Well…not really Hollywood. Woodland Hills, to be exact.
On this this Friday night in June of 2010, I find myself back in “L.A.” for the first time since 1994.
When my wife, Jane I arrived in Hollywood in 1979, I was a “young” actor from Dallas. And I was the prototypical fish out of water.
Like many before and after me, I arrived knowing no one. I did come prepared with a list of contacts generously provided to me by producers for whom I had worked in Dallas
That gave me a leg up and I was quickly able to parlay those contacts into first rate commercial representation and I turned my first Hollywood audition into my first Hollywood job. But, even with that solid start, I quickly realized that I was, as my first agent was quick to inform me, a ‘llittle fish in a very big pond’.
Time to get grounded:
One of the first things Jane and I did when we settled into our apartment in North Hollywood was to look for a church to attend.
I was raised a Baptist. In Texas and throughout the south there is a Baptist church on every block, seemingly. Not so in Hollywood. But we located a little Baptist church in Burbank and went to check it out.
The preacher was a tall, handsome man with a distinctively deep voice and an accent that I would learn was rooted in North Carolina. The preacher had a wonderful ‘presence’ in the pulpit and from the first sermon we heard, we knew we’d found a new church home.
What we didn’t know at the time was that we had also found a life-long friend.
Who was this man?
At first, I didn’t make ‘the connection’. To me, the name and face were familiar, but I couldn’t put two and two together. But Jane, a avid watcher of westerns….films and television shows….locked in on the preacher’s identity immediately.
Our new pastor was Gregory Walcott, an actor with a long and successful Hollywood career.
If you got to know Greg, you got to know Barbara, his beautiful wife.
While Greg had forged a successful acting career, Barbara had become a highly successful elementary school teacher. Her creativity in the classroom won her many accolades and over the years she touched the lives of thousands of school children.
Jane and I were blessed to become very close to the entire Walcott family. This is a family that reached beyond Greg and Barbara and their three children.
As we discovered, the Walcott ‘family’ was extensive…their neighbors, kids’ friends, film people, church people and eventually, even a couple of strays who wandered in from Dallas.
In 1994 following the Northridge earthquake, we decided that Texas was calling us home and we made the difficult decision to leave L.A. The most difficult part of the decision was knowing that we were leaving behind such good friends.
During our time in California we shared a lot of great times with these friends but we shared some sad, devastating times as well. Losing a child will test your faith. That I can promise you. Through all of that we were blessed with the love and support of Greg and Barbara and the entire Walcott family. God’s mercy was there for us in the form of this family.
Sadly, last week, Barbara Walcott, Greg’s wife of 55 years passed away.
Barbara was a kind and loving woman who was Greg’s first true love and his perfect mate. Bound together by their love and a strong faith in God, they raised three great kids Jina, Pam and Todd who now have great kids of their own.
So, tonight I sit in this hotel room thinking of and praying for friends who are hurting. ,
Tomorrow I will be privileged to join the Walcott’s extended family in the celebration of the life of a wonderful wife, mom and friend.
God bless you, Barbara. You enriched our lives and for that we are grateful.