During the time I was taking filmmaking courses from the sound and cinematography department heads at CBS Cinema Center (Elliot Bliss and Peter Gibbons respectively), hanging out on the sets of Mission: Impossible, Medical Center, The Road West and others, I had the idea that it would be good to get some experience on the other side of the camera. Doing some acting might give me a perspective on directing that I would not otherwise get. I mentioned this to my stepmother. She told her friend, who told her husband--a vice president at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas--who passed this information along to--Frank Sinatra (!!).
Without knowing that any of this was happening, I get a phone call one afternoon from someone who introduces himself as George Raft. His voice was very distinctive and recognizable as that of the actor famous for his gangster roles in the movies. There was no question of this being a prank call. To my surprise, he suggested I make an appointment with a friend of his who was somebody important at the Screen Actors Guild located on Sunset Boulevard. The man would be expecting my call. I thanked Mr. Raft and, without knowing what was afoot, I made the call. The gentleman set an appointment with me to come to his office, but I still did not know the purpose of the visit.
On the day, I arrived at the S.A.G. offices and was greeted by George Raft's friend who took me on a tour of the building. It was an office like any other and I was perplexed at why I was being shown a room full of typists and administrators but I kept a respectful silence. He then led me to his office where, it seemed, we would get down to the business of my visit.
The problem with obtaining a Screen Actors Guild card is that it is a chicken-and-egg situation. First you get a job and then they give you the card--except they won't give you the job without the card. See what I mean? Although I was aware of this, I was expecting to have this fully explained to me by George Raft's friend and to be sent on my way with kind regards and sincere apologies. This is not what happened. Something else entirely transpired.
He asked my name, address, date of birth--everything an employer might ask of an applicant with one interesting addition: What name do you want to use because your name is already taken and S.A.G. doesn't allow duplicates. At the end of our meeting, I left the building with a S.A.G. card.
When I returned home, I called George Raft to offer him my thanks for his extraordinary gesture. "Just do good, kid" was what he said with that gangster voice of his.
Many years later, after the passing of Frank Sinatra, I read an article about him that shed a light on what he had done for me. It seems that Sinatra made a habit of doing things for people--things they could not do for themselves. He did this anonymously and without fanfare. It was his custom to delegate these 'favors' to his immediate circle of friends. In my case, I suppose George Raft was next in the rotation. Many of the favors that were written about were of far greater consequence than getting a teenager his guild card and, no doubt, had dramatic effects on the recipients' lives.
It was only after Sinatra was gone that those who knew him were able to speak of his generosity. It helped me to understand what had happened though I don't imagine that I'll ever know why it happened. I am a great fan of Frank Sinatra--for his music as well as for his acts of kindness.
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
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Examples of Responsive Reactions
Click photo to see clips from Stephen's movies
Action/ReAction at Stella Adler
Point of Departure
A Series of ONE...
Stephen and Dragonuk
Stephen Mitchell webinar for Stage 32
Ferrari GTO 3987 at speed by Yan denes
Ray D. Shosay's Journal
Dispatches from a (junior) suite in Paris
Ray D. Shosay's Journal (excerpt)
"Saturday, January 27, 2007
They say you can fool some of the people all of the time. Accordingly, I think we should concentrate on this group initially. We can move on to the people you can only fool some of the time at a later date if we deem it necessary. I hope to hear back from my agent about this as soon as he's out of rehab, as I don't think my messages have been getting through."
Ignorance is Bliss by Stephen Mitchell
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Exerpt from Ignorance is Bliss
"Out of the corner of his eye, Martin saw Martha shift in her seat. She leaned forward, as though something was about to be decided. This caused her breasts to push up against the neckline of her dress in a way that couldn't be fully appreciated out of the corner of one’s eye. So, Martin turned his head to look directly into the abyss of her cleavage. He was vaguely aware that Murray was talking again."
Carrera Panamericana (1950-54)
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Ferrari GTO 3987
Elysée Wednesday: Drive!
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“You ought to meet Steve. The two of you have the same kind of Ferrari.”
Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso
One evening, I was enjoying a John le Carré novel and a glass of Bordeaux...
L'art de l'automobile
My first Lusso prior to restoration
It was only after Sinatra was gone...
Once upon a time...
Meeting Enzo Ferrari
I came across this on a late night stroll in Paris near the Louvre.
I bought Bentleys in England and Ferraris & Maseratis in Italy to re-sell in Los Angeles as a teenager. I met Enzo Ferrari, Juan Fangio and Steve McQueen. I 'grew up' on the set of Mission: Impossible and other episodic TV series of the era. For a few years, I owned a Ferrari GTO that is owned by Ralph Lauren today and valued at approximately $52M. I began my film career by writing, producing and directing Montmartre in Paris in French. I founded and ran a repertory company for film & TV for 20 years in Los Angeles. I created a TV series which had fans that included Marlon Brando. I authored the first new acting technique--Action/ReAction--that was not based on Stanislavski's Method. I am currently writing my third novel and shooting my spy thriller Exigence. If you can't make movies, live your life as though you were in one...