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Six Degrees of Separation: Christopher Plummer

Actor Christopher Plummer died on February 5th.

I have no idea why, but in 2001 CBS aired a remake of the iconic, Oscar-winning 1981 film On Golden Pond as a live theatrical performance, with Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews of The Sound of Music fame in the roles Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn played in the original. Some New Hampshire musicians I worked with were buddies with Ernest Thompson, the playwright and director (I used to give his daughters piano lessons, too). Ernest commissioned a piece for the CBS production, and I was brought in on piano. I think I made $150. The song plays briefly in the moment when the elderly couple put a record on the old phonograph and dance. My guess is there wasn't money in the budget for licensing an actual 1940s jazz classic, so we made our own. [Trivia: Anthony Marinelli composed the rest of the score for the TV version. I'm glad it wasn't me; Dave Grusin's Grammy-winning score for the original film could not be improved upon]. It's all on YouTube, I'm afraid.

[btw I also played piano and organ on Where I'm Supposed To Be, a 2015 album by Ray Porcell of country songs he co-wrote with Ernest Thompson.]

Christopher Plummer

While we're at it, the actor Sam Robards was also in that CBS production. Back in 1978, his freshman (and only) year at Sarah Lawrence College, I was his RA, for which I had the pleasure of being introduced to his mom, screen goddess Lauren Bacall, when he moved in. Later I had the task of explaining to Sam that throwing a football up and down the narrow dormitory hall while a woman from housekeeping was in its trajectory was not respectful or safe and must not happen again. That is not on YouTube; I'm pretty sure. I don't think I saw him on campus more than once or twice; in those heady days (think Studio 54), most children of the rich and famous spent more time in the city than on campus.

One could draw the conclusion from what I saw of Sam's brief college stint that it might be better to be at least six degrees removed from wealth and celebrity.


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