Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy 25th Anniversary Beauty and the Beast

Way back in 1987, on this day, a show premiered on CBS that I fell in love with.  CBS Television's version of the old Fairy Tale, Beauty and the Beast.  I was hooked from the first episode.

I already knew who Linda Hamilton was from Children of the Corn & the original Terminator.  I liked her in the Terminator.  She was real.  Not dolled up, fake, super skinny, but real.  And kinda hot.  She was the lead, Beauty or in this case, Catherine Chandler.

Then there was the Beast, played by Ron Perlman.  OMG.  *Swoon*  The Beast, Vincent, was gorgeous.  Plus, he was totally into Shakespeare and romantic poetry.  He appreciated art & music & dance.  He was sensitive, yet barbaric.  Absolutely PERFECT.

For my High School Graduation present and after much begging & doing all the work to figure out tickets & hotel,  my parent's drove to Austin, TX in 1993 to a Beauty and the Beast Convention.  It was one of the best experiences of my life.  Mostly due to Edward Albert and David Schwartz, who took me under their wings & made me feel like the whole thing was happening just for me.  I was sitting in the back of the Costume Workshop on the first day, all by myself, and Edward Albert, who played Catherine's other love interest, Eliot Burch, snuck in & quietly sat in the seat next to me.  

I was incredibly excited, but remained calm.  He leaned over and whispered if I knew what this was.  I smiled and answered.  He sat with me for about 5 more minutes.  Just me & him at the back of the room.  He then leaned in and said he was going to go check out the other stuff.  I said okay.  I was so giddy.  I waited a little longer, jumped up, and ran to tell my Mom!

(Sketch by Jen Tucker 1993)

I was right in the middle of telling her, when he walked up, put his arm around me & said, "Hello." to my Mom.  I was grinning from ear to ear.  He hung out with me all day it seemed.  We talked about other stuff he was working on & how he was filming in Russia while the USSR was still crumbling and it was becoming the Russian Federation & how the whole crew got caught between sets of tanks with their guns pointed at each other.  We talked about Linda & Ron & he only had the most wonderful things to say about them.  He was the one that told me Linda was fired/let go/quit (unfairly) for not wanting to breath in all that tunnel smoke while she was pregnant. 

That night at the special dinner, every table got a celebrity.  I didn't get Edward & David.  Edward came over and apologized.  I thought that was sweet.  There was a charity auction for his presence at your table.  I think it went for a thousand or more.  Beauty and the Beast fans were called "Helpers" after people that lived in the Tunnels in the show.  They were always wonderful at raising money for charity events.  I did get to sit with a guy I'm sure you'll recognize now.  George R.R. Martin.  He was one of the Writer's for the show.  He was very pleasant & funny & helped swipe a table center piece for me to take home as a souvenir.  They were supposed to be raffled.  I still have it.

(I will post a pick of it later)

Finally, after the dinner came the celebrity auction.  Edward asked me what I wanted more than anything & how much money I had.  I only had 50 bucks.  Actually, I didn't have any, but my Brother said he wanted to give me $50 for Graduation. I told him I'd be happy to get an autographed pic of Linda Hamilton.  He & David looked at each other & grinned.  Edward went & changed & came out in the original costume Ron Perlman had worn as Vincent.  I got to touch it.  It was so cool seeing it in person.  The auction dragged on & I attempted to get a few items but always ended up outbid.  The last item was an autographed picture of Vincent that Linda had signed.  They started the bidding at $20.  David told me to bid $50.  I said $50 & Edward shouted going, going, gone and didn't let anyone else bid.  David brought it to my table, gave me a big kiss on the cheek & said, "There ya go sweetie."  I almost cried.

(I will post the autograph pic here)

David (he was a producer, btw) mentioned he was meeting with both Linda & Ron about doing "Love Letters" together the following weekend.  Before the end of the night I politely asked if there was any way David could take my picture with him and have Ron sign it at well.  Without hesitation he said, "Absolutely!"
I wrote my address down for him, he stuck it in his wallet/appointment book thing & I handed over the picture.  It arrived not more than 3 or 4 days after he met with them with Ron's autograph added.  I always smile when I look at it.  Thinking about that night, that day, the magic.  

That show was really magic.  It was wonderful & beautiful & tragic.  Much like real life.  Edward Albert asked me if he would see me the next day & I told him no.  My parents were only allowing me one day of the three.  We were headed to the beach from Austin.  He was genuinely disappointed.  He asked who he would hang out with.  I hugged him good-bye & told him I'm sure he would find someone.  He was too handsome not to. 

(Autograph thing here)

I cried before I got back to my room.  I couldn't help it.  It was the only time I ever remember crying from being so happy.  If this show hadn't existed, then that moment wouldn't have happened.  If Edward Albert, David Schwartz, George R.R. Martin & all the others that saw what that moment was for me hadn't been so kind & amazing to me that weekend, it would have just been another convention.  Fun, but nothing special.  I will be eternally grateful to them for that.  The world lost a wonderful man when Edward Albert passed away in 2006.  I've heard many other wonderful stories of his kindness.  Seems he was quite the Knight in Shining Armor.  

So, Happy Anniversary Beauty and the Beast.  Happy Anniversary to all those Helpers still out there.  Be well.  Grab a copy of Shakespeare's Sonnets, make some hot tea or coffee, and curl up tonight and watch the Pilot Episode.  Netflix is streaming it.

A new version of Catherine & Vincent hits the CW network this fall.  I'll probably watch it, but I know in my heart it will never compare.  How could it?

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