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Ben Johnson, Someone to remember


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> {quote:title=JackFavell wrote:}{quote}

> Don't tell anyone, but I keep posting at 640.... no one seems to have noticed.

>

> Until now. I'm sure someone will turn fink.....

 

Don't worry, I won't tell a soul. :D

 

Now I understand why your screencaps are so sharp and vivid---MrGrimes once

PMd me comparison caps between your program and Windows Media Player

and the difference in picture quality is amazing!

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Frank, thanks for your help. I will try WMP next time I want to get the subs in. Even if there are more steps, it beats having to try to type out all the words.

 

And for goodness sakes, please try to stop picking on MissG. What are these boards coming to? It's a battlefield , I tell ya... :)

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I met Ben Johnson around 1974.I got a call at the TV station I was working at in Hollywood that they needed a floor director for the first "Stuntmans Awards" that was being taped at Warner Bros studios in Burbank.. The turnout was great,among the presenters was James Stewart,Richard Boone,Anne Francis, Leslie Neilson,George Marshall, who directed Stewart in "Dystrey Rides Again" and one of the last stars to arrive was Joel Mcrae.When he and his wife Francis Dee walked in the entire room stood and rushed up to greet them.Efrem Zimbalist was M.C. and Ben Johnson among many others.I often kick myself for not bringing a camera that night.After the taping,everyone was table hopping and I was standing off stage and watching Johnson talk to Skip Hoilmer,they finished and Skip left and Ben turned to me and stuck out his hand and said "Hi,I'm Ben Johnson" and I stuck out my hand and said"I know.I've been a fan of yours since "Mighty Joe Young" and he let out a big laugh and said I could use a drink so we walked over to the bar they had set up and sat down with our drinks.We talked about the show and the awards to the stuntmen among the honorees was Yakama Canutt and I ask if it was true he turned down the role in "Last Picture Show" because of some of the language and he said yes,he didn't want his mother to see him in a picture and hear him use"bad words", then Bogdanovich called John Ford and Ford called Johnson and told him to take the role of "Sam the Lion",then some people came over and told him they were leaving and again he stuck out his hand and said it was nice talking to me and left...He was just a very nice man and I was pleased I got to speak to him,even if it only for a few minutes.....

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Fred-

 

>Ben turned to me and stuck out his hand and said "Hi,I'm Ben Johnson"

 

I would have _melted_ if he had turned to me that way, and I never would have washed my hand again.... ! I am so jealous!

 

That is a wonderful story, and you are a lucky guy to have been there that night and met all those great people. I am so glad you were around to show your appreciation of Mr. Johnson, since I am sure there were a lot who simply overlooked him when confronted with a Joel McCrea or a Jimmy Stewart. Thank you so much for sharing your remembrances with us, and if there are any other stories from that evening, I would love to hear them. After having a drink with Ben, I probably would have stolen his drink glass or napkin after he left.... :)

 

Everything I hear of this man was that he was as down to earth as he could be. Every autograph I find is as sweet as pie - usually he wrote, "Your friend, Ben Johnson" and I truly believe he wanted his fans to feel like they were his friends.

 

Do you still work in the industry? Are you a westerns fan? Is Mighty Joe Young your favorite Ben movie? Don't let me overwhelm you.... It's just nice to see another fan here.

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Jack Hi,thanks to you and Hollywoodgo...for the nice response.To answer your? I worked in TV from 1964 starting in New York at WPIX and WOR, ABC and NBC and moved to Hollywood in 1969.I retired last year and now live in Ferndale,Wa up by the Canadian border. I have been a movie fan all my life as was my Dad and passed it on to my 2 sons.I have had the pleasure of working with many stars and found them to be hard working and friendly. I remember working with Sammy Davis Jr on the old Hollywood Palace when i was at ABC and when the crew took a break he would come over to where we were sitting and start doing his night club act for us. One of the funnest people I ever work with was Lee Marvin, I don't mean I became friends with these people but working with them was a thrill,I even got to work with my boyhood hero on the Hollywood Palace and that was Roy Rogers ,that was a thrill...But the biggest thrill I ever had was when I was hired By George Stevens Jr. to be film consulant on the James Cagney, the 2nd AFI Lifetime Awards.I had just finished working on Warner Bros 50th anniversary record albums as film consulant and got hired for the tribute. The producer of the albums called me at the station i was working at and said he got a call from David Huddleston [blazing Saddles }, and Cagney had been at his house the night b 4 and David had played some of the album for him and he got a big kick out of it.Remember this is 74, b 4 VHS and Dvds. So huddleston though it would be nice if we sent Cagney a gift set of the albums.So Les the producer of them said he could messenger them over or if I wanted to I could take then.Guess what I said...So Cagney is staying with A.C. Lyles a film producer.So I get to the address and there's2 large houses and I'm not sure which 1 to go to.I really though someone would take the records and that would be it.Then I see a station wagon parked in front of 1 of the houses and it had Mass. license plates and I remembered Cagney did not like to fly and he drove everywhere. So I knock on the door and about 30 seconds later it opens slowly and a little old man peeks around the door and it's Cagney.I just stand there and he says "Can I help you?" and I say to myself,Fred say something,and finally i introduce my self and tell him I 'll be film consulant 4 the AFI show and I have a record set of the Warners albums and he invited me in. I spent about 30 minutes just talking to James Cagney,I told him my father was born in 1899 in Hells Kitchen N.Y. as was he and he got a kick out of that.I barely remember what we talked about,we did speak of Hollywood and living there,he preferred the East Coast,movies, i finally left but it was 1 of the best moments of my life.The tribute went off great [ still think it was the best 1 they ever did ]. About a month or 2 later I received a letter from him thanking me and "All the boys and girls who made it such a special night". The letter is still hanging in my den in a frame....Hope I didn't bore you.....Thanks

