M*A*S*H & More
1978 was a busy time. When I wasn't engaged on a feature film, I was working on various TV shows. M.A.S.H was the best! Barry (my ex) had a three-year gig as the men's costumer. This was eight years after Dad had made the original blockbuster that was based on a mobile army surgical hospital during the Korean War.
Great cast and crew, friendly, fun and professional. The daily laughs on that show were infectious. We had an outstanding "wrap" party after the last episode. We filled a large sound stage with over 200 hundred people with cast, crew, family and friends. Superb catered food, cocktails, gifts and laughs filled the night. A large screen displayed scenes from over the years, including hilarious bloopers, and special photos of everyone involved. We were family.
Alan Alda was so generous. He gave Barry and I a gorgeous vase from Tiffany's. Mike Farrell gave $300 in cash, extravagant gifts back in the day.
With 109 Emmy nominations and 14 wins, MASH was one of the longest running and highest rated television series in history. Barry and I loved having dipped our toes into a small part of this era of television history.
Two more B movies were on the horizon for this girl, "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" and "Meteor", both Dad's films. After those came a two-part TV mini-series that became a big hit and a cult classic, Stephen King's "Salem's Lot".
Irwin Allen's "Beyond the Poseidon Adventure" had a 10 million dollar budget. It was unabashedly a flop grossing barely two million at the box office. Again, Irwin spared no expense and cast high profile actors including, Michael Caine, Sally Field, Karl Malden, Telly Savalas, Shirley Jones, Mark Harmon, Slim Pickens, Angela Cartwright and others.
It was the dialogue I tell you! Similar to what befell The Swarm, in my honest opinion the dialogue, aka the screenplay, was very weak and corny. And comparing it to its successful precursor, it was doomed to failure. Personally, I feel most sequels don't do well. But hey, I'm not a producer. Compared to Irwin's many successes, his two big losses were only a drop in the bucket. The film was mostly shot at Warner Bros. Studios and off the coast of Catalina Island, California. Dad was the Production Manager, Barry the men's costumer, and I was again Michael Caine's stand-in and experienced my first attempt at doing stunts. Thanks Dad.
Stunt-work is a whole other animal and can be scary. One wrong move and you can be done for. I was surprised that Dad let me do it. I'm sure it was because his good friend, Paul Stader, was the stunt coordinator. Dad knew Paul would train me well and watch me like a hawk.
My first stunt was as Angela Cartwright's double. Black wig, torn dress and all, I had to walk across a greased, fire-covered, elevated, metal beam. Was I scared? Petrified. But Mr. Stader taught me all the tricks of the trade and walked me through it, literally one step at a time. Slowly, I made it across unscathed. "PRINT IT", Irwin yelled..and we got the shot.
That was enough "stunting" for me. I far more enjoyed being dry, safe and on the ground!
Sally Field and Shirley Jones were a delight. Sally mostly sat quietly and knitted in-between scenes, but was happy to engage in light conversation. It was clear to me that she was not too excited to be working on the film, yet didn't want to pass up the $$. Shirley was more of a conversationalist and so real - so unaffected by celebrity. A breath of fresh air compared to other actors I'd met. She too spent time knitting or reading when not on camera.
Slim Pickens was a helluva funny guy, always cracking jokes and making us feel comfortable.
After long days on the boat, we'd go ashore and grab some cocktails and dinner at a local hot spot in Catalina. Fun times.
Months felt like weeks, and weeks turned into days as we approached our last days of shooting.
I had only a few days off before I started working on "Meteor" where I would again be working with Dad and Barry...but more importantly, I would be meeting one of my childhood heartthrobs, Sean Connery.