the 1940’s… in LA everything seems to be connected with Hollywood.

   Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan

   

   Famous Warner Brothers water tower

   In any case, we decided to spend an extra day there before traveling back home… and ended up at Warner Brothers Studios. I had been there back in the late 1960s long before the studio was opened to the public (this tour, I believe is something recent). We knew the head of transportation and my family was taken on a private limousine tour of the studio soundstages and back lot. The lot was more complete then. They still had the Western set… although they had just torn down the fort from F Troop. One particular soundstage we visited that day was used in Camelot and the Errol Flynn pirate films…it was very large (one of the largest in Hollywood at the time), and the floor could be turned into a tank and filled with water to contain a large pirate ship mock up. We also watched them film The F.B.I. television show…the director of that episode was a man I would work with a few years later on The Streets of San Francisco, Virgil Vogel (I have mentioned him in an earlier story). I also remember seeing Kim Novak stick her head out of her trailer dressing room to see who we were… I still find that funny.

    Kim Novak

   I was curious how the studio might have changed from the time I had seen it, and so we decided to take the new tour so I could make a comparison. The main thing I noted was that its’ activities seemed to be more focused on television than film production. The Ellen show seemed to be the big item. Feature film work seemed nonexistent.

   On another note: It was strange to see Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” outfit in the museum… I remember him wearing that wardrobe when I worked with him back in 1973. Also, another soundstage that we stopped to visit on the tour listed on a bronze plaque (under television productions shot there): The Streets of San Francisco… well, that was not entirely true. The police headquarters interior (and only that set) was there for the pilot and first season; after that, even it was constructed in San Francisco in a converted warehouse on Kearny Street. I felt that the plaque gave the impression that the entire show was filmed there. Most of the soundstages we saw were empty, and the ones that were occupied were set up for sitcoms and live audiences.

   Eastwood on location for Magnum Force.

Warners Soundstage.

   Bronze plaque outside soundstage 1.

   They say you can never go back, and I have to admit that I found it kind of sad that most of the Warner’s magic had disappeared with the passage of time. Location work has stolen away a larger portion of the mystique that the movie studio once held for movie going outsiders. Where once great ships sat in studio tanks and mighty palaces adorn soundstages, now the lots are taken up by administration buildings and (in the case of Universal) Theme Park rides. To a lover of classic Hollywood history the time spent at Forest Lawn seemed a prelude for what came later.

City Street on back lot

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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 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden.

My Italian Buddy, Paul Sorvino by Tony Piazza

   Paul Sorvino and my mother in 1976.

   My Italian buddy, PAUL SORVINO (Goodfellas, Law and Order), and accomplished actor who has appeared in numerous roles on television and feature films. He was born in April of 1939 to an Italian American family whose descendants came from Naples. Raised in Brooklyn, New York, he  completed his schooling and eventually found a job in an ad agency. While attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy he decided on a career in theatre.  In 1964 he appeared on Broadway and transitioned to films six years later in the motion picture “Where’s Poppa?” I’m behind the camera in this photo (above) of him and my mother (who stopped by for a visit). They posed for the picture just inside the studio entrance of Quinn Martin Studio’s soundstage.- a converted warehouse located on Kearny Street in San Francisco. One memory of this Italian actor that I have, has to do with Paul and I having lunch one day…he a salad (he was always on a diet), and myself roast beef, which he was eyeing with envy. I thought he was joking and laughed…only to realize to my embarrassment that he was serious! He was a good sport about it, but I can’t eat roast beef to this day without thinking about him.

   Paul now has his own line of food (notice the sauce).

   I should have added that this photograph was taken during the filming of the detective show “Burt D’Angelo Superstar”  (1976) in which he starred. It was a spin-off from “The Streets of San Francisco” and lasted just as a summer replacement. It wasn’t picked up by the network for the Fall season.It was a good show, but too much like “Streets”…in fact the police headquarters set was the same, just re-dressed. I was Bob Pine’s (Chips) stand-in on the show… he was Paul’s detective partner, much as Michael was Karl’s.

   My father (left) with Bob Pine (center).

   Paul also enjoyed singing opera…he would do so in-between takes. He wanted to do a bio. film on legendary opera stars Enrico Caruso or Mario Alonzo, but it hasn’t as yet come to pass. He shared that dream with both KARL MALDEN and myself during the filming of the pilot. He took voice lessons for 18 years, which I find incredible because he suffers from severe asthma.  He later started his own organization, The Sorvino Asthma Foundation to find solutions to combat the disease.

