Saturday, February 20, 2010
Jonathan Winters said he'd like me to collect him from his house in North Hollywood and drive him to my Holiday Inn where I had pinned a piece of gray paper to the wall of a suite and put up a light. My assistant stood in for a test shot (recorded on Polaroid) so that we'd be ready on my return.
When I got to the house Mr. Winters answered the door wearing a dark blue blazer and an English schoolboy cap (the one worn by virtually every English schoolboy from the late 19th century up until the 1960s.) He showed me into a room where hundreds of hats of different kinds hung on the walls. He tried many of them on and an hour later we were satisfied with the English school cap, a tam o'shanta, together with a silver topped ebony cane, and a stetson.
On the run back to the hotel Mr Winters sat in silence bolt upright in his seat with his hands in his lap. Suddenly I heard a police siren. I looked in my mirror but saw nothing. Then a second later I realized what it was. The inspired Mr. Winters had begun an imaginary commentary between myself and a policeman who had pulled me over for speeding. Brilliantly he seized the contrast between the rough LA cop and the staid Englishman. His perfect mimicry of the two accents had me in helpless laughter.