Another “STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO” MEMORY by Tony Piazza
RAY BRADBURY is a master at creating a nostalgic scene in one’s mind, like a fall setting, or an Indian summer. Perhaps I don’t quite have that gift, but it is what comes to mind when I remember back to that summer of 1975. “The Streets of San Francisco” was filming up in the mountains around Santa Rosa, California. It was very hot, extremely dry, and I can remember the scent of dust and pine needles in the air. The episode was “Trail of Terror” and concerned Steve Keller (MICHAEL DOUGLAS) and Nancy Mellon (MEG FOSTER) his prisoner being run off the road and fleeing on foot through the woods to avoid killers that were after them. I was photo-doubling Foster for the car crash, riding alongside the stuntman who driving, acted as Douglas. Donning a pink woman’s sweater and long wig was anything but comfortable… and I’m not talking about the heat…let’s just say that the crew had a field day with me. I guess you can imagine…cat calls, etc. Michael Preece (formerly our script supervisor bumped up to director on this episode) and Al Francis was the cinematographer on this shoot. They had me, as Michael’s stand-in, running up and down hills all day long. Talk about grueling work! Don’t ask me about the glamour of film-making that day! Actually, we all worked up a sweat at that location and at lunch a bunch of us found a private spot at the nearby river and took a much needed, cooling soak. Michael Douglas, Eddie Marks (wardrobe master), myself and several other crew members played Tom Sawyer and just shot the breeze stretched out in the river for 45 minutes. On this episode I also learned that KARL MALDEN didn’t care for helicopters and his stand-in, Art, doubled him for those scenes. Another memory from that show…KENNETH TOBEY played a Sheriff…I remembered him from the 1950’s science fiction films, “The Thing” and “It Came from Beneath the Sea.”…a Ray Harryhausen film and friend of Bradbury…which brings us back full circle. So many wonderful memories of a unique summer experience.
Author’s note: Karl Malden and Kenneth Tobey were old friends. Karl was very generous that way- when it came to remembering older actors and getting them work on his show. Kent Smith, Jeanette Nolan, Maurice Evans, and Sam Jaffe were some of the other actors that Karl suggested for his show.
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.