Sunday, September 27, 2015

Come Fly Away With JK! - Pt III

Hi Everyone!

Here's the third and final part of "A Pilot, On Stage and Off":

"For the past several years, Kelly has been playing in summer stock companies throughout the Midwest. Since many of these stops are off-airlines, he will frequently charter a plane for his wife*, himself and the large wardrobe that is required even when playing a 'modern' role.

"'I'll need at least five complete changes of suits on the road," he said, "in addition to what I wear offstage. You never know when or where you'll have a chance for cleaning and pressing. So, there's usually just room for a pilot, the two of us and our baggage when we charter a four-place. However, these short cross-country trips in various areas that are new to me give an excellent background for my own vacation flights.'

"Some of the actor's sensitivity to surroundings came to light when he was asked why he liked to fly. "I get a fantastic reaction to being off the ground. My mind crystalizes into clarity when I'm in the air and the earthbound problems disappear.

"Just as almost everyone else in the nation, I was glued to the TV set for two days after President Kennedy's assassination. Finally I became so depressed that I drove to the airport and took a Cessna up for two-and-a-half hours. For the short time I was in the air, the whole national tragedy seemed lifted from my shoulders.'

"Although he was born in New York City, Kelly is no stranger to southern California. He has spent a large part of his time there for the past several years, working in motion pictures, on TV and on the stage.

"Kelly had a clause in his contract that provided the option to drop out of a Broadway** show if the TV aviation film he was working on proved to be a success and was continued as a regular series.

'While I look forward to the Broadway assignment,' he said before leaving for the East, 'it would be most enjoyable to do a regular TV series patterned around aviation. In the trial film, 'Double Jeopardy', I play a happy-go-lucky, girl-chasing executive who uses a light aircraft for business transportation. In the original script, the author came up with a name for the proposed series--Pay the Piper.'

"'Naturally, the lead character's name in 'Double Jeopardy' is 'Mr. Piper'.

"And naturally, the aircraft used in 'Double Jeopardy' just happened to be a brand-new Piper Aztec C."

Bonus photo: JK not as a pilot, but as a passenger, along with wife Donna (May). The snipe on the back of this fabulous late 1950's TWA publicity photo says: "Idlewild Airport, N.Y. May 24--TV Star of Maverick, Jack Kelly and his attractive wife, actress May Wynn, look lovey-dovey on their arrival from Los Angeles. They will be with us a few days on business."  Incidentally, the book Donna is holding says "The Mainstream of America Series". This was a series of 20 books published by Doubleday between 1953 and 1966 which focused on American history.

Where will TDS and JK fly to next? Stay tuned and find out! :)
*This interview apparently took place in 1964 when JK was still married to May Wynn.

**Probably a reference to The Family Way, which opened and quickly closed on Broadway in early 1965. Unfortunately, "Double Jeopardy" wasn't a hit, either, and Pay The Piper didn't become a regular series, although JK would play Fred Piper again in "One Embezzlement and Two Margaritas" on Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theater in 1966.