Sinatra, Jilly Rizzo, and Me (“The Kid”)

October 26, 2010

When we shot Somewhere in Time in 1979, our location manager on Mackinac Island was a wondrously resourceful and delightful fellow named Dan Dewey, who had lived and worked on the island for many years. Dan did a beyond sensational job for us, and we also became great friends.

3 years later, I hired Dan again to be the location manager for All The Right Moves in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. As on almost all movies, the location manager (whose job description is exactly as it sounds), is the first person from the film crew to start work on location.

Last week, when we saw Dan on Mackinac for the Somewhere in Time weekend, he told my family an amusing story that he had somehow always forgotten to tell me.

As background, there is an extensive chapter in Bringing Back The Old Hollywood that relates my adventures, and misadventures, with my “godfather” Frank Sinatra. My Dad was responsible for Sinatra getting the part of Maggio in From Here To Eternity that turned his movie career around. Then Dad died suddenly. What happened with Sinatra and me after that is all explained in my book.

Dan’s story:

“I had set up in the Sheraton Hotel in Johnstown.  It was early February.  The town knew the movie crew was coming and people wanted to know if jobs were available. The mills had let thousands of people go and unemployment was through the roof there so I got a lot of calls. I answered every call, and took every message.

One day, I get a call from a guy named Jerry who says he would like a job with the movie. I explain nicely that we are flooded with requests but have very few jobs available.

A week later, he calls again, and we talk a little longer. He tells me he is “connected.” Sounds like an okay guy, but there is still nothing I can do.

Another week later, Jerry calls and asks if we can have coffee.  Wemeet in the hotel lobby and he tells me that he had checked in with his old friend, Jilly.  He says, ‘You know? Jilly Rizzo, Frank Sinatra’s bodyguard.’ So Jerry is telling Jilly about this movie being made in his new hometown, and Jilly says he knows. Jerry asks him how he knew about it, and Jilly says: ‘Frank is the producer’s godfather, his name is Stephen Deutsch, and Frank calls him “the Kid”.’

Hearing that story from Dan made me smile and took me back to the 1960s when I spent so much time with Sinatra and with Jilly, who became my protector too in many ways, particularly when I got into some real trouble from which Sinatra had to protect me.

I hope that you enjoy the rest of the story, which is included in Bringing Back The Old Hollywood.

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