The James Westmoreland Story

THE JAMES WESTMORELAND STORY

Part Two of Two-Parts written by actor James Westmoreland

A TALE OF TWO ACTORS – (Conclusion)

        I got out of bed and made a pot of coffee.  I sat up in my bed leaning against several pillows drinking coffee.  I let my mind wonder, remembering… 

         I had just finished, “Come Next Spring and Henry (my agent at the time, Henry Willson) had called to invite me to join him at the Macambo Night Club for a couple of celebratory drinks, asking me to wear a dark suit and tie.  I met him at the bar and he expressed how proud he was of my performance.  He suggested I go stand by the staircase and watch Frank Sinatra sing. 

         It was a thrill to watch and listen to Mr. Sinatra sing.  I noticed a very beautiful young lady get up from her crowded table and she walked right up to where I was standing and she said, “Care to dance?”  She only had to ask once.  She moved closer to me and said, “my name is Elizabeth”.  I answered, “Hello Elizabeth, I’m Rad.”  I was tongue tied from looking into her violet eyes, seeing her lovely, creamy white skin, and her perfect white teeth.  I had one dance with this lovely young lady. We waited for Mr. Sinatra to start another song to continue dancing.  When Mr. Sinatra had finished his song, the band kept playing as he walked off stage.  I walked Elizabeth to her table and thanked her for the dance. 

         I returned to the stair railing and picked up the glass of scotch I had left sitting on one of the guard bands that held the staircase to the wall.  About fifteen minutes went by and Frank Sinatra was back.  I glanced at the table I had escorted Elizabeth to.  I caught her smile and she waved her finger, beckoning me over to her table.  She rose when I was a few feet away from her, grabbed my hand and we walked together to the dance floor and I danced with her again while Frank Sinatra sang.  Very few words passed between us. I guess we were hung up on the moment and that’s unusual for me.  I returned Elizabeth to her table, thanked her and I returned to the bar. 

         Henry said, “Did you know whom you were dancing with?” I said, “yes and her name is Elizabeth”.  Henry blurted out, “I know her name.  That is Elizabeth Taylor.  Did you get her number?”  “Henry, I had no idea I was dancing with Elizabeth Taylor.  The last time I saw her was in a movie and she was a little girl”.  He responded, “Well they do grow up.”

         I smiled to myself remembering that moment, as I took my last swig of coffee.  I picked up the Hollywood Reporter and I busied myself reading.  I came to a part in the magazine listing casting calls for up-coming films.  There was a film titled “Harlow”, starring Carol Lynley.  I knew the casting director and fortunately for me he took my call.  I explained my predicament to him and asked if he could find me something to do to get started with my new name.  He gave me a nice little part and said I’d start next week.

         Here I was on top of the world starting all over again and it was raining so hard my windshield wipers were on high and I had to park in the street three blocks away from the Paramount Studio entrance.  When I got to the set I saw Carol Lynley who I had worked with in “The Last Sunset“. She said, “Rad, are you working on this film?”  “Yes, I am and it’s nice to see you.  I’ve had a few changes in my life.  I’ve taken back my real name, James Westmoreland, and I’m beginning my career over”.  Carol smiled and said, “I’ve got it in my mind now, Jim. Knowing you and your abilities, you will make it happen. Good luck, Jim.”  Carol’s kind words relaxed me and I enjoyed my first day of shooting.

         I must be lucky or the Great Man Upstairs has been looking after me.  I got a call from CBS casting in the valley at their new studio.  The new studio was very familiar to me because it was once Republic Studios where hundreds of movies were made and it’s the same place where I had made my first movie, “Come Next Spring.  I was hired to play Boris Karloff’s son, Chandra, to Mr. Karloff’s “King of the East Indian Compound” role in the episode, “The Night of the Cobra”, for “The Wild Wild West” TV Series starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin. Here I am again working with one of the all-time great famous actors!

         I was in awe meeting Mr. Karloff, and to my surprise he was a very nice gentleman, not the “Frankenstein” I had imagined. Mr. Karloff at that time was getting up in age, but not lacking in energy. Mr. Karloff sat on his pillow-padded chair, with a very large Cheetah near. He said to me, “Son, move slowly, this cat gets excited easily.”