 

Message was edited by: fredbaetz

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Gosh, no you didn't bore me! That was amazing!

 

You might want to go back into your post and hit the edit button. If you indent a sentence even one space, it will not show up here. If you go in and remove that space we should be able to read your post fully. I could still see it in my email box.... just not on the boards here.

 

Welcome to the message boards! I am thrilled with your stories. I can only imagine what it must have been like to sit across from Cagney, just shooting the breeze. :)

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Fred,

 

Thanks for sharing your stories. I still have my copies of that Warner Brothers 50th Anniversary Album set (both the dialog set and the musical score set). They've been a part of my collection for over 35 years.

 

I remembering watching the AFI Award dinner with Jimmy Cagney when it was telecast. Did they telecast them live back then? (Something is nagging in the back of my brain.) The first one done was for John Ford and the next year was Cagney. Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock followed in the next two years though I forget which order.

 

Somewhere in the collection, I still have my souvenir programs from the AFI for the Ford and Cagney dinners.

 

They were wonderful tributes and very different from the ones telecast today.

 

I wish that WB would release those two anniversary sets on CD but a girl can dream I guess.

 

And thanks, especially, for sharing the story about Ben Johnson. Somewhere on the board, probably in the Filmmakers Forum (?) I wrote about seeing Bogdanovich's one man show where he talked about Ben Johnson and *Last Picture Show* among other stories.

 

Welcome to the boards!

 

Be sure to check out the Western forum as it sounds like you like westerns.

 

Message was edited by: lzcutter for more clarification

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Allow me to add my welcome, Fred, and huge thanks for sharing those stories---I'm

just getting my vicarious thrills reading them---if you have more, please keep 'em coming!

 

Lee Marvin! _Love_ him! I can just bet he was fun. Electric. And oh,

Cagney, what a pleasure. Thank you for letting us share it. Stuff like

this adds so much to this forum.

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You're welcome Fred, I'm sure you must have a lot of interesting stories about all the other folks you met over the years. I can't imagine how exciting it must have been to meet actors like Cagney, Marvin, Ben, Sammy Davis Jr.

 

I've never seen the AFI Tribute to Cagney, but I am definitely going to check it out! :D

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*Wouldn't it be also possible to release those AFI ceremonies on DVD? Or were there no cameras there for those events?*

 

Of course there were cameras, as I mentioned here before watching the telecasts on television back in the day. The dinners and ceremonies were telecast on network television. The likely problem for them not being on DVD already is probably rights issues with the film clips and montages used as well as releases from the participants.

 

Message was edited by: lzcutter for clarification

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*Ah, pardon me if I misread your post. It sounded to me like you'd seen them in person, and only later referred to the ones being telecast today.*

 

Holly,

 

I edited my post so it would be more clear. I wish I could have seen them in person but I was only about to graduate from high school when the AFI started the Lifetime Achievement Award dinners.

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Thanks Lynn.

 

This might be another silly question, but would it be safe to assume that by that point in time, all major programs being telecast were also saved in videotape? I know that some early shows from the 50s only survive in kinescopes.

 

But as you said, it probably has to do with rights issues, rather than the video recordings of the shows not existing any more.

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Hi,Thanks for your letter.This is great. Years ago The AFI was selling copies of their tributes and they had Cagneys for sale on VHS, I bought it and still have it.Don't know if they ever put it out on dvd. That's great,you still have the Albums.If you look on the album my name is not there as film consultant but it's on the record itself,There was a mistake and the wrong name was put on the album...That was a great time for a movie buff selecting the film clips that represented Warners over the years,I had carte blanch at the studios and they assigned me my own film editor.I remember trying to get some out takes or bloopers for the records,but Rudi Fehr [ a Warners editor in 40' and 50's ] was head of production and he would not let me have any because he didn't want to to make fun of the big stars.So I never pushed I needed his help.Yes the Ford tribute was 1st,he was dying and they wanted to honor him.But the film tribute itself was a disappointment even thou Bogdanovich did the film portion.I saw it and said where's that film,whats that doing there and I wasn't the only one.It turned CBS edited the film tribute down for time.So when the producer of the Warners Albums got the call from George Stevens Jr to do the film segment Les and me and Jim Silke went in and said we would do it but we do not want our film tribute cut after we deliver it.We started out with about 8 or 9 minutes and finally got it up to 12 or 13,somewhere in there, and they kept their word.I remember they wanted Doris Day to sing to Cagney but she said no,She would not sing and I had just screened "Love me or Leave Me" and I said she sings "You made me Love You" and the film cuts to Cagney in it, so Doris got up and said something to the effect " I think it said it best in song about how I feel about Jimmy", and they wanted something for the closing credits and I said time the dance Cagney does down the White House as he leaves in Yankee Doodle Dandy",It timed out perfectly.....Great times

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I'm sure that the AFI has them archived. The John Ford Award dinner was released on laser disc at one point (may have been not for US issue) as I recall.

