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Dealing with the Press

Over the years, my relationship with the press has been a rather pleasant one. It was the days before the intrusive papparazzi, so I don’t know how I’d react today to having a lens stuck in my face everytime I turned around. But I’ve learned that if you really want privacy, it’s not all that hard to come by. It’s just that you can’t have it both ways.

The publicity department called me after Combat! had been on the air for a few months. TV Guide was going to do a cover on Vic and me. The West Coast editor, Dwight Weist, wanted to follow me around for several days and do an in-depth article.

Original idea? Suuuuure!

And that’s what he did. He spent the entire next day on the set with me. We drove around the lot in my new Jaguar Mark X, a car that I’d yearned for ever since I’d been in England, and that cost the munificent sum of $5,600. Dwight Weist and I had dinners together, and he did everything but stay overnight.

The cover photo of Vic and me was excellent. Then I started to read the article. Mr. Weist was happy to report that I behaved every bit the "Hollywood Movie Star," even going so far as having a chair on the set that was higher than everyone else’s and from which I "held court." I hadn’t the slightest idea where he’d gotten that one from, since I’ve never "held court" in my life.

It then went on to say that I tooled around in a gleaming new Jaguar sedan while Vic Morrow drove a small humble dusty, dirty, two-seater with the top down. Of course, Mr. Weist didn’t bother to find out, that the junky-looking car Vic had was in fact a prime conditioned, highly tuned, $20,000 English sports car called a Morgan. Vic just never washed it.

I was about to answer that article until I said to myself "What the hell," and put it down to experience. Aside from that, I think the media has treated me quite fairly. A couple of years later, I got a call from ABC publicity saying TV Guide wanted to give me an award and do another in-depth interview. I told them to have the interviewer call me.

"I have no intention of giving your magazine another chance to misrepresent me," I said. The reporter asked me to explain and I did. He said he’d get back to me and about an hour later he called. He’d read the article and was in complete agreement with me. "What do you want me to do," he asked. "I’ll submit the questions in writing."

"I don’t need that," I said, "and I don’t want any special treatment. Just tell the truth, and don’t write your article before the interview. Fair?"

"More than fair," he said. That one turned out fine.

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