On Location with Lucille Ball in “Yours, Mine, and Ours” by Tony Piazza
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Today’s memory came courtesy of a friend that I made on TCM. Her favorite film was “Yours, Mine, and Ours” starring LUCILLE BALL and HENRY FONDA.
It was an unusually warm summer evening in 1968, just two years before I would join the S.F. Casting Agency and work on my first film, “What’s Up, Doc!” starring BARBRA STREISAND and RYAN O’ NEAL. My father was assigned to find S.F. locations and provide security to the “Yours, Mine, and Ours” production company (Desilu and UA). One Friday night he invited us (my mother, aunt, uncle, and I) to visit the set. They were filming at a Mexican restaurant located in Ghirardelli Square- Senor Picos (alas, no longer there) and obviously the word got out to the public because the location was surrounded by hundreds of spectators as we’d arrived.
Luckily the shooting was inside the restaurant, so the crowds were no problem. We also waited outside the restaurant because space was limited to cast and some essential crew- however we were able to get within the ropes to mingle with the other members of the crew that were also “locked out”. Here I spotted VAN JOHNSON who was taking a break for some much needed fresh air. The one thing I remember about him was his shoes- they were black and white patent leather shoes with buttons. Very fancy- I’m not a fashion person and I don’t know why that would stick in my memory- but they did. I also saw DESI JR. and LUCY– Lucille’s children who were visiting that night. Desi Jr. was a guest star on “The Streets of San Francisco” about seven years later when I was a stand-in on the show, and I got to talk to him about this earlier encounter. It turns out that it was his birthday and he was there to get his present- an Aston Martin DB5 that was being sold to his family by a man in Oakland, CA. Incidentally, both he and his sister are extremely nice, down to earth kids.
Another incident that evening- and a very memorable one at that – occurred when we’d first arrived. I went to the restaurant door and knocked on it hoping that whoever answered would get my father (who was inside). The door swung open and there standing before me was Henry Fonda in a Naval uniform! He obviously was playing a joke; I could tell by his smile, and the mischievous look in his eyes when he threw open the door. He said, “Can I help you!” I stuttered out if he could let my father know that we were here. He said sure and disappeared inside. I’m sure my startled expression showed his joke paid off.
The big event of the evening came when the company “wrapped” just after midnight. Ms. Ball had a limousine waiting at the bottom of the stairs leading from the restaurant. It was to take her back to her hotel The crowds were still thick with craning necks waiting anxiously for her arrival. There was a gasp from the crowd as she stepped out and she immediately turned to my father, placed out her hand and asked (using his first name) for his assistance to get her safely through the crowd. I was impressed!
It was indeed a very memorable evening and one I’ll likely not forget.
Author’s additional note: When someone in the past would ask me about Lucille Ball’s personality I would usually beat around the bush. It’s hard to tell a fan that America’s funny lady wasn’t all that funny in person. She was a professional to be sure, and knew when to be “on” and when not. I heard that she was generous to other performers and I believe that. But that night I saw a serious business woman who didn’t want to waste time or money, and she expressed that in no uncertain terms. It was her production company paying the bills however, so who could blame her.
Tony Piazza (Courtesy of Charlotte Alexander)
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 latest Logan mystery, “Murder Is Such Sweet Revenge” was made available for purchase, and has since been an instant bestseller. 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, or at the link posted below. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity: www.bullittpoints.com.
Tony Piazza is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and SLO NightWriters.
The novels that started it all. The first and second novel in the Tom Logan mystery series have become audio books- read by actor James Romick, and is available on Audible, Amazon, and I-tunes.
The NEW Tom Logan mystery, “Murder is Such Sweet Revenge” is available in print, e-book, AND NOW audio book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. For audio- Audible, Amazon, and I-tunes.
My earlier bestselling novels, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” and “Anything Short of Murder” now joins “A Murder Amongst Angels” and “Murder is Such Sweet Revenge” 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.