My First Christmas Party with “The Streets of San Francisco” by Tony Piazza
San Francisco skyline at Christmas
The Christmas season is a great time to reflect on the past. Family gatherings, friends stopping by for good cheer, sumptuous treats and colorful gifts are all part of the memories we conjure up on the days leading up to the twenty-fifth.
Today mine turns to a very special occasion that occurred forty-one years ago in December of 1972. It was the Christmas Party put on by Quinn Martin for the cast and crew of “The Streets of San Francisco.”
KARL MALDEN and his wife Mona was there, so was MICHAEL DOUGLAS. Producer QUINN MARTIN came up from Southern California to join us, as did Executive Producer HOWARD ALSTON. Many from Management were a part of the festivities; DICK GALLEGLY and ARTHUR FELLOWS also coming to mind.
This is a crew Christmas photograph from 1973. Look for guest star Ida Lupino among Karl, Michael, and the rest.
I was a guest that night along with my parents. It was held in the ballroom at the Del Webb Towne House on Market Street. This hotel was used as the production office during that first season- later (for the second season) a warehouse on Kearny would be converted to offices and a soundstage.
Kas Garas, Anneke Wills, and Anthony Quayle- Strange Report
Aside from my parents, I shared a table with two of the guest stars on the episode they happened to be filming during the week of the party- actors KAZ GARAS and ED NELSON. Kaz was one of the stars (actor ANTHONY QUAYLE being the other) of my favorite British television production- “Strange Report”. He was seated next to me and we were having a conversation like old friends! Boy, did that seem strange- no pun intended! Actor Ed Nelson had played Dr. Rossi (in the 1960s) on my mother’s favorite night-time soap…“Peyton Place” (which also starred: Ryan O’Neal, Barbara Parkins, Mia Farrow, and Christopher Connelly). Nelson was a heart-throb on that show, so I’m sure she didn’t have any complaints having him at our table. We were having a great time.
Ed Nelson as Dr. Rossi (Peyton Place)
The food was terrific that night, as was the outtakes and blooper reels shown by EDDIE MARKS, the wardrobe guy on the show- some of the films were taken with his own 8mm sound camera.
My father and Michael Douglas
I remember everything was brightly decorated- both in the ballroom and outside the hotel. Colorful holiday lights of red, green, yellow, and blue reflected off the wet pavement that chilly San Francisco night- it had rained. But once inside there was great warmth in the Towne House with friends sharing laughter and good cheer. Karl- ever the father of the production company also played Father Christmas passing out gifts that he (whose generous nature was remarkable) had purchased for the great and small alike of his “Streets” family.
Karl Malden- Father Christmas!
There was caroling, and music to dance to- nothing was overlooked. It was a memory to be cherished- as I have done these many years. Most of the crew is gone now- Karl has passed on to his reward, and so have my parents who are no doubt presently sharing some laughs with him. It is so grand that I can look back and remember these special occasions which grow every so much more meaningful as time passes on.
Merry Christmas to all! Thank you for following my blogs and hope to see you next year!
Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His next novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was released early 2012 and is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden. His non-fiction e-book “Bullitt Points” is an in depth look at the making of “Bullitt” from a person who was there. Look for it where fine books are sold, or at the link posted below. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity: www.bullittpoints.com.
Also: Watch for the new Tom Logan mystery thriller due out mid-2013!