I have been blessed many times in my career to be placed in some fairly oddball situations – I’m no stranger to events where there are bizarre mash-ups of iconic personalities in the entertainment and publishing world. One such event was in the early ’90s during my first year as the writer/producer on motorsports TV series THE SUPER CHARGERS. Our production team headed down to the Houston Film Festival for the awards ceremony. My second father figure and–at that time–employer, TV personality Jan Gabriel treated us to an unforgettable dinner and performance at the exclusive Magic Island in Houston. The next night, we attended the Houston Film Festival Awards, where we won a Gold Star Award. Featured guests that year were Chuck Jones, Rod Steiger, and Ginger Rogers. I know, right? What an oddball mashup of entertainment icons!
I walked into the art museum where the event was being held, and I happened to look up at the top of the stairs. There was Jan Gabriel, talking to a tall, thin man in a tuxedo. He had a tuft of white, fluffy hair that hang down on his forehead, and these oversized, too-large-for-his-face, black plastic-framed eyeglasses. In my signature silliness, I quipped to Kenny our cameraman, “Look! Jan’s talking to Bugs Bunny!” having no idea that it was actually Bugs Bunny creator Chuck Jones, the featured guest! D’oh! Mr. Jones really did look a lot like the cartoon character he created, and I never forgot that about him.
At the same event, Ginger Rogers was in the sunset years of her life, getting around in a wheelchair. There were no separate restroom facilities for dignitaries, and while I still feel bad about it, I was full of champagne and I raced past Ms. Rogers’ wheelchair to reach the bathroom ahead of her. I just barely made it. She didn’t have to wait too long for me, but it was a very human moment. I was once again reminded that we all put on our panties one leg at a time.