 

   His daughter MIRA SORVINO, is also an accomplished actress. I met her as a little girl back in the 70s. In 1995 she won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the Woody Allen film, “Mighty Aphrodite.” Paul was extremely proud of her.

 Paul and his daughter, Mira Sorvino.

   I was a good friend of Paul. Recently I was watching him in the film “The Brinks Job” with Peter Falk (another actor I knew personally) and suddenly remembered an amusing story that Paul once told me. When he was going to marry his first wife Lorraine, he told his Neapolitan family, and immediately uproar broke out amongst its members. You see, Lorraine was an Americano (definition of “Americano” is anyone who isn’t Italian), and it was considered very radical back then when an Italian married anyone who wasn’t also of Italian descent. During all the screams, protests, and tears, his grandfather leaned over and whispered into his ear, “Tell me, Paolo, is she economical?” In which Paul replied, “Yes, Nonno, she is.” The old man padded him on the arm, and then nodding his head stated, “Then you got my blessing!”

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   His first wife Lorraine was an attractive woman, and an excellent mother. I remember when she would bring the girls, Mira and Amanda onto the set. They were dressed like little ladies, in long wool coats, hats, and gloves! Very East Coast, but refreshing.

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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 second novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was released this last January.  He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden.

Karl Malden: Threatened for Not Leaving Home Without It! By Tony Piazza

 Did you know that KARL MALDEN actually got death threats because of that American Express commercial he did years ago? Some disgruntle user of American Express sent the company letters with inflammatory language and quite blatantly announced that they would like to kill the actor who said, “Don’t leave home without it!” We had gotten word on the set of “The Streets of San Francisco” and security was immediately beefed up. I could see the difference when I reported on location that morning…enough that it caused me to ask questions. I learned however that quite frankly from the start they were not taking it too seriously. Karl was alerted and didn’t seem too worried. Nevertheless they had to go through the motions. It seems this has happened before. In fact threats like these happened more often then one would think. It is pretty much understood by all concerned that if a celebrity becomes identified with a product, and that product doesn’t for some reason come up to the standards of the consumer, that celebrity would become the focus of their anger. And regarding the threat; it is usually the person who doesn’t advertise his or her intentions that are far more dangerous than those who do. Nine times out of ten the others are just blowing off steam. That was fortunately the situation in this case, and after a few days everyone relaxed on the set.

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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.

My Kiss from a Famous Actress by Tony Piazza

 

 During my time on the Turner Classic Movie Fan site as a blogger I posted a tease regarding a kiss from a famous actress. I called it “Kiss and Tell.” I ran it for several weeks dropping occasional clues and allowing them to post guesses. Needless to say I got some interesting answers, but none that were correct. Finally we reached a point where I felt I’d milked it for all it was worth, and then dropped a hint that I knew someone would catch onto. Below is what I posted in response to the correct answer: 

  (Fan’s name) wins the bragging rights. He sniffed out the truth. We should all give him a round of applause for barking up the right tree!

 The kiss.

From the photograph you can see that it was LASSIE. This was taken in 1969 and the kiss was not voluntary by the lady in question- the trainer (RUDD WEATHERWAX) said, “Kiss, Lassie!” just before the shot was taken. My other prizes from that visit was an autographed (paw print) picture of Lassie, production golf hat, and pin with Lassie’s image on it. The television movie was released four years later- why the delay? I never did find out. Lassie filmed twice in the bay area. The first was this 1969 feature when I visited the location at Golden Gate Park’s Arboretum, and then again in 1978, a film which had JIMMY STEWART in the starring role (aside from Lassie that is).

Lassie and Me (1969).

Having been a fan of the television show in the 60s, it was exciting to meet the dog (or at least the next generation of Lassie).  As a bit of trivia, she also had her own stunt dog which I also saw that day… actually a “Laddie”… (An incident by a tree gave that away).

 The make artist, DONALD SCHOENFELD who I’d worked with on “The Streets of San Francisco” also had been assigned to the TV Lassie (1954-1973) series from 1958 until 1963. The stars on that show were JUNE LOCKHART (Ruth Martin) and JON PROVOST (Timmy Martin). Sorry to say, but disregard all the rumors, Timmy never needed rescuing from falling down a well!

