Writing about my life in Hollywood
My wife doesnt come from the entertainment business and was singularly uninformed about it when I was introduced to her in Hong Kong. The first time she was on a movie set I was guest starring in the TV series Air Wolf. When I introduced her to one of the co-stars, and an old pal, Ernie Borgnine, she told him he looked familiar. Ernie started giving her a list of his credits and she kept shaking her head. He finally gave up and picked an apple from a tray, handed it to her and said, "Have one, sweetheart." That ended the subject.
The first few years of our marriage, I regaled her with stories of Hollywood and my experiences in the business; mostly during dinner and over a bottle of wine. She was always attentive and occasionally asked a question. The conversations always ended with, "You should write this down, for your autobiography." Shed been saying it for years and Id refused. It was hard to believe anybody would be interested in my life even though I still receive fan mail from avid Combat! fans who grew up watching the show with their parents and now sit in front of the TV looking at it with their kids. Its become a rite of passage.
We live in a cul-de-sac in a quiet neighborhood where the six-to-ten year old peanuts play in the street after school. They wave, "Hi, R.J." as I drive along in my pickup. If a baby bird falls out of its nest, they knock on our door so I can show them what to do. A little lizard, a gopher snake, its "lets take it to R.J." I wouldnt imagine any of them could be interested in learning about much that happened earlier than the week before last. Its hard to look objectively at the past when the present is so drastically different.
However, my wife is a very persistent person. Shes never stopped saying, "You should write your autobiography, just for the fun of it and for me to read."
Now, who could refuse that? I started thinking of it from her viewpoint a few years ago. Then an interesting thing happened. A package from a lady named Jo Davidsmeyer arrived one day in 1995. Until then, I knew Combat! had been in reruns all over the country, but I wasnt aware of any organized effort to unite its fans. Jo, and those who are involved, opened my eyes to a Combat! world I had no idea existed. A website, and a Combat! convention that they dubbed a "recon," along with a Carribbean cruise. The enthusiasm of the Combat! devotees has been staggering. At this writing, theyre planning the third recon; to take place this year. Ive been informed, in no uncertain terms, that there are a lot more people besides my lovely wife, who would like to read about my beginning in television when it was in its infancy. Infancy? Hell, it hadnt even been born! And my entry into the movie business toward the end of the studio system.
To all of you whove insisted and encouraged me, to all whom Ive entertained, thanks for making my life that much more fulfilled.
Continue to Part One : My Disappearing Children -->