by Ski Ingram

Tom Selleck had been in town for a week or so filming his new movie “An Innocent Man.”  Everyone I talked to wanted to work on that movie with Mr. Selleck.  For those of you who are not a retired Long Beach Police Officer let me explain.  Every cop, as soon as they got off probation, would sign up to work Special Events.  You worked on your off days and were paid time and a half.  Some of these assignments could last 12 to 18 hours.  Some were good gigs; some were not so good. Your job was to block traffic and the streets if needed and provide security and prevent the fans from entering the area. Working a movie was usually good.  If you wanted to you could meet the stars and eat the food on the set which was really good.

Stanley Ziemelis, my partner for 5 years, and I were lucky to be assigned to work the movie one night.  We went to Squad Meeting where we got our assignments and were told the rules for working this movie.  Rules, we thought. What rules? We’ve never had rules before, why now?

We were told not to bother Mr. Selleck.  The mayor’s wife and the police chief’s wife both asked to have a picture taken with him and were refused, so don’t ask!  After squad meeting, we got in our police car and drove to Shore Line Village where they were filming that night. 

When Stan and I arrived at the location, around 6:00 pm, we saw Tom Selleck and the movie’s director, Peter Yates, standing a short distance away. Peter Yates directed three great movies, Bullitt, Alien and The Deep.  I walked up to them and stood there until they finished their conversation then asked, “Mr. Selleck, can I get a picture with you?”  He told me that he would be happy to do it, but because there were so many people around, we should wait until later. If he took a picture with me everyone would want one and he didn’t have time for that.  I thanked him and walked away. I didn’t see Tom again until 3:00 AM.

A little later that night I struck up a conversation with David Rasche, one of the actors in the movie.  David played Sledgehammer in the TV show Sledgehammer in the 1980s. In this movie he plays a Long Beach Police Narcotics Officer.  In the movie he and his partner are going to arrest a drug dealer but go to the wrong house.  They storm into Jimmie Rainwood’s house, played by Tom Selleck. He is holding a hair dryer when they break in.  Mistaking the dyer for a gun they shoot him. To cover up their mistake they plant drugs on him and put him in prison.

After talking to Rasche about the movie for a while he tells me that he is very tired.   He asked me to wake him up if they needed him on the set. He then climbed into the back of an old station wagon that was parked nearby and went to sleep.  After about two hours I heard someone calling his name.  I woke him up and he went off to shoot his part of the movie. When he returned to his car, I asked him to take a picture with me, which he did.

After being on set for about nine hours Tom came out of his motor home looking all fresh and rested to shoot his part in the film.  As you can see from the picture of us, I didn’t look at all fresh and rested. While he was walking back to his motor home, I stopped him and asked for that picture he promised me earlier.  I don’t remember who took the picture, but as soon as we finished a guy walked up to me and asked if I had been told not to bother Mr. Selleck and why I had done it.  I told him I got what I wanted and wouldn’t bother him again.  I think he said something about getting me in trouble, but I’m not sure as I stopped listening to him as I walked away.

After the guy walked away Tom walked over to me and asked, “What did that guy say to you?”  After I told him he said he’d talk to him later.  Tom remained with me for at least 20 minutes while we watched the filming.  He told me all about the movie, that’s when I learned the Long Beach Police were the bad guys.  We talked about the difficulties of police work and how I liked being a cop. Before he left, he thanked me for talking to him.  He thanked me?  He thanked me?   He was a great guy, very kind and personable.

I have been a fan of his ever since. I especially like him in Blue Bloods.

As remembered by Ski Ingram January 2012