Brushes with Greatness - Hollywood Treasure Hunt

Hollywood Treasure Hunt

I’m a collector, or a scavenger, or a hoarder, whatever you want to call it. So when I used to work for the studios, I would always look around to see what I could find to “re-purpose”. I’d go by the poster department and beg the guys there to give me a Star Wars in Italian or something. Then one Friday they said, 20th Century Fox has sold the lot, they are tearing it down for condos. “Anything you kids can carry out of here… you can keep”.

hollwood_buildingWow! I dove into the unopened boxes of posters, photos, press kits, dating back to Marilyn Monroe movies and before. I might find the Sound of Music, or a Mel Brooks film, but often it was a hundred copies of some turkey like Damnation Alley. My friend Rich Corell came in and grabbed me. “We’re gotta go to the plaster department.” What??? Why??? It’s nothing but a dusty old barn filled with crumbling architectural decorations and a bunch of old plaster casts? Yes, he said, “but every actor who was ever in a Fox film and wore a mast had a life cast made for the makeup department. Bruce Lee was Kato in the Green Hornet and wore a mask. Therefore, his life mask is somewhere in that old barn filled with crap”. Yes, Bruce Lee’s face was probably there, but so was every extra and bit player from Planet of the Apes, Escape from The Planet of the Apes, and Return to the Planet of the Apes. Hundreds of crumbling, unlabeled plaster faces… it seemed an impossible task.

I should have gone with him, I should have helped him, but I only had a few more hours of scrounging. Imagine my surprise when he showed up less than a half hour later with holding the only life mask of Bruce Lee. He had such a little face for such a powerful man. “How did you ever find it?” I asked. Rich replied, “One of the wooden planks that formed the roof was loose and a beam of light shown in onto one particular box. I opened it up and the second face I saw was Bruce." A Hollywood treasure saved with just under 17 hours to go before the wrecking ball arrived. All Rights Reserved 2012