Sunday, September 18, 2016

Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention or Old Friends and Long Lines

Last week I told you I was going to be "code 6 on a special assignment". If you guessed that meant that I was seeing Kent McCord again, you guessed right. Here's the whole story from the beginning:

Way back in March someone alerted me to a Facebook post that said Kent was going to be at the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention. I read it and thought, "I could do this. It's in Maryland, that's not too far away from where I live." 
I also thought, "Oh, but wait, it starts one day after my son's tenth birthday. Would I be a jerk if I skipped out on the kid right after his birthday? Probably."

Skip ahead many months to July when I was making my reservations for the trip. I, being a good mother, turned to my son and asked if he would like to go to the convention with me. He excitedly said, "Yeah, I'll go!"
"Okay, I can do this," I thought, "I can take Michael to meet Kent and we'll all have a good time. He won't drive me crazy. Of course he'll let me hang out with Kent for hours. Because ten-year-olds have exceptional attention spans. Right?"
I placed my misgivings aside and bought plane tickets for two.

Skip ahead to Thursday, September 15th. While I was flying back from a business trip in Arkansas the convention was starting in Maryland. My Facebook friend, Doug, posted that he had met Kent and I came up in their conversation! Then while I was driving home from the airport fellow Kent fan and owner of an Adam-12 replica car, Jeffrey, was having his car's door panel signed by Kent! I was stuck in traffic on 85 and Kent was leaning against Jeffrey's car doing a television interview. I already knew this convention was going to be extra special and couldn't wait to get on that plane the next day.

Thank you for letting me use your pictures, Jeffrey!

Finally, it was Friday, September 16th! The day Michael and I would fly to Baltimore, then drive an hour to the convention and meet Kent! By now my entourage had grown. My online friend, Addie, was coming from Manhattan to meet us! I was so excited I got up way too early and could hardly eat any breakfast. I only drank coffee, but didn't need it. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed without the aid of caffeine. I was so anxious I couldn't sit still. I had to move! We left for the Charlotte airport much earlier than we needed to. 
Michael passing time in the airport.
After having lunch in the airport and watching Michael "dab" down every corridor, it was finally time to board our flight. We landed about an hour and a half later, then got our rental car. We then drove through some rough looking Baltimore neighborhoods (Thanks, GoogleMaps!) to ultimately arrive at the Hunt Valley Inn, site of the convention. Once we were checked into our rooms, it was time to meet up with Addie and see Kent. Before we hit the floor, I decided to check Facebook and found that Kent had signed another fan's Adam-12 car earlier in the day. 
Here's Ryan, his car, and Kent.
Thank you, Ryan!
"Reed" behind the wheel.
As we were walking past the front desk on our way to the convention area I thought I heard my name. I stopped and asked the woman standing at the front desk who she was looking for. Lo and behold, it was Addie and she was looking for me! Now that all three of us were together, it was time to get nostalgic at the Nostalgia Convention. We got our wristbands and made our way through the crowds to the ballroom. We found Kent's table at the corner of a perimeter of tables in the center of the room. However, Kent was taking a break. 
Kent's table with his pictures.
Addie decided that she needed to take meal break, too. She dropped some of her stuff off in our room then went in search of sustenance. Michael and I decided to see if Kent had returned. We walked into the ballroom and I quickly spotted that head of thick, silver hair in the distance. We made our way to that corner table where a man was asking Kent to sign a baseball. Kent saw me and smiled. For a minute he turned his attention from the man with the baseball and introduced himself to Michael. Lucky kid got a hearty handshake, too.

While Kent was signing the man's baseball and recounting a story about the MacGyver episode he appeared in, another man wearing an Orioles T-shirt walked up to the table. He began to insist that I go ahead of him. I told him it was quite alright for him to go first, I would be there for a while. When the man got up to Kent he told him that he was trying to be a gentleman, but I wouldn't let him. Kent said, "Oh, that's OK, Keely and I are old friends." I picked myself up off the floor while he and Kent talked.

After the Orioles fan walked away, Kent, Michael, and I chatted for a few minutes about the show and our recent move to North Carolina. I didn't want to stay at the table too long, my knees were literally shaking. You'd think I would be used to this by now. We left and told Kent we'd see him at the Q & A session he was doing with Bernie Kopell and Robert Fuller in a few minutes.

I'm short and we were pretty far from the stage,
so that is why this picture is not good.
Sorry. They get better, though, so keeping reading!

