David with Anders Fredjh
From Sweden With Love

Hollywood Celebrities
& Memorabilia Show

September 25-26, 2010
Rosemont, IL

BIGfrontier BIG TALK with David Hedison: Chicago 10/2010

Diane's extended Chicago Con Report

I was supposed to come to this con and cover it for the web site. Take pictures, write it up, walk around and talk to the celebrities, see what was for sale in the dealer’s room… well, you know what they say about ‘best laid’ plans.

After a somewhat horrendous flight experience into Chicago – late plane, almost missed connection, overhead bin issues on both legs having nothing to do with me, trying to find the proper O’Hare exit to my hotel shuttle, I finally arrived at the Hilton Rosemont with my books, my bags and my sanity (mostly) intact.

I took a shower and unpacked. I called my husband, told him I had arrived. I was about to go down to the 24 hour café for a boxed dinner when my cell phone rang again. I knew it wasn’t John. I recognized the number that flashed across the screen, flipped the phone open and said, Hi, David!

He sounded really good and strong. I confirmed I was in the hotel and checked in, all the while wondering why he’s calling me on Thursday… when we weren’t scheduled to get together until Friday night. I had flown in a day early so I wouldn’t be late for the Fly screening where I was supposed to sign my book. David asked after my flight. I told him he didn’t want to know.

Actually he did. So I explained about the late flight, running through Atlanta and then told him it was over, I made it, don’t worry about it. He then told me he wanted me to have lunch with him Friday at noon and to give him my room number – he had pen and paper to write it down. So I gave it to him. He then told me he was out with friends and would be in very late. I told him to have fun and he hung up. Leaving me staring at the phone.
Naturally, I was very pleased that David was making time for me, but since I hadn’t booked this con for him, I wasn’t really expecting him to; beyond signing some pictures I had brought with me from fans who could not come to the con.

So I got up Friday morning, had a leisurely breakfast, read the paper, ironed my shirt…
Promptly at noon, I hear a knock on my door. I open it. David is standing there. In light stonewash blue jeans and a moss green rolled sleeve camp shirt. He looked terrific. I got a great hug hello. So I grabbed my bag and we went down to the lobby to eat in the hotel restaurant.

We were in an industrial park, there wasn’t any other place else to go eat. Three hotels, a convention center and a parking garage, two blocks from the Interstate, right next to O’Hare Airport. I only heard planes fly over in the early evening, but then, that’s the only time I was ever in my room.

I asked where Bridget was. David told me she hadn’t come. I asked where Carol Summers was. I knew she was supposed to come. Carol hurt her back the day before she was to fly out with David, so he had come alone. Oh---kay.

We ordered and talked and caught up. David had tramped all over the area the previous day waiting for his friends to pick him up for dinner. He was annoyed there was no ATM there. I mentioned I had money for him and if he’d sign some pictures for me, he could have it. I had deliberately brought it in tens, so he wouldn’t have to worry about finding change during the con. Hotels never have change when you need it, particularly on weekends.

David got the check and we went back to my room to sign pictures. But first, he had to see the Fly books for himself. I took them out of the dresser and showed him I had, indeed, brought him Fly books to sell. He wanted to take them all to the screening. We agreed I would serve as his PA and do all the usual things, and that I would wear my Fly T-shirt to the screening.

So after David signed all his pre-sales, I went with him to his room to collect the pictures he wanted to sign at the screening and then took everything back to my room, so I could pack his suitcase for the event that night. Took me about an hour, after I left David.

He was also looking for a box to ship his pictures back home in, as Fed Ex had destroyed the one he used to get them to Chicago. We went down to the business center, but it was only an internet place. The bellman, Mohammed, found David a nice, big box. He really liked David. Told me, David was his guy.

So David and I set a time to meet in the lobby for the screening. I went down a few minutes early to see David’s table set, and put out some Fly book cards – they have the publisher’s website and order info on them, since we were going to miss the Friday night “early bird” show preview – where basically you could wander around and buy while the dealers were setting up – if you paid extra. I put the cards on the freebie table and tried to pick up our badges, but she said, come back in the morning. I mentioned I’d be setting up David’s table at 8:30 AM and she said that would be fine.

David came down to the lobby a few minutes early and the car hadn’t arrived yet, so I asked him if he wanted to see his table. He did. David liked where it was and the room it was in, so we were all set for Saturday. It also didn’t hurt to have the staff see me with him, as I wasn’t badged yet.

