Lights, camera, action! Ah, yes, a familiar refrain in these parts. Words that inspire and exhilarate as a starlet's eyes twinkle, a leading man palms his hair back and the clack of a studio clapboard rings out. We have seen this scene so many times that we take it for granted that it is Hollywood but we are in a darkened theater. Oblivious to the future that awaits us. We are awaiting surprise, action, romance or fun. What shall it be? Who would know? Of course, the director would and maybe the key grip but only the star can put all of the nuances of a story together with mere facial expression. There is only one true star that carried all of these pretensions and pretendings to its height, the indomitable, beautiful and regal, LindaJean!
It was my extreme luck that landed me the part as the chauffeur on her whirlwind tour of galas and premieres. Rocco, my boss, called me at my bungalow screaming about his number one river, Frederico, crashing into a bus and that they had no one to drive their greatest client, Linda Jean, as she makes her way through Southern California. Here I am up to my elbows in plumbing work and he is asking me if I want to drive Hollywood's biggest star around the most beautiful part of the world! I dropped my wrench, scrubbed my fingernails raw and donned my monkey suit before he could say goodbye!
Imagine me, a $12 per hour chauffeur, having the privilege of driving the lovely Linda Jean! The star of stage and screen will be directing me to "Turn Left!" I could not wait! "I've seen all of her movies! "Better Pasta than Your Mom's" was one of my favorites! "My Garden Kicks Your Ass" was another. Linda Jean! Just imagine!
The itinerary stated that I was to pick her up at her swanky resort in Phoenix at 8:00 AM sharp and drive her to Hollywood for the late afternoon premiere at Mann's Chinese Theater. Her latest offering was a thriller in which she played vixen, Victoria Vallerone, the girlfriend to Mafia Don, Geno DeChancie. Caught in a web of deceit and working for the FBI she kills the Don in a final scene that had critics exclaiming, "Linda Jean's best work since "My Brother Tried to Stab Me!" They gave her Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for the same role in that one!
I arrive at 7:32 AM with baited breath, sweaty palms and a pie-eyed expression that had the doorman chuckling, "You look like a star struck stalker!" Little did he know, I was.
Fully expecting a large entourage to fill my twelve-passenger CR-V, I was quite surprised to find that Linda Jean was only with her co-star in the movie, Diane DeLish. Miss DeLish was a star in her own right. She captured audience's attention while playing a minor role in, "Reunion Royale" But her big break came when she played the lover in Daniel Rush's masterpiece, "I MakeDaddy Happy"
I flew around the car to open the door for the lovely ladies, only to be beaten to the punch by the doorman. I bowed with cap in hand as they ducked into the limo without any eye contact. They were stars and me, a driver. I hustled to the wheel and began to flabbergast about the honor bestowed on me by their presence as Linda Jean sternly said, "Let's go!" Exiting the resort and soon meeting up with the highway we were now on our way to Tinseltown, five and half hours distant.The ride was uneventful and a little tense as I could not get a word in edgewise as they spoke amongst themselves about leading men, gardens, buying big bras and paparazzi. As we passed the thousands and thousands of windmills in Indio she actually spoke to me the first-time, "Where's a bathroom?" I almost wrecked! I am on her planet! She needs me! I am actually useful to this brightest star in Hollywood! I responded that we could swing by Palm Springs and maybe found one that was suitable for a star of her magnitude. She said, "Go to MacDonald's. It's just pee." Oh, she is so down to earth!
We finally make it, Hollywood and Vine, one of the most famous corners in the world! Lana Turner was discovered there, the Hollywood Walk of Fame runs it course here and Scientology abducts its members here. People start crowding around the Honda Limo trying to see what big star is here now. The tinted windows are Hollywood's greatest need.
With flashbulbs popping we pull up to Mann's Chinese Theater fashionably late. The throng lunges forward as I pull open the door and out steps the famous gams of Diane DeLish. With a curtsy she spins to invite out Linda Jean. The crowd goes wild! The Chinese Theater with all its history, famous hand and footprints and huge premieres has never seen anything like this! Linda Jean pauses long enough to have her photo taken with one of her favorite co-stars handprints, Dean Martin. She and Dean were an item back in the day and played opposite of each other in, "I Ask for Roses You Bring Daisies." Martin and Lewis never worked together again.
They have started to warm up to me now as I have performed the Herculean task of keeping the autograph seekers and paparazzi at bay. "Hey Driver, open our champagne!""Hey Driver, get us more ice!" They truly respect me!
After a comfortable stay at the incredible Bonaventure Hotel in Downtown L.A., they filmed "True Lies" glass elevator scene here, we head to theWorld-Famous Venice Beach for breakfast. People here are used to celebrities but Linda Jean is another story. They haphazardly form a 400-foot queue just to get her autograph as she sips mimosas at the Book Store Restaurant. She is so open and giving to sign every single one even when one young creep keeps begging her for a date. She sees Muscle Beach, shops and eats ice cream just like normal folk.
Our next premiere is at Balboa Park in San Diego and we have enough time to take the breath- taking, scenic stroll down the Pacific Coast Highway (US 1). But first we stop at the Mattel Toy Company in El Segundo, California to have her photos taken so she can be made into Barbie's newest doll friend.
We drive along the coast past the quaint hamlets and lapping ocean of towns like, Newport Beach, Del Mar, Cardiff By the Sea and the incredible town of LaJolla. Here we stop for photos along the ocean andshopping in its beautiful galleries. We have a real scare whenDiane is almost blown into the sea! But we recover enough to have these lovely shots taken. But in one of the fragrance shops, the paparazzi tracks Linda Jean down and get some photos of her that will surely end up on the cover of People. The poor girl cannot get a break! But she does allow me one photo with her and I'm going to have it framed. Oh, a nd we found this strange coincidence.
My flash burned eyeballs are ready to give out and I have to drive back to Phoenix. I know this was one of the best weekends I've ever have, again. Hanging with the "Royalty of People" and a true shining star in the realms of high-celebrity is something I'll never forget. Ms. DeLish and Linda Jean get out of the car and pass me a fiver, I'm selling it on ebay!