         Mr. Karloff and I were talking between scenes. He was a much older man, but he was very agile with a sense of humor. He said, “I don’t trust this big animal. The trainer guarantees the cat is secured and will not cause us any harm.” He continued, “Sure he won’t, but son, keep your sword handy.” He winked, and we both smiled. I held onto my sword in anticipation of that.

         Bob Conrad is a long-time friend and I noticed how he and Ross Martin worked beautifully as a team. Bob looked great and besides being a very good actor he was his own stunt man and he was very competent. The show was fun and meeting THE  Mr. Boris Karloff was a highlight of my life that won’t soon be forgotten.

         I was at Warner Brother’s Studios again playing the heavy in a series titled “Hank“, thanks to Bill Orr, head of the TV division.  The director, Bill Wiered was very good at his job and a lot of fun.  One morning he asked if I played golf.  When I told him I did he invited me to join him and three other gentleman this coming Sunday to play at Fox Hills Golf Course.  He also mentioned I’d be playing with a producer who was getting ready to make a pilot for a series and the other two men, one an insurance broker and the other in in TV sales.  The five of us played every Sunday for about a month and finally the producer whose name is Fred Brogger said, “Jim what do you do?” 

         I said, “besides enjoying my Sundays with you gentlemen I’m an out of work actor.”  “Jim, do you have any film I can look at?” 

         “Yes I made some tests at Fox and I’m sure tests will be available for you to look at.”  “That won’t be a problem because that is where my office is.”

         The following Sunday we all met and played golf.  I kept hoping Fred would say something, but not one word.  We finished play and we all went to the bar for a beer.  After Fred’s first pull at his beer he said, “Jim, I’ve got good news and bad news for you.”  I hesitated for a moment, “Fred, give me the bad news first.” 

         “The studio wants to use one of their contract players and ABC has similar ideas.” 

         I thought to myself what could possibly be the good news.  I smiled, “The bad news doesn’t sound to good, how about the good news?”  He replied, “Jim, I’m the producer and I like you and you have the job, but there’s only one catch; you’ve got to be good in the pilot to get the series.” 

         My heart jumped back up from my toes to my chest and I said, “Fred, I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity and I will do my best.” 

         “I like your attitude.  Could you come to the studio tomorrow around 11:00AM to meet my partner?”

         “Thank you, and I will be there.”  I said trying to contain my excitement. 

         My three golfing partners shook my hand and wished me good luck. 

         I said, “Fred, I want to thank Bill for the introduction, because if it weren’t for him I would not be here today.” I went over and put my arm around Bills neck in a gesture of friendship.  Man, what a day.*

         I got into my 1957 T-Bird.  I still have a soft spot in my heart for that car.  I had just bought this beauty from an elderly man for $2,500, and it only had eight thousand miles on it, otherwise it was like new.  You can imagine how wonderful it felt with the top down and the wind flopping my long hair.  My mind was having a ball talking to my self-conscious and conscious minds about getting a big job and what the future could possibly hold.

         The following morning I entered 20thCentury Fox’s gate entrance.  I parked where I was directed.  The studios main office building had several floors and the floor I was on was carpeted with plus deep red carpeting and the walls were lined with posters from their many movies and pictures of the stars that had worked there.  I was a little early and had a mind filling remembrance.  

         I stopped at a door marked “15” with “The Monroe’s” in larger print and Fred Broggers name was below it.  I knocked and a females voice said come in.  I introduced myself to the lady and she buzzed her telephone intercom.  She said Mr. Brogger is waiting for you. I walked inside his office and he stood, walked over to me saying hi Jim and we shook hands.

