Here we are on the brink of 2018, and as I do every year during the weeks leading up to Christmas, I reflect back. I don’t know about you, but with the passing years, it seems that my mind turns even more readily to those innocent years of childhood. Frankly, adulthood isn’t what it is cracked up to be…loaded with its’ inevitable responsibilities, emotional roller-coaster moments, and inescapable tragedies. It certainly makes you long for the old days, where being naughty or nice was the only worry on your mind. Still, there are lots to give thanks for, and many blessings have come my way through the year, not the least of which is all your friendships. I appreciate you coming back, reading, and commenting on my stories. Here’s wishing all of you a Merry Christmas, and a happy and healthy 2018!
My First Christmas Party with “The Streets of San Francisco” by Tony Piazza
San Francisco skyline at Christmas
The Christmas season is a great time to reflect on the past. Family gatherings, friends stopping by for good cheer, sumptuous treats and colorful gifts are all part of the memories we conjure up on the days leading up to the twenty-fifth.
Today mine turns to a very special occasion that occurred forty-one years ago in December of 1972. It was the Christmas Party put on by Quinn Martin for the cast and crew of “The Streets of San Francisco.” KARL MALDEN and his wife Mona was there, so was MICHAEL DOUGLAS. Producer QUINN MARTIN came up from Southern California to join us, as did Executive Producer HOWARD ALSTON. Many from Management were a part of the festivities; DICK GALLEGLY and ARTHUR FELLOWS also coming to mind.
This is a crew Christmas photograph from 1973. Look for guest star Ida Lupino among Karl, Michael, and the rest.
I was a guest that night along with my parents. It was held in the ballroom at the Del Webb Towne House on Market Street. This hotel was used as the production office during that first season- later (for the second season) a warehouse on Kearny would be converted to offices and a soundstage.
Kas Garas, Anneke Wills, and Anthony Quayle- Strange Report
Aside from my parents, I shared a table with two of the guest stars on the episode they happened to be filming during the week of the party- actors KAZ GARAS and ED NELSON. Kaz was one of the stars (actor ANTHONY QUAYLE being the other) of my favorite British television production- “Strange Report”. He was seated next to me and we were having a conversation like old friends! Boy, did that seem strange– no pun intended! Actor Ed Nelson had played Dr. Rossi (in the 1960s) on my mother’s favorite night-time soap…“Peyton Place” (which also starred: Ryan O’Neal, Barbara Parkins, Mia Farrow, and Christopher Connelly). Nelson was a heart-throb on that show, so I’m sure she didn’t have any complaints having him at our table. We were having a great time.
Ed Nelson as Dr. Rossi (Peyton Place)
The food was terrific that night, as was the outtakes and blooper reels shown by EDDIE MARKS, the wardrobe guy on the show- some of the films were taken with his own 8mm sound camera.
My father and Michael Douglas
I remember everything was brightly decorated- both in the ballroom and outside the hotel. Colorful holiday lights of red, green, yellow, and blue reflected off the wet pavement that chilly San Francisco night- it had rained. But once inside there was great warmth in the Towne House with friends sharing laughter and good cheer. Karl- ever the father of the production company also played Father Christmas passing out gifts that he (whose generous nature was remarkable) had purchased for the great and small alike of his “Streets” family.
Karl Malden- Father Christmas!
There was caroling, and music to dance to- nothing was overlooked. It was a memory to be cherished- as I have done these many years. Most of the crew is gone now- Karl has passed on to his reward, and so have my parents who are no doubt presently sharing some laughs with him. It is so grand that I can look back and remember these special occasions which grow every so much more meaningful as time passes on.
Merry Christmas to all! Thank you for following my blogs and hope to see you next year!
Author Tony Piazza
Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His second novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was published next in early 2012, and in November of 2013 his second Tom Logan Mystery, “A Murder Amongst Angels was released.” In July of 2015 his Logan mystery, “Murder Is Such Sweet Revenge” was made available for purchase, and has since been an instant bestseller. October 2017 his latest, “Murder Will Out” was released and has been climbing the charts. All are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden. His non-fiction e-book “Bullitt Points” is an in depth look at the making of “Bullitt” from a person who was there. Look for it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity.
Tony Piazza is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and SLO NightWriters.
