Today was the memorial for my friend, Mark, who died last January. It was in the Chaplin screening room of Raleigh Studios. I hadn't been on this lot for decades. But then I hadn't seen Mark in as much time. And I had, until tonight, only met his partner, Pat, on the telephone. She is a sweet and wonderful person who I now count a friend.
Anyway, here are some interesting things about Mark (and I may get some of this laughably wrong, but it'll be close):
His entire life was about making movies. He started at Wonderboy's age. Everyone who spoke who knew him through grammar school to high school all said the same things. He was fearless (used to sneak onto movie studio soundstages and ended up meeting people he befriended for life); he filmed his movies, with his young crews on Hollywood main streets. Without permits. When stopped and asked if he had a permit he would say, "Of course I have a permit", and he'd give the right name and the officer would move on. His passion as a youth was horror films. And films with lots of shooting. He went through cases of Bosco for film blood. His tastes grew to Grand Guignol, and film noir. He was an expert on all things science fiction. I went to a couple conventions with him, and got to sit in the VIP rooms with famous writers. He was close friends with William Castle until his death in 1977.
The most inspiring things about Mark --- he knew what he wanted to do from the time he was a kid and did it all his life. He did not do it for fame, fortune or ego. He did it because he loved it. His knowledge of his craft and its history was profound. As well as his knowledge of many other things, not film related. He threw 110 percent of himself into whatever he was doing. And on top of all this, he was a good, kind man. He always had time for others. And others in need, he would help any way he could. And he was an amazing writer. Most of the people there tonight knew him through high school as part of his film cadre. There were articles about him in magazines and a tv show about him on a local network. And while so many of us there had fallen out of touch with Mark, we all still felt close to him. He had a gift for making you feel really special. And the fact was, with him, you were.
He was ALWAYS late. But when he showed up, so full of fun and energy that you did not mind. He had no sense of time. Would call at 3:00 in the morning to finish a thought that had eluded him at 9:00. He wore blue denim shirts, jeans and always a neck scarf. Even in July. When I knew him he was in his piano keys neck scarf phase.
Personally I credit him with my confidence in writing. He told me I was really good. And he was very picky about who he admired in writing. That is a priceless gem I will always hold in my heart as a gift from Mark.
Here we are in 19*covers mouth and coughs*. Yeah. Long time ago. My friend Denice gave me this at the memorial tonight and it was shown on the 30 foot high screen. I was so honored to be included.
God bless you and keep you, Mark. Rest in Peace.