We waited a few more minutes and then this huge stretch limo pulled in. Is that us? I asked David. He nodded and told me it was the same guy who had picked him up at the airport. I was impressed. David gave me the idea he would have been more comfortable in say, a town car. Jay came in and told us it had taken him a hour and a half to make it in to Rosemont and he predicted that would take us that long to get back out to Naperville.

The bellman put David's rolling bag in the truck and David asked if he could sit 'up front." David likes the front seat for some reason... so I sat alone in the cavernous back, up by the window slot, so I could talk to the guys. We crept our way west on 294 and merged over onto 88 and finally about an hour later, we got off on 59 and then crawled down 59 until we finally got to the theater. They called the driver's cell when we were about four lights away and he said, we were coming.

We finally got there, and were met by the manager at the back door. David wasn't due to come out yet, so we got a tour of the all eight themed theaters. They offered David vodka, he wanted Ketel One, but settled for Grey Goose. I'm on meds that don't mix well with alcohol, so I got a nice tall ice tea with a sprig. Perfect.

We were taken upstairs through the projection area to wait in the owner's office until they were ready for David in the lobby. Then we went down for David's first signing. I had the rolling suitcase and I helped the person from the theater put out the pictures and books David had and we priced everything with post-its. David was set up with a higher table and chair. After they paid us, they then got in line for him. There was quite a line.
I know that made David happy. He spent time with everyone, particularly the Chicagolandhaunts.com staff member with Down's syndrome. David works with the Special Olympics in LA; he has always been able to relate to anyone.

They then took us to the full theater for David's Q &A. The MC had briefly gotten lost on his way to the theater, but he showed up right before David was due to go down, so I didn't have to fill in for him. I told David I would sit in the front row, where he could see me, if he needed a prompt. David was fine with that, he drained his vodka rocks, I told him to knock them dead and he was off down the stairs to the front of the theater. I followed three steps behind, as his personal assistant.

David did fantastic, he told great stories about all the movies scenes they wanted to know about. The only thing I had to do was give him the bottle of water from my bag, when he asked for it. I told the audience as I resumed my seat, that's why you bring a PA and got a good laugh. They finally had to start the movie, as we were past screening time.

As David left by the left set of stair (to raucous applause) fans seated on the aisle reached out for him. He shook hands with several, and stopped at the top of stair, by a college age woman. She informed him this was her first time seeing the film and she couldn't wait. David asked her if he could have one of her waffle french fries. She said yes. So he ate one. She was so happy. Then with a final jaunty wave, David exited the theater.

The theater staff kept asking David if he wanted to eat and he kept saying later, so after the movie started, we were taken back up the owner's office - Ted wanted to meet David. There we were treated to anything we wanted on the menu. They brought David another Grey Goose (on the rocks) and we ordered - salads that were HUGE and I had a dish of Crab Rangoon. David doesn't like Chinese Food, but he did try one - and agreed it was good, particularly with the plum sauce. I couldn't believe David finished his “Beverly Hills” salad. I couldn't.

We had a long and wide-ranging conversation with Ted, the owner, while we ate and the movie played. I said we'd know when the movie was near the end, we'd hear everyone screaming when she tore the cloth off his head. We ended up going down a little early, so David could be interviewed by Eric Schelkopf.

After the interview, David signed for whoever was in the lobby. He signed for the staff; he had to pose with the 9 foot Grim Reaper. He signed Fly books - he would beckon me over when they came through, so I could sign them as well; Fly lobby cards, Fly posters, shirts, DVDs, anything they brought in. Things finally wound down about 10:30 PM after David was asked to pose with the Hearse guys. I packed up the remaining photos, and there were a lot less of them. David was very happy with the night's work and we got back into the limo to go back to the hotel. It only took 45 minutes via the mostly deserted Interstate this time. Full Report on the appearance here

I told David I would take charge of the suitcase and bring it down to the table in the morning. He brought me up to his room, to pick up his wall poster and get the rest of the photos for the table.

He walked me back to the elevator, he wanted ice for his orange juice and I asked him if he wanted me to get him up in the morning. He said call his cell at 7:00 AM and he'd come down to the set-up table at 9:00 AM for early bird selling.

So I went down at 8:30, after getting David up. I tried to put up his poster with masking tape on the wallpaper. No go. I introduced myself to our neighbors, Robert Dix and his wife, Mary Ellen, who were great neighbors. Dix played Henderson - the first agent murdered in Live and Let Die. Bob was looking around at what other people were doing with their signs. He then offered me his roll of grey duct tape and told me to put the poster up on the wood panel. That worked.

