I was doing a Ford commercial that consisted of running shots in Hidden Valley, a beautiful area a little out of Los Angeles that could look like anywhere. The area consisted (then) of huge ranches with beautiful wooden fences and an occasional windmill. I’ve filmed many Clydesdale commercials there.
This time, I had a friend, Bob Urich, that had come to California to act but told me at dinner one night that he would never do a commercial. It turns out that Burt Reynolds, then the biggest star in Hollywood, had befriended him as they both played football at the same school, Florida State. Urich had landed a decent part in a DIRTY HARRY movie but after that, things had dried up.
When I looked at the casting tapes for the Ford spot I was surprised to see him there. I spoke to him during callbacks and it also turned out that his wife, a successful actress/model had left him. I guess that’s why he had to ‘get into the commercial biz.’
I don’t know why I cast Cheryl Ladd in the spot. She was tiny, shy, and cute, but nothing special (to me). When I gave the agency my selects, they questioned the unlikely pair and I just told them to trust me and they’re going to be just sitting in the car anyway.
Cheryl’s husband, David Ladd, was hanging around. During a setup, I spotted him kicking a bunch of dry rot from a beautiful black fence. I told a PA to tell him to stop as the area was fragile and the owner’s temperamental. The PA came back and said it was his fence and he’ll do what he likes. The first thought that came to mind it was silly for them to come to Hollywood for the call and then drive back to where they lived.
We stopped to adjust something during some of the driving shots. I was on the camera truck and looked at the two of them chatting, thinking sadly that the two will never really be successful. Urich became a huge television star with multiple successful series and Cheryl Ladd became one of CHARLIE’S ANGELS.
What do I know?