 Jon Provost and Lassie

June Lockhart as Ruth Martin, Timmy’s mother.

Just an aside, a Lassie Dog Food commercial (perhaps this should be counted as a third appearance by Lassie in the bay area) did film in San Francisco after the completion of this film. My father worked on that production, but also evidently provided a distraction as well. In the shot, a pack of dogs led by Lassie come running down one of San Francisco’s famous streets, however one little dachshund at the back of the pact kept ruining the shot. He would peel off from the group and run over to my dad, who was standing on the sidelines and lick his boots!

   Jimmy Stewart

Now the next big question: Have I ever got a kiss from a human actress… Well, here I can definitely say that I would never Kiss and Tell!

My rescue puppy, Toby, doing a shameless commercial for my first book! 

Hope this isn’t regarded cruelty to animals!

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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.

A Snippet from “The Streets of San Francisco” by Tony Piazza

  

   In 1973, during the second season of “The Streets of San Francisco” I was offered a small speaking role. It was in the episode “Shield of Honor,” directed by Eric Till. In this scene I am addressing KARL MALDEN (Lt. Mike Stone), MICHAEL DOUGLAS (Steve Keller), and JOHN KERR (Gerald O’Brien) in Stone’s office (studio set). The episode was number 10 of this season, and written by D.C. Fontana of original Star Trek fame.

     Clip from “Shield” episode. My name was added for another presentation. 

   One interesting tidbit is that John Kerr was the actor who played Lt. Joseph Cable in the motion picture adaptation of the stage musical “South Pacific.” On “Streets” he played  the recurring character of San Francisco’s D.A.

John Kerr

   In my bit for this episode I was notifying them that I had the reports on the slug they found in their “hit man.” Another line cinched in two takes…Michael Douglas gave me a “thumbs up” after they cut! As I mentioned elsewhere, both Karl and Michael were very supportive of other actors.

Michael and Karl in the office set.

Some trivia:

 MARIETTE HARTLEY of the Polaroid commercials (late 70’s; she was JAMES GARNER’S sparring partner) was a guest star on this episode-  as well as ROBERT FOXWORTH (last husband to the late ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY), and PETER MARK RICHMOND (Dynasty).

Hartley and Garner for Polaroid.

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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.

“Happy Days” Memories by Tony Piazza

The Cunningham’s (Bosley and Ross)

   I got to work with the Cunningham’s, Mr. and Mrs., on “The Streets of San Francisco.” They were not together however, but on separate episodes. Of course the Cunningham’s were not their real names, but the characters they played on “Happy Days” (1974-1984). I am of course talking about TOM BOSLEY and MARION ROSS. Tom worked on two episodes, and we became friends in spite of the fact that I spilt coffee on his suit- we won’t go into that! The first show we worked together on was an episode that took place on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. This was just after the Indian occupation, and we were the first group after the incident to be allowed on the grounds- shortly afterwards this historic former federal prison would be cleaned up and opened by the Park Department for public tours. The place then was a mess, and both Tom and  I were sitting out in the rubble strewn exercise yard watching a scene where a stuntman was to take a high fall from one of the walls. I helped him (he had asked my assistance) with his new camera -he was having trouble unlocking some feature on it. He was planning to take pictures of the stunt, and as I said elsewhere, actors are no different than the fans. This acting assignment was prior to his “Happy Days” fame (Season 2: Going Home (1973) with young Brad Savage as his son). The next time he returned (Season 5: Dead or Alive (1976), the crew was really razzing him about his role on “Happy Days”, calling him Mr. Cunningham, etc. He was great about it. In fact I think he enjoyed it!

 Tom Bosley

   Marion Ross (Season 5: The Thrill Killers (1976)) was a sweetheart. She was Mrs. Cunningham; so kind, thoughtful, and caring. I was sitting next to her on a couch located in the interior of a home we were filming at in the Potrero District of San Francisco. My father had passed out on the set a week earlier due to heart problems and had been in the hospital. That particular day he had been released and came down on the set with my mother. There was a great deal of excitement by the crew at his return, and Marion, not privy to the circumstances, was curious what the fuss was all about. I told her the details and could see the compassion in her eyes as I related the story. She spent some time talking to me as a mother to her son. I can’t say enough kind words about Marion.

