Monday, June 8, 2009

My Grandpa the Hollywood Star

A lot of people have been wondering about my Grandpa the actor. As none of you probably know, Shep was a busy 'professional extra' in Hollywood and he lived in Laurel Canyon for years with his family. He was in such mind numbing classics as Gone With the Wind, The Big Sleep, The Poseidon Adventure, and the Wizard of Oz as well as 100's of other movies and tv shows. If you ever watch the old black and white Perry Mason shows he's the assistant DA in the court room and if you ever watch Hogan's Heroes he's the bartender. He has speaking lines in at least two movies- Back Street and another one called Palm Springs Vacation or something like that.

Above is a promo piece from the early 70's right before he retired. So regal! He has tons of mind numbing stories about Hollywood's greatest era, the 20's to the 70's LOL! One story I've heard a couple of times is when he was working on a project with Lucille Ball before her big tv show. Shep was really good looking and she was into him. He says that she was very aggressive in trying to get him to hang out with her despite that he was married at the time. The way he puts it: "she was funny but annoying." He also told us an interesting story about how in the movie The Hindenberg George C. Scott got paid by his screen time. There are many shots in this movie apparently that involve hands pointing at maps or driving a blimp. Every hand shot is Shep! If you catch the Poseidon Adventure on cable look for Shep in the scene where the ship has turned upside down. He's in the crowd in the ballroom.

Shep was in hundreds of ads including the one above which was in Collier's. Look at how happy he is after a yummy Del Monte treat! Shep told me that he was friends with many of Hollywood's biggest stars during his time in LA. He was also friends with many of the top name directors, some of whom encouraged him to branch out into larger speaking roles. The way he tells it is the minute you are recognizable is the minute you can't get jobs anymore except in roles that fit your cast type. He enjoyed working 6 or 7 months a year casually and then traveling Europe, living in Mexico or building his house on the Puget Sound in Washington with his spare time. He felt bad for his friends that were always stressed about whether or not their new movie would do well in the box office, or those who couldn't get work in a romance because they were seen as a 'muscle'.

The photo above was used in billboards throughout LA in 1936 for Eastside Beer. I was just at his place over the weekend for his NINETY FIFTH birthday! We looked at a picture from his first wedding when he was just 21. It was 1934. That is mind blowing. His first wife was also a Hollywood dancer/actress type person and judging by their wedding portrait she was a beauty. At 95 Shep is the last one left from the picture which has about 10 groomsman and bridesmaids. Crazy! He lives independently, drives fine, hears fine, sees fine and works in his garden and watches tv for fun. I wish he was genetically related to me. Him and my Grandma, or Grandmel as we called her because her name was Mel, met in the early 70's before I was born.

Above left to right is my Uncle Phil, Shep and my Dad. What fucking bad asses!


Me said...

hes 95! he looks like 65!

wow those are some good genes man.

Eli said...

Hey, good bio! You've told me a little about your Grandpa before but it's cool to read all the details.

Annie Trambley said...

I had no idea that you are almost related to the Assistant DA from Perry Mason! I love that show.

Ross McSweeney said...

Total badassery!