The actress Cybill Shepherd was an immediate star at age 21 when she debuted in The Last Picture Show (1971), a film that was nominated for eight Academy Awards. Then she made impressive appearances in The Heartbreak Kid (1972) and Taxi Driver (1976), but her star dimmed with films that failed at the box office.
When I met Cybill Shepherd in 1976, she was touring dinner theatres in a production of A Shot In The Dark. As the former girlfriend of Elvis Presley and other Hollywood notables, she still had audience drawing power.
Following her performance in A Shot In The Dark at the Tidewater Dinner Theatre, there was a wine and light fare reception for theatre patrons. I was attending as the editor of Metro Hampton Roads Magazine, a monthly, 100-page plus urban features publication. One of the magazine’s most popular sections was titled “Metro Eye” and consisted of a two to four-page layout of photos taken at area social, cultural, and business events.
As editor, I assigned free-lance photographers to a number of these “Metro Eye” events each issue, and our photo coverage was very welcomed and desired at these venues. My payment for these photographs was insultingly low, but the photographers were allowed to sell their pictures to event sponsors and individuals. Usually it was very profitable for them to be identified as a Metro photographer, and many good free-lancers wanted those assignments.
Coincidentally, one of the Metro photos appeared in the program for A Shot In The Dark. Theatre executive Alan Sader had included a gallery of pictures from past shows showing patrons with such stars as Forrest Tucker, Dana Andrews, Yvonne De Carlo, and Pat O’Brien. My best pal Peter Decker and his beautiful wife Bess were pictured with me and my then-wife Theresa beside actress Anne Francis who had starred in a production of Cactus Flower. Anne Francis is best remembered for her roles in the 1950s classic science fiction film Forbidden Planet, and for the 1960s television series Honey West.
A Metro photographer was working the theatre reception event, and of course, he wanted to ingratiate himself to me by taking my picture with Cybill Shepherd. It became obvious to Ms. Shepherd that the photographer, in bringing us together and directing the photograph, was paying more attention to me than he was to her. He was also taking a lot more shots than were necessary.
When the photographer finally released us, Ms. Shepherd turned to me with an expression of wonderment and demanded, “Just who the hell are you, anyway?”
How could I possibly respond to her without confessing my exploitation, so I answered with something both short and reasonable that I hoped she could accept.
“I’m the mayor,” I said.
Cybill Shepherd recovered from local pretenders like me to star in an Emmy Award winning television series, Moonlighting, with Bruce Willis (1985 to 1989). Cybill Shepherd is a gal with spunk, and I like spunk.