David came down in the middle of the masking tape debacle, saw I wasn't ready, saw there was no one there and said he was chilly in what he had on, so he was going back upstairs to change. When he came back down in his grey sweater, I had the poster up and was working on the table display. I was trying to set the table the way David had asked me to, but all his plastic folders would not fit on the table.

So I convinced David to put one picture on the table (as a sample) and I began putting the rest in the box the Fly books came up in. The table set John and I use when we book him. I got one of every picture David brought out on the table and he liked that.

No sooner had I put a picture down, a fan picked it up and bought it. So David pointed to the bank spot on the table and told me to put another one down. So that was my job; to take the money, make change and keep one of all his pictures on the table at all times. I also had to take pictures of David with his fans, if they paid for it. I'm getting pretty good at working cell phone cameras and I took my first Iphone picture this con.
They came steadily all day. They bought Voyage pictures, Bond pictures and Fly pictures, we even had some requests for The Lost World. I bought a couple of one of a kind photos. We always seem to get a request for Love Boat pictures and I did sell the one I brought.

Steven Lundin of The Chicago Tribune brought David a copy of the Thursday paper his interview had appeared in and around mid-afternoon, he and his son videotaped David.
David came back to freshly made tea, the way he liked it. I was able to get him milk at the coffee stand in the lobby. David was invited to go to the "Bond Girls" event at the Hollywood Blvd theater Saturday night, but he declined. He had promised to have dinner with his relatives. I told David I knew he had relatives in Philadelphia, but Chicago was a new one on me. He said he relatives everywhere by now.

I was told I could go (on the bus) in David's place, but having already done one screening (with David), I decided to stay home. I needed to sort the pictures into some kind of order in the box, so I could get to them faster and rest my aching feet.

David wanted to take his (empty) suitcase upstairs to pack it for a quick exit on Sunday, so I put all the pictures into mine. I gave him back his and told him to scoot at the end of the day. David stayed (and sold) until closing time. He said, are you sure, he was too much of a gentleman to leave me to do all the work. I told him I was fine and to go. He didn't need a third nudge.

I told him to show up at 11 AM (when they opened) on Sunday. I didn't get down as soon as I wanted to, as I could not get the self service boarding pass printer to print, but the front desk had no problems. So I grabbed Mohammad, the bellman, who took my clothes instead the pictures, but we got that straightened out and I went down and got badged. Guess who came in right behind me and the luggage rack?

But I was set to go, so I put down the box of pictures, his pens were already there - David set his name plate where he wanted and we immediately sold a picture. I put out all the pictures we only had a few of and we were sold out of certain pictures by 1 PM.
We had a lot more items brought in for David to sign on Sunday. And more Bond. One fellow brought in his Bond cigar humidor. He thought he was going to get four signatures on it, until I pointed out he could also get Mr. Dix to be number 5.

Anders Fredjh tapped me on the shoulder when I was out on the floor, doing a paid photo-op and I gave him a big hug hello. I could not believe he came all the way from Sweden to see David. He wanted a special inscription on his picture (for his Bond Web site) and for me to take some pictures. So I did.

Doug Redenius of the Ian Fleming Foundation brought David some lovely on-set photos of the wedding that never was and David's 'crane' accident. Doug said the wire broke and that's why David went sprawling. David said he felt it, but he was glad (in a way) that he went first and the equipment did not fail when Timothy was hooked up to the crane - or they might have lost their star. David graciously let me scan these photos for the web site and I have already mailed them to him. Doug gave his permission for them to be on the web site, so look for them in their own spotlight later this year. Doug had a great shot of him at David's shoulder (as a member of the wedding party) that David signed for him.
David had to leave at 3 PM to catch his flight home, so we started packing him up around 2:30. I gave him my smaller box - that I had brought DVDS in - to put whatever photos folders we could cram in there and then we packed the rest into his suitcase. He gave me his wall poster to take home, as he didn't want to check it going back. He pressed some money in my hand, to offset my hotel.

I didn't book this con, so David didn't have to do that, but he's that way. He gave me a long good-bye hug and told me not take any wooden nickels. I told him I would stay until 4 PM, then pack everything up and mail his photo box for him. I took his bigger box and packed a box of my own, everything I didn't want to haul home on the plane, including the duffel.

I had to get up at 5 AM to catch my Mon. flight so once I got the packages sealed and left for UPS to pick up, I packed my suitcase. I was much lighter going home, which was fortunate as once again I had to run for my connection. It was already boarding when I arrived. I got everything home. It was a really fun weekend and I was glad I was there to help David, particularly since he sold so many pictures.

Diane Kachmar