When I first started working in Los Angeles, I was introduced to a location scout and manager, John Harkrider. He was in his seventies but had the mind of a much younger man and was full of wisdom. He dressed like a gentleman, usually wearing a seersucker jacket in the California heat, coupled with a bow tie. He sometimes brought his mother on the scouting sessions. She was ancient and senile but he treated her as if she were lucid, always introducing me.
He had incredible charm and wit and that helped him since he seemed to have control over special locations, notably mansions in the exclusive Hancock Park and Pasadena sections of the Los Angeles area. He charmed the matrons and reminded me of the Zero Mostel character in the original THE PRODUCERS.
I was told that he had worked with the great Busby Berkeley and I assumed that he was just doing this work in retirement. He was a costume designer and art director on some of the great Hollywood musicals of the thirties, including SHOWBOAT and SWING TIME. He had previously worked on Broadway’s ZIEGFIELD FOLLIES.
I was flattered when he included me in a memoir he had written, but it has disappeared. I thought of him recently and tried to do some research on his career after Busby Berkeley, but there is none. John’s history just stops in the late thirties. There is nothing about the forties, fifties, sixties. His career just stops in the middle of great success.