We left Kent's table, met back up with Addie, and made our way to the ballroom where the Q & A session was being held. As I looked around, I soon realized this was different than the other conventions where I had seen Kent. The comic-con in Kansas City was filled with young people more interested in the latest YouTube sensation instead of a cop show from the Seventies. The Hollywood show in Los Angeles seemed to have a lot of professional autograph dealers scouting the tables for new inventory. This convention, however, was filled with people who most definitely watched Adam-12, Laramie, and Get Smart during their first runs on television. A good number of the attendees were wearing cowboy hats and name tags announcing they were members of the "Robert Fuller Fandom". The ballroom filled up quickly, but we were able to find three seats together near the middle of the room. 

A lot of the questions during the Q & A went to Bernie Kopell, a.k.a. "Doc" from Love Boat, and it was easy to see why. He was hilarious. Some of the stories were not appropriate for my ten-year old, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. For instance, someone pointed out that a particular Get Smart episode Bernie was talking about was from '69. Bernie replied, "Well, I know that's a great position". The room exploded in laughter and Michael asked, "What's so funny? I don't get it." 

Kent did manage to get a few words in between Bernie's bawdy jokes and questions about Laramie, though. He told us about the first time we played a police officer on Dragnet. It was during the filming of "The Big Explosion" (S1, E2). Kent's role required him to come knock on the door, then say a few lines to Sgt. Friday after the door opened. Kent did that and nailed his lines, but Webb wasn't satisfied. Kent's face was not in the shot when he was saying his lines. He told Kent, with a few curse words thrown in, that he needed to do it again. Webb wanted to get his face on camera as he spoke so his "mother could see his mug on screen". 

While Kent was waiting on the porch for his cue, he stewed. He did not like the way Webb talked to him. His twenty-four-year-old mind contemplated taking Webb out back for some "boxing lessons". He had recently done this with another director who cussed him out a few weeks ago. But Kent came to his senses and he remembered that he was under contract with a wife and baby at home. He flubbed his line when he did it again, then suffered through take after take until he got it right and Webb was satisfied. In the middle of the ordeal Webb whispered to his on-screen partner, Harry Morgan, "This kid is f*@$ing good". Webb had fallen in love with McWhirter and the rest is history.
A face only a mother could love.
(Hey, I'm a mother, I should know.)

Kent also talked about working on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Another show, like Dragnet, associated with a singular, creative powerhouse. Both of these visionaries, Ozzie Nelson and Jack Webb, had tremendous respect for the actors and crew that brought their visions to light; but that was where the similarities ended. Kent described Nelson and Webb as "two sides of the same coin". "One of them never smoked, drank, or cussed" and the other was Jack Webb.

After the Q & A we, along with everyone else in the room, walked up to the stage to say "Hi" and get pictures of three men behind the table. Somehow, we ended up walking out right behind Kent. (Honestly, I didn't plan that.) Addie still hadn't met Kent, so I figured this would be as good a time as any. I got his attention and introduced them, he shook her hand and said "Hello". A full three minutes after this happened it hit Addie that she had been touched by Kent. She vowed never to wash that hand again. Her excitement continued later that night when she got to share the hotel shuttle with Kent, Fuller, and Kopell. 

On Saturday we got to the convention as soon as it opened. Before we went to Kent's table, where a line had already formed, we headed over to see "Doc". As soon as I approached his table, Kopell said to me, "You're famous, somebody was talking about you last night." Thankfully, it was Kent, not some random stranger. After we posed for a picture with him, Kopell told me Kent said I was "wonderful". Kopell then told me I was cute and I let him know that I thought he was pretty great, too.

We walked back over to Kent's table where there was still quite a line. I passed the time by talking to his assistant for the convention, Ashley. Much to my surprise, I found out that she lives about ten minutes away from us in North Carolina. She knew the organizer of the event and requested to work with Kent since she was an Adam-12 fan. I couldn't believe there had been fan right in my backyard and had to go all the way to Maryland to discover her.
My new friend, Ashley.
I also passed the time by acting as Kent's unofficial photographer. Every time a fan would walk up to the table and want their picture taken with Kent, I would use their phone and snap the photo for them. I think I did OK, but one man confused me by having a camera with actual film in it. 

Around noon Addie left to go find some lunch. I, being laser-focused on Kent, could not feel hunger and decided to keep hanging around the table. Then, suddenly, Kent looked at me and said "Follow me and bring your stuff." He told the fans in line that he was taking a break and would be back. I looked at Michael and told him, "Come on. When Kent McCord says follow him, we follow him." Michael and I nearly ran to keep up with Kent and his long stride as he led us out of the ballroom, past vendors in the hall, up some stairs, and into the celebrity greenroom. He found seats near the back of the room for me, Michael, and him. For the next two hours, we sat in those seats and talked like old friends.

