I had just gotten kicked out of my shuttle and was wandering down a street in Hollywood when my roommate Angie yelled at me from up the block. I had never been so happy to see someone in my life. She showed me how to get into our apartment and where we would be staying. To get into the apartment, you had to unlock a gate, climb some stairs, use your key fob to use the elevator, turn right, then left, then right again before you hit our door. It was an excursion in itself. I would occupy the left side of the bedroom, Angie, from a suburb of Detroit would take the right side, Kristen from Pasadena took the couch, and Jessica from South Carolina had the bad luck of getting the air mattress with the hole in it. We had a refrigerator filled with canned wine a television that we didn’t turn on once and a place to sleep. We were set for the next four days.
After I unloaded my things, Angie showed me where we would be spending most of our time, the TLC Chinese Theaters and down a block and across Hollywood Boulevard was the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. I would end up spending seventy percent of my time in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (Club TCM), and Theatre Four of the Chinese Theater Complex. We explored for a bit before we hit 25 Degrees for a meal. 25 Degrees in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel boasted the most amazing hamburgers in the area. I was too excited to think about food, which is unheard of for me. We ate what we could before we ran back to the apartment to change into our fancy clothes for my first event of the festival.
I had a hard time deciding what to do with each second of the next four days. At any given time during the festival, at least four events are happening at once.
The first night we got to choose between the red carpet, a poolside showing of the Harold Lloyd classic The Freshman, the Betty Davis classic, Dark Victory, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or One Potato, Two Potato.
My big choice was between my favorite silent comedian or the red carpet. When Angie and Jessica said they were going to do the red carpet because it was always a ton of fun, I had to go with them. It was something I don’t get to do every day and the fact that I was number 38 in line was incredible and possibly won’t happen again. The red carpet event only holds a handful of people and only a few are lucky enough to get a seat on the bleachers.
The red carpet arrivals are the best bet to see any star you were hoping to see during the festival. I knew that I wouldn’t make it to see Jack Lemmon’s son introduce My Sister Eileen and hoped he would walk the carpet, which he did, and he was incredible to watch. His mannerisms and voice were just like his father’s. The entire audience was in awe of him and to top it off; he was hysterically funny too.
I was able to see Darryl Hickman, Ted Donaldson, Chris Lemmon, Gina Lollobrigida, Salvatore Cascio, Louis Gossett Jr., Norman Lloyd, Roger Corman, James Cromwell, Lee Meriwether, Anna Karina, Ann Robinson, Katharine Houghton, Leonard Maltin; the fantastic Carl Bernstein and Alec Baldwin.
It was so incredible to see Alec Baldwin standing doing an interview only six feet in front of me. I tried to yell at him, but all that came out was a shrill squeak that got the attention of his wife who smiled and waved at me. They were incredibly gorgeous to see in person and contrary to popular opinion he seemed gracious and kind to everyone whom he encountered.
I felt so out of my element because I was all about seeing Alec Baldwin and I was so vocal about it that tossed out facts to everyone around us. Like the fact that his real name is Alexander Ray, and that just happens to be my son’s name and a huge coincidence. When he got to our area, everyone turned to look at me to see how I would handle it. However, everyone else there was more excited about the actual classic film stars. I felt like a total dork and like I didn’t exactly belong there at that moment. Each celebrity made their way down the carpet and stopped to do an interview with Sean Cameron from TCM. They stopped and posed for pictures and talked to us. It was so surreal to have Chris Lemmon tell us about his dad or have TCM host Ben Mankiewicz stop and speak to us and tell us that we are the reason this magnificent event is possible. I am such a huge Mankiewicz fan that having him stop and chat with us until he was dragged away was fantastic. He didn’t have to stop and talk, but he did, and he was down to earth and a fan just like us.
Time flew by, and before we knew it, we were too late to get into any other films. We decided that we would grab some dinner at the famed Pig ‘N’ Whistle while we waited. I wanted something that would keep me full for a while and decided to go easy with pasta in a tomato sauce.
Our next and final stop of the night was one of the films I was looking most forward to seeing. One of my favorite movies is Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? I love Hepburn and Tracy, but Hepburn’s niece, Katharine Houghton, and Sidney Poitier steal the show.
Angie and I ended up getting in line early enough to get numbers 17 and 18 then we headed over to the bar outside the theaters for a drink. TCM had classic film star inspired drinks, and I fell for it. As the bartender handed me my glass, the fire alarms went off. The employees told us to hang out because it happens a lot and it’s usually a false alarm. We sat until a manager came over and said we had to go. We were on the second story of this shopping center/theater and with everyone from all the theaters outside, we had nowhere to go. I stood as Angie talked to some of her friends and watched the people walk down Hollywood Boulevard. It was interesting to see who was going to come around the corner, a tourist? Batman? Darth Vader? Charlie Chaplin? Audrey Hepburn? Who knew? That's what I love the most about this town.