Photo: AP Images.
I've been watching Trust on the BBC about the Getty family and it rekindled memories from the 70s.
1976, I had a girlfriend who managed comedians and was working at the
Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. I seemed to be spending a lot of time
there and someone had the idea that I might like to manage the main
room--a 'Vegas-style showroom--where talent like Shelley Berman, Dick
Gregory and Mort Sahl were appearing. It was not a very glamorous
assignment and had as much to do with making certain the waitresses
prepared the room before the crowds were allowed entrance as it did with
coordinating back stage activities like curtain time and making sure
that Shelley had his preferred Anchor Steam Beer and Mort Sahl his
current copy of the L.A. Times from which he affected to find stories
that were, in fact, his prepared material ("I find the apostle Paul
appealing and the apostle Peale appalling" quoting Adlai Stevenson posthumously).
some point, people involved with making an A.F.I. film presented
themselves and asked to shoot part of their film in the
main room and were given permission. I was handed the job of riding herd
on them, which I was happy to do. The unit manager/assistant director
was John Paul Getty III. The producer was his mother Gail Harris as I recall and the
director may have been Gail's boyfriend, if memory serves, and I
believe his name was Gordon though I am not certain of this.
They had a full crew and work proceeded in the main room and I
gradually got a sense of the story line about a comedian. Paul was an
affable fellow and we got along very well. He took his duties seriously
and always seemed to be on top of things. Occasionally, Paul would talk
to me about trouble they were having with dialogue or getting a
performance out of an actor. I would make a suggestion that he would
pass on to the director and, before you know it, I was writing one scene
after another for the film (complete with notes for the actor). I
remember sitting in the midst of all the film crew chaos in the main room writing
as though I were at home in a quiet room.
surfaced as the lead actor and the director were having 'creative
differences' and the actor refused to take direction from the director.
Paul asked if I would act as their go-between, which I did
and things moved along.
I was sorry to see them go when they had
completed their scenes after several days. The next time I would see
Paul Getty was on the screen in Wim Wenders' film The State of Things in
which he played a role on the screen very much like the role he played
in real life at the Comedy Store on the A.F.I. film. Geoffrey Carey, the
actor son of Philip Carey, who I knew from Paris was also in the
Though my contact with Paul Getty was limited to
working with him on the film, I was impressed with how accessible he was
and easy he was to get along with. One would never have guessed his
background nor his tragic future. I sense he loved filmmaking as much as
2 days ago