Elsa, you have been
reading my Fourth Draft... and I am so grateful for your support!
Meanwhile, I have been working on the Fifth Draft.
Recently the Fifth Draft
caught up with where you are in the Fourth Draft, so I am going to
switch you over to the Fifth Draft.
Since you said you love
the Bee Gees, I will start with an upgraded version of some of the
ground you have already covered. I think you will like it.
CHAPTER SIXTY SIX:
Rick Archer's Footnote:
Destiny is about the unusual events
that launched my dance career. In order to
demonstrate my theory that certain things in life
are pre-determined, I will continue to offer
descriptions of situations that seemingly defy the
laws of probability.
story about how
Saturday Night Fever
came to be filmed is extremely
important to my book for two reasons.
First of all, as we shall see,
Saturday Night Fever served as the booster
rocket that launched my dance career into orbit.
Consequently, later in life I went back and studied
the events that led to the movie's creation. To be
frank, I was so astonished by what I learned, I
believe the making of this movie is just as much a
Supernatural Situation as the events surrounding my
Saturday Night Fever became the
career-defining moment for eight different men -
Producer Robert Stigwood, Actor John Travolta, the
three Bee Gee brothers, Story Writer Nik Cohn,
Screen Writer Norman Wexler, and Magazine Editor Clay Felker.
these men would become rich and famous beyond their
man failed to make a dime. He was ruined in
the process. Keep your eye on Clay Felker, the
one who was decimated. In his search for
redemption, Felker would one day have a direct
impact on my life.
story of how Saturday Night Fever came
to be serves as the most perfect example of
'Synchronicity' I have ever witnessed. Therefore
I have listed it as Supernatural Situation 40, Five
Stars. I understand this is a very bold
statement, so I will share the unusual story of
Saturday Night Fever and let the Reader
reach their own conclusion.
you will enjoy the 'Robert Stigwood Synchronicity'.
SUBCHAPTER 283 -
PRODUCER ROBERT STIGWOOD
When it came to Saturday Night Fever, Robert
Stigwood was unbelievably fortunate. However, he wasn't
just lucky, there is considerable evidence that he also
benefitted from 'Dumb Luck', i.e. when someone
succeeds in spite of themselves.
Stigwood (1934-2016) began his career as a music
producer. Born in Australia, Stigwood moved to England at age
21. Stigwood had a college degree, but no idea what to do with it. After a series of dead-end jobs, Stigwood discovered he had an interest in promoting local
rock bands in Portsmouth.
Climbing the ladder, Stigwood got his start in the mid-Sixties as the manager of
future rock star Eric Clapton. It was Stigwood's idea to pair Clapton
with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. This led to
Cream, the superstar rock band that briefly rivaled the fame
of the Beatles and Rolling Stones.
Along the way, Stigwood managed The Who (Tommy, Pinball
as well as the Bee Gees from Australia.
The three Bee
Gee brothers were in awe of Stigwood. They described
him as a creative genius with a very quick and very dry wit.
Stigwood was an aggressive manager who wasn't afraid to take
chances. Stigwood had a favorite saying.
"There are a lot
of ways to become a failure, but never taking a chance is
the most effective."
Unfortunately, Stigwood's bold
style got him in a lot of trouble early in his career. Stigwood
victim of a bad move that led to one of the funniest
rock 'n roll history.
In 1966, Robert Stigwood tried to poach another manager's
act into his own fold. The manager, Don Arden, took
Don Arden: "I had to stop
these overtures – and quickly! I contacted two
well-muscled friends and hired two more equally huge
toughs. The five of us went along to nail this cocky impresario to his
chair with fright.
There was a large ornate ashtray on
his desk. I picked it up and smashed it down with such
force that the desk cracked – giving a good impression
of a man wild with rage.
My friends and I
had carefully rehearsed our next move. I pretended to go
berserk. I lifted the impresario bodily from his chair,
dragged him on to the balcony and held him so he was
looking down at the pavement four floors below. I asked
my friends if I should drop him or forgive him. In
unison they shouted: 'Yeah, do it! Go ahead and
with shock, I thought he might have a heart
attack. Immediately, I dragged him back into the
room and warned him never to interfere with my
Stigwood learned his lesson. From that point on, Stigwood
stayed closer to the rules and enjoyed considerable success.
can make it there, I'll make it anywhere,
Come on, come through, New York, New York.
Sinatra, 'New York, New York'
(1925-2008) as the embodiment of Sinatra's
New York, New York. If Felker could make
it there, he could make it anywhere.
Missouri, Felker was an outsider who wanted to be an
insider. He succeeded royally. From his
position as editor of New York
Magazine, one of the city's most
influential magazines, Clay Felker became the
ultimate New York insider.
Clay Felker was said to be one of the best-connected
people in the media business. A celebrated
man about town, Felker made it his
job to know
every influential person in news, television, politics, theater,
fashion, Wall Street and Hollywood. As his
writer friend Tom Wolfe put it, "Clay Felker was the
man who invented New York".
career, Clay Felker was known as a trend-spotter.
His special genius was seeing what was breaking
before anyone else. Felker
was quoted about his love for
trend-spotting. "Journalism is very often about
This was a
fitting observation about a man who time and again
practiced what he preached. Felker tried to
stay ahead of the curve. As a magazine editor,
Felker understood the importance of reporting on
interesting developments well in advance of his
competitors. Therefore he honed a keen eye for
stories that would capture the public's interest
before they became obvious.
Felker went one step further. He would see something that
was ready to happen, then authorize a story to help ensure it
actually did happen. Taking pride in spotting cultural
Clay Felker's extra attention often provided the spark that lit the fire.
connected to the pulse of America, Clay Felker was
one of the most influential journalists of his time.
Back in the Sixties and Seventies, Clay Felker was the legendary editor of
New York Magazine. In 1977 Felker
moved on to
Esquire magazine. Felker not only helped found the
The Village Voice, he also helped
his friend Gloria Steinem start
Two subjects near and dear to Felker's heart were
Status and Subcultures. Or 'Haves and Have Nots' as he
put it. Status was came first. Felker was fascinated
by ambition and social climbing. This preoccupation developed because
Clay Felker wanted to
be just as famous as the people he associated with.
They say one is defined by the company they keep.
Constantly surrounded by important celebrities, Clay Felker became a celebrity in his own right.
