Thursday, July 26, 2007

Catching Up With Richard Wall

Richard Wall at the "Lost Colony" 70th anniversary last week at the Outer Banks, N.C., with Dixie Griffith, Andy's daughter.

So all of my blogging about Stephen Gutwillig's recently restored version of the classic film "Parting Glances" has had a fun ripple effect. Yesterday I received an e-mail from none other than Richard Wall, who played the wonderfully gay fabulous Douglas ("just one, honey!") in the film. Richard's had a long and busy career working as a professional musician (he worked with Bob Fosse conducting national tours of "Chicago" in the '70s and '80s, right up until 1985 when the last production was done at Harrah's in Atlantic City starring Chita Rivera -- "I love that show!"), teaching and conducting. In the '90s he managed a classical FM radio station in Raleigh, N.C. and began working at Duke University conducting for the Duke Children's Golf Classic Celebrity Show every May. These days he's semi-retired and going to reunions. ("That's all I do!!")

Q: So great to hear from you! All of my friends worshipped the Douglas character back in the day and would recite all of his hilarious lines! Do you keep in touch with any of the other cast members?
A: No, I haven't seen any of them since Bill Sherwood's funeral. And since I don't live in NYC anymore, I never see anybody. But even to this day, wherever I go, someone says to me "Weren't you in 'Parting Glances'?" And then they gush and gush.

Q: Well count me as one of the gushers! Tell us what you remember about making the film.
A: It was a wonderful experience for me, because the casting director "discovered" me walking up 85th Street towards Broadway and said, "Are you and actor?" and of course, I said, "Yes." The next thing I know I'm at the Tribeca Film Center auditioning for Bill Sherwood, and the following weekend, we were in Fire Island. All the Fire Island filming was done in one August day in 1984. It was blazing hot and I had to change make-up and clothes many, many times because of all the whipped cream. And I got sunburned because of all the aluminum reflectors!

Q: What did you do when you finished filming?
A: Then I left town to teach in college in California and saw the film in L.A. when it came out. The most amazing part is that Bill used his apartment for the two lovers and it was/is directly across 84th St. from my apartment! So whenever I watch the movie and see those scenes filmed in the apartment, I can see my old apartment through the windows, especially my air conditioners and my white cat.

Q: The budget for the film was very tight. Didn't it almost never get finished?
A: The film took almost a year to complete after the Fire Island scenes because they couldn't get the money to film the airplane sequence. A couple of years after the filmed opened, I was back in NYC and standing in front of the record store (used in the film - where I also was the manager) and Bill Sherwood walked up and spoke to me. He was very gaunt and frail and, obviously, near death. I said, "You are the man who has made me a legend!!" And he loved that.

Q: Did you ever see him again?
A: No, that was the last time I ever saw him. What a sad loss. But at least we have the film to remember that glorious summer of 1984. You know that it's a true story, and Bill was one of the two lovers? Yep.

Q: I heard a rumor that there is going to be a New York premiere of the restored version of the film later in the summer. If you hear anything, will you let me know and travel to New York to be my date?
A: I probably won't hear anything about it, but I will come to the "re-premiere" with you! :+) "No autographs please! You think beautiful girls are gonna stay in style forever?"

Remind you of anyone? Vintage Douglas Richard ... :-)

Douglas: Why don't you pack a little bag and fly to Paris for the weekend with me. I have a standing reservation on the Concord, a suite in the huitieme, and a box at the opera. I never dine at a restaurant with less than two stars. What do you say?
Peter: Chem lab, Saturday morning.

Nick: Hey, Douglas -- looking trim.
Douglas: So are you.

Douglas to Terry (played by Andre Morgan -- where are you?): I'll have the last laugh. I may have committed the gay cardinal sin of being a bit overweight, but it's this self-imposed unattractiveness that's spared me from the plague.

  • 'Parting Glances Reunion'
  • Revisiting an Old Friend
  • None of That


    Anonymous said...

    Truly one of my all-time favorite "gay" movies, and one of the first I grabbed on DVD when it came out. It's great to see the actors these many years later.

    Mark said...

    If you and "Douglas" go to the re-premier together I will absolutely die of jealousy!!!

    Anonymous said...

    If anyone does find Andre Morgan, tell him to look up Andy Buck in NYC. I worked in the same building as him two years after Parting Glances was released. Haven't heard from him in 20 years.