Standing On A Chair

Telling it like I see it…

On Leslie Nielsen

With the passing of Leslie Nielsen this Sunday, I am travelling back in time, again, to the year 1973, in Los Angeles, California.  And what was likely a nano-blip in the life of this well-loved, handsome actor, proved to be a monumental memory for me.

This was the year I quit flying.  I had just turned twenty-five, and felt the need to find something else to do with myself.  My boyfriend, we’ll call him Melvin, and I left Chicago for Los Angeles, where we ultimately rented an apartment in Manhattan Beach, with full ocean views.  I just had to throw that in.  Sigh.  It was a happy time.

I took a job in sales for a major copy machine corporation, with a territory stretching from Hollywood to downtown LA.  After a brief training period, they threw me a Thomas Street Guide and sent me out to sell copiers.  I was freaked.  I did not know my way around, and the freeways were ninety-mile-an-hour death traps.  I got lost at least once a day.

One of my new clients was a small film production company, specializing in making commercials.  On one of my schmoozing visits there, one of the producers mentioned the need for an assistant for an upcoming Ford commercial.  Seems somebody had just quit. 

“What does such an assistant do?” I asked. 

“Anything we need,” he said.  “It’s about being a go-fer.

“Oh.”

“The project stars Leslie Nielsen,” he said. 

“OH!”

 “It’s just a one-day job. You want to help us out?”

A week later I called in sick and reported to the studio at 6:00 a.m., ready to kick-ass for these fun and exciting people!

To be honest, I don’t remember many of the small details.  It was a lot of please fetch this, bring me that, go get whatever, make copies, serve donuts, serve coffee, hold cue-cards, move that light, etc.  A big beefy guy sat in a chair in front of a large blue screen while people scurried around adjusting things.  This big beefy guy turned out to be Mr. Nielsen’s “stand-in.”  It was all pretty tedious, really.

When lunchtime arrived, I was instructed to go pick up lunch for thirty people.  Someone had called to order take-out from the Brown Derby.  Not a problem, I thought.  So off I drove…to the one in Hollywood, which turned out to be the wrong Brown Derby.  Calling the studio from a phone-booth to tell them they didn’t have our order, I was then told that I should have driven to the one in Beverly Hills.  “Hurry up! Everybody’s hungry and we’re on a tight schedule!”  So with my heart thudding like a bass drum, I promptly got lost on my way to Beverly Hills. 

I was on the verge of tears when I finally arrived with everybody’s food.  Working like a madman not to cry, I spread lunch out on a long, linen-covered buffet table.  Suddenly from behind, a man’s baritone voice said, “Young lady, you’ve pissed off a lot of hungry people here.”  Startled as hell, I swung around and looked up into the smiling face of Mr. Leslie Nielsen.

Stay tuned for Part Two

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November 30, 2010 - Posted by | Stars | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Awesome! A Cliffhanger!

    Comment by kidsights | November 30, 2010 | Reply

  2. I can’t wait for the next episode! All of us here at the office have been talking about Leslie Nielsen’s death. None of us had ever thought about him aging. We just remember him as he appeared in “Airplane” and the “Naked Gun” movies. What a gem he was! Please tell me you went out with him or whatever!!

    Comment by Abbie | November 30, 2010 | Reply


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