It was 1982, and I was chasing bad guys on CBS as Mike Hammer,while my good friend Burt Reynolds had become America’s number one movie star, following his remarkable performance in Deliverance, together with his Smokey and the Banditbox office bonanzas.
Burt and I were both clients of the late Lee Winkler, a prominent Hollywood business manager, and even though Burt and I hadn’t personally met, we had had a very significant phone conversation together that changed the course of my early career, prior to my time as Mike Hammer.
Burt had called me from Palm Springs to encourage me to accept an offer I had received from ABC and Quinn Martin Productions, to star in a TV crime series entitled, Caribe.
At the time, I was having a fairly respectable movie career, and I was deeply hesitant to enter the fray of those who looked down their noses at television.
Truthfully though, my movie career had been slowing down, and Lee Winkler was concerned that I wouldn’t be financially secure enough to do satisfy my love for Theater and Shakespeare unless I took the plunge into series television and earn some loot.
And it was Burt who finally convinced me that I would benefit from the exposure I would gain from a weekly series.
“You’re a good actor, but nobody knows your name.
People got to know me after I did Hawk. Television could make you a star, and that’s what you need to become if you want to play great parts!”
He was so right.
It took me a while to get there, and it was Mike Hammerthat opened many doors for me.
One memorable day, Burt and his good pal Dom Deloise showed up on the set of Mike Hammer, and as a surprise gag to me, became background actors in a scene inside a bus. Nobody told me about it until I was called to set. I took my seat onboard the bus, the director said, “Action” and Burt and Dom revealed themselves coming up from behind the rear seats!
I was flabbergasted and thrilled beyond belief!
What a nice surprise and what a gracious and generous thing to do!
A truly wonderful gesture of respect and friendship, and I’ve always cherished that memory.
Burt was a magnanimous, charming, and highly intelligent gentleman. He had a fantastic sense of humor, and I think his legacy will embrace his easy-going nature and his unselfish humanity.
My deepest sympathies to his family, his fans, and his friends, of whom I’m proud to be included.
Thank you, Burt for many wonderful hours of entertainment you charmed us with.
God Bless You.
Remembering Senator John McCain
By Stacy Keach
In March of 2000, it was my great honor and privilege to go to Washington, D.C. to work with Senator John McCain on an issue involving definitions of cleft palate conditions according to the medical insurance policy positions at that time.
I had been an honorary spokesperson for both the Cleft Palate Foundation and the World Craniofacial Organization for a number of years (and still am), and Senator McCain with his wife Cindy had recently adopted a young girl, Bridget, who was born with a cleft and who required additional care.
When Senator McCain enquired about the status of medical insurance for Bridget, he discovered that cleft palate repair was defined as “cosmetic” and as such, was not considered worthy of treatment of a birth defect, thereby excusing them from covering surgical and hospital costs.
Senator McCain and I raised our voices together, and in due course, the insurance companies acknowledged that children born with clefts, nowdefined as birth defects, were entitled to the full coverage for surgery.
However, there are still ongoing issues with post-operative needs, such as speech therapy, family counseling, and, when necessary, psychological profiling to gain and enhance emotional support for both the young patient and their family.
The cost of such procedures remains an ongoing dilemma and is not clearly defined by the insurance companies.
It remains a challenge for those of us involved with people affected by cleft palates.
However, there is no doubt that Senator McCain’s influence helped to ensure that families whose children are born with clefts need not fear their child’s health status with regard to surgery because of lack of coverage/funds.
My deepest condolences to Senator McCain’s family. He was a great and compassionate man, and his legacy reminds us that there are leaders who hold dignity and respect and human decency above complacency and ignorance.
Thank you, Senator McCain for your benevolence and your inspiration, which lives on. It was my great honor to know you.