He found a way to make himself important.
intensely curious about the rich. Fascinated
nuances of power and status in the city, he found a
unique way to obtain the inside information New York
Magazine was famous for. Felker had a fabulous
apartment at 322 East 57th where he threw the most
lavish parties in New York City. His parties were said
to be the ideal place to rub shoulders with the rich, the elite
and the talented. Tom
Wolfe joked that Felker's vast fireplace was such an inviting
place to be noticed that 'fourteen status
seekers would sit there all at the same time'.
Felker was the quintessential New York insider with
custom-made clothes and his swashbuckling air of confidence.
Using his stunning movie star wife Pamela Tiffin as the
perfect arm decoration, Felker certainly had no trouble holding his own
with the Beautiful People. Thanks to his position at
the magazine, Felker was just as interesting as they were... which
was the idea all along.
Felker discovered if he could
get enough important people from different power
corridors in contact with each other, they would
begin to gossip and unleash a treasure trove of trade
secrets. Felker typically exchanged ideas with
a martini in one hand and a beautiful woman in the other. As the stories became juicier, no
doubt Felker would snap his fingers to ensure another
martini would be produced on demand. Felker smiled
as people dropped one story after another in his
lap. Felker knew exactly what he was
doing... and so did his guests.
New York Magazine was his baby.
Clay Felker understood that the movers and
shakers of New York were obsessed with Status and were
dying to be Noticed as often as possible.
To see the best and be seen by the best. So Felker paid his dues and worked his way to the editor's
position at New York magazine. Once
there, Felker parlayed his unique position to grant
attention to the most interesting people he could find.
Magazine became the direct extension of those smart
Upper East Side dinner parties.
and his magazine were practically synonymous... each
in turn supported the other.
By engaging in
peppery talk on a wide variety of topics such as
politics, real estate, business,
and prominent people misbehaving, Felker used his dinner parties to keep a close finger on the pulse of the town.
On Monday morning, Felker would transform
the various loose lip tidbits into his next set of
stories. He would quote anonymous sources of
course, but a cursory scan of his most recent guest list would
suggest the identity.
Felker made his magazine a must-read for the movers
and shakers of America's premier city. New York
Magazine became the style guide for every hip artist,
wealthy socialite, ambitious politician and shrewd businessman looking
for an angle.
Everyone knew that each issue would contain something sharp, well-informed, and 'trendy'.
No one turned
down a Felker party invitation. Felker's
parties at his tony East 57th Street apartment were
a popular destination for glamorous people vying for
a cover story. Others came in hopes of hearing a lucky tip. Everyone knew
a chance conversation with the right person could
lead to a career break.
Felker was curious about finding hidden nuggets as well. Felker
understood the sub-cultures were not going to come to him,
so he was on the lookout wherever he went. Clay Felker
always had a stable of creative writers to choose from. As the
ultimate 'trend spotter', Felker made it his business to
notice something interesting, then go find one of his gifted writers to poke his or her nose into
was a magazine that helped create the notion of the writer
as star," said Ken Auletta, one of Felker's writers, to
Washington Post in 1993.
Tom Wolfe and Gail Sheehy were two of Felker's first
New York always seemed to reflect the heady
confusion of the difficult Seventies. Felker took
special delight in stories where the Ins and the Outs
interfaced awkwardly. One such story was Tom Wolfe's
"Radical Chic" which described a strange fundraiser for the Black
Panthers at the apartment of conductor Leonard Bernstein.
Wolfe's scathing story, which coined the term 'limousine
liberals', became a classic example of the New Journalism.
Six years later, Wolfe summed up the entire era when he
called it the 'Me Decade'.
Gail Sheehy was another writer Felker encouraged. Sheehy was an early feminist.
She was fascinated with writing about how women negotiated a
Man's World during the Sixties. Like her counterpart
Tom Wolfe, Sheehy had a gift for the clever phrase.
For example, writing about women in
singles bars in the Sixties, Sheehy wrote:
pant-suited, birth-controlled and pleasure-goaled."
good example of Felker's style was Gail Sheehy's vivid 1971 reporting on
prostitution in New York. Felker suggested to Sheehy that she investigate from an unusual angle.
Gail Sheehy took the hint and put away her notepad. Sheehy took to the streets wearing hot pants, white
vinyl boots and a revealing top.
Behind puffed up
hair and too much makeup, the disguise worked perfectly. Gail Sheehy was able to mingle with the working girls and
get some straight talk. What Sheehy brought back to
Felker was an astonishing eyewitness account of the sex
trade. What she found out caused a firestorm of
controversy. It seems many of the city's richest, most
powerful families and corporations benefited directly and
indirectly from the illegal sex business.
Be it Gail Sheehy or Tom Wolfe, stepping on people's toes was a Felker specialty.
Their stories and
others like it created sensation and
controversy. Someone was always mad at Clay
Felker for something one of his writers had written
about them. This was what Clay Felker lived
for. It did not take long until Felker's magazine
was on the tip of everyone's tongue. Who would be
It can be said
that Clay Felker's New York
helped New York discover its
own identity. Felker even
changed the face of magazines.
it counterculture, feminism, obsession with status, Clay
Felker encouraged the citizens to take a close look at
themselves. By noticing what was interesting about everyday places and
people, Clay Felker became the inspiration for adding the Lifestyle
section to the American newspaper, a feature we now take for
Gail Sheehy, who married Felker in 1984, said her husband was an inspiration to many writers. Sheehy said that
Felker presided as an editing God to an explosion of
creative nonfiction back in the Sixties... Tom Wolfe, Truman
Capote, Joan Didion, Jimmy Breslin, Norman Mailer, Hunter Thompson,
Nora Ephron, Gloria Steinem, Aaron Latham, and of course
Indeed, Gail Sheehy's 1976 book Passages was
named by the Library of Congress one of the ten most
influential books of our times.
Tom Wolfe, one of Felker's
first superstars, turned a Felker suggestion into The Electric
Kool-Aid Acid Test, a fascinating book on the
counter-culture. Wolfe went on to become a best-selling author with books like
Bonfire of the Vanities
and The Right Stuff.
Tom Wolfe never forgot who
his mentor was. In a 1993 interview with the Washington Post, Tom Wolfe
called Clay Felker "the greatest idea man that ever
SUBCHAPTER 285 -
Nik Cohn was the next piece of the puzzle. Born in London in 1946, Cohn got his
start as a rock critic. Always the clever guy, by the
age of 18 Cohn was a fixture on the swinging London Mod
scene of the late Sixties. He partied with rock stars
and hung out with his celebrity friends on tours.
With an ear for gossip, Cohn figured out a way to make
money off the fame of his companions. He contributed briefings about mods and rockers to
The Observer. Along the way, Cohn wrote
a 1969 book about the history of rock 'n roll in Britain.
