Miracle on 34th Street: The Fastest Gun in the West. My good friend Keith Woods of KB Woods Public Relations has encouraged me to share with you stories of growing up part of the film and television industry in North Hollywood, California.
My father, Jeb Rosebrook, is an author, screenwriter, television writer and producer, a career that spans over five decades and continues today. Our home was filled with creative people and many nights my mother, Dorothy entertained writers, producers, musicians and actors. My sister Katherine and I were fortunate to know these wonderful creators of Hollywood, although at the time, we didn’t necessarily know or understand their influence on us, personally or professionally. We had plenty of opportunities to be extras in local television productions but for the most part our parents kept us on a regular path of school and summer camps, rather than movie sets and Hollywood nights.
One exception was the television production of the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street,” in 1972. Starring Sebastian Cabot, David Hartman, Jane Alexander, Peter Boyle and Roddy McDowell, the principal filming took place in downtown Los Angeles in an old furniture warehouse, while the street scenes and parade were all shot in November 1972 in New York City. Since they needed extras for the department store scenes, the Director Fielder Cook recruited us and our neighborhood friends, along with plenty of other regular Hollywood extras and their children to dress up like it was winter and act as busy Christmas time shoppers at “Macy’s.” My mom and my friends Corey, Kristin and Jean Brinkema, and their mother, Julie, all were extras in the shopping scenes. Fielder’s daughter Lindsey Cook, who became a good friend, was also an extra. We all had lots of fun on the movie set and have wonderful memories of dressing up for Christmas on a warm California day!
We soon learned the phrase “hurry up and wait” and since the teleplay was being filmed during the school year, we went to school with our friends and the other children acting as extras with a “Hollywood teacher” from the LA school district. But soon it was time for the cameras to roll and we all were directed to take our places and walk around the set as happy shoppers. Soon they were setting up for a scene where all the children asked Santa Clause for their Christmas gift and it was all very exciting. Sebastian Cabot was truly Kris Kringle!
Suddenly, I was asked to step aside and asked to do something fun: I was going to squirt Santa in the face with a squirt gun! I had no time to think about it and before I knew it, I was asked to hide it in my jacket, walk up to Santa when he asked me what I wanted for Christmas, take a knee, aim, and squirt!! Just like that, 1-2-3! Boy, did I have fun doing that. Although, as you’ll discover, my aim was just a little too good on the first take! Sebastian Cabot called me the fastest gun in the West! He and I shared a big laugh about my shooting him in the eye and the need to fix his makeup after my first shot.
Many years later, I think Santa’s good sense of humor got me back when he brought me an overly fashionable matching pink shirt and pink crocheted tie. Must have been his little way of saying if you mess with Santa Claus, he’ll remember and bless you with a gift every year that just might not be what you were expecting to find under the Christmas tree!
And that’s my ten seconds of child acting television fame!
For more on the movie go to: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070395
Copyright: Stuart Rosebrook, Ph.D., 2011.