I don't remember when during the course of the day we took this picture,
but this seems like a good time to insert it into the story.

One of the first things we talked about was how Kent met his wife, Cynthia. He had told the story at the Q & A, but I wanted to make sure I got it right. He met her when his friend, Stuart, borrowed his car to take Cynthia out. After their date all of the kids from school got together at the local Bob's Big Boy, including Kent. He sat across from Cynthia and they played a little bit of footsie under the table. By the end of the night, Cynthia decided to go with the Kent, the guy who owned the car.

I asked Kent about the footsie part of the story, I wanted to make sure that was accurate. He confirmed that, yes, his foot was on Cynthia's that night and her foot was on his. He then touched my foot with his demonstrate. Now, I don't know what Kent McCord had on the sole of his shoe, but when his black New Balance sneaker came in contact with my foot a jolt of electricity went through me and all time stopped. 

Somehow, I managed to pull myself together. Thank goodness I did or else I would have missed all of the other stories Kent had to tell. I would have never heard about his coach not letting him leave a scrimmage early to attend Rick and Kris Nelson's wedding. The next day after he looked at the papers, the coach asked, "Why didn't you tell me it was Tom Harmon's daughter's wedding? I would have let you go." To which Kent replied, "I would have hoped you would have let me go for anyone's wedding."

If I would have blacked out after playing footsie with Kent, I would have also missed him playing me part of this interview on his phone. I would have missed the personal photos he showed me on his phone. I would have also missed hearing about the time he was an extra on Gidget.
See the young man in the tan trunks
behind Gidget's father? Guess who.

See the elbow and tan trunks running in
 front of Gidget and her father? Guess who, again.

See the fellow in tan trunks and a blue
 shirt now running behind Gidget and her father?
You guessed it.
In case you want to watch this episode, it's entitled "The Great Kahuna". You may have heard of it. 

After I pulled myself together I was finally able to ask Kent some burning questions. I wanted to start out with something really important, something that would show my appreciation for his life's work. I knew the perfect question, I asked him about this shirt:
Come on, you all wondered about
this shirt. I can't be the only one.
I mean, what is going on here?
It seemed like Kent really liked this infamous "kitty cat" shirt, he wore it on and off the show. I wondered if it held special meaning for him. 
Kent answered that he bought the shirt in Mexico and he still has it. He even knows where it is in house. He had forgotten he wore it on the show, though. Satisfied, I moved onto the next question.

Next, I asked him about a car. Particularly, this blue Corvette.
I wanted to know if the rumors were true. If the Corvette he drove in "Ladies' Night" (S7 E16) was his personal car. One that was rumored to have been given to him by Jack Webb.

I found out that Jack Webb did give Kent a Corvette, but not that one. Webb was a Cadillac man. Every winter he would drive a hard top, then trade that in for a convertible every summer. Kent favored Corvettes and convinced Webb to try one.  At this same time Kent was going through a salary negotiation with Mark VII. One day Webb called Kent into his office and tossed the keys of the '71 Corvette he had purchased to Kent. It was his way of giving Kent a bonus. Kent appreciated it, but would have rather had the money.

Now that I had the really important questions out of the way, I needed to ask Kent something that has been driving his fans nuts. "What's the deal with Woman's Story?" I asked. 

Most of us female fans have been dying to see this 2000 movie he made with Erin Gray, but we can't find it anywhere. Kent replied that he didn't know either. For some reason the movie's star, director, and writer, Gary Conway, never released the film. He showed it at film festivals, but never gave it a wider release. Kent himself has only seen a pirated copy that Erin Gray somehow got a hold of. He expressed how frustrating it was to have worked on a film that no one ever saw.

Now that my questions were out of the way, it was time to move on to autographs. When we left the table Kent brought along a Sharpie marker. I made sure he put it to good use while we were in the green room.
I always thought this press photo was funny and 
I had to have it signed. Kent thinks he looks 
like his wife's crush, Tom Brady, here. I agree.

This is Michael's. It says,
"To Michael, nice to meet you, Kent McCord".
Now that he had told stories, answered questions, and signed autographs just for me, it was probably time that Kent return to his other fans. Before we parted ways Kent commented that there was an "inordinate amount" of current and retired officers at the convention. He wondered if the promoters had alerted local police departments. This is something Kent always advises organizers to do when he is making an appearance. He resolved to ask the organizers later.

On our way out of the room I gave Kent a big hug and thanked him for all he did for me. He shocked me by thanking me for everything I do. He then asked if I would be back at the table and I promised I would be. Poor Michael had no choice in the matter.