Marion Ross

Just as an aside- recently in watching “The Best of the DEAN MARTIN Show” I was reminded at one point in the series that Tom Bosley was a regular in the comedy sketches.

Tom Bosley on The Dean Martin Show

Tom passed away in October of 2010 at the age of 83. Thanks Tom and Marion for such great memories…you certainly were  two memorable people!

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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” 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.

You Won’t Like Me When I Am Mad! by Tony Piazza

 

Aside from working with 1960s Green Hornet (VAN WILLIAMS), I got a chance to spend time with another comic book hero. This character will soon make an appearance in “The Avengers” film due out this summer, so I thought it was timely to make him a subject of this blog.

   This comic book hero hit the small screen in the 1980s right out of the pages of Marvel Comics… he was big and green, but did not go “Ho…Ho…Ho”- as you probably figured out from the accompanied picture, I’m talking about “The Incredible Hulk”. Looking back on the show today, and comparing it to the recent big screen features, it visually comes up short on the “Hulk” side. Somehow seeing a muscle builder with translucent contacts, a body covered in green make-up, and wearing a bad punk wig wasn’t just bordering on the ridiculous- IT WAS ridiculous- not to mention that his dialog left a lot to be desired. However, they did pull it off- and for two very good reasons; good stories and the fine acting skills of BILL BIXBY, the human half of the Hulk. He made the unbelievable, believable.

   I got to work with Bill Bixby twice. Once on “The Streets of San Francisco” and then on its’ spin-off “Burt D’Angelo Superstar” starring PAUL SORVINO and ROBERT PINE. In the first instance he was a guest star and I photo-doubled him in a couple of scenes. I am slightly taller and broader than he was, but our hair, eyes, complexion, and facial features were similar. Also he was dressed as a motorcycle cop with leather jacket, dark glasses, and helmet which also helped the illusion.

I am the reporter taking notes. Look behind me to the left. That is Bill Bixby from “Streets”

   The second time I worked with him, was as a director. In that instance I was able to spend more time talking personally with him, and in doing so, we found that we had attended the same High School (but at different times- he was older) and knew some of the same people associated with it. One day I brought my yearbook to the set and he looked it over. He couldn’t get over the fact that his home room teacher was still working at the school (now the Dean of Girls) and he said that he always “remembered her as this little old Italian lady” and was surprised that she hadn’t changed in all these years!

   Bill Bixby and Ray Walston- My Favorite Martian (1963)

   Bill Bixby had a lot of accomplishments- mostly on the small screen- “My Favorite Martian”, “The Courtships of Eddies’ Father”, and of course the Hulk. He did do a feature- a Disney film, “The Apple Dumpling Gang”; and I believe (based upon the successes of those previous shows) he could have gone farther – he was also a very good director- but unfortunately he was taken early in life, which cheated us of any accomplishments he might of achieved in the entertainment world.

He was a very pleasant to know – very personable- bright- and much accomplished- and unlike his counterpart- even great to know when he was mad!

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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” 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.

Performing  with Pernell Roberts by Tony Piazza

 

 Roberts as Adam Cartwright (Bonanza)

   This reminiscence is due to a wonderful biographical article that I read recently on the Turner Classic Movie site. It reminded me of the time when PERNELL ROBERTS was a guest star on “The Streets of San Francisco” in 1977. The episode was entitled “Breakup,” and he played a character called Charley Finn. For me, he would always be the oldest Cartwright brother, Adam on the long running “Bonanza” (1959-1973) series. Others may also recall him from the show “Trapper John, M.D.” which he did later (1979-1986) for CBS. My “Streets” remembrance of him takes place on the steps of San Francisco City Hall- one of the locations used for that episode. He had been cast to play Prof. Harold Hill on stage for the “Music Man”… his next job after filming this episode. During a break in filming he started singing the “Trouble in River City” number from the musical… well; I couldn’t help it, but joined in with him to the amusement of the crew… so you might say I performed with Mr. Roberts! I always loved that musical… it was my favorite and I couldn’t resist joining in.

Roberts as Trapper John, M.D.

As an aside I have an autographed copy of “The Music Man” book signed by Robert Preston (but, that’s another story for another time).

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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” 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.