What To Believe In The Land Of Make-Believe

     Hollywood has always attracted talented people trying to get into the business.  It has also always attracted the B.S.er, the poser, and the conman (I was gonna say wannabee, but for some reason that sounds too harsh).  There is no six degrees of separation for these guys, it’s either two degrees, or, if they can get away with it; one. Or none.  Early on if you live there and mingle with the locals you learn you have to be able to filter out the real from the “oh-please!”


   I lived there in the years before Google or IMDB, so I had to be alert, never REALLY being sure what was true or not (hell, even now I might be wrong).  But it was fun trying to field and evaluate the information coming in, sometimes even from people on the street, but certainly at school.  From the 7th to the 9th grade I met several kids who did, what seemed to me, a lot of acting work.  The funny thing is, there never was this “big break.”  It was more like a bunch of successive little breaks that may or may not have yielded a lasting career.  The kids I knew were in the latter category and as far as I know, are not working now in the biz.  A lot more kids than that had modeling headshots or comp cards (the comp card was an 8 X 10 of maybe 5 different costumes and poses); like the American Express card, they did not leave home without ‘em.  They were de rigueur for any cattle call.  Several kids even brought them to school, because you just never knew.


Then you had the kids that knew somebody or were related somehow, maybe.  Here’s an example of how hard it could be to determine.  A 7th grader and known bullshit artist named Richard used to tell people he was going to be in a big movie.  No.  That he lived in a mansion in the Hollywood Hills.  Nuh-Uh.  How about that he was invited to all these parties with bigwigs?  Are you kidding me? That he happened to be the nephew of Sherwood Schwartz (RIP dude), the creator of “Gilligan’s Island.”  No…. wait, maybe, why not?  After all, wasn’t it a little too “random” to be untrue?  I didn’t even know who Sherwood was until I stayed through the closing credits of the Japanese POW episode (Ahh, Gingah!) one day after school.  The situation was made even muddier by the fact that his last name was spelled 2 different ways in the yearbook.

    My sis had a couple of interesting encounters that bear some examination.  One day while on an “extremely local field trip” (ditching school), she struck up a conversation with the magazine vendor on Highland.  He was an old guy who reminisced about seeing Humphrey Bogart walk by every day, back when Schwab’s was still up the block.  This was probably: True.

   Old people in Hollywood had no reason to lie.  I learned this from the octogenarians who hung out in my building’s lobby.

   She also worked with a young kid who claimed a friendship with Groucho Marx.  This was 1979; the claimant used the present tense, and talked about it a lot.  I have my doubts on this one because he was really young, and Groucho would have been really old; had he not died in 1977False

   Even our landlord had a claim to fame, he was the grandson of Hal Roach, who made all those Little Rascals shorts and was a true Hollywood Pioneer.  True.  You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

What about me?   I’m glad you asked because I happen to be good friends with the Director Brett Ratner.   False.  But, I did have gym class with him once at Miami Beach Sr. High (weird, wasn’t even IN Hollywood).  True. 

Or did I?

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