         Fred motioned for me to sit with him at a large table with a very large book.  Before he opened it he said, “Jim, you will be playing the character that has poise, strength, fast draw and a horseman second to none.  His name is Ruel JaxonHe works for the Mapoy ranch and eventually you will become the love interest to Barbara Hersey as Kathy Monroe, sister to Clayt Monroe, played by Michael Anderson, Jr.”  He continued, The Monroe’s family was traveling with their own wagon that pulled a bull and a cow, and they were on their way to the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  His father and mother along with their two younger brothers, played by Keith and Kevin Schultz and the younger sister was played by Tammy LockeMichael Anderson, Jr. and Barbara Hersey were the young adults.  The parents tried to cross the Snake River and they were drowned during that crossing.  Michael and the rest of the kids survived. They were lucky to find the wagon up stream and the animals were walking around. The story starts when the kids are trying to find a pile of rocks that marked the spot their father had homesteaded.  They finally found the pile of rocks with their dad’s belt buckle tucked in the rocks that marked their homesteaded property.  That is the beginning of our pilot.”  Fred opened the large, thick leather bound book.  Each page depicted the story he had just told along with its completion.  Each page was beautifully hand painted in watercolor.  Fred continued, “This book is our preamble of the complete series.”

         “Fred, your preamble is beautifully prepared and it gives the viewer as me the stories you are about to tell.  Your work displays your hard work, and it sure will help your directors to understand your goal.”

         “Very observant, Jim.  You will be working with Ben Johnson and with the two of you in the Pilot will be very important in the sale of the Pilot.  Jim, I have a lot of respect for you, and I’ve kept a keen eye on you while we played golf and how you handled yourself during our time together and that is why you’re going to play Ruel Jaxon.”  He smiled, and said as he shook my hand, “Welcome aboard.  Get yourself a strong agent to make the best deal possible for you.  Here’s your script.  We all leave for Jackson Hole, Wyoming in December.  That’s five months from now, so get yourself a gun with a fast draw holster and work on your horsemanship.  I’ll be talking to you soon. Sorry my partner isn’t here to meet with you, but you two will have plenty of time to get acquainted.  Have a good day and I’ll see you soon.”

         “Thanks Fred”.  We shook hands and I left.  Man, what a high.

         Fred had told me that I have five-months before we leave for location in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  I took advantage of those five-months and I was at the gym every day and my routine was I would do one thousand sit-ups every other day and I would hit the weights on the off days.  I visited my friend Billy Ward at Ride-A-While Stables where he keeps 30 horses for rent to the studios when they need horses for their westerns. Billy is also a top Rangler when needed. 

Today we worked on different kinds of mounts. After weeks of practicing the art of mounting a horse he had me breaking some of his wild horses and tame them for his future riders for the studios and his renting business to the public.  Billy’s training was to make sure I would never get hurt by a horse and he taught me how to stop a run-a-way horse.  I learned a lot from Billy and I would visit his Stables from time to time to give him a hand if needed.  He’d been a good friend and I wanted to show my appreciation.

         Finally, The first of December 1966 the cast from The Monroe’s TV Series Pilot left for Jackson Hole, Wyoming on a non stop flight. 

         Liam Sullivan was the baron of his own land along with his hired cowboys to control his cattle and horses.  Ben Johnson played the character named, Sleve, a one armed leader of his men.

         The winter days were very cold with plenty of snow on the ground.  The shoot was fun and a lot of work.  After its completion we all headed back to Los Angeles, CA.  A month had passed by and Fred called me and said we will be showing the pilot at the studio tomorrow night and I want you there.

         The theatre was packed with all the invitees to view the Pilot of The Monroe’s. I was very impressed by Bernie Kowalski’s direction, and the editing was top notch.  The Monroe’s was a big hit with the audience.  Fred Brogger pulled me to the side and he said with a smile on his face, “Jim, you did a great job and you have the job.  We shook hands and I said, “Thanks from the bottom of my heart for giving me the chance.”  He answered, “You earned it.”

         The show’s Pilot was a success with Fox and ABC and production for the series would start in three weeks. The cast and crew would be heading back to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

         I drove to Jackson Hole in a station wagon with Thor, my German Shepard.  I also had two Golden Retrievers, Ollie and Hollie and they belonged to Michael Anderson, Jr.  The dogs were great company and like humans they needed pit stops.  It was very comforting to have Thor at my side when we would stop in the wilds with no humans around, just a two lane road with forests on each side of the road, and who knows what kind of wild animals roam those forests.

