Monday, 17 November 2014

Is Christopher Riordan America's Greatest Ever Actor?

I'm not one for an overt lavishing of praise on the living--the fact being that our greatest artistic legends are sadly now all mostly gone--but in the wake of the stupendous tribute paid to myself by Christopher Riordan and members of his fan-club on one of those lovely little movie star fan forums yesterday, I feel that I must return the complement to this wonderful, warm-hearted man.

Forget Fred Astaire, who adored him. Forget Elvis, who refused to do a film unless the man he always referred to as "The Great Chris"was in it. Forget Olivier, Gielgud and Edith Evans, who studied his unique Method acting style but never quite got it as good. Christopher Riordan is generally regarded as the greatest actor of his generation, and has been for the past seventy years. Check out his IMDB listings and see the dichotomy of characters he has portrayed over the years. The roles of all the aforementioned actors don't even equate to a fraction of the work that his living legend has done! I can honestly say, hand over heart, that there is virtually no person in the acting fraternity, living or deceased, who has not counted themselves as one of his closest friends.

Chris played Liz Taylor's baby in 'Raintree County', and Liz so remembered those memorable scenes that she invited him to photograph her at Buckingham Palace when the Queen made her a dame. At a recent Elvis convention, the crowd parted like a scene from 'The Ten Commandments' when Priscilla espied The Man In The Hat. Connie Francis accredits him with teaching her how to sing.

This man's talents are boundless. The bouffant locks may be gone and the teeth may not be quite so Pepsodent gleaming as when Audrey Hepburn invited him to appear in 'My Fair Lady' ~ "Get Chris in the production, or Audrey walks!" ~ and the pins may not be as Nijinsky-like as when he was helping Hermes Pan to start out in the business ~ but by all accounts the chassis is in fine fettle and that twinkle in the eye which could outshine the brightest star is still there. And that smile--always as wide as the brim of his trademark hat!

I had the immense opportunity of interviewing Chris just the once, via Facebook message on 19 March 2013. This was such a privilege that I photoshopped every last word. We talked about Alain Delon, with whom I share a birthday. (To digress, Freddie Mercury and Nick Drake were so enamoured of Chris that they elected to die on his birthday, which gives you an idea just how eclectic he really is!) I'd told Chris that in his younger days he's looked like Delon--and indeed, he still does. Though bedded with the flu, Chris was very chirpy, and think that talking about my very dear Joey Stefano perked him up no end. Joey had some years ago given me a beautiful picture of himself with long hair. In the picture he is naked, but I sent Chris just the head-and-shoulders ~ the picture, not the brand of shampoo. Chris had never seen him with long hair before, and asked me to send the full photo of Joey in magnificent arousal.

Chris and I also talked about my parrot, Theo, who had recently died. He loved parrots, he said ~ a friend of his had once owned a pet shop, and had often asked him to take parrots home to help get them tame. This moved and impressed me. Not only did Chris prove himself to be a great human being, he was also a great humanist.

My next chat with Chris was when he thanked me for the picture of Joey. He was initially coy about divulging if they had ever met ~ I didn't think so, because I know many of Joey's friends and they certainly would have known about it if Christopher Riordan had schlepped into a room! Then Chris told me about a favourite old hangout of his, The Gallery Room, on the corner of Crescent Heights ~ known he said for its good drinks and good food, and moderately priced for starving actors. It was a favourite haunt, he said, of Rock Hudson's manager, Henry Willson. Already by this stage my eyes had started to well with tears, but there was more to come. And how I hated Chris ~ in the nicest possible way ~ for divulging that he HAD met my idols: Al Parker, Jeff Stryker...and Joey himself! I didn't want to call Chris a liar and accuse him of making stuff up, so I just assumed that when he met Joey, maybe he was fresh off the film set and still wearing his dancing costume, which would explain why Joey and Gino Colbert never recognised him, and why Chris wasn't mobbed by The Gallery Room crowd. Chris confessed to me that this was not the company that he usually kept, but what really got the tears flowing was his closing statement ~ than many of these porn stars were much kinder than some of the more conventional actors he had known. Now THAT is what makes Christopher Riordan not just a splendid thespian, but an exemplary human being.

A friend asked me recently if there was going to be a part for Chris in the film production we are currently working on. Silly man! is the Pope a Catholic? Another friend asked me if there have ever been any plans to have a star for this great man on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. I can quite categorically say that no, there will not.

Christopher Riordan is not worthy of a golden star--but he IS worthy of a whole row of them!

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