Travolta answered the door and my partner said, “Hey John, how’s it going?”
We were standing outside his mobile trailer dressing room, TRAVOLTA and a star on the door. It was one of two trailers with stars that had been parked outside Men’s Central Jail for at least a week. The other had CURTIS on its door.
They were filming the 1985 movie Perfect, some yarn about fitness clubs being the singles bars of the eighties, places where many of the attendees were more focused on hookups than physical fitness.
Apparently, Travolta’s character gets locked up in the pokey, and Curtis is there for him when he’s released from the Los Angeles County jail.
And that single scene took a week or so to film.
On the Hunt
My partner and I were only a year or so out of the academy, and still quite full of ourselves.
Young and single and always on the hunt, we decided it would be a good idea to barge into the private dressing room of Jamie Lee Curtis to meet the famed vixen.
This dark and handsome partner of mine, a long-legged Mack Daddy in his own right, was certain she would welcome the intrusion. I harbored some doubt, and truthfully, my interest was minimal. “Who in hell is Jamie Lee Curtis?”
My partner seemed surprised that I didn’t know her. He went on to tell me how “hot” she was and that we had to meet her.
We were both in uniform, having slipped away from our assignments for the sole purpose of meeting Curtis, and now we stood at the threshold of Travolta’s trailer with all of the command presence one could muster.
Travolta, leaning halfway out, returned the greeting. “Hey guys, how’s it going?”
My partner forwent the pleasantries. “Is Jamie around?”
Like we knew her.
Travolta’s toothy grin faded as he craned his neck to look at the trailer next to his. “Uh, I’m not sure. That’s her trailer right there. Did you check it?”
“We did, but there was no answer,” my partner said. Then he grinned and said, “We thought maybe she was in here with you.”
Travolta nodded, slowly, the smile on his famous face dissolving before us.
Never Really a Fan
I was no stranger to being in the company of celebrities, as I have written about before. There was the encounter with Ali, a middle-of-the-night rendezvous with Priscilla Presley, several encounters with a few of Charlie’s Angels, and others.
I always treated the stars just as I would treat anyone else, though maybe—if I had to be honest about it—a touch cooler. I never wanted any of them to think I idolized them for their fame, because I didn’t. So my play during this whole ordeal was to remain silent and look cool in my pressed uniform and highly shined boots.
Famous but Friendly
Travolta had been surprisingly friendly, greeting us with a big grin and saying, “Hey guys,” as if we were welcome to be there. Truthfully, I was shocked that he had answered his door. And he never did seem peeved by our presence, even once he figured out that we weren’t there on official business.
I almost felt bad that my partner was so dismissive of him, narrowly focused on Curtis instead. But then again, it wasn’t like either of us wanted his autograph.
An awkward moment of silence passed between us before Travolta said, “Maybe she’s gone for the day. We’re done filming.”
“Okay, cool,” my sidekick said, staring toward the unoccupied trailer next door, the focal point of the entire operation. “Well, we were just hoping to catch up with her. Take it easy.”
And with that, the rooster turned on his heel and strutted back toward the coop.
I offered Travolta a smile and said, “Thanks, John,” and followed suit.
A Perfect Miss
The next day the trailers were gone, and the stars had all moved on. We were back to tending the ten thousand inmates who were crammed into every corner of the drab concrete fortress that had originally been designed to hold half that many.
As far as the babes went, there were none left to be found. If it were the company of the fairer sex we sought—and oh boy, did we ever—we would have to pursue them at the various nightclubs and bars after our shifts were completed.
Alternatively, I suppose, we could’ve hit the local gyms the next morning. That would have been Perfect.
* * *
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Interesting perspective on meeting a celebrity, brother. I’ve met a few of them as well and had various impressions. Travolta sounds like a good guy. Too bad you missed out on seeing Ms. Curtis. I remember that movie and she was in “perfect” condition. 😉
Haha thanks, Mike.
Back in the 80’s I was working funeral escorts on my days off with a reserve officer from LAPD. The reserve officer worked “ movie details” and was assigned to work a TRAVOLTA filming. On the way home a vehicle made a left turn in front of his motor and he went over the hood and ended up in the hospital and his motor was totaled. When TRAVOLTA found out he visited him in the hospital and bought him a new motor.. I instantly became a TRAVOLTA fan
Jim, that is truly amazing. I am now a big fan too! Honestly I’ve always liked him as far as movies and I’ve never heard anything terrible about him–which is rare for Hollywood these days–but now I’m really a big fan! Thanks for sharing this story. I hope a lot of people see your comment.
My dad worked for Forest Lawn Memorial Park for almost 40 years. He was a Memorial Counselor (the guy or gal you would talk to to make funeral arrangements). When I was about 16 years old, John Travolta’s mom died. John came to make the arrangements with my father. My dad, never one to be star struck, came home and told us that Travolta was one of the nicest people he had ever dealt with . Travolta even asked him if I would like an autographed picture of him. My dad would have never asked and was surprised that even in his grief, Travolta was very kind and giving. It was well known that Travolta loved his mother deeply.
It’s always good to hear when a famous person is gracious, as oftentimes it is just not the case. Thank you for sharing that story.
Celebrities are human beings after all. It would have been super cool if John Travolta had decided to do a Saturday Night Fever dance in the corridors of Mens Central Jail. (The MCJ Dance Special). Then again, it was 1985, and it was an extremely dangerous time for anyone to do time or even be a Custodial Deputy anywhere in Los Angeles County. So glad you got to see the behind the scenes of a movie shoot. And that you got to see the positive side of celebrities, we all know about Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy meltdowns!😬
Literally bumped into Jaime Lee at the gas station in Malibu. 1985… She was very nice and was a beauty.
Beach Team summer had its perks.
I can imagine how that went. lol