         We finally arrived in Jackson Hole and I found the temporary offices for “The Monroe’s“. I saw Michael and his wife Victoria inside waiting for me.  They had a real estate lady with them and she took us to a ranch house with a running spring running through the property. Several horses roamed loose on the property.  The ranch house had a corral fence surrounding the ranch house.  The entire interior was solid wood walls and high- beamed ceilings, two large bedrooms with bathing facilities inside the bedrooms.  Huge kitchen with an extra large room for the dogs to eat and sleep during cold nights and there were plenty of those.  We leased the house for the year and I paid one third of the rent and utilities.

         We started work the following week, which gave us plenty of time to stock up on food and essentials.  The six of us counting the dogs had fun exploring the property.  We fished the stream, trying to catch trout.  I gave up and went to the fish and meat markets and bought us enough fish and steaks to last us a few weeks.  The trout in the stream turned out to be too small.

         After three-weeks of shooting I was asked to attend a meeting with the production company and to come alone.  I entered the hotel where the meeting took place.  Five men were seated at a large table with their backs to the wall.  I was invited to take a chair that faced them.  I couldn’t figure out why I was there, but I sure was nervous.  The two men I recognized I faced were Bill Self the production head of Fox TV.  Next to Mr. Self was Fred Brogger the producer that had hired me.  The three remaining gentleman were introduced to me as representatives from ABC TVBill Selfopened the conversation.  He said, “Jim, please keep what is said here tonight between us.”  I answered, “Yes sir.”

Mr. Self continued, “Jim, we at Fox are very impressed with you and your performance as ABC TV is. I would like you to think over what I’m about to tell you.  We would like you to replace Michael Anderson, Jr. and eventually you will marry Barbara Hershey to create a stronger family.  Your leadership and strength is what we feel is needed for our show.”  I was lost for words, but after a few seconds of mind racing thoughts helped to open my mouth.  “Gentlemen, I’m flattered you feel that way about me.  I must say I have a strong sense of loyalty.  I can’t just stab Michael in the back and take his job away.  His wife is pregnant and they both depend on Michael’s job.  Is it possible that we let a little time go by and come back to this thinking?  I really like my job as Ruel Jaxon and I will continue to do my very best to keep your interest.”  I took a deep breath; “at this time I just can’t do this to Michael.”

         Bill Self stood up and shook my hand.  “Jim, you’re a young man with integrity that is very unique and I respect your thinking.  Ruel Jaxon is going to have a much larger part now and we’ll continue our discussion at another time.  Keep up the good work.  You may not know it, but you get boxes of fan mail daily.”  I said, “Thank you Mr. Self.  I’m honored and I will not let you and ABC down.  I would like to thank Fred Brogger for giving me the chance to play Ruel Jaxon.”  I shook their hands and I left.  To this day I never told Michael Anderson, Jr. about that meeting.  I have this feeling he is going to know about it now.

         Working with Ben Johnson and Liam Sullivan created tension for the viewing audience and it was fun for me to work with those two talented actors.  “The Monroe’s” was a very well produced production and it started to do well with the audiences.  There were many guest stars for each episode that gave the show new faces and new challenges for “The Monroe’s” and the Maypoy compound.  My parts kept getting bigger and a romance was starting between Barbara Hershey, (Kathy Monroe) and me.

         I remember one morning Ollie and Hollie were standing near the front entrance to the  coral and one of the larger horses head reached over the gate and grabbed Ollie by the  nap of his neck.  Ollie was yelping and Thor came up to the large horse and bit him on the bridge of his face and the horse dropped Ollie.  The horse ran off.  That evening Thor was outside running with the horses and I heard a yelp from Thor; it seems the horse kicked Thor to get even.  The next afternoon as I returned from location I found all of the horses laying on the ground and the horse that grabbed Ollie and kicked Thor were on the ground napping.  Thor and the larger horse were head to head on the ground napping. The moral to the story is, animals forgive and forget, but humans carry a vendetta until they get even.

