|Peter Boyle's adventures with Mel Brooks!|
Hanging on the set of the movie F.I.S.T.
(This is a true story the tabs never got!)
Rocky wouldn’t wear the blue suit. Production of this big budget film being shot in Dubuque, Iowa in 1978 had stopped...and so we sat around for most of the day listening to and being entertained by Peter Boyle who described in finite detail all the makeup procedures for him as Mel Brook’s “Young Frankenstein.”
I had read in Kup’s column in the Chicago Sun-Times that Sly Stallone was shooting this picture...loosely based on a Jimmy Hoffa type leader of the Teamsters Union, so I got on the phone to my union...Screen Actors Guild and ask them if they had a number in Iowa to call about work. They did and I was hired over the phone but had to make the two hour drive from our home near Rockford for the next three days to be an extra on the film.
I left at 4AM to get on the set on time and after being fitted out in heavy winter clothing...well worn...and given a Jimmy Cagney cap...(it actually had a tag saying that) I sat down for a treatment from Michael Westmore of the famous Westmore family of movie makeup artists who chopped my hair and slapped some stuff on my face.
The movie was supposed to be in Cleveland in the middle of winter...so...the heavy clothes...but this was summer in Iowa and 100 degrees in the shade. Sly’s dispute with director Norman Jewison about changing from a brown suit which Sly apparently loved...to a dark blue suit went on for hours with assistant directors and other bigwigs running back and forth between Sly’s air conditioned trailer where he had, of course, stewed in comfort and the set of the movie which was the very hot basement of a large Dubuque church...where Jewison stewed over the star’s apparel objection in less comfortable surroundings...along with a highly paid bunch of actors...and other staffers while hundreds of thousands of dollars was being wasted by the minute.
Finally after we broke for lunch...a compromise was reached. Stallone would wear the brown suit he loved...but he’d put a tan topcoat on to appease the director. Hooray...production could resume. This incident never made the trade papers, by the way.
After the next scene was finished I was sitting on the steps outside trying to cool down and smoking one of my big black Tampa cigars. Sly walked by and said that smelled great and ask me if I had another. I gave him a couple and when he was on my show in Philadelphia by phone a few years later before Rocky 2 came out...I offered to send him a box which he gladly accepted.
The heat in Iowa got to me the third day so I quit but before I left I had a chance to chat with two future stars...who were just getting a shot at the big time.
One was Melinda Dillon who no one had heard of at that time...but who everyone would know shortly as the mother of the little boy kidnapped by aliens in “Close Encounters of a Third Kind”.
The other was Kevin Conway who made a bunch of flicks after FIST and is probably best known for his part as the Sergeant with the Union Army in” Gettysburg”.