HELLO AMERICA!—Since so many people around the nation realized how long I have been on the Hollywood Entertainment in one area or another, I have been receiving tons of queries about their favorite actors and films which made a difference in the way they thought about themselves, the country and what they ultimately wanted to achieve as their life’s work. Of course, many fans wanted more information and my experience with such film icons as Bette Davis, Agnes Moorhead, John Wayne, Dick Powell, James Dean and even one of my closest friends, actor, director, screenwriter, Chris Robinson.
Of course, I am always eager to respond to Robinson fans because it gives me an opportunity to fill them in about the actor I know, love and why. Chris was one young boy with definite ideas as to who and what he was and wanted to be. As soon as he arrived in Hollywood, he quickly met Byron Griffith, grandson of D.W. Griffith, one of the iconic founders of the motion picture industry. Byron, an agent, quickly signed Chris to his agency and had him meet several of the studio powers that be in casting, and within weeks Chris Robinson was on a sound stage facing the cameras.
Because Chris is an extraordinary guy who never gets so overcome with anything, especially success, simply took a deep breath and followed directions and quickly understood that this was an important aspect in making films was which every director needed and demanded. As a result, he suddenly was in demand by nearly every director or producer in Hollywood. When we met, it was on the Desilu lot, owned by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez. I was signed to do a play for director John Houseman.
Chris watched one of our rehearsals and introduced himself. After a few hours of talk and coffee, he asked where I was staying. I mentioned that I was trying to find a room or an apartment but no one would rent to me because I was a Negro. A few of the managers, even voiced frankly why they refused to rent to people of color in Hollywood. When noting that one of the managers quickly indicated that they might rent to dogs, cats, even cannibals but NEVER to N*****S! Chris turned pale. I noticed his body shake somewhat. Hearing this obviously shocked him terribly. Then he looked straight at me and said very softly and extremely calmly, “Get your things together, you are going to move in with me. If there’s a problem, they will have to deal with me, and believe me, anyone who tries to hurt you in any way, they will never forget it.”
Remarkably, when I quietly moved in Chris’ apartment with him, there was no negative feedback, even though the landlord was quite aware that I was there. It was Chris who insisted that when a fan magazine editor wanted a story on him, he quickly let them know that he wanted me to write the story. It was the beginning of my magazine writing career which opened the door to several fantastic publishing opportunities. It was all because of a young southern boy who saw me as simply a human being for whom he had great respect and trusted. Even to this day, Chris who is semi-retired on his massive ranch in Arizona calls to check to see if I’m okay or needed help in any way. LET’S FACE IT FOLKS, that’s a damn genuine friend. I’m one lucky guy, that’s for sure!