An Interview with the screenwriter, playwright, author, director and more…
All about the life and times of Michael B Druxman, which features an all-star supporting cast as he talks not just Roger Corman, Elvis Presley, Dallas and Finland!
Recently I was honoured when Michael B Druxman, agreed to an interview. This after I approached him after reading his biography which accompanied one of his plays. Druxman told me he had travelled to Finland when he worked as a press agent for Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs in Dallas), with more of these adventures told here.
Druxman’s Hollywood career is best described by the man himself in his blog HERE – quite modestly – as;
Screenwriter, Playwright, Novelist and Hollywood Historian.
However, you will find that there is much more to Druxman than he gives himself credit for. His screenplays include Raptor (2001) starring Eric Roberts and The Doorway (2000). He directed Roy Scheider in the latter and directed and Druxman also both directed, wrote and produced Genesis (1964). He also wrote Keaton’s Cop (1990) starring Abe Vigoda and Lee Majors.
At one time Druxman was the screenwriter for Roger Corman’s movies. He wrote screenplays for Corman’s films including Cheyenne Warrior (1994) – with Kelly Preston – and Dillinger and Capone (1995), which stars Martin Sheen. He also wrote episodes of the Hollywood Couples (2000-) series including those on Carol Lombard and Clark Gable and Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles.
He is currently a prolific playwright and author of a large number of fiction and non-fiction books. He has written many one-person and multi charactered plays on around 35 Hollywood lovelies (to date). These include Spencer Tracy, Christopher Lee and Abe Vigoda. His non-fiction books include those on Charlton Heston and Basil Rathbone. He has recently published one-person plays on Charlton Heston, Claire Trevor, Jack Oakie and his play on Paul Muni should be published in a couple of weeks.
Druxman has written his memoirs twice. These are told in Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Hollywood and My Forty-Five Years in Hollywood and How I Escaped Alive. The latter book has been praised by many for its honesty and humorous manner. Bear Manor Media states;
From Jimmy Durante and Elvis Presley to Jack Lemmon and Cary Grant to the cast of the hit Dallas television series and legendary producer Roger Corman, the work is filled with amusing stories of Druxman’s encounters and lessons learned from Hollywood’s rich and famous.
And now for his interview…
Which of your screenplays are you most proud of?
Definitely CHEYENNE WARRIOR (1994), the first of my screenplays produced by Roger Corman. It’s become a minor classic of the Western genre.
Luckily, I maintained the publishing rights and the screenplay has had continued to have sales via Amazon and elsewhere throughout the years. Corman also hired me to write a sequel in 2003 (CHEYENNE WARRIOR II/HAWK). He’s yet to produce it, but like the original, that script is also for sale on Amazon.
CHEYENNE WARRIOR (1994) Official Trailer, Roger Corman [Official YouTube Page]
I noticed you starred in It Happened at the World’s Fair, how did that come about? Did you meet Elvis?
I didn’t “star” in IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD’S FAIR. I was an extra for one day; paid $10.00 and a box lunch. It happened the summer between my junior and senior years at the University of Washington.
I didn’t care about the $10.00 and the box lunch. All I wanted was, when the movie came out, I wanted be able to spot myself on screen. Thus, I knew that, in order to accomplish that, I’d have to stick close to Elvis.
Did I achieve my goal?
Absolutely! Watch the scene where a very young Kurt Russel kicks Elvis in the shins, and you’ll spot a 21- year-old version of me walk behind them…twice.
No, I didn’t “meet” Elvis, but we did chat while we were waiting for the scene to start.
I read you wrote for the Hollywood Couples series, who was your favourite couple to research? And did you find anything new to tell about them? Did you meet any of the couples?
These were paid assignments for an independent producer. I did three episodes: Clark Gable & Carole Lombard, Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth and Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.
I never met any of the subjects, though I had previously written one-Person stage plays on Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Orson Welles, all of which are available on Amazon.
Can you tell me more about your visit with Steve Kanaly to Finland?
There’s really not a lot to tell. At various times when Steve was doing DALLAS, he would appear at car shows and other events for a set fee, and I would accompany him to see that all went well.
One trip was to Helsinki, Finland, an exhausting flight from Los Angeles. I couldn’t sleep on the plane, so the first day in Finland, I slept until mid-afternoon.
Walking the streets of Helsinki, I felt I was on the set of THE THIRD MAN…but without Orson Welles.
