Friday, January 11, 2013

Captain Marvel meets his fans

On 9/22/12, the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills and the Warner Archive Collection hosted a screening of the 1979 TV special Legends of the Superheroes as part of the two-day Retro Action-Adventure-Thon.

LOTS is one of the cult classics I covered in my extensive “Super ‘70s and ‘80s” series.

A star of that show—and my series—was Garrett Craig, AKA Captain Marvel.

I was more than thrilled that Garrett was invited to participate in this rare public screening. He’d been out of the spotlight for decades and when I found him in early 2011, he did not know how fondly people remembered the show. He had never met any of his fans. (This is the third time I know of that someone interviewed for my series has then been asked to appear at a real-world event.)

Garrett kindly allowed me to interview him again, this time about his Paley experience.

How did you find out about the event?

Nobody knows better than you, Marc, I am the Loch Ness Marvel of superheroes! You’re good…and it took you a year to find me. The Warner Archive team told me in the backstage green room that they had strategized getting me for the event, but who knew where Waldo was? Then my phone rang and it’s Richard F. Lee, my friend and Hollywood insider, asking if I knew about the premiere.

I tried calling anybody and everybody at Paley Media…and got [no] answer. Then, Marc, you email me. When you called the guys at Warner Archive for me—they said with only hours to go—they were shocked I was still alive!

If it weren’t for you and Richard…

Was this held in an auditorium?

It was in the John H. Mitchel Theater, inside the Paley Center. (That weekend they [also] had appearances by Patrick Duffy from Man from Atlantis, Ron Ely from Tarzan, and Michael Gray from Shazam.) The theater held about 100 people, all very enthusiastic fans!

Lightning struck one or two more times during the evening. By a perfect blessing, Patrick Duffy showed the episode that I had the privilege of working with him as the heavy. You knew I was a bad guy by the size of my mustache.

Matt Patterson and Daniel Ferranti of Team Warner introduced me to Michael Gray, [who played] Billy Batson on
Shazam. A sincerely nice guy who very much values entertainment that holds to good family ideals and [features] role models for children.


How were you introduced [to the audience]?

Mr. Rene, the very courteous liaison assigned to me, said my entrance was bland [even] by Ozzy Osbourne standards. Matt and Daniel are rockin’ the iPhones with their considerable talents, doing a streaming highlighting my Marvel history. Fans asking for autographs and pictures. Heads do a double take and the murmurs and pointing from fans with lightning bolts on their shirts become stronger.

“Tonight we have a special guest,” Matt said smiling, like he had been rehearsing all day and not for just the last four minutes! Matt hit LOTS history, secrets, and humor with rapid-fire precision. When he said, “Ladies and gentleman…Garrett Craig…your Captain Marvel,” I don’t think he knew that my intro would have the same kind of irreverent style and tempo. 

It was a surprise for the fans, right?

Actually, because you had called, Marc, they had announced the night before to the faithful that I would be there. Matt had read your interview with me, so he knew the circus was coming to town. [Marc smiles.]

The fans could not have been a more perfect audience. They knew all the characters so everyone was in on the jokes! When I told my first secret about Adam West, every iPhone [was] flaring [and] tweeting the secret nugget. Later, Matt and Daniel told me that they had been to over six of these LOTS premieres, and, in their opinion, the audience at this screening had the most fun because of the tone set. And they are hoping we can do it again…maybe with 10 minutes to prepare!             

Did you meet and greet with fans after your stage appearance, or after the screening, or both?

Before, after, and during! These fans were absolutely amazing! When I entered the lobby, people slowly (so not to freak me!) started surrounding me. I just got off the elevator from 30 years ago and somehow they knew me? They had brought TV Guides, pictures from the net, pictures their kids had drawn. They wanted pictures, hugs, stories! It was my great pleasure to meet and learn a little bit about each of them and share stories from a more innocent time. Thank you, my friends, for all your kindness!

Had any, by chance, seen my interview with you?

Very definitely! It provided a lot of conversation openers about my questionable sanity and the LOTS actors/inmates I shared a prolonged recess with on set. When they asked how well I knew you, I of course, referred them to the X-rays and therapy notes I keep of your sessions with me.

In the green room (what’s done in the green room, stays in the green room!) the Paley Media personnel and Warner Archive team lit up like a Jumbotron when I mentioned your name. You understand, these people believe TMZ is written on stone tablets, the MGM library is the Tabernacle, and Dorothy’s shoes are the Holy Grail! They are all within six degrees of any media. They not only knew of you, they knew of your work. They knew Boys of Steel, offering, “Oh yeah! Front page, USA Today.” And the hot topic, Bill the Boy Wonder. A big bombshell, as you would imagine, at Warner Studios.

I thank you wholeheartedly, Marc, for finding me in the darkened celluloid of Hollywood history. I know you [want to find] the truth…for not just entertaining but also creating a message that inspires us to reach higher and treasure the uniqueness that is in each of us.

- end of interview -

That is most humbling, Garrett. I thank you again for being gracious enough to help me preserve something that clearly means more to more people than any of us may have realized.

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