A Fantasy Come True
by Cat Ortiz-White
In 1982 David made his second appearance on the T.V. show "Fantasy Island" in an episode titled "The Songwriter." It was filmed on November 34rd, 4th, 5th, and 8th. I got to visit the set for a while on the 8th which was a Monday. The episode was titled "The Song Writer." This episode also starred Anson Williams who played "Potsy" on the hit series "Happy Days." It's Anson's fantasy and David played his father, a tin-pan-alley song writer named Jeremy Todd. Anson went back in time to see his father. Donna Pescow of "Saturday Night Fever" fame among many other movies and TV shows was also in this episode and played "Carol Bowen." David also sang a bit of the song "April Showers" with Donna in this show.
I arrived at the studio in the afternoon after a studio employee let me onto the set. David, Anson and Donna were practicing a scene. There was a stage set up with a long set of stairs with a circle in the middle of them and after the middle of them there were stairs on each side and in the middle coming down. There was a big USA flag for the back drop and a cylinder with little flags on the left side. Donna Pescow came down singing George Cohan songs with two male dancers. When she reached the circle, women dancers cam on from the left, each eventually taking a little flag before the number ended. At the end of the routine, David and another actor came on and did a little dance with the woman. She kissed them both on the cheek and the scene ended. They had to do the scene over and over until they finally got a final take. There were a few breaks when I could have gone over to David but thought it was best to wail until they finished that scene to be certain I wouldn't be bother David while he was working.
After the scene was over David came by and saw me. He said "Hi" and I said "Hi" back. David got me some hot chocolate and potato chips. Then I watched David rehearsed his lines with Anson Williams and another actor who had appeared with him in the last scene. It was the three of them in seats that were made to look like balcony seats. The chairs were all too low at first though, so they looked like little midgets. Everyone laughed and made jokes about it before raising them. They rehearsed first, then shot the regular long and mid-shots. Then they did the close-ups for each one. There were many breaks between these takes and so I got to speak with David fairly often. Anson Williams too, who's also a really nice guy!
During the breaks I asked David some questions. I asked him when he was finally going to do his album. He said he'd been doing it and that he was in Nashville before doing "Tribute" and then before doing this "Fantasy Island." He said after the show, he was going to go to Kentucky to do some horse business, then go to Nashville to work some more on the album. Then he was going to do a Christmas Special, then relax and spend the holiday with his family. I asked if they had recorded anything yet and he said no, they were just picking out songs at this point. I asked if he'd written any songs for the L.P. He said he had but that the final decisions would be up to Larry Butler, his producer. I asked him why he had not chosen to produce or at least co-produce the L.P. as he had with his last three RCA L.P.'s. David said it was because he thought Larry's was a better producer and that producing just takes so much time and energy and he wanted to do other things than just producing an L.P. for several months. He wanted to do more acting, etc. (Note: This "Country-Crossover" L.P. never came to be. He eventually decided that kind of music just wasn't him. In the spring of '83 he did "Joseph And the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" on Broadway which was a HUGE success! In 1985 David went to England to record the L.P. "Romance" which was a smash hit throughout Europe.)
Other questions I asked during breaks were:
Cat: On "The Higher They Climb" L.P. there was a song titled "This Could Be the Night, which is credited to you and Harry Nilson. Didn't Harry write that back in the early 60's though for "The Modern Folk Quartet?"
David: Yeah, right. I liked the hook but not the verses though. So I changed the words because I thought the original words sounded kind of... kind of....
David: Well yeah, kind of.
Cat: Oh 'cause I've never heard the original.
David: No one has.
Cat: Well, then how did you hear it?
David: Because Harry's a friend of mine and he'd played it for me once. So later when I wanted to do it, I called him and asked him if he minded me doing it and he said it was ok. So I invited him to the studio to do it with me. And he came, but he was sort-of wasted at the time.
Cat: Once on a radio program, "Radio Luxembourg" done in 1975, you described this photo that had been the original back cover for "The Higher They Climb," where you were all drunk and hadn't shave and just looked really down and out. Do you still have a copy of that picture?
David: No, I don't. It was an incredible photo though.
Cat: Oh darn, 'cause I wanted to see it. Why don't you have a copy of it?
David: Because we just scrapped it after we decided on the other picture.
Cat: Do you know who might have a copy of it? Henry Diltz?
David: No, I know Henry doesn't have it. I don't know who would have it. (Note: This photo later showed up in David's autobiography and here it is. I guess Henry found it.)
