I’ve always been in love with movies. As a kid I wanted with every fiber of my being to be Gene Kelly. To sing like him. To dance like him. But most of all, to kiss girls like him. Especially like he did Debbie Reynolds in Singin’ in the Rain.
My own leap to fame came when I wrote and starred in my first short play for our elementary school’s Sixth Grade Talent Show. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It was huge. After that, I knew I’d have to choose my projects carefully in order to maintain my A-list status. I needed an appropriate leading lady. One I could kiss a lot.
Then one day in the public library I stumbled across a playscript adapted from the movie Tammy and the Bachelor, which had starred Debbie Reynolds. That was it! My next project would be a live theatre production of Tammy and the Bachelor starring Debbie Reynolds. And me. In my back yard! I scheduled a production meeting with my best friend Jeff to plan how we would: 1) build a professional theatre in my back yard (which was just slightly larger than a bedspread), and 2) Get Debbie Reynolds to clear her schedule so she and I could rehearse. And kiss a lot.
You’ll be surprised to learn that it never happened. To be honest, I never even had Debbie’s phone number.
However, seven years later…
I was in a rock band called The Daily Planet, and we were pretty freakin’ good. Good enough, in fact, to win a national talent search (what is it with me and talent shows?) and appear in an ABC music special with Aretha freakin’ Franklin!
A couple of months later, the show’s producer, Robert Peterson, was hosting a charity event in his Beverly Hills back yard (which was just slightly larger than six or seven thousand bedspreads). “We ought to have live music!” he thought. But he only knew one band: The Daily Planet. So we got the gig.
Being middle class suburban kids, we’d played for very few famous people. How many? Let me think, oh, yeah, none. Pretty much everyone there was famous. In fact, we were the only ones I’d never heard of. But the most luminous star of all was the event’s hostess, my old co-star, Debbie freakin’ Reynolds!
I was a bit surprised when Debbie failed to recognize me, even after she borrowed my microphone to tell everyone that the buffet was ready. But then she turned to me and said the words I’ll never forget, “Could you turn it down a little?”
Not even a glimmer of recognition. I instantly realized we were not going to be kissing a lot. Which was OK because: 1) She was kinda old—like, my mom’s age! (what the…?) and 2) she didn’t like my band.
There was a gaggle of young girls there, however, who absolutely adored us. They were led by a perky young brunette who insisted that we were not too loud, that we were, in fact, “perfect!” She and her homies stayed in front of the bandstand all night, dancing, singing along with us, arguing over which of us was “the cutest,” and getting our autographs on every unclaimed cocktail napkin in sight. In short, they made us feel like bigger stars than their parents!
Later, after most of the guests had left, my former flame, Debbie Reynolds, came up to the perky brunette, and said, “Time to go home, Carrie.”
Carrie Fisher blew me a kiss as her mother dragged her away.
A few years later, in a galaxy far away, I watched as a perky young brunette Princess Leia lit up the screen, and wondered, “Does she still have my autograph?” When my friends finally dragged me off, I blew two kisses at the screen: One for Princess Leia…
And one for her mom.