Eddie Egan/Popeye Doyle
Popeye Doyle. That name mean anything to you? Maybe, if you are from NY and of a certain age. Remember the Narcotics Detectives, Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso and a big cocaine bust and a movie called, “The French Connection”? I see you have a glimmer of recognition.
This is a story about Hollywood, actors, shysters, agents, cops, cop shows and white go-go boots. Oh yeah, and me.
After I moved to Hollywood, I was slightly ahead most other people who came there to make something of themselves. I had a Golden Globe nominated film behind me. I was just interviewed by a reporter from the LA Times, and as a result of it coming out in the paper, I was subjected to every wannabe agent, manager, or sleezeball that was drawn to fame like Adam to Eve. Enter Michael X.
Michael X. was who all the jokes about agents and managers is about. Hey, it was my first toss out into the shark pit, okay? Somehow he had sweet talked me into coming to his office under the pretense of...(you can laugh, it’s pretty funny to me as I look back) making me a “Rock Star”. He had convinced me enough to come to his office on Sunset Blvd. His office turned out to be in a high-rise, but an apartment decorated with black and white glossies of him with Dick Clark, Frankie Avalon and I forget who else. He told me he was affiliated with Bandstand. Maybe he had been, like sweeping the bleachers out after a show or something, but I digress. The point is once there he explained away the fact it was his “home office”.
“Buffy dear, I want to hear you sing.”
“I told you I’m no singer.” I didn’t lie. I sang in school and choir but becoming a rock star had never been in my head, ever, until smooth-talking Michael.
“Honey, you got the looks, I know you have a voice and I know I can make sound good...and we need personality which you have in spades doll.”
“I want you to sing a song by the Eagles, Take it Easy.”
“Uh. With the song? You have the lyrics for me? I know the song, but maybe not all of the words.”
“That’s okay, just sing what you know.”
“Oh God, I don’t know...it’s the Eagles.” I felt like shit, I met the Eagles when I was managing a bar in Boulder, and man, I had no voice to be singing acapella Eagles....or anything else for that matter. Who was this guy? I guess the better question was why was I there? I began to shake. I mean I don’t even sing in my shower. This was just so wrong on so many levels.
“Come on.” He cajoled. I looked around and the glossies and it only made it worse looking at Dick Clark smiling in front of the Bandstand logo. I opened my mouth...and screeched “I was runnin’ down the road...” my eyes rolled back in my head, my mouth felt so dry, and I was shaking like someone had tossed me into the ring with Joe Frasier. I stopped abruptly.
“Go on.” He was stifling a smile and I knew it.
“I can’t do this. I don’t want to be a Rock Star.” I grabbed my purse and the LA Times, which had just come out with my big interview, and tried to excused myself. He was very persistent though, and before I knew it I had signed a contract with him. He was my first manager, he’d get 25% of whatever I made. (The last laugh was on him, because he got nothing in a year.) When I left I had the Times under my arm, and a new-found confidence.
“Excuse me.” I heard a voice say to me. I turned to see this blond, heavyset, tall man eyeballing me.
“Didn’t I see you in the paper today?” He smiled.
Wow, someone recognizes me. “Yes, you did.”
He introduced himself, “I loved the article. I’m Eddie Egan...you know, the actor?”
I gave him a blank look. I had no idea who he was.
“I’m the real Popeye Doyle...you know from the movie, The French Connection.” He looked confident.
If you stop this clip at 1:06 you will see Hackman (as Popeye Doyle/Eddie Egan) getting in a blonde guy’s face...that guy is the real Eddie.)
I guess I had a blank look still because the movie was five years old by then.
“I’m in the tv show Police Story.” He said confidently.
Ok, I had heard of it, though I didn’t have a television set. “That’s great. It’s nice to meet you.”
“How about dinner tonight?”
“I think so, can you call me later to make sure?” I gave him my phone number and he assured me we could meet somewhere, Cyrano’s on the strip. Oh... fancy and so "in".
"Sure...hey Buffy...." he seemed to have remembered something, "could you wear white go-go boots?"
That night I met Eddie at Cyrano's. I was the only one there in white go-go boots. I guessed it is so he would find me...like the old red rose thing.
Dinner was fun. I loved all the attention he seemed to command, plus we talked about being a working actor in Hollywood. A couple of drinks and a bottle of red wine later, with a decent Italian meal under his belt he invited himself over to my place.
"I'm sorry Eddie, I have a television show I need to be ready for early."
"That's okay doll. Look, we have our last show of the season filming tomorrow, so there's going to be a cast party afterwards...would you come as my guest?"
Wow, a cast party. I was impressed. No telling who I would get to meet. "I'd love to." “I would love to Eddie.”
The next night he picked me up in his Cadillac and we went to a sound stage (warehouse) which confused me. I was expecting the party would be, well anything but on the last set. I was disappointed, but the atmosphere was one of a real party, people milling about, dancing and getting drunk with the knowledge they wouldn’t be working there until the next season, if they were fortunate enough to get picked up.
At this party little did I know I would get to meet my future acting teacher, Bruce Glover, Lou Gosset Jr.. Anne Jeffries, Marty Ingalls, Desi Arnaz Jr., Walter Matthaw and a whole host of other people who had appeared on the show. I didn’t know at the time I would cross paths with many of them again in the future. The disco lights were twirling overhead and the crowd danced to the pulsing beat. I kept losing Eddie, but I didn’t mind, there I was in the midst of this end of season party, and I loved it.
“Buffy...BUFFY...” I heard my name being called over the music. It was Eddie, he wanted to go. We left the lot soon after. On the way back to my little studio apartment he started groping me with one hand.
“Hey Eddie...don’t.” I moved his hand off of my leg. It bugged me that he thought I would let him just do whatever because he was...well, just a cop in my eyes. I knew cops, and though he had traded on his good fortune, it did not entitle him to take advantage of me. I knew he was drunk too; still no excuse. And he told me he was married.
“Aww Buf, com’on, when we get to your place you can put those white boots on...I’ve been thinking about them.”
Oh yuck. So now the truth comes out. A go-go boot fetish. We pulled up to my apartment building, he parked and reached for me again. “Thanks for a nice time Eddie...but this is where we part.”
“You leavin’ me alone?” He slurred.
“Go home Eddie, you’re drunk.” I opened the car door amidst his protestations.
“G’night Eddie. Go home to your wife. Thanks for everything.” I left him there, and when I heard his engine turn over I smiled, closing my door. I never heard from Eddie again.
The next morning I tossed out those white boots.
*Eddie died from cancer November 4, 1995. He's buried in NY.