night, arriving at a PBS station, hearing Jack Lemmon talking about Ansel Adams feeling he had to make a statement in the World War II years, which he did by photographing Japanese-Americans held in the internment camp in Manzanar, California, creating a great visual document.
A shame Adams didn't do many more images of people. Soulful, moving. The camp haunted and forlorn, cold mountains in the near distance. Yes, yes, familiar, because I wrote it. Lemmon was speaking my words, but it took 15 or 20 seconds to register. If you're not expecting it, it's surreal, maybe the feeling a novelist comes across seeing someone read her novel on a bus. No one fom PBS or anywhere else told me it was scheduled for last night, but then writers are always the last to know.
There was about half of ``The Roots of California Photography: The Monterey Legacy'' to go when I clicked on it. The film was shot by Steve Rosen and Terri DeBono of Mac and Ava Motion Pictures, produced by Mary Reese Green and Tracy M. Witherhill.
I saw people we interviewed who are now dead. Cole Weston, son of the great Edward Weston. Frances Baer, who knew her husband Morley loved her, but probably second to photography. And of course Lemmon, a man of amazing grace and generosity.
Once, asked to do a newspaper interview of Lemmon, I called his office and got Connie McCauley, also now gone, his assistant and a pillar of strength. ``Honey, he'd love to talk to you but he doesn't do interviews when he is doing a play or film and he is doing a film in Minnesota.''
We get several calls every evening like everyone else, but five or six nights later when the phone rang and Nancy reached for the receiver, I said, and have no idea why, ``That's probably Jack Lemmon.'' When she picked up the receiver and her eyes grew wide, I knew it was. Lemmon was coming off just shooting a night scene in the snow for ``Grumpy Old Men,'' teeth chattering. He gave a great interview.
A few years later when I asked him if he would narrate ``Roots of California Photography,'' he asked, through Barbara De Metz, who was now heading up the Jalem Productions office with Edna Wise, ``I'd think about it if I could see the script first. Do you want to send it along?'' I hadn't thought of that. When he finally said he'd do it, and there were delays setting a date and hiring a recording studio, he wrote ``Well, Steve, you know how it is in this business,'' which of course I didn't, but it was nice of him to include me.
Finally, though, a recording date was set in a Los Angeles studio. It was obvious immediately Mr. Lemmon was ill, but he put all of his strength into it. Sometimes he'd pause and say, ``Is that OK?'' and I never knew what to say, and neither did Steve or Terri. He was Jack Lemmon, for heaven's sake, and while his voice was raspy, an indication of his illness, his phrasing was perfect.
When we'd take a break, he'd sit and tell stories. At one point he said, ``I'll be behind a microphone again tomorrow _ I'm doing the narration for `The Legend of Bagger Vance.' ''
That would be his last job, though Barbara De Metz said he came into the office almost every morning, wanting and trying to work, until the very end.
We were invited to Mr. Lemmon's memorial at Paramount Studios and had the kind of ``everyman experience'' Mr. Lemmon was famous for portraying on screen. Photographers and camera men and women were capturing the celebrities walking through Paramount's famous gates, but when Nancy and I walked through, they all stopped shooting and scratched their heads wondering who in the hell we were. I almost came to a self-conscious stop, which of course only made it worse. Lemmon would have played the scene beautifully.
One of the memorial speakers, playwright Neil Simon, said that when he first came to Hollywood he was more or less ignored. At a party Lemmon noticed this and immediately took Simon under his wing. He was that way.
Lemmon's widow Felicia Farr keeps Jalem Productions open. (Kirk Douglas said that while some men wear their hearts on their sleeve, Lemmon wore his on his license plate, which read ``Felicia.'') Barbara De Metz manages the office two days a week. Someday there will be _ certainly should be _ a Jack Lemmon film festival.
I can't think of another actor who did so many great films that look so intimately at the human condition. Lemmon had the eye as well as the heart. Look at this for a partial list: `` Days of Wine and Roses,'' ``Glengarry Glen Ross,'' ``The China Syndrome,'' ``Missing,'' ``The Apartment,'' ``Mister Roberts,'' ``Save the Tiger.'' All remain extremely relevant.
The comedies _ ``Some Like It Hot,'' ``The Fortune Cookie,'' ``The Odd Couple,'' ``Front Page'' among them _ are classics.
And he did ``Tuesdays with Morrie'' _ fighting a major illness, he played a man dying, which must have taken courage _ and ``Twelve Angry Men'' for television, and ``Long Day's Journey Into Night'' on Broadway and for television.
Good memories can come from sitting by the television with a remote control.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...