         After winter, spring and summer the whole crew packed up to return to Los Angeles to film interiors. A set was designed to replicate the Monroe cabin on one of the sound stages at Fox Studios.

         After three weeks of shooting I was summoned to meet the new producer. I remember his last name to be Lewis.  I said to myself; why would there be a new producer?  I sad hello to the gentleman and he said to me, “you’re fired.”  I said, “for what?”  He said, “Grab your things and get off of my set.”

         I started for home and Michael Anderson, Jr. said,  “Sorry Jim” You can imagine what was going on in my mind.  When I walked in the front door of my house my dog greeted me and my girlfriend was in the kitchen cooking dinner.  I explained everything to her and she tried to comfort me.  I had a couple of miserable weeks licking my wounds.

        Two weeks later I received a phone call from Bill Self for me to join him in his office later on that day.

Mr. Self invited me to sit opposite him from his desk.  He explained to me that Fred Brogger, the (Producer) that had hired me and Dink Templeton the (Production manager) had been caught stealing from the company.  It seems Templeton would visit a farmer and make a deal with him to use some of his horses and cattle.  Templeton would offer the farmer a certain amount of money for a two day usage.  Templeton and Brogger would turn in a voucher to the studio for many times that amount.  This had been going on since the show had begun shooting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Within close to a year they had amassed a lot of cash from the production company. 

         Since Fred Brogger had hired me the new producer decided to get rid of me thinking I was involved.  Mr. Self told me he did not know that I was fired until it was too late.  To top it off Mr. Self told me he wanted me to play the lead in their new show titled “Brackens World He continued, “I spoke with your agent Irv Schechter at The William Morris Agency and he said you were not available.”  I understand the casting director, Larry Stewart fought to keep me off of “Brackens World because he wanted one of his pals to get that part.  Larry Stewart was fired from Fox Studios, and The William Morris Agency couldn’t prove any thing against Irv Schechter because he lied to them and got away with it.  I caught up with the son-of-a-bitch and told him, “I can bust you up where someone will have to wipe your ass for months, but I will not jeopardize my career for a jerk like you.  Believe me, you will have that bad karma to carry with you the rest of your life.  When the time comes for you have to report to your maker for all of the rotten things you’ve done in your life, you better get used to a lot of heat.”

         A month went by and I got a call from Jim White who was one of the Attorneys at The William Morris Agency.  Jim and I had been drinking pals for a long time.  He said to me, “I’m glad you didn’t kick Schechter’s ass, and I know he had it coming.  I have a little surprise for you.  It seems, Fox forgot to pay you the rest of your guarantee.  Here’s a check for the remaining shows and all re-runs you should have had.  I liked the amount on the check.  I thanked Jim and I returned an hour later with a case of scotch for him.

         I now had enough money to keep my house in Laurel Canyon.  Thor and I drove to the desert.  I found a new house in Rancho Mirage, California that I could better afford and I stayed in the desert for two years playing golf and having a ball.  I joined Canyon Country Club and made some new friends.  A short time later I won the Club Championship and within the next year I was a plus 2 handicap.  I spent my evenings at the club on the backside of the South Course hitting hundreds of balls to greens way out in the middle of the course where no one could see me.  At that time I could shoot par on any course in the desert.

         I got involved in many money matches, fortunately for me all of my practice paid off.  One afternoon I was sitting at the bar of Canyon Country Club with my guest Mike Landau and he and I have been good friends for years.  We were having a drink and I wanted Mike to see the club.  I turned in my chair and I noticed Jack Quigley our General Manager talking with Arnold Palmer.  I thought nothing of it and turned my chair back to face the bar.  A few minutes later I head this voice say, Westmoreland.  I turned toward that voice and it was Arnold Palmer. I said, “Hello Mr. Palmer.  My name is Jim Westmoreland and this is my friend Mike Landau.  Could I buy you a drink?”  “No thanks.  I would like to ask you a couple of questions.”  “How can I help you, Mr. Palmer?”  “Please call me Arnie.  Jim, I have a match tomorrow with Jim Pedley and Tom Corrigan.  Do you know them?”  “Yes I know them very well.  In fact I’ve played a lot of golf with them.”  “Jim, as I said I have a match with them and I would like you to be my partner.  What do you think?”  “Arnie, I’d be honored to be your partner. Tell me, what kind of a game do you have with them?”

