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Jeff Boggs Jeff Boggs
Jeff Boggs

After graduating on Wed…I left for Arizona on Saturday morning to accept a job working for the government at a place called Ft. Huachuca. It is an army base, south of Tucson, near Tombstone and Sierra Vista, Arizona. I fell in love with the area and after my summer job ended I stayed.
In late 1975, I had the chance to work with troubled youth in an outward-bound-type-program called Vision Quest.
They did desert survivals as a way of changing the attitudes of these youthful offenders. This led to Vision Quest being part of the Bi-centennial wagon train which was sorta a reverse of the westward expansion of pioneers as there were five wagon trains that came from all corners of the nation and converged at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania on July 4th 1976 to celebrate independence day.

I traveled from Pasadena, California to Valley Forge either riding as an out rider or driving our wagon....seven months, and about twenty miles a day. It was hard work, but a really cool adventure.
The wagon train trip was mind blowing. From bitter cold at Ratton Pass, Colorado, to the heat of the New Mexican desert, to the cool rivers and streams of the Pocono's.... and then the reception at Valley Forge and the parties in Washington D.C.

We were even greeted by then-President Ford in Valley Forge, and invited to the celebrations in Washington for the bi-centennial…now THAT was a party! We were invited to the white house for a photo session with the wagon on the East Lawn! That was also cool!

I met Gale McMasters during both my trips to Washington D.C., with the close-up foundation while I still was attending Ellet. We were married by the then-mayor of Richfield OH. in a June 4th Richfield bi-centennial celebration there in Ohio. Gale graduated from Garfield in 1974. (My daughter, Cheyenne was born 11/7/79/. Gale and I divorced in 1980. I married Deb Hughes, Ellet class of '73, in 1990. We had dogs, instead of kids.)

At the conclusion of the wagon train, we returned to Arizona and, still working with Vision Quest, we worked on a farm with the young offenders in Double Adobe for about six months, before moving on to Sierra Vista AZ.

In the fall of 1976, I saw an ad for movie extras in the local paper. I had a few days off, so I went to the audition. I got a small background part as an ambulance attendant in a film called "A Star is Born" with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristopherson. It was only two days work, but am awful lot of fun! And, it was my first exposure to the film industry.

WooHoo! They didn't know what they started!

I went back to work as a clerk in a retail store and found it to be pretty boring. Soon there was more film activity in the area, as CBS was doing a TV series called 'Young Pioneers' which starred Linda Purl and a host of other stars. Well, I went to the set as an extra, then became the local 'extra' co-coordinator. One day a production assistant was sick and I filled in. Then, one of the A.D.’s…(Assistant Directors) left the show and I filled in. My boss, by the way, was Andy Ackerman…(Cheers, Wings, Dallas…etc).
One day there was a scene that called for a wagon to roar through town and then stop abruptly at a specific point. None of the wranglers could get it just as the director had envisioned. I was there, and said, "I can drive a wagon." The director thought I was full of it…but said, "Get to it, boy!" I did, and pulled it off! I had a great time.

This same director asked me if I could go to Dallas, TX for a new pilot being done about a rich oil family. Well, I said I had to ask the wife and would let him know the next day. I decided to take the job and move to Dallas. I went to the set the next morning and talked to the director. We went to see the producer and work out details. This was Earl Hamner, creator of "The Walton’s")…who informed us that he "...sent one of the others AD’s late yesterday." I missed the chance to work on DALLAS! But I learned a lesson...do not hesitate!

Soon after that, "Young Pioneers" was canceled. I was sure my film career was over.

I went on vacation to visit Deb Hughes, class of 1973, who was in the navy and stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. There, by chance, I happened upon the set of "Magnum P.I." with Tom Selleck. I wormed my way onto the production team for the last four episodes and I wound up staying for four months!!

A year or so passed. With my interest in film still strong, I served on a number of community boards involved in getting films in the area.
I knew a lady in Bisbee, AZ on the Chamber of Commerce there. She told me about a film coming to Bisbee called "Jessie" starring Lee Remick. It was off to the races! I found work as an actor and extra. That led to another film with Johnny Depp and Faye Dunaway.

Then, there was a lull in my film work.

Eventually, though, I met some casting agents and directors and they were working on a western series called, "The Young Riders", in Tucson and Mescal. They called me to help wrangle the extras....you know, do the paper work, keep them in line on set, etc. Well this turned into a long running series and a lot of work for me... but not a lot of money and soon it was no challenge. When the show was cancelled I decided to try and start my own casting and production company.

