Ben & me in ’97. He worked for scale

Wrote another take on the Hollywood Show for Saturday’s Entertainment Section in The Toronto Star. Can’t find a link to it yet on-line, so you know what? Buy a newspaper!

The Hollywood Show is usually held four or five times a year. The next one is in Chicago  Sept. 7-9. Then back at the Burbank Marriott Oct. 5-7. The two shows after that are in Las Vegas Nov. 9-10 and at LAX Jan. 11-13, 2013.
I’ve gone to at least a half dozen of these shows over the years, starting back in the mid-’90s, and it always fascinates me to see long lines of tourists from all over seeking autographs for actors nobody could even recognize. 
Ben Chapman is the example I give in The Star piece. He was one of the actors who played the Gill-man in The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Basically any tall, older actor could show up at these shows with a stack of glossy 8x10s of the gruesome fish-head and say they were the guy. Chapman, who died in 2008, used to fly in from his home in Hawaii and pocket loads of cash from the collectors who would line up–some bringing with them 40 or 50 photos–and pay for him to sign away. Chapman charged more than other celebrities at the show because he knew these dealers would then sell them for two- or three-times that again on eBay.
Another guy whose face you never saw was Bob May, who was inside the robot suit in the ‘60s sci-fi series Lost in Space. Any short actor could have shown up and claimed it was him inside that suit, but May had the stories and was happy to share them. He died in 2009.
This summer in Burbank, there were a couple of guys also trying to cash in on their relative anonymity: Booth Coleman, 89, who was signing his portrait as Dr. Zaius on the TV series of Planet of the Apes. Coleman was unrecognizable on that series under all that latex and face putty, not to mention fur.
Also at the show was Walter Emmanuel Jones. He played Zack Taylor, one of the six original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, so his face was usually hidden by his black, tinted motorcycle helmet. In the last year of the show, when Jones and others walked in a contract dispute, another actor replaced him and was only ever seen from the back of his head unless he was in the Power Ranger suit!
Jones was unfortunately set up outside the main room in the hall of the Marriott’s big banquet room, as if he was in detention. He sat with his Black Power Ranger helmet and stacks of colour 8x10s. Friendly guy, spoke glowingly of shooting in Montreal for another project. Hard to believe Power Rangers began nearly 20 years ago.
Jones is still acting, and was in an episode of Prime Suspect last season.

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