Not every father gets a chance to start his son off in his own footsteps.
Spending thirty-two years in the Hollywood industry left me with some fond memories and some stories that are so amazing and really quite unbelievable! Here’s one of those stories…
In early 1977, I had an interesting dinner with Charlie Jones, the Florida branch manager for Twentieth Century Fox. Charlie was telling me about his recent manager’s meeting in LA at the Fox studio with Alan Ladd, Jr., who at the time was the president and head of production.
Charlie became irritated at the meeting when Mr. Ladd stepped down from his elevated desk (he was a short man) in his buckskin jacket with tassels and western boots to introduce the men in the field to his latest project. Charlie said, “Larry, would you believe that he actually taped black and white photographs of all these goofy Sci-Fi characters on the walls of his office! He then proceeds to tell us tells us that he gave the green light on this little fantasy film. And now he expects us to get you,” Charlie eyeballed me, “and the other film buyers to commit to play the film prime time in the summer.”
I smiled at Charlie and told him it was way too early for him to start worrying about commitments to play a Sci-Fi film anytime—let alone peak playtime. Besides, I said, “If it screens poorly, Mr. Ladd will end up having to move his little project picture to the fall and away from the big summer movies.”
That little Sci-Fi film everyone was afraid to touch was pure genius—Star Wars! And wait, there’s more to the story . . . and it’s told in Hollywood’s Chosen (available September 5th).
Star Wars Trivia:
Alan Ladd, Jr. will always be remembered for his decision to give George Lucas the green light to make Star Wars and for supporting Lucas when no one else could see the vision (even when the 20th Century Fox Board of Directors wanted to put an end to Lucas’ Star Wars). Star Wars seemed to be doomed as Lucas struggled with budget issues, location difficulties, and even problems with the story itself. The studio was shaking its head for fear that the film would end up being an embarrassment.
However, in early May of 1977, Star Wars’ first public screening received a glowing reception! Not surprisingly, Mr. Ladd was moved to tears during the screening at seeing his problem child (that he supported against all odds!) become a box-office phenomenon as it shattered all records and became one of the top grossing films of all time. To date, the Star Wars films have grossed over $4.83 billion.
If I were George Lucas, I would have photos of Alan Ladd Jr. plastered all over Skywalker Ranch!