Keaton’s Cop trailer (Cannon Films), CannonFilms
Did you meet any of the stars from the films of your screenplays?
I met most of them, and Abe Vigoda (KEATON’S COP) was a client and good friend. In fact, I wrote the screenplay with him in mind.
I tried to visit the sets or locations once or twice during filming.
Which of your one-man plays was the most interesting to write? Did you meet any of the subjects?
That’s a hard question. They’re all interesting to write, or I wouldn’t write them.
Of course, I knew Abe Vigoda, and Christopher Lee was also a publicity client. I also knew Paul Henreid, Roy Scheider. I directed him in THE DOORWAY, George Raft, Yvonne DeCarlo, Ida Lupino, Broderick Crawford and Larry Parks. Others I’d met and chatted with at parties (e.g. Edward G. Robinson, Frank Sinatra). I didn’t write my plays about them until after they’d passed away. I didn’t need any lawsuits.
What are your memories of Hollywood in the 1970s and 1980s.
Those were great years. My publicity business was doing well, and I spent a lot of time with my clients.
Certainly, the event that sticks in my mind the most happened in 1977 when my publicity client and friend, Michael Ansara, did a film with Anthony Quinn, THE MESSAGE (previously MOHAMMAD, MESSENGER OF GOD).
As a protest against the release of this film, Afro-American Hanafi Muslims seized several adjoining buildings in Washington DC, from March 9 – 11, 1977. They took 149 hostages and killed a police officer and a broadcast journalist in a 39-hour-long standoff.
At the time, Ansara and his fiancé were on a publicity tour for the film. Police met him at one of his destinations. With bodyguards, he and his lady was taken to a hotel, then the next day, police escorted them to the airport where they were placed on a plane back to Los Angeles.
Being a publicist, I arranged for a police guard to meet them at the airport, then I called every Los Angeles television station and newspaper; told them to meet Michael’s flight.
Most times, a publicist has to create a story to promote his client, but this tragic incident was “a gift”. Michael Ansara was at the center of an international front page story, and the press wanted to talk to him.
1995 – Dillinger And Capone, CINEMÁFIA – a channel you can’t refuse!
Can you tell me about your work with Roger Corman.
Roger Corman liked gangster movie. He bought my original screenplay, DILLINGER AND CAPONE, as well as CHEYENNE WARRIOR. After that, he started giving me writing assignments: BATTLE QUEEN 2020 with Julie Strain, NIGHTFALL with David Carradine, RAPTOR with Eric Roberts, and then he let me write and direct a film at his studio in Ireland, THE DOORWAY with Roy Scheider.
Roger always likes to re-use material, so a few years after THE DOORWAY came out, he used my script as the basis for DEMON SLAYER, and I got an “original story” credit.
Are you writing anything now?
I just finished writing the 35th play in my THE HOLLYWOOD LEGENDS collection, a series of one and multiple-character stage plays that have been performed around the USA and in England. All can be obtained in paperback and Kindle editions through Amazon. Many are available as audio downloads via audible.com. Amazon and iTunes.
Subjects of these one-person plays include Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Carole Lombard, Errol Flynn, Orson Welles, Ida Lupino, Christopher Lee, Ronald Reagan, Maureen O’Hara, Gary Cooper, and others. Multiple character plays include THE LAST MONSTERS (Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine, Bela Lugosi), ROBINSON & RAFT (Edward G. Robinson, George Raft), B MOVIE (Franchot Tone, Barbara Payton, Tom Neal), LANA & JOHNNY WERE LOVERS (Lana Turner, Johnny Stompanato), and more.
The new play is ETHEL of THE BARRYMORES. I’ve always been fascinated about that theatrical family.
Are there any screenplays you wish you’d written?
GONE WITH THE WIND, CITIZEN KANE, CASABLANCA, THE MALTESE FALCON, TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE, THE GODFATHER….
This post details just the tip of the iceberg of Druxmans career, so do check out his website HERE for his film reviews, details of his Hollywood based fictional works and more on his memories of his work behind the scenes. And tune in soon for a review on his one-man play on Ethel Barrymore in a future post, later this year…
A disclaimer and personal thank you to Michael B Druxman. Financial compensation was not received for this post. I would also like to add that Michael kindly personally agreed to me using these pictures of him in my blog. The attached videos are found on YouTube. If you are involved in the entertainment industry and would like to be featured or promoted here, please drop a line to me via my Contact Me Page.