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ARIZONA’S FIRST FILM OFFICE HEAD
By Rodd Wolff
Vice President - Northern Arizona
If there was a title pertaining to a stuntman’s record of stunt brawls, Fred Graham would easily have held that title. At least he held the title of the first one to head the Arizona's first film office.
The art of fisticuffs has always been Graham’s specialty, and every major studio used him in that capacity for more than 25 years. His reputation began to grow at Warner Bros. in the late 1930s, in such classics as Adventures of Robin Hood, Valley of the Giants, The Roaring 20s, Dodge City, Brother Orchid and Each Dawn I Die, to name a few.
In the early ’40s, he shifted over to Republic Studios, where some of the greatest fight choreography was staged by Graham and his cohorts. One of his friends was John Wayne, who used Graham as an actor and stunt double in many of his films, such as Tall in the Saddle and Angel and the Badman, filmed in Arizona, along with Rio Bravo. As an inductee to the Hollywood Stuntman’s Hall of Fame and resident of Scottsdale, Graham would have been the perfect choice to head a new state film office, should we be get one.
Knowing the movie business when he headed the film office, he convinced many filmmakers to shoot in Arizona.
Today, with the old film office long since closed, we not only need a new one, but someone who knows the business. To be competitive with so many other states, we also need a state film tax incentive for the office to be even more effective.
Hurrah for Hollywood! Another season of award shows is recently completed. The Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Spirit Awards and, of course, the Super Bowl of award shows, the Oscars.
The red carpets are rolled up, the number of men sporting facial in whatever stage of beardedness have now been counted. The women’s fashions — whatever praised or snarky-ized — are flying off the racks throughout our great country as knockoff versions.
What am I wearing as I write this? Why thank you for asking. Tennis shoes, my camouflage cargo pants and a sort of dark teal off-green T-shirt. I would tell you what brands they are and where I got them, but I’m not sure what the rules are on product placement in a newsletter, so I will leave it at that. But I digress.
Acknowledgement, recognition and appreciation are always in season, so I say, “Hurrah for Arizona-Utah!” Wow, I did not expect that I’d be saying something like that and didn’t prepare anything in advance, so I guess I’ll just have to wing it.
Being as this is our first Arizona-Utah newsletter as SAG-AFTRA without a local office or local staff, I want to make sure that the two individuals who have served and guided us to this point be given the appreciation and attention due them.
First, I’d like to congratulate Don Livesay on his recent retirement. I would also like to thank him for his dedication and efforts representing members of AFTRA and SAG for 31 years.
Don, as you travel the path of your retirement, may the advice given by David Lynch to Louis C.K. during an episode of Louie hold you in good stead: “The three rules of show business: 1) Look ’em in the eye and speak from the heart. 2) You gotta go away to come back. 3) If someone asks you to keep a secret, their secret is a lie.”
I also want to acknowledge and thank Roxanne Chaisson. Her leadership, her tireless and persevering efforts over her 19 years of service are to be commended and noted. Roxanne, you are greatly respected, enormously appreciated and sorely missed. I know you will continue to impart the same commitment and resolve with anything you choose to do, just as you always did for our membership. May your future be filled with an abundance of success, happiness and much laughter.
From left, Joe Corcoran, Roxanne Chaisson, Don Livesay and Margie Ghigo. Photo by Nancy Hall.
Lastly, and before I hit my word limit, I want to give a big shout-out to all of our SAG-AFTRA Arizona-Utah “cast and crew” membership for your contributions of ideas and for your positive energy as we move forward with purpose and resolve.
Despite no longer having the benefit of a local office or staff, I am more than encouraged and confident that our Arizona-Utah Local will not only thrive and be a major player, it will prosper because of the dedication and involvement of our current board and committee members and our entire membership. There’s the music! Gotta go! One last thing: Hurrah for Arizona-Utah!
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