How I introduced Martin Short to Steve Martin

The Three Amigos x650By Ray Bennett

LONDON – The memory of how I introduced Martin Short, who is 65 today, to Steve Martin still cracks me up but I’ve discovered that I’m the only one who thinks it’s funny.

It was backstage at the “Pee Wee Herman Show”, long before the Tim Burton movie, at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles on May 5, 1981.

My friend Anne Lockhart, who starred as Sheba in the original “Battlestar Galactica”, had invited me. She had worked with Herman on Steve Martin’s third NBC TV special and when the show was over, she took me back to meet them.

I was chatting with Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters when I noticed Martin Short nearby with Steven Kampmann, who would go on to co-star in “Newhart”.

They had worked together in Canada on “SCTV” and at “Second City” in Toronto where my friend and longtime colleague Bruce Blackadar, who covered nightlife amongst other things for The Toronto Star, had introduced me to Martin Short.

I turned to say hello to Short and gathered that they hoped for an introduction. I beckoned them over and declared, “Steve, Martin – Steve Martin’. Still gives me a chuckle.

I haven’t run into either of them to see if they recall that moment but it’s the way I remember it. I forgot to ask Steve Martin when I interviewed him at the Toronto film festival when he was there with “All of Me” in 1984 and I haven’t run into Short in my travels.

He was in brilliant form when he was in Toronto and at “Second City” he did the best impression you can imagine of Frank Sinatra among many sketches written and improvised.

The films he’s made with Steve Martin have been enjoyable but none better than the hilarious “The Three Amigos” with Chevy Chase (pictured). Maybe someday someone will think my tale of three amigos is amusing.

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Canadian actress Alberta Watson dies

Alberta Watson  - Version 2 x650By Ray Bennett

LONDON – Canadian actress Alberta Watson has died aged 60. I knew her long ago as Susan. To meet Susan Watson in 1977 was to fall in love. She was 21, beautiful and a force of nature.

We stalked each other around a CBC party when we first met and went out a few times. Then she took her middle name and was Alberta Watson and became a star. Continue reading

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The Old Vic names full cast for ‘High Society’

High Society poster x650

By Ray Bennett

The Old Vic has announced full casting for its production of Cole Porter’s “High Society” based on the film musical version of  “The Philadelphia Story”, which will open on May 14 following previews that begin on April 30. Continue reading

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Dashing into action to the aid of Rachel Weisz

Laurence Olivier Awards - London

By Ray Bennett

Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz, who turns 45 on March 7, is Mrs. Daniel Craig now but there was a moment, a single moment, when she only had eyes for me. Continue reading

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20 David Niven movies you should see

David Niven x650

By Ray Bennett

David Niven, who was born 105 years ago today and died aged 73 in 1983, gave Ron Base and me the best quote of all time. Continue reading

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When Mr. Spock invited me on a day out

sherlock_nimoy x325By Ray Bennett

It was the familiar voice of Mr. Spock on the phone although Leonard Nimoy, who died today aged 83, at the time was soon to publish his defiant memoire, “I Am Not Spock”.

It was the mid-1970s and Nimoy was on tour in a production of the 1899 William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle play, “Sherlock Holmes” in the title role. Continue reading

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Why vet and author James Herriot never got rich

James Herriot w: Don and Hector

By Ray Bennett

The stories of veterinarean James Herriot, who wrote “All Creatures Great and Small” and died 20 years ago today aged 79, remain immensely popular and they attract many tourists to Yorkshire but they did not make him a fortune.

He told me: “I’ve made vast amounts of money but in this country they take it all away from you. I mean, I pay 83% in income tax so it doesn’t leave a lot. It’s made things a wee bit more comfortable but you can’t get rich now, not in England.” Continue reading

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Director Robert Altman on building sandcastles

Robert Altman x650

By Ray Bennett

I love the movies of Robert Altman, who was born 90 years ago today and died on Nov. 20, 2006, because some are masterpieces and the ones that are not invariably have moments of wonderment and magic that occupy the mind.

A new documentary titled “Altman”, to be released in the UK by Soda Pictures on April 3, illustrates the director’s philosophy that filmmaking is like building sandcastles – you make them and then the tide comes in and washes them away but what you made is in everybody’s memory. Continue reading

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The time when Jack Palance winked at me

The Professionals Claudia, Palace x650By Ray Bennett

Jack Palance, who was born on this day in 1919 and died on Nov. 10 2006, had one of the scariest physiognomies in movies but my favourite memory of him is of a wink. Continue reading

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Why Jon Stewart should listen to Johnny Carson

Carson and Stewart

By Ray Bennett

Count me among those who will hate to see Jon Stewart walk away from “The Daily Show” and I wish he could have heard what Johnny Carson told me about his own temptations to quit “The Tonight Show”.

Carson was the king of American late-night comedy when I interviewed him in his Burbank dressing room in 1981. “The Tonight Show” on NBC was starting its 20th year and it had made him, in his fifties, one of the biggest stars in entertainment. There were rumours, however, that he was restless and would pack it in, so I asked him about it. Continue reading

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