Nik Cohn had an odd claim to fame. Cohn
was a close friend of Peter Townshend, lead singer of
Who. Cohn was an avowed pinball maniac and
Townshend loved watching him play. Cohn's obsession
with the pinball machine became the inspiration for
Townshend’s classic song Pinball Wizard.
Cohn was an adept social climber. He parlayed his
media position into a circle of important contacts within
the British music business. One of the men he rubbed
elbows with was Robert Stigwood. Since Stigwood was
the manager and booking agent of The Who at the
time, this illustrious rock band became Cohn's
connection to Stigwood's business operations.
spent time on the set during the 1974 filming of Stigwood's
film version of Tommy featuring The Who.
In the process Nik Cohn became
a close friend with Bill Oakes,
president of RSO Records (Robert Stigwood
In 1975, Oakes invited Cohn to come join him in New York.
After crossing the Atlantic, Cohn crashed on the couch in
Oakes' apartment. Cohn soon landed
a job with Clay Felker's New York
magazine to cover the New York music scene.
One night Nik Cohn followed a tip and took a taxi over to
Brooklyn. He visited a nightclub known as
a Disco hotbed. Previously
Disco had been a phenomenon
limited to New York's gay bars. Now
heard this new style of dancing had
migrated to a working class neighborhood.
to the Disco gave
him an idea. It seemed that
Disco was spreading like a virus.
Cohn's experience with the music scene suggested there was a story
here. Cohn went
back to Oakes' apartment and immediately started writing.
idea had been to pitch this idea to Clay Felker at New York
magazine. Then it crossed his mind that
perhaps the Stigwood organization would be interested in his
well. As an afterthought, Cohn handed the story to his friend Bill
Oakes and asked him to pass the story
Kevin McCormick who was in charge of
film development for RSO.
knew who Nik Cohn was. The two men had worked
together on another movie project. The
moment McCormick read the
story, he saw the potential.
McCormick made sure the story
reached the desk of Robert Stigwood.
Stigwood was sold from the start. This story just
might be the answer to the huge John Travolta gamble he had
After Nik Cohn finished his story, he went to work on
getting it published
by Clay Felker at New York magazine.
Cohn actually went to the trouble of tracking Felker down
while the editor and several friends ate dinner one night at a posh New York
restaurant. Talk about aggressive!
Cohn told Felker his idea depicted
world of lower-middle-class, lower-IQ youths who lived in
Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx in the mid-1970s.
These teens and young adults wrapped their entire lives
around Saturday nights in the Disco clubs.
To Cohn's dismay, Felker
just laughed in his face. Ridiculous. Then
Felker rubbed in it. With Cohn standing there, Felker
embarrassed the young man by asking his dinner guests what
they thought about a story covering
the Saturday night dance ritual of young working-class
cognoscenti all scoffed.
Who gives a flip about a bunch of poor kids who like to dance on Saturday
night? They had heard it before. That story was as old as
Beach Blanket Bingo, Motown and Elvis
Felker said forget it.
To him, Disco music was a fringe phenomenon
exclusive to boring lower-class youth.
Cohn was crushed, but he wasn't going to give up that easily. He
approached Felker's partner Milton Glaser who decided to
champion the story. Despite mixed feelings, Felker
gave in and let the story run. Nik Cohn's
Rites of the New Saturday Night,
was published on June 7, 1976.
When Robert Stigwood saw Cohn's article appear in New
York magazine, he panicked a little. He had
just signed John Travolta to a million dollar contract and
needed a movie for Travolta to star in. Stigwood could
not take a chance of letting this story get away.
Stigwood told his lawyer friend Fred Gershon that this movie
could be worth a hundred million dollars. Gershon wasn't
quite so confident, but negotiated rights to the story
nonetheless. To his surprise, Nik Cohn played
hardball. Cohn was not only a good writer, he had
the touch of a gambler in him. He had heard from his friend Bill Oakes
just how interested Stigwood was in this story as a script
for a movie.
Nik Cohn had agreed to $10,000 as the price for an option on
his article. Kevin McCormick was already on board to
produce the movie. To Stigwood's surprise, at the last
minute another producer materialized who had heard about the story before the
Cohn deal was finalized. Gosh, too bad, suddenly the price had gone up. Gershon
smelled a rat. He suspected that Nik Cohn
pitching this story to everyone with a phone number.
Sensing they were being hustled, Gershon suggested that
Stigwood back off.
Stigwood wouldn't hear of it.
He had to have this movie, so he
over the negotiations.
"I'm going to pay the kid whatever
it takes." Stigwood
the deal down by
offering Cohn a first
shot at the screenplay for a guaranteed $150,000, as
well as percentage points in the soundtrack album.
Fred Gershon was
aghast. He had never heard of music
percentage points for a writer. Stigwood said this
was at Nik Cohn's insistence.
Cohn was very shrewd. Using
his own instincts plus the inside knowledge his friend Bill
Oakes unknowingly passed on, Cohn could
see the soundtrack would obviously be important
to a dance movie.
Give the lad some credit. He bet the farm on his Disco
incident was very likely the first time a writer
had ever gotten points
for a music album, certainly when
the property was little more than
a magazine feature.
was a born hustler.
Now we know why Cohn pushed Clay Felker so hard... he was
trying to run up the selling price of his story!
Cohn's greatest accomplishment was getting Felker to print his story.
Since Felker was
dead set against it, Cohn had to move mountains to get Felker
to move on his story. However, once the story was
published, Cohn was off to the races. Now he had
the credibility he needed to raise his asking price.
Here is what is interesting.
Given Clay Felker's initial lack of enthusiasm, it is a small wonder the story ever got
published in the first place. However, even
more amazing, the story was a complete fraud.
the Tribal Rites story was a total
Twenty years after Saturday Night Fever came out, Nik
Cohn admitted the story which inspired the script was a
fraud. However Cohn swore he had a good excuse.
Cohn explained that he had run into a serious language
barrier. Raised in England, Cohn complained he could not understand a
single word the uneducated Brooklyn teenagers were saying.
Their accents and terms were such a complete mystery to him,
Cohn gave up trying to understand. He simply observed
for a while, then went home. Cohn decided to fib.
Facing a deadline, what else could he do? Cohn said he
based his story on Rebel Without a Cause.
Put on your dancing shoes, James Dean. "You're
tearing me apart!"
