MISSION: EMBARRASSING by Tony Piazza
One fine summer day, A.T.A. (during the Age of Television Antennas) I decided to go visit my father on location for an episode of “Mission Impossible” (The original T.V. series, C.B.S.). Actually the company was shooting the prologue for a number of episodes where Phelps gets his instructions via the most advanced technology of that day (1970) – a reel to reel tape recorder! These were hidden in various locations around the city -San Francisco Zoo, Golden Gate Park…a telephone booth?* and later they would dub in the voice giving the instructions… “Good morning, Mr. Phelps,” etc. (you know the routine). This day they were at Civic Center at the library building across from City Hall. I had met and talked with one of the I.M.F. members, Rollin Hand (MARTIN LANDAU) on the set of “They Call Me Mister Tibbs” (He was married then to another “Mission” member Cinnamon Carter (BARBARA BAIN), but now I was going to meet the big boss himself…Mr. Phelps (PETER GRAVES). I made two mistakes that day however; one was that I brought a high school friend with me, and the other was that I brought this high school friend with me. Yes, it was that bad! No sooner had we arrived and started walking towards the location when Peter Graves stepped out of a building in front of us and my friend shouted to my extreme dismay, “Hey, look…there’s James Arness’s** younger brother!”
IMF Team (Landau, Graves, and Bain)
“Good morning, Mister Phelps…your assignment if you wish to accept it, is to kick this smart mouth kid in the…”
Well I guess that summed up my attitude at that moment. Graves was a good sport about it, but I’ve never forgot it!
Martin Landau and myself (1970)
THIS MESSAGE WILL SELF DESTRUCT IN….
As an aside, I first met the director of photography, MICHEL HUGO on that show. Subsequently he would become my boss on “The Streets of San Francisco,” “Bert D’ Angelo, Superstar”, and two TV movies. He and his wife, Gloria also became good friends. Sadly he passed away a couple of years ago.
Cinematographer Michel Hugo, lobby of QM Studios 1970s
* What writer with a massive salary came up with that gem!
** For my younger readers- James Arness was Matt Dillion, Marshall of the long running TV show “Gunsmoke.”
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 next novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was released early 2012 and is now 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 where fine books are sold, or at the link posted below. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity: www.bullittpoints.com.
Tony Piazza is member of three prestigious writer’s groups: Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writer’s of America, and SLO NightWriters.
My earlier bestselling novels, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” and “Anything Short of Murder” now joins “A Murder Amongst Angels” 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, A Murder Amongst Angels .
Find them all on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. Also available for $2.99 on Kindle.
James Ostmann says
You forgot Jim Arness’ first staring role — as “The Thing From Another World” – a great sci-fi film from the early 50’s. Jim, as you have no doubt surmised, was the alien. They needed a big guy and Jim filled the bill.
Thanks for writing and for the trivia on Arness. James Arness was in some 1950s science fiction films (“Them!” and “Tow Lost Worlds”), and as far as I know (because of his height), “The Thing from Another World” was the only one where he played an alien. I worked with his double on “The Streets of San Francisco.” Arness had shrapnel in his leg as a result of the war. In later years especially it was very painful, so for long shots of him on a horse, this friend of mine doubled him. I appreciate the comment, James. Thank you, again.