'Cochise Casting and Production' was created, and within a month I landed my first feature film. It was called "Roswell" about the UFO crash in New Mexico. At the same time there was a film in Mescal, called "The Quick and the Dead". It starred Sharon Stone and a new comer....what’s his name...Oh, yes....Russell Crow. Then, yet another film "Pontiac Moon" in Benson and with Ted Danson.
Well I did extra, and stand-in work for "The Quick and the Dead." And I did the extra casting and period cars for Pontiac Moon.

Things were really moving for me!

We did several commercials, and a documentary for the Discovery Channel…as well as several projects about Tombstone, Wyatt Earp, and the O.K. Corral. Well, after producing and directing a couple of my own documentaries about Tombstone, there was talk of a big budget film about Tombstone, sure enough there was a film with Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, and a cast of other well known actors. I worked the extras, and then did a Showtime extra with the cast and director for Showtime, the cable network. I was unit production manager for this project and it aired when Showtime bought the rights to air Tombstone on cable. This was nominated for a Cable Ace award. At the same time, I learned that the production team for Roswell was nominated for a golden globe award! How cool is that?!

Any way, after Tombstone, I thought I had arrived.

But there was a project; a black western with Mario Van Peebles and Steven Baldwin, whom I knew from the days of Young Riders. I again managed a job on set...starting as the naked lady wrangler...the extra casting ...this was exciting as Mario was the star, producer, and director He was very fair and the usual hierarchy on set was non-existent. Everyone was treated with respect. We wrapped the film, in Tucson, in October that year.

Then, a couple months later....January I think...a package arrived in the mail from the production company. That's not unusual as there are always loose ends when working with a production company of that size. To my surprise, there was an invitation to the world premier of "Posse", at -- get this -- the Directors Guild on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood!!!
Super cool.
And, it got better....inside I found roundtrip air tickets, a limo service, and hotel accommodations on La Cienega Blvd. in Hollywood!! Of course, I went and had a great time! I got to meet a few people like Nipsy Russell, Kim Bassinger, and all of Steven Baldwin’s brothers. It was SO way cool!

Still on this high, but with no projects on the direct horizon, I had the opportunity and the money, so I decided to tour Europe for a couple months. I started in Germany, and went as far north as Trondhiem, Norway, and as far south as Rome. I wandered around the continent for two and half months, visiting all the tourist things and having a ball with my extended euro rail pass.

I returned to the United States because I had been hired to cast the extras, doubles, and stand-ins for a film version of the Broadway play "The Fantasticks", starring Academy Award winner, Joey Grey (He played the Emcee in "Cabaret".) It seemed a small job, and hardly worth the effort, as there were only twelve extras. Special abilities were required, but still only twelve extras for the entire three month shoot. And, we needed just a handful of doubles...5 to be exact. Sometimes the doubles/stand-ins and stunt people are one and the same. I took the job. I found the doubles, and all the stand-ins except for Joel’s, while holding casting sessions with about 50 guys who were of the same size, hair color, build, etc as Joel’s.

The producer and director was Michael Ritchie (who was Barbara Hershey's husband). I was cast as the double for Joel Grey. I did all his double/stand in and stunts for the film. It was great fun, and probably the best film experience of my life.

I had my own dressing room, next to Joel's, and we actually became friends finding that on a personal level we had a lot in common: he was from Northeast Ohio (Cleveland), we both had only one daughter, were single, etc.

I worked the entire film and had a blast (I danced off a house roof on wires…I got to fly!). We wrapped on a Friday, and I went home to find an urgent message from Cydnie Bernard. That's a name that means nothing to most people, but she had been the producer on that film about the Roswell incident.

She was the unit production manager on a film being done in Tucson with Tom Selleck and Jo Beth Williams. As it turned out, she said she needed someone dependable for the next day's shoot at the rodeo grounds in Tucson. If I was interested, I was to give her a call. I did, all the while thinking, "I'm really tired, and do I want to work as a gopher on this film with no break?"

I told her how tired I was and that it was along drive to Tucson. She said, "No worries, hon. I’ll send a car for you at 5am". I said O.K., and off to bed I went, still thinking she wants me as a set Production Assistant, or extra wrangler. Well, the car arrived 5am sharp. It was a Lincoln Continental with a bar and TV...woo whoo!

Arriving on set Cydnie, was nowhere to be found but I was told to wait in the press room for the director. There were about 10-15 guys there. The director came in and gave instructions to the other guys like, ;camera three crew, do this', 'your position is, etc. All of them were gone and he turned to me and said "Mr. Boggs, you will be directing Camera two, and your crew, coming from L.A., has been delayed a bit, but here are the positions and shots I want from you!"

