Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I knew Dennis Wilson, Laurence Merrick, Bob Hendrickson and Mark Ross

Recently I had an enjoyable conversation with "Phil", who through coincidence knew some of the peripheral characters in TLB back in the day. With his permission, these are the highlights we can share:
...I Lived on Los Feliz 1 mile to the west of LaBianca's. I was getting a clutch job at Hollywood Sports Cars when mechanic pointed to Wilson's trashed Ferrari '68.  It was red, not silver as reported in one documentary.

...[I thought] Mark Ross was a harmless, nice, sociable and intelligent gent.  He was, like most actors, obsessed with his career taking off. We had a bite at the Player's coffee shop and he talked about his acting ambitions, and he said he sold some of his custom hats to a studio. "At least they know me for something".  He never said anything about the Family. And I'm glad he didn't invite me to the ranch, because with my conservative appearance, they would have thrown buck knives.  I think he was just there for the girls, and he enjoyed the ceremonies and drugs.  One time he did a crucifix pose, when he was a bit stoned.  I wondered what that was about, until I hear it was a family thing. He dropped out of site, and someone said he knew too much about TLB.  And I heard that his van was set on fire. Once he showed up in the back of a Rolls Royce, didn't recognize who was driving, but could have been Wilson's. Mark was cracking his big, stentorian, toothy laugh.

...Met Dennis Wilson at the Brass Rail gun shop 1965 when it was at a hot location on Melrose and La Brea next to a very popular chili dog stand. We just talked about guns and cars. In '65 he looked like a teenager. Last saw him in 1966.

...Friend said  "they are shooting a motorcycle movie at the Paramount Ranch do you want to watch?" It was "The Black Angels". That's how I met Merrick and Hendrickson.  Ross played "Singer".  I had a white Ford pickup and Merrick asked me if he could shoot some scenes with a chopper in the bed.  So I spent one day driving thru the hilly roads seated next to Joan Huntington, with Jimmy Young on a chopper, acting up a storm.  Also enjoyed being roped in to do a stunt.  On youtube search:  the black angels trailer (1:34), that's me driving the white truck.

...So, I wound up sitting in at Merrick's classes in his studio on Vine. Where I met Hendrickson, we talked about Sergio Leone movies, etc but I left in '71 to help my mother with some problems she was having in the Convalescent Hospital Business.

...One strange incident. the day after Tate, I was on front lawn on Los Feliz and suddenly I felt I was being stared at, and cold fear ran thru me. There was traffic at the stoplight.  Later, I read that family was driving on Los Feliz looking for victims and someone said "How about him?" Manson said "No, he looks to big"  Was that me,  I wonder?  
...Before the murders my mother said some hippie girls knocked and she had a bad feeling about them and told them to go or she would call the police.  They left, and one yelled "Yeah, you go ahead and call the police!"  Manson girls? 
...The next night I was in back yard and hear some thumping and crashing in a neighbor's house.  I thought maybe he was moving stuff. He was being burglarized.  Could have been a creepy crawl.  They were in Los Feliz a lot.

...Then before moving to Las Vegas, I watched the trial and saw Hendrickson rocking out with his Arriflex out.  Way to go Bob!

...If I think of anymore details will let you know.  73 now, but I think I look better than Krenwinkel!

Man, Black Angels looks like it was one shitty movie. Did you notice the white guy in black face? Makes The Female Bunch look like Oscar material.


Max Frost said...

Good stuff!

Thanks Matt.

St. Circumstance said...


Anonymous said...

If I knew you were going to post this I would have rewritten, that was off the top of my head. Oh well, that's OK. Thanks

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Hey Phil, I think your comments are fine as they are. The best ones are always off the cuff without revision.

orwhut said...

My understanding is that the Ferrari that Clem crashed was stolen before it could be retrieved from the crash site. I'm not sure of it's color. Dennis is said to have bought Sam Cooke's red Ferrari after Sam's death. This leads me to think Dennis must have owned two Ferrais, or had the red one painted silver after Phil saw it in the shop then, loaned it to Clem who crashed it again.

Anonymous said...

The way I wrote Ferrari '68, was incorrect. I was at Hollywood Sport Cars in '68. There was a post on Ferrari owners club Cook/Wilson Ferrari now has a proud private owner. Mark Ross surfaced in about '77 changed his name and landed good roles.

Farflung said...

Here’s some more ambiguity for the car mystery:

The ‘One True’ Dennis Wilson Ferrari

From the bottom of the page:

“The original owner of this 250 GTL (Lusso) was the singer Sam Cooke; the next owner was Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys.”

Who knows, but things like Ferraris are tracked by rabid members of owner’s clubs, and would appear to be relatively difficult to spoof. Which leads to this little bit of contrarian data:

Ferrari Forum

So the Cooke/Wilson car remains in question, but as an added bonus, the Tate/Polanski car is confirmed. So there ya go.

Anonymous said...

Had a close look at the interior of Wilson's Ferrari, top off. What a mess: Looked like knife practice.

orwhut said...

While we're kind of near the subject, I sure would like to know what became of James Dean's death car.

Patty is Dead said...

There wasn't much left of the Dean car, was there?

Anonymous said...

With the Alec Guinness premonition about James Dean's death and the Sharon Tate Premonition. And some zingers I've had myself, makes you wonder sometimes. Maybe been reading too much Sheldrake.

starviego said...

There are parallels between the plot of the movie and Manson case. A mysterious cop is trying to foment war between black and white, in this case represented by biker gangs. Oddly, one of them is called the "Satans Scorpions"--mirroring the gang Danny DeCarlo rode with--the "Straight Satans."

There are of course signs that cops were hoping Charlie would attack Black Panthers to start some kind of violence with that group, just like groups like the FBI and CIA were exacerbating racial tensions in that era to break up the counterculture left.