Gregory Peck and Mary Badham in "To Kill a Mockingbird."
Impressionist Jim Meskimen has been around Hollywood for a long time, so you never know what you'll find when you go over to his gated mansion on Sunset Blvd.
I drove my beat-up convertible there the other evening - his ancient 3-fingered Austrian manservant Klaus recognized my voice on the intercom, although he was confused at first and asked if I was there about the monkey - and parked in the circular driveway.
Jim and I sat on the front porch and drank Negronis and talked about old times, and then, from a azalea bush on his property, we heard a mockingbird. The bird went through a long series of imitations, which delighted Jim of course. The bird did a car alarm, a meowing cat, a penny-whistle, a lactating wildebeest, and a semi-trailer full of Valencia oranges jack-braking on the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass. The bird was amazing.
Jim looked up as if remembering something. "Come with me!" he said, jumping up. I followed him into the screening room, where he pulled out an old reel of 35mm film and threaded it through the projector. It was an outtake from "To Kill a Mockingbird," America's most-beloved film (directed by Robert Mulligan and produced by Mulligan and the great Alan J. Pakula).
Had this clip of film seen the light of day in the 1960s, it would have certainly changed the world's perception of Atticus Finch. Alas, Jim won't let me post the video, but the audio is priceless.
(By the way, Jim's last "Jimpressions" show at The Acting Center is Saturday, October 6 at 8pm.)