Last year crooner and all around nice guy Andy Williams announced he was battling Bladder Cancer which at 83 years old, is no easy feat. Years back, I had my own fight with Cancer and it was a tough uphill battle that gladly I can report, I beat. So I know exactly what Andy is going up against and wish him nothing, but a first round TKO a term I picked up on RSR against that opponent – Cancer!
It was 1965, and I was doing some work with an old chum the late Zero Mostel who loved Andy’s singing and was very friendly with him over the years. Zero was in town and was invited to Andy’s show which he asked me to tag along. Mostel, sent his limo over to pick me up at the Beverly Hills Hotel and on the way to the studio, Zero or as I liked to call him, “Nero” had me in stitches. Zero had one of the funniest combovers I have ever seen and a brilliant comical mind that would floor people, especially strangers when he used it!
We arrived early for the show which had the late Bobby Darin performing as one of Andy’s guests. After the show, Zero took me backstage to meet Andy. As I stood there, “Nero” kicks open the door and chimes in with “hello fellow thespians (Bobby was in the room talking about music with Andy), I come in peace – a nice peace of ass” (play on words by “Nero”). Andy, Bobby and I fell on the floor laughing. Once the laughing subsided, “Nero” introduced me as the kid, (though by this time, I was in my early 30’s) who saved his old pal Errol Flynn from the ashes of stardom. It seems my work for Errol though it is only a small fraction of what I have done over so many years, is what so many remembered me for. That goes to show how beloved my old chum Flynn was by so many in Hollywood. Andy and Bobby were very nice towards me and after they changed, we all went out for dinner.
It was a great night of laughter, conversation, and finding out that both singers Andy and Bobby truly loved their art form. In fact, they sang a few tunes together and people sitting at nearby tables stood and clapped! Bobby had the line of the night, when he said, “oh please, sit down, but still feel free to clap for me.”
Sadly, Zero Mostel AKA “Nero” and Bobby Darin have left us…. RIP “Nero”…..Knowing you, you found that peace of ass (play on words) you were looking for dear friend…