David: Hey, there's this other picture of me though that was taken with an old box camera and it's great big. I look real 20ish, like Valentino. It's about this big by this big (shows me with his hands about 3ft x 3 ft,) I should take a picture of it for you guys some time.
Cat: Yes, that would be great.
During a different break:
Cat: Katy Leuty said that you once told her that you had recorded two L.P.'s for MCA that were never released. Is that right?
David: No, I said two sessions, hon.
Cat: For "Hurt So Bad" and "Once A Fool?"
Cat: What about "Strengthen My Love" and "Hard Times, Hard Crimes," were those just for the shows?
David: Yes, just for the shows.
(Note: David DID record other songs for MCA which later showed up on CD's with the misleading titles of "David Cassidy, Classic Songs" in the USA and in Japan, "The Best of David Cassidy." A few of them also appeared on The British CD "David Cassidy, How Can I Be Sure?" David did NOT want these songs released as he feels they are NOT his best work. Obviously, he didn't even want it known he'd recorded them. However, there are a few fans who've really enjoyed some of the songs.)
Cat: How's the family?
David: Great. Just Great. I played tennis with Shaun just the other day.
I'd also asked him "Why are you doing THIS (i.e. F.I.) show?" He said "The script." I said "Really?!" He said "You should see the other scripts that have been sent to me." I said "Ooooh!" as in "too bad."
During a scene David was filming, I spoke with Anson Williams. He asked me about being a fan and such. I told him how I stayed a fan because of his RCA LP's which are fabulous and how he got an Emmy nomination for his Police Story, etc. and so I just really felt David was so very talented. I told him I'd just seen David do this fabulous dramatic play up in Calgary called "Tribute" and how it was a shame he wasn't taken more seriously as an actor. Anson said he knew how it was after being "Potsy!" I said "I bet!" and we both laughed about it. Anson also said "Wait until you see THIS show!" I said "That bad?" He said "Worse! It's really corny!" (Note: David once said in a radio interview from the 90's that one of the reasons he stopped doing TV was because the best things he was being offered were things like "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island." So he decided to stick with theatre.)
At one point, David asked me if I was hungry. I said I was as I hadn't eaten that day except for the chips and cocoa he'd given me as I didn't have much money on me. So David wanted to go get me something to eat from one of the carts around. He checked his wallet and pockets and he didn't have much cash. So he asked Anson if he had any cash. Anson said "No, I don't think I do. I always pay with plastic, ya know?" David said laughingly "Yeah, me too! So look at this. Here she comes to see "Her Big Star" and he doesn't even have enough money to buy her lunch!" We all laughed about it. David had $3.50 and he gave it to me and told me to get something to eat later. Needless to say, I kept the money and still have it saved in one of my D.C. scrap books.
Although there were no pictures allowed to be taken in the studio, David had us go sneak behind his make-up table to have me take a couple of pictures of him, which are on this page.
David also mentioned he had a new girl friend named Meryl and he called her once to let her know they were filming a bit late. (Note: She'd later become his 2nd wife.)
David also looked around at one point and said "Hummm, what can I give you? Oh I know!" He went over and took the "David Cassidy" sign from his chair and gave it to me! Unfortunately, when I went to get on the bus home it fell on the ground and I didn't notice until after I was seated and the bus was driving away. It was getting late, around 7:30 p.m. and dark. I wasn't sure if there was even another bus after that one so I decided not to get off to go back and get it. I later found out there was another bus and so wished I had gone back for it! I just didn't want to take the chance at the time though.
The very last part they filmed was of overhead shots of David, Anson and another actor looking down on the show. For that they had to build this high thing which they all had to sit up on. When they were putting it up, David said to Anson "We're going to have to sit up there." Anson laughed. Then David said "I'm NOT joking!" Anson stopped laughing and a look of fear came on his face. I laughed and said "Well, have fun you guys!" After they got up there they waved to me then did the scene.
After filming was over, everyone hugged everyone goodbye. Then David went to his dresser change. He asked where I was staying and I told him. It was with a friend in Hollywood. He said "Oh too bad. That's the opposite direction." I told him that was ok as I was used to the bus anyway. I didn't own a car or anything at that time and so it was the truth. So David drove me to my bus stop, gave me a goodbye kiss and then went home after a LONG day of work! (He got up at 6:00 a.m. to get there and left at 7:30 p.m.)
David was so very kind! He signed a picture for the "Da-idy Newsletter," answered my questions, gave me his name on his chair, drove me to the bus stop, and everything! It was really a "Fantasy come true!"