Believe it or not, two years later Cohn changed his story
time Cohn admitted the problem had nothing to do with the
language barrier. In reality, Cohn never even set
foot in the nightclub. On the night he visited 2001 Odyssey,
just as the taxi pulled up, there was a fight breaking out on the
sidewalk. Cohn decided it was safer to stay in the
taxi and watch. To his surprise, one of the fighters
lurched over to Cohn's cab and threw up. With that, Cohn
told the driver to get him the hell out of there.
As they drove
away, Cohn caught a glimpse of a tall, confident figure
standing in the club doorway. Dressed in flared
crimson pants and a black body shirt, the man was coolly
surveying the action. Cohn was impressed by the man's
aloof demeanor. There was a special quality to this
as if he was operating on a different plane from the rest. On
the spot, Cohn had his hero.
wrote a completely fictional story using
2001 Odyssey as his location and the unknown
figure as his star.
Cohn had once hung around a charismatic street hustler named
Chris at a spot called Shepherd's Bush in London.
Basing his main Disco character on Chris, Cohn worked from there.
When Cohn was
finished, he added a note that insisted 'everything in
this article is factual.'
friends, is the very definition of chutzpah.
Yes, sad to say, there
was no real-life Tony Manero. Just add Tony Manero to the list of
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and many tooth fairy fibs.
Nik Cohn had pulled off one of the great scams in literature.
Lying through his teeth, Cohn had parlayed a 15-page short story into
a small fortune. There were countless other perks as well. As a reward, Nik Cohn got to hang out with the biggest stars
and attend premieres with beautiful singers draped on his
arm. Not bad, huh?
Let's face it, there’s nothing quite like seeing the words ‘based on a true
story’ in a movie. Great selling point, yes?
No doubt there was much sanctimonious criticism when the
truth came out that the entire story was imagination.
But in reality, there was only one real victim - Clay
Felker. Nik Cohn leapfrogged to the stratosphere using
Clay Felker's unwitting shoulders as his springboard.
Although Nik Cohn did not personally bring about Clay
Felker's ruin, he was responsible for the greatest indignity
Felker ever suffered. Felker built his reputation on
his ability to spot things before they happened, to spot
trends, to identify sub-cultures and bring them to light.
New York magazine was not only directly
responsible for bringing the Disco sub-culture out of
obscurity, the sensation caused by Cohn's article led to
Saturday Night Fever, the major cultural icon of
Clay Felker was given credit for the spotting the most
important trend of his career... the Disco energy. And
yes, Felker did not mind taking credit for it. But in
his heart, Clay Felker knew that he did not deserve the
credit. Felker had completely missed on this story.
SUBCHAPTER 286 -
the bee gees
Robert Stigwood parlayed his early success in the music
industry into productions on stage and in film.
Stigwood learned early on to mix music with drama.
Nearly every one of his productions involved music.
Among Stigwood's stage credits were
Sweeney Todd, Hair,
Oh Calcutta and
Jesus Christ Superstar.
His movie credits would include Grease,
Gallipolli, and Jesus Christ Superstar
as well as musical film extravaganza Sgt. Pepper's
Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Stigwood's main passion was to do Grease, the
exciting 1971 Broadway musical. By a twist of fate, Stigwood's
efforts to bring Grease to screen would accidentally
lead the man to produce an even more famous project, Saturday
The Bee Gees were an
Australian rock group that consisted of three brothers,
Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. The Bee Gees had
gotten their start in the late Sixties. With
Robert Stigwood as their manager from the start, the
group quickly scored some initial hits such as 'To
Love Somebody', 1967.
Thanks to their instant success,
the Bee Gees were said to be the next Beatles.
However, they fizzled almost as fast as they sizzled.
You know the story... drugs, booze, distractions. By
the time the mid-Seventies rolled around, the Bee Gees were
toast. As of 1974, the Bee Gees were
washed-up has-beens who were being referred to in the past
Fortunately Stigwood had enduring
faith in the Bee Gees. Stigwood
had a real soft spot for these guys. They were
always his pet project. The problem was that once
a rock band loses its momentum, it is very difficult to
regain it. Although they were terrific
songwriters, they had not had a major hit in years.
Their music consisted of gentle ballads at a time when
Hard Rock was the dominant sound.
It didn't look good for the Bee
Gees, but fortunately Stigwood stayed by their side.
Telling the three brothers that he believed in them,
Stigwood encouraged them to keep writing songs. "You
know what they say. The harder you work, the luckier you
Stigwood promised that sooner or
later their luck would turn. Stigwood had a
suggestion. Why not move away from ballads, the
Bee Gees staple, and take advantage of the growing
American interest in dance tracks? Good idea.
The Bee Gees moved to Miami and began experimenting.
In 1975, they crafted a
dance-oriented disco song titled Jive Talkin'.
To their surprise, it became their first #1 hit in four
years. Jive Talkin' started their
comeback. The band liked their new sound, so they
stayed with it. You Should Be Dancing
was released released in 1976 and quickly became their
second dance track to hit #1.
Stigwood was pleased his suggestion had worked out so
well. At the same time, he was surprised at the
amount of interest in this unorthodox dance music.
Disco music was hardly his cup of tea, but Stigwood
understood that success in this business was
unpredictable and difficult to attain. His advice
was if it works, stick with it.
The script for
appeared on Stigwood's desk out of nowhere. This
should be referred to as 'Luck', a wonderful accident
so speak. The moment he saw the word 'Disco',
one imagines his fondness for the Bee Gees played a major
role in his snap decision to pursue the SNF
However, as we shall see, it turns that out the Bee Gee's
last-minute inclusion in the movie soundtrack would be the
perfect example that Robert Stigwood was the beneficiary of
extreme Dumb Luck in addition to his considerable Good Luck.
SUBCHAPTER 287 -
Although Robert Stigwood
should be considered an unusually Lucky guy, there
can be no doubt the man possessed considerable talent as well. His 1976
decision to sign John
Travolta to a three-movie deal was sheer genius.
Back, Kotter was a 1975 television sensation.
The show was based on a sarcastic, street-smart high
school teacher who takes a group of incorrigible yet
loveable teenagers under his wing and shows them the light.
From the start,
John Travolta had been the undeniable break-out star of the
show. However, he was not without his critics.
Some suggested Travolta couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. Ironically,
since Travolta was a high school dropout, it was
said he was just playing himself.
Maybe so, but his popularity was off the charts.
Travolta could not go out in public without being mobbed.