         “I have four matches with them.  They will get four shots aside, five shots aside, six shots a side and seven shots aside.  Jim, what do you think?”

         “Arnie, it appears we will have a fun time tomorrow.”  Arnold said, “I’m looking forward to it.  Mike it was nice meeting you.  Jim, I’ll see you tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock on the first tee”.  I later told my pal Mike something like; can you imagine they thought they can beat the king when they can’t even beat me?  Mike was in for a big show!  Can you imagine me playing as Arnold Palmer’s partner?  Man this is too much. 

(For the non-golfers, let me explain the handicap system.  There are eighteen holes.  Each side has nine holes.  The handicap goes like this.  The first match each player will get a stroke on the four hardest holes and that continues for all matches meaning they will get five, six and seven shots a side on each separate match.  The extra bet is the total of each match.  The player who has won the most holes gets the extra bet meaning there would be three bets.)

         Mike and I met Arnie, Jim Pedley and Tom Corrigan on the first tee of our matches.  Pedley and Corrigan teed off first and Arnie was third and I was last to hit.  Pedley and Corrigan hit 200-yard tee shots.  Arnie hit a long tee shot ending in a sand trap.  I split the fairway a good ninety yards ahead of Pedley and Corrigan.  Pedley and Corrigan hit their second shots to this par five hole a good 160 yards short of the green.  Arnie hit a fantastic shot just twenty-yards short of the green.  I hit my second shot onto the green a few feet short of the hole.  Pedley and Corrigan made six, that is one over par and it is called a bogy.  Arnie made a four that is a birdie and I made my short putt for three that is an eagle.  They were one down due to the loss of the hole.

         When we finished the match Pedley and Corrigan had lost every hole and they didn’t even tie any hole.  Arnie and I birdied and eagled every hole on the course together.

         We all had lunch and plenty of booze to keep are parched tongue’s wet.

         This was a day to remember.

         I hadn’t worked in two years.  To be honest, I was having so much fun playing golf and making plenty of money to last me I had forgot about my career.

         That was short-lived.  When we got back to my house I checked my answering machine and I had a message from Ronnie Lief, my agent.  I returned his call in the morning and he said the producer of “General Hospital”, Jim Young wants to meet you in his office as soon as possible.  I asked Ronnie if tomorrow around ten in the morning would be okay.

         Ronnie called me back and said a pass will be waiting for me at the Prospect and Thalmadge gate for me.

         I was on time and I was ushered to his door and I met Mr. Young.  We shook hands and he asked me to have a seat.  He said, “Jim, I run a tough ship with my show and I expect you to be prepared.”

         “Mr. Young, don’t you want me to read a scene for you?”

         “Jim, I know your work and you’re hired. You start Monday.  All I ask is that you arrive on set prepared and I don’t want you to be carrying a script to study while you’re on my set.”

         When I arrived on stage 3 the whole cast was there and Jim introduced me to all.  I made sure Jim Young was watching me when I dropped my script into the wastebasket.  I was put into a hospital bed because I was brought to the hospital ward because I had Serum Hepatitis that my character, Teddy Holmes, had picked up in Vietnam for shooting up with dirty needles. 

         My scene was shot live with three camera’s rolling to catch all angles.  I was in a delirious state of mind during the whole scene, and the twenty pages of dialog I had studied the whole previous evening paid off to the producer’s delight.  From that day on I never carried a script with me because I always made sure I was prepared for that day of shooting.

         General Hospital was fun for me and the cast were all professionals and easy to get along with.  Unfortunately after working on at least one hundred and forty shows I came down with a serious illness and I had to leave the show and the most wonderful part I had ever had came to an end.

         I hadn’t worked in three weeks, so I got a job at one of the Country Clubs teaching golf.  I kept that job and other teaching jobs for two years.  When my agent called for me to interview for a lead in a TV show I was allowed to leave for the length of the shoot.

