Well, I'm still thinking about the Mark Damon
National Fan Club.
He continued in my consciousness for awhile after that event.
I had seen "The Pit and the Pendulum
the next year that I knew for certain Mark was a much better actor and
could have been much more convincing in that role than John Kerr.
Mark soon was off in Italy making spaghetti westerns, and aside from a
brief appearance as a drowning sailor on a submarine at some point on some television
show (during which time he said he was visited by the ghost of a sailor,
he said that in print), I wouldn't be seeing too much more of him. In
fact, though I recognized him here and there on screen subsequently, I
stopped following his career and realized I might not ever actually see
or meet Mark Damon. Oh well.
Except a little later,
once again in Claremont at the Village Theater, when "Closely Watched Trains
" was playing during the International Film Festival and I was in
town visiting on a holiday. I recognized Mark Damon in the audience. But I
wasn't so sure if I should just go up to him and say hello or talk to
him in any way because I'd have to mention that National Fan Club
meeting of his I'd attended. At the time, too, I was frustrated I couldn't find any books in English, the original sroties from which the movie story line was adapted and developed.
But the point of this is
Frank and I would share books, and one of those was a large collection
of Edgar Allen Poe stories and poems, and we would talk about those. I
mean, the Hollywood movie even had an abbreviated title for its rightful
name, "The Fall of the House of Usher" and we'd make other observations
The other point is, I followed Mark's career in Hollywood for that brief time and would collect references to him in print and I would discuss these
clippings with Frank. Uh-oh, Mark's done something wrong and some
people in Hollywood gossip columns don't like him and accuse him of
wearing his Roman gladiator outfit home to his boyfriend's (which was
all bullwash, you see, just lurid gossip, though he did appear in a
gladiator outfit once, I don't know if for a publicity shoot or in some actual movie, but he'd left Hollywood for Europe it
seemed to say and so he was deemed "odd" and "unfaithful").
who ran that National Fan Club meeting I'd attended, as it turned out, was Mark's
And Frank ... I think he was becoming a bit
tuned in how media worked with the idea of learning how to manipulate
media. He was very clever, and it showed.
because I read a lot and tended to retain things, the Pit and the Pendulum actor's name. I couldn't help but wonder, as children do, if John Kerr were
related in any way to Clark Kerr, who'd become President of the
University of California at Berkeley even though he'd defended the
rights of those who refused to take a loyalty oath required to work on
campus as the result of the McCarthy Hearings.
Hearings! Televised! Every actor, musician, teacher, every any body was dragged in and questioned and all publicized on radio, television, and the press non stop. As if to make everyone scared.
And Berkeley, that was the place that I was
nearly destined to be. We'd even with an uncle's urging driven up to
San Francisco in 1960 and walked about the campus, which frightened me
to death as the place was huge ... eighteen or more Claremonts with its
entire population made up just the number of students in attendance
there. Being from such a small town, I wasn't sure that I could handle
Who cares if I didn't meet Mark Damon, I said to myself at the time, back in 1960 or so. At least I got to meet Sabu
. Mark and Sabu
= celebrities together in weird incongruities, which could happen anywhere at any time, Hollywood being what it was.
As for Frank, I liked the name "The Pit."