By the second season, Travolta received more than
10,000 fan letters a week.
was Robert Stigwood thinking? Producer Stigwood
had just placed
a million dollar bet on this young TV star. A million dollar
contract for some kid with no longevity, no track record?
thought Stigwood had gone nuts. In the history of
television, so far no one had ever made the transition from TV
star to movie star. Therefore the idea of paying a
million bucks to an untested actor was quite a stretch,
especially since many assumed that Travolta was barely more
talented than Vinnie Barbarino, his dumb but sexy TV character.
Fortunately, Stigwood was privy to
something others were not aware
of. Stigwood had been a fan of Travolta
well before Welcome Back, Kotter.
Back in 1971, Stigwood had auditioned Travolta for the lead
in Jesus Christ Superstar.
Although Stigwood noticed Travolta had
oodles upon oodles of talent, there was
one problem... Travolta was only 17. Too young
for the part.
Nevertheless, Stigwood penciled a note on a
yellow pad: “This kid will be a very big star someday.”
Around the same
time as Travolta's youthful audition, Stigwood had his eye on something else: Grease.
Stigwood was a huge admirer of the musical that
debuted in 1971. Based on a
hunch, Stigwood had taken out an option on Grease.
He planned to make it a movie after the play ran its course.
When Stigwood saw Travolta, he
immediately visualized Travolta as a great fit for the
movie version of Grease somewhere down the
road. Once Travolta
confirmed Stigwood's initial instincts with his Kotter breakout, Stigwood decided to lock
up Travolta to do Grease before the kid's price
climbed any higher. Stigwood was convinced that Grease
was the perfect vehicle for the cocky teen heartthrob.
Then came the bad news. Grease
was suddenly off-limits!
There was a clause in the contract for Grease
that said Stigwood's option would have to wait until 1978 in case the musical was still going strong.
Was Grease still going strong in 1976?
You betcha. It was Stigwood's bad luck to take out an
option on the longest running play in Broadway history.
No problem. Stigwood assumed for a little cash, the producers would let
him start filming sooner. Wrong. The producers refused to let Stigwood proceed early.
Stigwood was heartsick. He had signed
Travolta based on the gamble the show would be available
soon. It was 1976 and he would
have to wait until 1978 like the option said. To wait
two years was utter madness. Travolta was hot right now!
This was serious bad luck. Or was it? Stigwood
certainly thought so. However, anyone familiar with
Fate knows that sometimes bad luck has a
way of turning into good luck.
In this case the Stigwood's ambitions were rescued when Nik Cohn's
story appeared on his desk out of nowhere.
realized that Cohn's
story would be perfect for Travolta's talents.
Now wasn't that a nice little coincidence??
It almost makes you wonder if Fate was involved.
SUBCHAPTER 288 -
JOHN AVILDSEN AND
Robert Stigwood was in a serious hurry to take
advantage of the handy appearance Cohn's story and
Travolta's contract. He wasted no time finding a
director. To his surprise, the talented John Avildsen
chosen to direct Saturday Night Fever based on
his recent work directing Rocky.
seeing a rough cut of
hired Avildsen on the spot.
Stigwood knew he was taking a chance with Avildsen. A keen observer of talent,
Stigwood could see Avildsen was
abundantly gifted. However, Stigwood wondered why a director of Avildsen's
caliber was available. Was Stigwood missing something?
He checked around and discovered Avildsen had been fired as
the director of Serpico, a movie with Al
Pacino that was a surefire hit.
In other words, Stigwood knew full well he was taking a risk with the
temperamental director when he hired him.
Sure enough, almost from the start, Stigwood regretted
taking a chance on Avildsen. To begin with, the temperamental director
insisted on hiring a temperamental writer.
Norman Wexler. Not so fast!
Stigwood pointed out that Nik Cohn
was already working on the script.
Avildsen replied that Wexler was a genius. Did
Stigwood want his movie to rest on the talents of an
amateur with his 15 page magazine story or hire a proven
Stigwood saw Avildsen's point and
relented. Then he asked his director a question.
If this Wexler
guy was so good, then why was he available? "Because
Norman Wexler is a madman."
Avildsen wasn't kidding. Wexler was a real-life Jekyll and
Hyde. A Harvard graduate with an IQ of 180, Wexler had
done brilliant work on Serpico, a truly
superior movie. At the same time, his psychosis made
him fearless with delusional grandeur. He was a vicious,
vindictive paranoid who was shockingly uninhibited.
Throughout the filming, Norman Wexler terrorized various
people on the set with his antics. When Wexler was off
his medication, he could turn very aggressive. One day
Wexler showed one of the female extras the .32 caliber
pistol he was carrying. He was trying to impress the
woman, but it had the exact opposite effect.
No one gave
Norman Wexler the slightest bit of trouble after that.
in the industry would touch Wexler, but Stigwood
decided to roll the dice. Wexler was not only a
genius, he was desperate for work. Stigwood had a
hunch Wexler was likely to pour his
soul into the project. Indeed, Wexler's SNF
script was so
brilliant one has to wonder if his own pain gave him so much
Wexler captured the bleak lives of the
oft-struggling Brooklyn street kids far too well.
In the meantime, Stigwood had
director John Avildsen.
Rocky had just been
released and Avildsen was getting a ton of press.
Perhaps Avildsen's success with Rocky had gone to his
head. Avildsen seemed to be getting John Travolta confused with
Rocky's Sylvester Stallone. Taking a
page out of West Side Story,
Avildsen told Stigwood he wanted to use Travolta for a big fight scene inside the club. Avildsen's vision was some sort of West Side Story
rumble, the Disco version of Sharks versus Jets. Stigwood,s assistant Kevin McCormick tried to explain this was a different kind of movie,
but Avildsen was adamant.
Trying his best to be patient with the volatile director, McCormick offered a compromise. Why not let some of the extras have the fight if it was that
Avildsen wouldn't listen. It had to
be Travolta throwing the punches. No one else would
do. McCormick asked the writer Wexler what he thought.
Wexler said the fight was not consistent with Travolta's
standoffish character. McCormick put his foot down and
Angry at Wexler for not backing him, Avildsen
pointed out that Wexler was
insane. What did Wexler know? To Avildsen,
Wexler's disloyalty justified bringing in a
McCormick said no and gave Avildsen the 'too many
cooks' cliché. However McCormick's logic went right over the
prima donna director's head.
Avildsen put his foot down, so
now Saturday Night Fever had its third writer.
Avildsen's next move was to irritate
Travolta. He decided Travolta
was a rotten dancer, physically soft and way too fat.
He told Travolta to lose 20 pounds
and find some muscles.
If you're going to be a stud, try looking like one. When Travolta didn't move fast enough to please Avildsen, he brought in Sylvester Stallone's
Rocky trainer to
accomplish the feat.