We met up with Addie and returned to our position at the table. Once again, Kent was steadily busy signing autographs. One of the fans who approached the table caught my eye, he was wearing a Monkees T-shirt. Somehow the conversation turned to Michael Nesmith and I felt I had to be honest with Kent. I reached out and put my hand on his arm and told him that if Michael Nesmith were there..."You'd forget all about me, right?" guessed Kent. I told him that, sadly, it was true.
The only face that could make me forget about Kent McCord.

Kent signed a few more autographs then told me and Michael to come with him again. We followed as he walked to the table where Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea, stars of 2001: A Space Odyssey sat. Michael was excited, he loves that movie and wanted to get the autographs of the stars. Kent came up to Lockwood and introduced us as his friends. Lockwood then signed Michael's book at no charge. When Dullea found out we were friends of Kent's, he also signed the book at no charge.

Addie got Michael this cool notebook
made from the soundtrack album cover.
As five o'clock neared, our time with Kent was coming to an end. Before the day was over, he had to run off and do an interview for the convention archives. While Kent was gone, Ashley, Addie, Michael, and I kept watch over his poster, photos, and pens. 
Here we are, hard at work.
When his interview was finished Kent returned to an almost empty ballroom. Most of the vendors and other celebrities had packed their wares and hightailed it on out of there. Before Kent did the same, it was the perfect time to get some pictures.
Photo by Ashley.

Photo by Ashley.

Photo by Michael.
While Kent was packing, I managed to find out another fun fact. Until recently he had a "lucky flying shirt" that he always wore when he got on a plane. Since he managed to overcome his superstition, he didn't have the shirt with him. But, he was able to describe it. In fact, he was able to tell me where I could see the shirt.
He wore it in "Dirt Duel" (S5, E1).
As Kent gathered his 8X10 photos the organizer of the convention, Martin, stopped by the table. Kent commented on the large number of officers that had come to see him and Martin confirmed that the appearance was, in fact, announced to local PD's.  Now that all the questions were answered, all the Sharpies capped, and all the photos packed up; it was time to go. I gave Kent another hug, but Michael got the best good-bye of all. Kent gave him one of those "jive turkey" handshakes (I don't know what else to call it) followed by a fist bump and a high-five. He told Michael that he would probably be a foot taller the next time he saw him. I walked away with a big smile on my face, thinking "next time".

But our day wasn't done yet. First, we had to say good-bye to Addie and get our picture taken with her. I won't show you the picture because she said she didn't like it, but one does exist. Addie is a real person and my friend. Next, Michael and I had to eat. Our growling stomachs couldn't be ignored any longer. We went to the hotel bar and grill and ordered hamburgers. While we were chowing down, who should walk in but Kent and the one celebrity I hadn't met yet. 

Robert Fuller's table had been besieged by fans all day long, the wait for his autograph was hours long. But now here he was, a few feet away with a man who called me friend. I decided to go for it. I walked over with Michael in tow. Kent introduced us and told Robert about the blog. I shook his hand and promised to avert my gaze from Johnny Gage to Doc Bracket the next time I watched Emergency! Fuller laughed and said, "Watch out, a Randy Mantooth fan!". We all laughed. Then it is over in the blink of an eye, Kent and Robert had to leave to make an appearance at the banquet that I didn't have tickets for. Now our time with Kent was truly over.

Until the next time, that is.

What a weekend! It was truly wonderful and I can never thank Kent enough for how gracious he was to me, Michael, and Addie. I left Maryland feeling that I could truly call this amazing man my "friend".  And that's a great feeling.




  1. Keely, you are just like I knew you would be, sweet, funny, energetic, generous and a little wicked. B)
    And Michael rocks!

    Why didn't either of you mention it was Michael's birthday, just the day before? Tell him I hope he had a great birthday!

    Kent was amazing. I wish he had gotten to talk more on that stage, he tells good stories. I missed a lot going to lunch, but I am glad you had him to yourself, you know what to ask and get good info. for your and Kent's fans.

    I could not believe that, RIGHT AFTER, Kent told us about the law he helped get passed, regarding protecting stars from people making money on their image, etc, RIGHT AFTER mind you, you mentioned my sending you movies of his I had sent to you and could only have gotten as bootleg copies.

    I am so afraid meeting new people, was terrified of meeting Kent McCord and then almost the first thing you do is kick me right in the teeth! lol

    1. So, by the time we got to Maryland Michael's birthday was kind of "old news". We had been celebrating it since the 10th.

