I’ve always had an affinity for the movies. Maybe it goes back to my days as a child actor. I know it might be hard to believe, but I was a hot commodity in Hollywood during my early years.
Although the famous Coppertone suntan lotion ad showed a little girl with her swimsuit being pulled down by a dog, the ad people actually substituted my rear end. Of course, I never really received the recognition I thought I deserved, but that’s show biz.
I was also in a couple of movies that probably aren’t available on video. My favorite role was starring as the voice of the lead pig in the old “Shakespeare on the Farm” production of “Hamlet.” Long before “Evita,” there was “LaQuita,” the story of a small-town hairdresser and her rise to fame and fortune for her original design of the Texas beehive hairdo.
I played LaQuita’s younger brother, Melvin, who was always searching for the perfect shampoo. The memorable song from the movie was “Permanent Man in a Blow-Dry World.”
But all that’s behind me now, and I’m happy just going to the movies. Lake Highlands is blessed with conveniently located mega-screen complexes, where you can choose among several movies, when the one you really want to see is sold out.
Remember all the hubbub surrounding Cinemark’s attempt to build Tinseltown in North Dallas? Neighbors warned that it would bring the wrong element into the area – like me, I guess, which is understandable. I would have been delighted to have Tinseltown in our neighborhood. I’d walk a mile for a Junior Mint.
And it would have been fitting to have Tinseltown in Lake Highlands, given the colorful past our neighborhood has had with the movie industry. Only the old-timers remember all of the excitement of Hollywood that once permeated our streets.
For instance, you probably didn’t know that:
- The original version of the “Titanic” was shot on White Rock Lake, and the iceberg was really a “sludgeberg” covered in powdered sugar.
- The Texas National Guard Armory was the set for several battle scenes in “Tora!Tora!Tora!” which originally was supposed to star former U.N. Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Ghali.
- The scene in “Rocky” where Rocky runs up the steps of some building in Philadelphia was really supposed to be him running to the top of Flagpole Hill. The original scene was planned when the movie was to be called “White Rockie,” but John Wiley Price protested on racial grounds.
- The final scene in “Von Ryon’s Express,” in which Frank Sinatra is shot as he chases after the train intended to carry him to safety, was supposed to be filmed using a DART train, but Sinatra was always able to catch the train before being shot.
Yes, Lake Highlands has a rich cinematic heritage. Perhaps one day soon, the dolly grips and gaffers will return to our neighborhood.
Who knows – maybe the next hit movie musical will be an updated version of “Paint Your Wagon,” starring our own City Councilman Alan Walne, in the story about his company, Herb’s Paint & Body Shop.