Although Travolta was incredibly insulted
by Avildsen's blunt criticism,
to his credit, the actor decided to cooperate.
The final straw was the music.
This was a movie about music and dancing. They were about
to film, but there
was no music.
Everyone noticed the problem, but they were so frightened of
John Avildsen, they kept their mouths shut.
the hold-up? Where were the Bee Gees like Stigwood had
Indeed, John Avildsen had been told to line up the Bee Gees, but
the suggestion so far. Why was this? Avildsen could not stand the Bee Gees!
He considered them to be washed up has-beens plus he
couldn't stand grown men singing in falsetto.
So he had chosen to disobey what was more or less a
At the time, Stigwood was nowhere to be
seen. During the
pre-filming stage, he was preoccupied trying to
sign the Rolling Stones to his record
label. Somebody on the
Rolling Stones side of the negotiations was getting very
greedy and Stiggy was sick of dealing
with Piggy. Finally Stigwood had
his fill and walked
away from the deal. On the
return flight to New York,
Stigwood was still really irritated over the blown
So was Stiggy in a good mood upon his
But his mood was about to get
One has to understand that Stigwood
had two major reasons to pay extra for the rights to Nik
Cohn's story. First, he had John Travolta on board and
needed a vehicle immediately.
Second, the Bee
Gees were Stigwood's protégés. In fact, Stigwood was
so close to them he probably felt like they were his own
kids. Not only had Stigwood developed the Bee Gees,
for more than ten years he had directed their management, their record label,
and their music publishing rights.
Stigwood had personally overseen the
Bee Gees' comeback by recommending they concentrate on dance
tracks. Since Stigwood had
embarked on the SNF project specifically to help assist the Bee
Gees with their new Disco music career, getting them on board was a foregone conclusion.
When Stigwood learned that Avildsen had
refused to contact the Bee Gees, he blew his top.
Screaming at the top of his lungs,
his office for a meeting and
demanded an explanation.
Avildsen did not back down. First
he told Stigwood he could not stand the Bee Gees. Then
he called the Bee Gees a
bunch of washed-up white guys who sounded like teenage girls
when they sang. Not surprisingly,
Stigwood nearly had a stroke.
That is when something very strange
happened. Just as the arguing reached a
fever pitch, the telephone
rang. It was Fate calling.
answered it himself and started to smile.
Grinning, Stigwood turned to Avildsen.
"Well, John, guess what? I have
good news and
I have bad
The good news is that you have just been
nominated for an Academy Award for
The bad news is that
SUBCHAPTER 289 -
John Badham was
hired to take Avildsen's place. However, amidst the chaos of this
change on the eve of filming, everyone seemed to forget there was still no music chosen
for the film.
as Travolta was
doing dance rehearsals, someone
put on the Bee Gees song 'You Should Be Dancing,'
a hit which had
been released the previous year.
Travolta said, 'Hey, that's a pretty good song.
Nice beat. Why don't you see if these Bee Gee guys have any other songs?'
When Stigwood heard what Travolta had said, he had a panic
attack. Despite his direct orders, Stigwood was
astonished to find the Bee Gees had
still not been contacted!
Try to imagine how Stigwood felt upon
that the Bee Gees
were completely in
the dark. So far no one had agreed on a single song for the
movie. Stigwood was staring at a Musical without
Music. This was worse than the Sound of Music
without Edelweiss or Do-Re-Mi.
As for the Bee Gees, they
had no idea what was going on. They were busy mixing a live
album in the north of France.
His heart racing, Stigwood immediately got on the
Stigwood told the Gibb
brothers that the
song You Should Be Dancing
was great and that Travolta liked it.
told them a little bit about the movie... it was a
cocky but aloof dance stud surrounded by countless adoring women.
Then Stigwood got to the
point and asked the guys if they
had any other
songs they could contribute. Or
if they felt like it, maybe they could write the entire
The three brothers were fairly shocked.
This request was completely out of the blue.
The Bee Gees looked at each other and nodded, 'No way,
we're busy, forget it!'
Feeling a bit guilty, the brothers spoke up.
you can't just ring us up and expect us to drop
everything we're doing. You know damn well we
can't just snap our fingers and pull a hit song out of
thin air. Besides, we have our own
album to do.
We're sorry, but
we don't have the time to sit down and write
music for your
Stigwood said he understood and hung up. Stigwood
was at a complete loss. What was he going to do
without the Bee Gees? Stigwood was
forlorn. He wasn't mad at the brothers, but it hurt
to know he taken on this project to help
them and now the opportunity had gone to waste.
After the call,
the brothers kicked it around. Barry pointed
out that Stigwood had been their friend through thick and
thin. Even when things were rough, Stigwood believed
They all started to nod. It was true, Stiggy had always
been there even when they totally screwed up their career.
With their conscience prodding them in the right direction, the brothers
changed their mind. In an extraordinary show of
Gibb brothers stopped what they were doing and began to work
'feverishly' on this out of
the blue project.
The thing is,
the Bee Gee's sudden change of heart wasn't ordinary Luck,
this was Dumb Luck. Everyone had dropped the
ball on the Bee Gees and yet at the very last minute,
Stigwood got his guys on board with his desperate
next was crazy. Once they got started,
their imaginations were on
three brothers wrote five songs in one weekend, every one
them destined to be mega-hits.
How Deep is
Than a Woman
If I Can't Have You
In addition, the
Bee Gees decided their two previous dance hits,
Talkin' and You Should Be Dancing,
should be included.
One week after
the phone call, Barry Gibb handed Stigwood seven dance tracks.
This is how they became the featured artists on the upcoming
SNF music album.
Destiny was breaking right for the
Despite having no idea how their music would be used,
catchy songs would lead to an amazing comeback in their
Thanks to their
uncanny burst of creativity, the Bee Gees would soon become
the hottest group on the planet. They
be rewarded beyond their wildest dreams when they
Ah, Fate and
its twists and turns. The blockbuster soundtrack would
become the top selling
album in history. Not bad for a last-minute effort.
Rick Archer's Footnote:
like Magic, everything
came together for Robert Stigwood. Three parts -
perfect story, perfect actor, perfect music - fit together
so perfectly that one might actually be tempted to give the
concept of 'Synchronicity' a closer look.
a term synonymous
with 'meaningful coincidence'. To believe in
Synchronicity is to believe the old saying there are
no accidents. Not everyone agrees with this
Synchronicity is one of those mumbo jumbo terms like
esp, mojo, sixth sense and voodoo
that skeptics relegate to the dustbin of pseudoscience.