I nearly fainted. How cool is this? My own crew!! Directing Tom Selleck!! I was to get some of the most crucial shots in the film, like the Rodeo winning scene. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I decided I need to be as professional as possible, not take anything for granted, starting with the basics that I had learned over the years. I talked to my crew as though they were Kindergartners and worked slowly through the day explaining just what I wanted: lenses, angles, everything. It went well. Actually, Tom Selleck had remembered me from Magnum P.I., and all went well. As we wrapped, I turned to my camera crew, and thanked them. Then, my assistant director said "Thank YOU for staying with the basics and I hope you will watch our work on TV this coming season as we are the crew from that show called "Mad about You." They were great and had just won a ton of Emmys for that show. Here I was, talking slowly and simply to probably the finest film crew in television at the time!!!

Anyway, I ended up as Cydnie’s 'do anything kinda guy' and headed up the Arizona crew for the rest of the film. Then, the day we wrapped "Ruby Jean & Joe", I was offered a job as the extra casting director on a T.V. Series called "Legend", that stared Richard Dean Anderson...A.K.A…McQuiver!!!
I took the job, and the great money offered. I worked four episodes when the set at old Tucson our production facility caught on fire. We finished that season by going to different locations; Mescal, Bisbee, Tombstone, etc. But, the production costs spiraled as location shooting, hotels, etc., became too expensive and UPN canceled our show.

Well, great fun and great money.... while it lasted.

I then decided to do my own short film, but which one? A friend came to me with a proposal to do a short film that was a parody of the Star Trek films to date. It was titled "Trek - The Wrath of Pecan". We did this film on a limited budget, and on purpose gave it a really cheesy, 50’s bad B-movie look, a feat that was harder than you can imagine and I thought lost on its audience. It went well. We marketed the film through sci-fi mags and the ever present Star Trek conventions, however it did make money! Very little money but at least I had recouped my investment. When lo and behold, while attending a convention in Las Vegas and selling the video tapes, I was approached by a legal representative from Paramount Pictures with a cease and desist order to stop selling the tapes as they were suing me for copyright infringement! After consulting an attorney...I could win a suit against them as it was clearly original work and stated that it was a parody... my attorney advised me to stop the sales and distribution as it would cost way more than the film would gross to defend it against a horde of lawyers from Paramount and their deep pockets. So, I did, but the film was already set for a screening at the Arizona Film Society’s 1996 Film Festival. This is a very prestigious festival, given the proximity to Hollywood and Sundance. Well, "Trek - The Wrath of Pecan" won the top prize at the festival for best video production!

It has been retired with grace!

Well, that’s about it, as far as films, etc. Oh, except that 2 other films I worked on were "Major League" with Charlie Sheen, and also "Buffalo Soldiers" with Danny Glover.

I'm sure there are a few things I missed in this long tirade, (not many...LOL), but after the fire at Old Tucson, film production was all but gone here in the desert. I held on by doing local commercials, etc., until like '98, when I landed a set of six commercials deal done over three years for the Desert Diamond Casinos here in Tucson…
I did all of them as casting director/local co-coordinator. These proved very lucrative and at their conclusion, I gathered up the cash and retired.

I moved to Palm Springs, California, which is a truly beautiful city. But, as fate would have it, a 45 year old just should not retire. An expensive city, a home I should probably not have afforded, and stress of doing nothing led to a heart problem. I had a stent placement and then suffered a stroke that caused the lost of sight in my left eye. After a lengthy recovery, I decided that I could no longer afford the dream of Palm Springs.

I sold the house and moved to a cheaper climate....Pensacola, Florida. Well, after being there about two years and acquiring a home and rental property, Hurricane Ivan did a direct hit, destroying our rental property and dangerously damaging our home. So, we packed up our 5th wheel and returned to Arizona. Somewhere along the way, I developed problems from an auto accident I had had in California a few years before, and had to have spinal fusion which was the final straw.

I found myself unable to work at all and took social security disability. So I am retired now. I do not/can not work for money, but am happy and comfortable here in the desert. My Daughter, Cheyenne, lives near by is a noted designer and is raising my two grand-daughters with her husband, Ian, a professional poker player. I live with my second husband Rick, and am still friends with my two ex-wives. My ex-husband, Merlin, runs the local gay bar. So life is good!

Things I did not tell you:
1. My best friend was 93 years old when she died.
2. I miss having a house boy!
3. I’ve been in all 50 states, every province of Canada and Mexico.
4. I have visited over 30 countries.
5. I have met presidents.
6. I have met Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony winners.
7. I had a 4.0 grade avg. at Cochise College.
8. My Mom has passed, but my Dad is alive and 82 years old now.
9. I raise and have had Scottish terriers since 1982.
10. I love RVs.
11. I want to be shot into outer space or turned into a diamond when I die!

Thanks for reading this far,
Love, Jeff.

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d-e b   11-19-08