HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall Henry Fonda.
Barely a day goes by without someone asking me what Henry Fonda was like. If truth be told he was rather like that chap in The Grapes of Wrath, just without the dungarees. He was much more likely to wear a pair of trousers, and if it looked like rain he would sometimes carry an umbrella, but apart from that the similarities were striking. They really were the spitting image of each other!
Success never really changed Henry but time did, and as the years went he rather came to resemble that man in Once Upon The Time In The West, and they both wore hats.
I once asked him where he bought them and he told me that it was in a shop. That was the kind of person Henry was: he’d do anything to help anyone. Toward the end of his life the years took their toll, and you’d easily mistake him for the old man from On Golden Pond, especially around the eyes. He had a son who was the exact spit of Peter Fonda, and rather touchingly Peter would always call him Dad, which was very sweet of him. When I think about Henry now I’m always reminded of that chap in 12 Angry Men who was sat in a room with all those men. I wouldn’t go so far to as to call Henry angry, but he could get a little disgruntled on occasion.
Of course he blew his top when I got him mixed up with the fellow from How The West Was Won, but that’s another story…
There were lots of reasons to admire that wonderful director Sidney Lumet. His party trick was to recite the whole of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner while juggling oranges. It went on a bit after the first few verses, and if he dropped one he’d insist on starting all over again, but I couldn’t hold that against him.
The only problem with Sidney was that he wasn’t very good with numbers. I found this out to my cost on the set of that marvelous picture Twelve Angry Men. We’d been filming fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, for nearly two months before we realized his mistake. We were sat around the table practicing our angry expressions when suddenly Lee J. Cobb burst into hysterical laughter. I thought Ed Begley had been doing that thing when he waggled his ears up and down, but it wasn’t that.
Lee had just counted up the number of jurors and there were thirteen of us!
Well! We just fell about! None of us could believe that we hadn’t spotted it earlier!
Poor Sidney was dreadfully embarrassed, but there was nothing he could do about it, we’d just have to start all over again.
The question was, who would be the one to go?
Henry Fonda was the star so he was in, Martin Balsam was giving Jack Klugman a lift to the studio each morning so he couldn’t go. As the only Englishman on set I felt it was up to me to do the decent thing and volunteer to be cut.
I was quite touched by the way the others stood and applauded my decision. We were more than friends on that picture, we were like family.
If truth be told I would’ve had to leave early that day anyway because I said I’d pick up Joey Bishop’s dry cleaning.
But that’s another story…
Around noon Henry Fonda appeared at my door dressed as a minstrel. Still in my pyjamas, I ushered Henry into my hotel room, offered him a glass of sherry and enquired as to why he was sporting such an elaborate costume. He informed me that he had recently ingested a large quantity of a substance called Lysergic acid diethylamide and could he trouble me for a glass of cold water and a suitcase filled with lemons.
I had a rather fine meat pie for supper and two helpings of bread and butter pudding.
My movie is almost finished but I am yet to decide on a title. My current favourites are as follows:
The William Randolph Hearst Story
The Randy Hearst Story
& Sleepless in Seattle
I’ve just ordered the beef stroganoff and the cook recommended the trifle for dessert.
Rita said that my sexual performance is hindered when I consume Sherry so I’ve decided to switch to Brandy. She also demanded that I refrain from quoting Chekov during congress and suggested that some choice passages from Lady Chatterley’s Lover would be more appropriate. When I informed her that I would never stoop so low as to utter a single word written by that talentless hack D.H Lawrence, she became upset and said she was going to stay at her mother’s for a few days.
The salmon was a little dry so I had to be over generous with the dill but the profiteroles were majestic.