So is there any
reason to believe in Synchronicity? Good question.
opinion, the easiest way to make a case for
Synchronicity is to point a finger at
Saturday Night Fever.
Not much was
expected from this movie.
Keep in mind this was supposed to be a low-budget
throwaway project. All Stigwood was trying to do was
keep Travolta busy until Grease became
available. And yet by complete accident, Stigwood was
hit a gold mine with Saturday Night Fever because he
three talents... Travolta, Bee Gees, and Wexler... at the
absolute hungriest part of their careers. Working
together, Stigwood and his talented men came up with
People might ask if anyone knew in advance how special the
movie was going to be.
Bill Oakes, right
hand man to Robert Stigwood, later said his boss was certain
this was going to be a big hit. However, to everyone
else at Paramount,
the success of Saturday Night Fever
came as a huge surprise. Before the release, the smart-ass
muckamucks at Paramount thought the movie was
Oakes was especially resentful of their
"Paramount didn't care
a lick about our movie. They gave
us an office on the lot the size of a broom closet and
called Fever the studio's 'little disco
movie'. I could not stand that phrase.
Senior executives for Paramount would visit
the Fever set. They would snoop around,
complain about this or that, then ask
your little disco movie doing?"
thought the whole thing was rather
silly because they believed Disco had run its course.
Actually, there was some truth to
that. Back in 1976 when the Nik Cohn article appeared in
magazine, many people in the music industry believed
Disco music with its
repetitive electronic background and vapid lyrics was on
out. If anything, Disco was trending down.
In the years to follow,
Fever was credited with
kicking off the Disco Era, but
in truth it was
a little more complicated that that. What the movie
did was breathe
new life into a dying genre.
Saturday Night Fever
did not jump on a swelling bandwagon, but rather resuscitated
something on its way out. So in that sense, SNF
really did create the Disco Era.
Although I speak
of 'Luck' as a major factor, there was clearly a great amount of
skill involved as well. Another smart move
Robert Stigwood made
was to release the soundtrack
before the film's debut. This strategy was both
innovative and brilliant. No soundtrack had ever been
released in advance before.
Here is an anecdote that bears out the effectiveness of
move nicely. Michael Eisner, head of production at
Paramount, was skiing in Vail, Colorado, in December two weeks before
the movie opened.
heard Staying Alive at the bottom of the
ski lift. Then it was playing at the top of the lift and
I heard it again in the restaurant at the top of the
Something was definitely going on, so I called my
boss Barry Diller, head of Paramount. I said, "Barry,
what do you think? Do we have a hit here?"
Then the movie opened. Travolta was the biggest
thing that ever happened. In the first 11 weeks,
the movie made $11 million. Over time, it would
gross $285 million. The soundtrack was not only
the best-selling soundtrack of all time, it would hold
the record for 14 years, an eternity in this business.
Someone really knew what they were doing with this
Oh boy, they sure did know what they were doing with the
music, didn't they? Let's go ahead and wait till the last minute,
then call the Bee Gees.
Well, if you can't be smart, then be Dumb Lucky.
Robert Stigwood caught all kinds of breaks. Say what
you will about Director John Avildsen. He was wrong
about the Bee Gees, but he was right about a lot of other
things. Take the script for example. Nik Cohn
had written a fairy tale off the top of his head, then
insisted he be allowed to write the movie script as part of his
However, Cohn had little experience at
writing a movie script. Stigwood was fortunate that
Avildsen recognized the limitations of Cohn's work and
insisted on hiring Norman Wexler over Stigwood's strenuous objections.
To Stigwood's amazement, Wacko Wexler
took a fake 15 page magazine story and gave this
low-budget movie a truly extraordinary script.
Avildsen told Travolta that he was fat and couldn't dance a
lick. Deeply offended, Travolta worked his butt off to
prove Avildsen wrong. The point is that the so-called
disgraced director John Avildsen actually made a huge,
largely uncredited contribution to the success of this
However, Stigwood's most incredible break of all had to be the
inclusion of John Travolta. It was uncanny how
Travolta was tailor-made for the role as the cocky yet moody dance stud.
Dinah Manoff had this to say.
"There was an energy surrounding John unlike anything I
had ever experienced. It wasn’t even lusting
on my part.
It was being in the presence of something epic. I
had never been around a charisma that was at its peak
that way. I cannot describe it to you. There
is no other movie star I have ever been around who
carried the energy John did in those days with
Grease and Fever. And the funny
thing is that John didn't even know how good he was.”
Every once in a while a movie
comes along that no one expects much from, but somehow becomes special. Most people
point to Casablanca as the best example. In a
Saturday Night Fever
became a classic as well.
Despite the low expectations for
this hard-hitting story of directionless youth
with Travolta as the Dancing James Dean packed quite a punch.
Travolta was very
convincing as the ambitious young man who yearned to make
something of himself. Saturday Night Fever struck
a chord with audiences all over the world.
changed John Travolta’s life. What Marlon Brando and James Dean
were to the Fifties and Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison were to the Sixties, Travolta
achieved equal status in the Seventies. Saturday
Night Fever gave the decade its cultural identity and John
Travolta became a pop culture icon.
Thanks to Robert Stigwood's gut-feeling about his boys,
revived the career of the Bee Gees.
original music score anchored
best-selling movie soundtrack album of all time.
And the box office?
Saturday Night Fever would go on to gross $285 million.
Its combined box office and soundtrack sales would make it
one of the most lucrative films in history.
the all the hoopla was the original budget... $3.5 million.
Robert Stigwood truly
had the Midas Touch.
As for me, considering the importance Saturday Night Fever
had on my life, I studied Robert Stigwood with intense
curiosity. How do successful people become successful?
In Stigwood's case, it was obvious that
he had a keen eye for talent.
characteristic was Stigwood's willingness to
bet on his own instincts. Of course talent and
original ideas are a prerequisite to success.
However, often the difference
between a successful person and an unknown is the courage one has to bet on
one's ideas and take a calculated risk.
Most of all
I could not escape the feeling that Stigwood was Lucky.
In fact, I am
surprised at the number of successful people who cite 'Luck' as a major
factor. Many tales of successful people involve being
in the right place at the right time. Thanks to a
lucky break, they were chosen for a position ahead of
other people just as talented and just as ambitious.
To me, the story of
Robert Stigwood is pure Fate. At this
one magic time in his life, everything turned to Gold.
Even when Stigwood screwed up... John Avildsen and the Bee Gees story
for example... things worked out to perfection.
The way I see it, someone up there liked Robert Stigwood.
