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    Posted December 16, 2013 by
    Jacksonville, Arkansas

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    My Chance Encounter with Peter O'toole


    I spilled coffee on his sleeve and he gave me the memory of a lifetime.


    I was working as an extra on the set of the movie The Stuntman starring Peter O'toole, Barbara Hershey and Steve Railshack. We were filming on Laguna Beach at La Jolla in California. A monoplane swooped down over the beach as explosions wrapped the scene of dead bodies and broken limbs laying among ammo wagons, flying sand and people running to escape the hysteria of a war time scene. Amidst the confusion a helicopter appeared from over the cliffside. Hanging from the door and standing on the runner of the chopper was the master himself, Peter O'toole. They landed on a grassy knoll above where we were filming and as O'toole stepped off, the director called a break for lunch. All the extra's were lined up in costume at the canteen. Fake blood, broken bones, makeup for the dead. It was a sight to behold. The whole scene was the stuff of a would be actor's dreams. I was thrilled just to be there and to experience the making of a real Hollywood movie, to be a part of it all. I had been standing on line for about 20 minutes. I stepped up to the counter of the canteen and took a tray. I asked for coffee and the server placed a styrofoam cup of hot, steaming java on the counter. As I reached out my hand I saw someone else's hand reach forward to the right of me. I accidentally bumped the cup and suddenly hot, black coffee poured all over the sleeve of the person next to me. I looked up. I was face to face with Peter O'toole. The first thought to enter my mind was "Oh crap! My career is over". I was mortified. I couldn't believe I had just spilled hot coffee on Peter O'toole. I was speechless. Mr. O'toole could see the dread in my face. I apologized profusely. I was sweating bullets. Suprisingly O'toole laughed it off and told me not to worry about it. Then he invited me to sit on the grass next to him as he joined the actors and the extras for lunch. Sitting across from O'toole and me was Barbara Hershey and Steve Railshack. After lunch he tossed a football with some of the crew. When filming was finished for the day, the entire cast and crew watched and applauded, along with hundreds of fans at the barricades, as O'toole climbed back on the runner of the helicopter and held on to the hand rail. He waved to the crowd as the chopper lifted off into the sky and out of sight. So ends another brush with fame. I never did become an actor, but I sure had a lot of fun trying. For all these years I have carried with me the memory of my chance encounter with one of the greatest actors who ever lived, Peter O'toole.


    RB McGrath

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