The novels that started it all. All the earlier Tom Logan mystery series have become audiobooks- read by actor James Romick, and is available on Audible, Amazon, and I-tunes.
The NEW Tom Logan mystery, “Murder Will Out” is available in print, e-book, AND SOON audiobook on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. For audio- Audible, Amazon, and I-tunes.
My earlier bestselling novels, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon,” “Anything Short of Murder,” “A Murder Amongst Angels,” “Murder is Such Sweet Revenge,” and NOW “Murder Will Out” are on Amazon’s Kindle at a new, low price of $2.99. Now you can have hours of adventure, thrills, mystery, and romance for the price of a cup of coffee- and just as stimulating! Look for it on Amazon. Print versions have also been reduced.
Also: The new Tom Logan mystery thriller, Murder Will Out .
Find them all on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. Also available for $2.99 on Kindle.
Herb Blank says
What a wonderful memory. Malden was a great actor. I just recently watched him in Baby Doll again. Some of my fovorite Malden performances include: Streetcar, Patton, and the Cincinnati Kid. I loved Ed Nelson in the TV-Movie ALong Came a Spider along with countless TV series episodes. Kaz Garas was a solid actor as well. I also enjoyed RIchard Hatch on Streets of San Francisco. And who was that other fellow you mentioned?
Thanks, Herb. Maybe that other fellow was Douglas. LOL. Have a great holiday, and thanks for commenting!
Nike Chillemi says
My dad grew up in the Serbian section of Gary, IN with Karl Malden. His name was Mladen Sekulovich. They shared a similar heritage. Both had Serbian fathers and Czechoslovakian mothers.
Even after Karl Malden became a famous actor, they maintained a connection and in the late 1970s my dad went to visit his sister in Ventura, CA and spent a day at the Malden’s house in LA.
From what I learned through my dad, Karl Malden was a genuine type of person, authentic.
Hi Nike, I speak of that elsewhere- his pride in being a Serbian- on my website. He made many Serbian friends in SF during his time filming there…and his family name Sekulovich usually would be used for a minor character in his films and on TV. Example Sgt. Sekulovich in the “Streets of San Francisco” squad room played by his stand-in, Art.
Ronnie Dauber says
Tony, you have shared some beautiful memories that bring you a lot of happiness. Thanks for sharing them with us. Memories like these are precious and I’m glad you have not forgotten them. Have a very Merry and Bless Christmas this year, too.
Thank you, Ronnie. I appreciate hearing from you. Here’s wishing you and your family all the best this coming new year. A very Merry Christmas. Tony
Bob Ancell says
I regret never meeting Mr. Malden nor Michael Douglas, but their reputation precedes them. I did have the pleasure of meeting Michael’s father when he was filming a movie in Albuquerque and I was a tv news reporter.
I saw Michael’s father as well. He came to the studio on Kearny Street in SF to do an interview with his son for Entertainment Tonight. I was surprised that he wasn’t as tall as Michael, who was about 6 feet. It was fun seeing a legend in the flesh. My favorite film was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea…and Kirk played Ned Land. What a thrill. Thanks Bob for commenting. Have a great holiday!
Paul Fahey says
What a lovely reminiscence, Tony. I loved Peyton Place, and even though I was in college then in S.F., I’d often skip classes to watch it. Three nights a week in those days, I think. Found Ida in the photo. Wasn’t she great? Thank you for sharing this. Happy Holidays to you and Susan,
Paul and Bob
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the blog. Susan and I want to wish you and Bob a very Merry Christmas, and the all the best in the coming year. Congratulations on your accomplishments…and here’s to many more in 2014!
Paul Fahey says
Right back at ya, Tony.
Paul Fahey says
Some wonderful memories here, Tony. I lived in the Mission back then back from five years of living and teaching overseas. Remember Dell Webb Townhouse for sure. Anthony Quayle was such a great character actor. Ed Nelson. Loved Peyton Place. It was on three nights a week and I remember I had to hurry home from SF State so I wouldn’t miss an episode. Thanks for this terrific walk down memory lane, Tony.
Best of holiday wishes to you, Susan, and Toby.
Paul and Bob
Roberta Slutske says
I really enjoyed reading this! What a great Christmas memory! Merry Christmas!
Thank you, Roberta. A very Merry Christmas, to you, Daniel, and Brent. Have a wonderful holiday, and a happy and prosperous New Year!