To me, the
funniest thing of all is that the entire phenomenon started
on a fake story. Without
Slick Nik and his brazen nerve to pass off a fairy tale as
the Real Thing, Disco would be little more than a footnote
as silly music from the Seventies.
would be no Bee Gees megahits, no Travolta
superstardom, no Disco acrobatics, and no nostalgic Disco parties
complete with ugly clothes, bad jokes and funny hair.
All this because some English stiff made up a wild yarn and
sold it as truth. Barry
Gibb once said to Nik Cohn, “This is all your bloody fault, isn’t it?” Cohn
I don't approve of Cohn's methods, but Nik the Slick was
clearly Destined to play a major role in this unusual story.
I daresay Nik was taking a Magic Carpet Ride of his very
Nik Cohn definitely got lucky. But you know what?
So did a lot of people! Stigwood, Travolta,
Cohn, Wexler, the Bee Gees to name a few. Throughout the
of Fever, I got the feeling
that everyone involved suddenly became smarter, more
instinctive and creative than at any other time in their
life. Everyone was at the top of their game. Using a
sports cliché, it was a career year for everyone.
The way Fever worked out so perfectly defies
the imagination. In fact, so many things clicked, one
might believe Robert Stigwood had the Wheel of Fortune spinning in his direction
and brought everyone else along for the ride.
Do you believe in
MAGIC CARPET RIDE
CHAPTER SIXTY SEVEN:
Night Fever debut, Robert Stigwood Synchronicity (40)
Three: Disco Line Dance class at Stevens of Hollywood, the Three Doors
of Opportunity (39)
Two: Disco Line Dance class at Memorial JCC
|| Graduation Night at Rubaiyat
|| Opportunity One:
Disco Line Dance class at the JCC
Bomb Scare class: substitute dance class in JCC parking lot
(36), I write a
line dance syllabus, Rosalyn's Gift of summer dance class
Dancing with Elena at the Rubaiyat
1977-1979: Magic Carpet Ride
|| Rosalyn's line dance class at JCC
Patsy Swayze explains I do not have enough talent to join her dance
|| Patsy Swayze's jazz class
at Stevens of Hollywood, Roberta's request asking me to
take over her class (35)
|| Gaye Brown-Burke at
Vocational Guidance Service (34), Ted Weisgal, Becky at Sundry School
Line Dance Class
Melody Lane, Mark
says goodbye (33)
|| Sundry School Ballroom class,
Dave ends his class,
Phoney Baloney Dance
Studio, Morlock Dominates Rice Volleyball
Break at Rice
University (31), Manimal
(32), Celeste, Second Office Club
Oaks Seven vanquished (30)
| 1975: January
|| Farmhouse, Mark's
and Lucy, Talk to Elena Project, Mark meets Sean, Stranger in a Strange
(28), Casa Mark, Mark and Donna's Dance Intervention (29)
Dilemma, The Prize
|| Rematch with the River Oaks Seven
Path Synchronicity (24): Courtesan
Book (21), Yolanda, Stalled Car Incident (22), Drag Queen Lynn (23),
Rejection Phobia activated
Dance Class from Hell (25):
Gay Gauntlet, River Oaks Seven, Disco Dave, Parking Lot Inferno,
Charles Manson, Magic
|| Couch Catatonia
1974-1976: The Lost Years
|| Dismissed from graduate school
I teach my experimental
Debbie and the Cow Eyes Incident
takes me under his wing and tells me to keep trying, Learned
Helplessness, Negative Self-Image, Point of No Return
| 1974: January
|| I begin five months of therapy with Dr. Hilton,
Epic Losing Streak
| 1973: December
|| Rocky Mountain Menstrual Cramps, Vanessa leaves for
Portland, I receive a 'D' in Interviewing, Jackie reveals
the truth about Vanessa
|| Love Affair with Vanessa begins,
showdown in Fujimoto's office, Vanessa makes one excuse after another
I meet Vanessa, Portland Woman song (20), butting heads
Arlene, Mental Hospital, Letty and the Cooler incident
Senior at Hopkins
with the Magical Mystery Tour due to problems at Colvig Silver Camp the
summer of 1971
Junior at Hopkins
Counselor Daydream (19), Colvig Silver Camp in Colorado
Sophomore at Hopkins
Kill Shot, Dr. Lieberman, Depression Realization, Susan and the Witch at
Quaker Meeting, Magical Mystery Tour,
Antares-Astrology eye injury (17), Séance with Vicky, Ghost of Terry
Freshman at Hopkins
at the Train Station (16), Sanctuary at Aunt Lynn's house, Car stolen in
December, Night School Computer class
|| Mr. Salls asks me to apply to Johns
Mom's Cosmic Stupidity regarding
child support check (09), Little Mexico, Cheating in Chemistry
Eve blowup with mother,
Father gives me Edgar Cayce book at Christmas,
Foot in the Door Strategy,
Father's $400 insult,
Off Limits Chemistry Restroom, Caught cheating in German
(10), Lost Jones Scholarship to Katina, Edge of The Abyss,
fails to connect with me at SJS for 9 years (11), Cosmic Meeting with Mrs. Ballantyne at Weingarten's (12),
Ralph O'Connor hands me a scholarship to Hopkins, Close Call Car Accident
(13), Senior Prom Cheryl (14), Heartbreak with Terry,
Senior Year Blind Spot (15)
|| New identity forms at Weingarten's, I buy a car
|| Locker Room fight,
of weights appears (07), George Broyles is paralyzed, Second skin
Father denies third skin operation, Weingarten's job (08)
1964-1965: 9th Grade
of Mr. Salls, Acne
Attack (05), Basketball strike on swollen face (06), First skin
1963-1964: 8th Grade
unconscious playing football due to blind eye, quit 8th Grade basketball
Caught stealing at Weingarten's,
Granted full scholarship to SJS, Summer Basketball Project, Discovery of chess book (04)
Ballantyne joins my class, Illness at Boy
Scout camp leads to invisibility, I feel I don't belong at
SJS, Uncle Dick pays my tuition at SJS
Mom's suicide attempt at the bayou,
Terry runs away in Hurricane Carla, Blue Christmas (03)
1960-1961: 5th Grade
Dad remarries, Obsession with the St. John's
Mother's Guild, Comparisons between my mother and
Mrs. Ballantyne begin
1959-1960: 4th Grade
Divorce, 4th grade at St. John's,
Mom begins to fall apart, Dad abandons me for his girlfriend
Cut my eye out
(01), Near Death experience with Stock Car (02)
|| Born in Philadelphia