I saw the movie “Oliver!” 16 times when I was in 6th grade. I was obsessed with Jack Wild, who played The Artful Dodger. I knew every song by heart. I still know most of them and can sing them in character. Nancy, singing “As Long as He Needs Me”, Oliver sweetly singing “Where is Love?” and the Dodger singing “Consider Yourself At Home”….. Fagan “I’m Reviewing the Situation”….. I was so obsessed with Jack Wild that my friend Mamie and I would call the studio in LA where he was taping H.R. Puffinstuff, every day , several times a day, asking to speak to him. Mamie had her own phone line so the cost of long distance from South Carolina to LA was of no consequence in our adolescent Jack Wild addled minds. Finally, one day, the operator was so sick of us calling, she actually put Jack on the phone to us….. my god… imagine the shrieking screamfest that ensued…. when we were finally able to speak I asked weakly, “is this REALLY Jack Wild?”. He replied in that perfect cockney accent “who would it be if it ‘aint?”… more screaming and shrieking and crying on our end of the line.
He was cordial if confused about who the hell we were. He asked how the weather was in Carolina. I asked if he would come and be in our local Christmas parade. That’s all I remember. But god, the sheer determination of two adolescent girls still amazes me. We did it. We set our minds on talking to him and we did it.
Where is that girl? The girl with such determination? Such resolve. I guess she’s still in here somewhere. Still having various forms of hero worship. Occasionally brushing elbows with someone of some notoriety. I met Sam Shepard in a bar in West Virginia and in trying to act all nonchalant like I didn’t know who he was I asked him “don’t you work at Jiffy Lube?”.. he was confused, looking a little scared and amused and then was very polite when I told him I was kidding. But he left the bar pretty quickly after that. My attempt at seducing him away from Jessica Lange thwarted. I wonder still if he remembers that interaction. I can be a real ass at times. I once took a personality test with one of the many shrinks I’ve had in my lifetime and she told me I tested as the most introverted person she had ever tested in her entire career. Funny eh?
UPDATE: Thank god I’ve aged a little better than old Jack, looks like life wasn’t too good to the child star… rest his soul….