We’re just ant hill waiting to be stepped on?
Nick Clooney once told me of that theory... our whole planet or universe was just one big ant hill that might just get stepped on. I don’t know to this day where that came from but it stuck with me.
In 1957 we “hung out” before the phrase was invented...staying up late drinking Rosemary’s Jack Daniel's and watching the late movies. There was a guy on tv for a car dealership in Long Beach or someplace and Nick and I were continually amazed at his pitch: there wasn’t one. That’s right...he never sold cars....never showed a car on the lot. In fact you would NEVER know the late movie was even sponsored they way he handled it...it couldn’t be called a “soft sell” cause he didn’t “sell” anything. But we both would have run down to Long Beach or wherever the place was and bought cars if we had our way. I tried using the internet to find this guys history but couldn’t nail it. Maybe Nick remembers the name or the dealer...I don’t.
Nick placed himself in an unusual position. He wanted work...wanted acting jobs but unlike his future son George who would use connections...and succeed beyond all expectations...Nick refused help. He told me he wanted to do it himself...he didn’t want anyone saying that he “used” family or friends to find acting jobs. Because he was Rosemary’s brother and Jose Ferrer's brother in law he had a problem doing it his way. Joe wanted to get some doors open for him but Nick apparently said no.
I remember how adamant he was on this issue. We were driving in Joe’s car over to MGM in Culver City where Nick had arranged an interview. He had an appointment so he could have entered the lot and parked there but for some reason he told me to park on the street or keep going around the block until he returned. Ok.
After he returned I asked him about it, of course, and he just said he was thinking about changing his last name!
Ok...hold the phone.
Nick was so far into this attitude thing he apparently didn’t want his last name to cause any undue opening of doors for him. So..being treated as a nonentity actor got him no jobs while I was out there.
He said he had a radio job interview in a small place to the south of L.A. and asked me to drive along...keep him company.
He took the wheel and we set out for marvelous downtown “Brawley” ( I think) past beautiful Palm Springs and Palm Desert and nearly to the Mexican border. He enjoyed the drive down there but was somewhat subdued when he saw the town and the radio station where he was to be interviewed. I couldn’t blame him. They never offered him a job or if they did he had the good sense to turn it down...he never told me.
Anyway Jose Ferrer kept some great raisins in his car glove compartment and Nick and I finished them off.
We got back in time to baby-sit little Miguel Ferrer who was just the cutest kid you’ve ever seen. Too bad he didn’t retain those looks when he became a leading man in Hollywood!
I returned to our home...a new one in fact, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and basically lost touch with Nick. He may have worked a bit but he did get into TV news and become a successful anchor for NBC Burbank where Carson had his show....and where I made my only appearance on national tv on that Newhart Show in the Dodger uniform. By the way on that show was Joe Flynn...a very successful actor by that time and just a great guy to hang out with.
Later I would be an extra on F.I.S.T. with Sly Stallone being shot in Dubuque, Iowa and another famous guy...Peter Boyle (Young Frankenstien) was in that flick and nice to all of us. He spent hours describing working with Mel Brooks and doing the makeup thing and it was great! Sly was ok but kinda full of himself (this was not long after Rocky). I’ll have a Sly story later.
So...to wrap up the Nick Clooney thing.
It’s been really interesting to me watching the success of his son, George, and knowing that Nick might have gained a somewhat similar fate of superstardom had he accepted the offers of help from Jose and others.
But...just like when he refused to go south to the French Riviera and vacationed in bombed out Berlin instead..he has a mind of his own. He has done well.