 

So, those early dinners should be squirreled away at the AFI, especially since, as Fred noted, George Stevens was the Director of the AFI at that time and one of the major movers and shakers in getting the award established.

 

Since the AFI was much more dedicated to film preservation, restoration and history back then than it is today, it's a fair bet that they have the masters.

 

But the AFI is suffering from a shortage funds, has moved away from their early dedication to film history and that, in addition to the rights issues, is the likely reason why those evenings are not available on DVD.

 

Any time you have a program or documentary that was done years gone and is clip or montage heavy, there are going to rights issues. It's what keeps Kevin Brownlow's wonderful *Hollywood* series from coming to DVD and is likely the reason that *Life Goes to the Movies* is not available either.

 

Warner Brothers has worked out some of the rights issues for some of Richard Schickel's interviews in *Men Who Made the Movies* but there are still hour-long interviews with Frank Capra, Vincent Minnelli, Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford that remain unavailable.

 

The souvenir programs from the early AFI dinners can often be found on Ebay or through ABE books.

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Sorry to hear about the AFI's shortage of funds. It would be so great if all those interviews finally became available to the public.

 

And thanks for mentioning the AFI souvenir programs occasionally being auctioned online, it sounds like a souvenir I might like to have someday. :D

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Fred-

 

You just gave me a shiver - I remember that tribute to Jimmy Cagney, even though I was under ten years old. My dad had just gotten me into old movies. Though I don't remember the Ford one, I remember the Cagney one, and I do remember the end - that sequence you talked about with Cagney going down the stairs at the White House during the credits.... and we watched right to the end. now I'm gonna get all misty eyed, because that was a beautiful moment that made me cry......

 

Message was edited by: JackFavell

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I remember that the 1st person I called after meeting Cagney when I got home was my mother,who still lived in New York with my sisters. I told her the whole story of the meeting,we grew up on Cagney and Robinson and Bogie.Then my youngest sister got on the phone and ask if I saw his dog.I said yes a dog came into the room while we were talking.How did she know about the dog and she said that Cagney always took his dog with him and he was always getting into fights with the railroad he used because they wouldn't let his dog ride with him, it had to ride in the baggage car and he was suing them.The papers always played it up,"Cagney takes on the Railroads....Our moneys on Jimmy" Just a silly follow up to Cagney story....

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Well, I am guessing since conversation has come to a screeching standstill again...the boards are down.

 

I have a few things I hope to post soon, if I can get online....

 

Cinemafan, pardon me if you posted this already. I have been under the weather, I think I have a sinus infection. It is making me space out. I thought you said you were looking for a picture of this award statue, but maybe it was something else. I'm sorry I am such a space cadet.

 

Photobucket

 

I also found a tiny picture of Ben that you really can't see very well on this Wyoming movie locations site. It is under the section *1953* about Shane, and Ben is in the top row of pics,standing, second picture. I wonder if the "Making of Shane" CD rom is worth $20.00 bucks.....

 

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.theastrocowboy.com/Mlist/BenJohnson.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.theastrocowboy.com/Mlist/mlist.htm&usg=__EOJ2AQEyf0gaKL9cekYX6gab3n8=&h=162&w=130&sz=23&hl=en&start=6&sig2=iYc7WcKU1vJ36WiuO4Czbw&um=1&tbnid=JubuDDEmF7nvdM:&tbnh=98&tbnw=79&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dben%2Bjohnson%2Bcowboy%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1&ei=vClCSpeuMNiqmQeZmLCkCg

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> {quote:title=fredbaetz wrote:}{quote}

> I remember that the 1st person I called after meeting Cagney when I got home was my mother,who still lived in New York with my sisters. I told her the whole story of the meeting,we grew up on Cagney and Robinson and Bogie.Then my youngest sister got on the phone and ask if I saw his dog.I said yes a dog came into the room while we were talking.How did she know about the dog and she said that Cagney always took his dog with him and he was always getting into fights with the railroad he used because they wouldn't let his dog ride with him, it had to ride in the baggage car and he was suing them.The papers always played it up,"Cagney takes on the Railroads....Our moneys on Jimmy" Just a silly follow up to Cagney story....

 

Somehow, it sounds just like the kind of dog you'd expect Cagney to have, I guess. But it's good that your mom and sisters were all so familiar with him from all the movies, it must have been exciting for them to hear you tell them the story. :)

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