Thursday, June 4, 2009

I called his dog 'stupid'... and lived...

I just logged into my yahoo email account to see this news headline.. Actor David Carradine found dead in Bangkok.

Now, you might be thinking.. yes, this is sad news.. but, why is: iwouldratherbeknitting writing in her blog about David Carradine?

If you are old enough to remember.. he was on a tv show called Kung Fu in the early 70's. A few years after that show went off the air- I was a fresh faced college student and I had my first brush with fame.

I was working for Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation at a resort on a nearby lake. One night, I met some guys that were clearly from out of town.. as in: From Chicago with their little northern accents and wearing their newly purchased Okie summer straw cowboy hats.. trying to 'blend in' with the locals... I found out that they were part of the film crew that was filming a movie all over Oklahoma. The main stars were David Carradine and Brenda Vaccaro.

After talking to them for a few hours and teaching them how to dance 'cowboy style'... they invited me to watch the movie being filmed. I wasn't able to go to see them film for a few days- until my next day off from work.. (Yes, that was faithful employee 'me'.. who kept working at her minimum wage job-even though she had been invited as a guest on a movie set. Geez)

A few days later, I finally went out to the movie set. I found that it was mostly quite boring with a lot of waiting. I wasn't knitting then or I surely would have brought my knitting. I was constantly introduced to the the cast and crew over the next several days that I was able to visit the movie set.

I visited the set for the next few weeks, and often, I sat right by David Carradine between takes- but, being from the south... I minded my manners and didn't bother him. He always smiled at me and I'm sure he had already asked who the little shy 'gal' was...

One day, I was sitting in the shade of one of the crew trucks, and in his director's chair with his NAME on it.. and was asked to remove myself from this chair by Mr. Carradine's personal assistant. Mr Carradine sat down in the newly vacated chair, looked over, cracked a smile at me.. and proceeded to peel a peach. Soon, he leaned over, held out the peach, and asked me if I wanted it. I pondered and shook my head no. He seemed quite surprised by my refusal and then told me that he had 'peeled' it especially for me. So, I did what I know my grandmother would expect of me.. "I took it, said thank you and had myself a tasty snack."

I do have a photo of him sleeping in the camera truck.. mouth all agape. He always seemed so unsettled to me. I asked a few of the crew members about him. One time I had asked them to pass along an invitation to him to join us singing and playing the guitar at the lake one night. They said that he almost went with us... but, that he liked his privacy. They told me that he had trouble sleeping at night. I think he just needed to have a chance to 'be himself' without any expectations and maybe he never had that chance.. being born into an acting family?

On the last day filming... I had at least 3 of the senior crew members.. those in charge of various departments come and ask me to please reconsider joining them, that everyone had got together to discuss a plan so that I could join them and be paid as an extra in the movie. Told me that they all adored me. They had even spoken to at least 3 of the female crew members and all of these gals had agreed to let me share their hotel room with them- so, that I wouldn't have any expenses. Again, I turned them down. Was I a fool or what?

Finally, it was the night of the cast and crew wrap party for this particular area of filming. Over the past few weeks.. several of the crew had asked me to join them on the road as they filmed in Oklahoma as an extra. I told them that I had obligations to my current summer job. *I'm sure that they were amazed at that and looking back.. it is one of my regrets. I should have done it. After all, I would have other summer jobs but, I can honestly say.. that no one else has ever offered me a summer job as a movie extra!

Several of them also told me that they really appreciated that not once had I ever appeared star struck, didn't ask for favors, didn't try to get discovered, nor did I get all 'uppity' because I was hanging around a movie set. They told me that they had all discussed how refreshing it was.. for them to just be liked for themselves not for what they were doing or who they knew.

David Carradine always kept his dog- an Australian sheep dog with him at all times. You know the kind with the bright blue eyes? Several members of the crew had told me that the dog 'Buffalo' would not go to anyone else- only to David. Well, here I was.. a country girl and had been around animals all my life... so, I started calling to the dog.. softly.. "Here Buffalo, come here, come on boy." He starts wagging his tail.. and proceeds to slowly walk towards me. I had a large crowd gathered around.. quietly watching and listening to see if the 'Buffalo dog whisperer' could get the elusive dog BUFFALO to come to someone other than his beloved master: David Carradine. I'm not sure, but, maybe even some 'off the record' side betting was going on too?

Suddenly, Buffalo.. Buffalo was only inches from my hands, and he tucks his tail under his legs, lowers his head, looking as embarrased as a dog can look, turns and walks away from me.. and before I realized what I was saying.. out of my mouth.. I said, "You Stupid dog, why wouldn't you come to me?" There were loud gasps everywhere.. as David Carradine walked up behind me. Yes, he had heard me!

My movie crew friends later told me that they were SHOCKED that he didn't have me kicked off the set. I was just glad that he didn't do some 'KUNG FU' fighting on me!

I like to think that had I managed to ever met him again.. that he would have remembered meeting the little southern gal who wasn't impressed by his star status... and
who probably gave him a chuckle or two?

*At least, I didn't say.. "Yes, Grasshopper" to him when he handed me the peeled peach. :D

Rest in peace, David Carradine, rest in peace.


Sleeping Si said...

that was very nice.

must admit i am a little jealous too.


it's a good story for me and plesant memory for you...thanks for sharing