      Michael thinks you rock, too. Anytime we were separated from you for more than 10 minutes he kept saying, "Where's Addie? We should go find her."

      I think movies are different than pictures or images because production companies own movies. I don't know, I'm not a lawyer or an actor or an actor who plays a lawyer. You love me, you know it.

  2. Great blog! Hopefully, I can take a moment for some shameless self-promotion. Ryan and Jeffrey, the owners of the Adam-12 squad cars pictured above, are members of a Facebook group that Ryan and I started almost a year ago. The purpose of the group is to bring together the owners and fans of Adam-12 squad cars and share information about the cars themselves as well as the period-correct LAPD equipment that is required to build an accurate Adam-12 squad car clone. If you own an Adam-12 squad car, are thinking of building one, or are just a fan, join us! Look for "Adam-12 squad car clones/replicas" on Facebook. Thanks Keely! Jim

    1. Ryan's and Jeffrey's stories were just so amazing I had to share! They are 2 very lucky fans!

  3. WOW!! I'm still processing, and I seem to be at a loss for words. (A Campus First, as we used to say in the old days). What a dear, wonderful man!! And you played Footsie with him! And you know which shirt is his lucky shirt (about my favorite of all the ones he wore on A-12). And you are his FRIEND! I am SO SAD about "Woman's Story"! Did Kent tell you anything about the plot of it? Did you guys talk at all about "Nashville Beat"? I know he told your friend that he wouldn't be going to any more conferences on the East Coast, but did he talk to you about going to others anywhere else? It sounds like he had a good time too at this one - - - like he felt appreciated by the LEO community. Bless his heart! You just can't help loving him. (BTW, does Michael like A-12? Surely, he must after meeting Officer Reed.) Thanks so much for sharing, Keely, and feel free to share any other thoughts that occur to you later.

    1. I didn't really ask about the plot of Woman's Story, but Kent did say that his wife and daughter, Megan, got to see a first edit of the movie at the director's house. His wife reported that the version they saw was very good, but, for some reason, the director decided to make re-edit the movie after that initial screening. When his wife saw the final copy she told Kent that it was no where near as good as the original.
      We didn't get around to talking about Nashville Beat or any other appearances this time. This was his second appearance of the year, so I figured he was probably done for 2016.

  4. Awesome story.I hope n pray someday I will get that honor to meet the man share the same day of the 26th with however different months. Take care keep writing.

  5. Baltimore? Darn, I'm less than an hours drive. Great blog .Wish I knew about Baltimore.

  6. Thanks for sharing all the details of your fabulous weekend! I have a ton of follow up questions :)

    The story about his Dragnet appearance is so interesting. Jack Webb would have been a tough one to work for. Good thing he stuck it out!

    Does he ever appear in the same frame as Martin Milner in Gidget?

    That's awesome that he still owns that infamous shirt! Kent really likes to hold onto his clothing, doesn't he. Does he still have those sweat pants from Season 2?

    Did Robert Fuller have any interesting Emergency! stories that he shared in the panel?

    Since I've been deep in Monkees 50th anniversary hoopla recently, it got me thinking. . . Is anything being planned for the 50th anniversary of Adam-12? It's not that far away. Something big should happen!

    Thanks again for sharing with us!

    1. Ms. Seven,
      I delayed answering your queries because I thought I would be able to do more research and answer more of them. But, alas, work and life got in the way. So, I am not able to answer as many of these as I would like.
      I did not go back and watch the Gidget episode, so I do not know if Kent and Martin ever appear in the same frame. If I do find the time to watch it, I'll let you know.
      He could have the sweatpants and I truly believe that he could still fit into them. He and his wife still take long bike rides. Sometimes more than 15 miles! He believes they can keep this up for another 20 -30 years. I have no doubt that they can.
      Most of the questions directed at Robert were about Laramie. However, Kent did have a funny story about Julie London. He and Julie share the same birthday, but Kent is 16 years younger than Julie. One Sept. 26th, he called Julie to wish her a happy birthday. Kent had turned 44 that day and was in good spirits. When Julie picked up the phone and heard his birthday greeting she replied, "What's so f*$&ing happy about it?". She was not thrilled about turning 60.
      I don't know if there is anything planned for the 50th anniversary of Adam-12. If I hear anything, I'll let you know.

    2. That's an awesome story about Julie! I will have to watch that Gidget episode again. I won't mind. It's my favorite :) Celebrations for the 50th should include an exhibit of Kent's clothing that appeared on the show! I wish I worked for a Museum in L.A. That would be a dream project to help curate. Not just Kent's clothing, of course, but a history of the show and its impact. A girl can dream.