I once broke someone's leg in a Little League baseball game. I was playing catcher and he slide into home plate. I was in his way and tagged him out with the ball that was in my mitt. Perhaps I should have stepped aside to clear the way for him and his cleats that were aimed at my face. I didn't know any better and stood my ground with a tag that was rather forceful. As I write this, it occurs to me that the slide may have caused the fracture but at the time, and for all the intervening years, I assumed that I had broken his leg. I'd never had so much as a sprain with all the football I played.
On April 12, 1963, my father and I got an early start. We climbed into a recently acquired Cadillac Coupe de Ville that I didn't much care for--it was white like a kitchen appliance with a black fabric interior that sported some white leather trim and I preferred the silver-blue de Ville that it had replaced--and headed south to the Naval base in Long Beach. A friend of my father arranged for us to go out on a Navy mine sweeper to observe a mine sweeping exercise. As we proceeded along the 110 Freeway, a stone hit our windshield leaving a large, star-like crack. Looks like the windshield will need to be replaced, I thought to myself.
It was an interesting day aboard the ship and watching the mine sweeping operation was exciting for me. We ate in the ship's mess and later I began to feel sick to my stomach as a result of the soup I had with lunch. I was shown to a bunk where I could rest and spent the balance of the exercise trying to feel better. I was still a bit wobbly when we docked but we had been invited to dinner with friends, so we stopped off in Westwood where I was given a 7-Up and my father spent the evening eating and talking with our hosts. We took our leave at about 10 pm.
I don't remember much about the ride home. I was tired and slept most of the way. As we neared the Topanga Canyon exit from the 101 Freeway. I opened my eyes to see two headlights swooping down on us like a bird of prey coming in for the kill. I had the impression of the white hood of our car flying up to obscure the view through the windshield. It was a very brief impression followed by total darkness.
"These two are dead," I heard a man say. I wondered if he was talking about me and my father. I was slumped down in the front passenger seat and saw that the windshield was broken and mostly missing. I couldn't move my left leg (later I learned it had been dislocated) and I could only move the top part of my right leg. It had been broken in two. Suddenly, I began bleeding from a large cut on the right side of my forehead. I turned to my father and said, "I think my leg is broken." "That's good," he said, meaning that if that was my only injury...
It wasn't too long before the Fire Department ambulance arrived. They took my father out first. Because the damage to my side of the car was so severe, they had to take me out from the driver's side. As I passed the steering wheel, I noticed that the spokes had broken and the rim was hanging from the steering column. Neither my father nor I had been wearing seat belts. They didn't have them in passenger cars back then.
We were taken to Westpark Community Hospital at the north end of Topanga Canyon Blvd. I kept thinking I was going to fall off the narrow stretcher. The paramedic was trying to stop my bleeding and shoved his knee against me so I wouldn't be thrown from the stretcher as we rounded corners. My father had fared better than I and didn't need the kind of attention I was getting. Weeks later when he came to visit me in the hospital, the paramedic said he felt like he was playing the piccolo trying to stop the bleeding. As soon as he staunched the flow from one area of the cut, it would flow from another.
As they rolled me into an emergency room, I could see that my right leg made a ninety degree turn half way along the femur. Somehow, they got me off of the gurney and onto the operating table. They immediately elevated the foot of the table to promote circulation. Later they told me they couldn't find a pulse. Someone came at me with a huge needle that looked like it was for mending sails and I went unconscious. It was about 10:45 pm on Good Friday.
When I awoke, it was Easter Sunday morning. My private nurse introduced himself and filled me in on a few details. I'd been in a head-on collision. Two people had been traveling on the wrong side of the freeway and were killed instantly. I would later learn that their blood alcohol levels were so high, they shouldn't have been able to walk much less drive. The doctors thought so little of my chances that they ordered a private nurse for that first evening but not for the following morning figuring I would not survive the night.
My father suffered broken ribs, bruises and lacerations but I got the worst of it. We were both lucky as you don't generally survive head-on collisions on the freeway. The wrong-way driver and his companion were in an Opel Kadett which was was no match for the big Cadillac. The insurance photos I saw made the Opel look like an accordion. You could not make out where the doors had been. Our accident made the headline of the Los Angeles Times which reported that traffic had backed up all the way from Woodland Hills to downtown Los Angeles.
I spent weeks in the hospital. It was there that I read my first copy of Road & Track magazine and saw pictures of Ferraris and other exotic cars and discovered the world of Formula 1 and the writings of Henry N. Manney III. It began a whole new chapter in my life.
This is what appeared on the front page of the Los Angeles Times about the accident:
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 example 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...