         One day Jay Bernstein wanted me to come to his office to play a heavy in his production of “The New Mike Hammer Series”, starring Stacey Keach.  Jay hired me and I started work the following day.  It was nice to be in front of the cameras again.  I studied hard and I really liked working with Stacey Keach.  Stacey had a great personality and he became the character Mike Hammer and the series was a big hit.

         I started a new teaching job at El Segundo Golf Course because I would have more freedom to leave and work on shows because I was my own boss and I was able to jockey my clients around to fit my schedule. I liked working at El Segundo and I built a large clientele of eager golfers wanting to improve their games.  I had a lot of married women to teach and I asked them to bring their husbands in to meet me.  I didn’t want the husbands thinking something could be going on with their wives and me.  I ended up getting their husbands as new clients.

         Several months had passed and I received a call from my agent to go and see Robert Hammer the producer of “Don’t Answer The Phonemovie.  I met Mr. Hammer and his associates and I read a couple of scenes from their script and I left.  Two days later they wanted me back to re-read.  I had to come back five times which meant I had to re-schedule my golfing clients each time.  I mentioned to Mr. Hammer that I liked his script and I feel that I’m your man to play the lead.  He responded, “we have another guy we’re also interested in”.  I said, “do you mean the blond haired guy sitting in the waiting room?”  Yes was their answer.  I really spoke up for myself and I told them, “if you want the guy in the other room I suggest you hire him.  I looked at them and said, “he will not be able to sell your movie, but I can.  Thanks for your time”.  I left their office.  An hour or so later my agent called me at home and he told me over the phone that Hammer just hung up and he wants to book you for the lead. I smiled to myself and said, “That’s good news, try and make the best deal possible”.

         The movie took six weeks to shoot.  During weekends I would be back at El Segundo Golf Course trying to catch up on my lessons.  They didn’t spend a lot of money on the movie, but we did finish the production and they had it ready for release in six weeks.  The movie made twenty million dollars its first weekend.  Robert Hammer and his money man were thrilled.  They wanted me for another movie and I mentioned to my agent that I had, “read their script and it’s almost a duplicate of “Don’t Answer the Phone“. The only difference is the names change and the cast changes, but the story is too similar.  To keep them interested for something that could come up in the future you could tell them I have a commitment in Europe and I will be gone for most of the year”.

         I finished out the year at El Segundo Golf Course and thanked them for the opportunity.

         I decided to move back to the desert where I worked and finished two novels, and I’m presently finishing a screenplay and I still enjoy playing golf with my friends.

 

One thing I almost forgot to mention about that day on the golf course, I met The Brown BomberJoe Louis!  He was walking off of the eighteen green and coming in my direction as we were all leaving the bar.  I walked up to Mr. Louis and put my hand forward and introduced myself.  My right hand was hidden with his large paw.  He did say, “Nice to meet you, Jim”.  “My pleasure Champ.” He smiled and I waved good-bye to that great man.  The perfect end to a fun and magical day.

A Tale of Two Actors, Part One – “The Rad Fulton Story”

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3 Responses to The James Westmoreland Story

  1. Annie says:

    I fell in love with Ruel Jaxon when the Monroes was shown in the UK in the late 1960s. I was disappointed when the character didn’t get promoted to foreman – I guess you’ve explained here why that didn’t happen! If anything else you appeared in was shown over here, I didn’t see it. For most of my life I’ve happily done without a TV. But it’s been interesting catching up with a few “old friends” with the help of the internet.

  2. Margo Fergoda says:

    I sure you don’t remember me but we dated way back when. I was living at Wilcox Hall in Hollywood at the time. When you were in Rome, you dropped me a line. Glad to see you are doing well….Here’s to old memories.
    Always
    Margo

  3. Robert Wayne says:

    I recently bought the DVDs of “The Monroes” the complete series. I was wondering why Ruel was written out of the series since he was one of the main characters and obviously Barbara Hershey’s love interest. Also I didn’t know that they planned on writing Michael Anderson out of the series. I wish the series had lasted longer than it did because I’ve really enjoyed watching these DVDs.

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