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Bill Cotter

It looks like Alice and the White Rabbit were having a fun day

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Lovely shot, Bill.

I see there's a guy with a movie camera aiming at the pair.

Do you have any home movie film of the world's fair?

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You see Alice but I see Harvey and I'm looking for Elwood P. Dowd.

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14 hours ago, icedstitch said:

Lovely shot, Bill.

I see there's a guy with a movie camera aiming at the pair.

Do you have any home movie film of the world's fair?

Piles of it. I need to start digitizing it. Right after the next book wraps!

6 hours ago, Jim said:

You see Alice but I see Harvey and I'm looking for Elwood P. Dowd.

I once met Jimmy Stewart and ended up doing lines from "Harvey" with him when he heard it was my high school play. I did Dr. Chumley to his Elwood. One of my fondest memories, and what a great guy.

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That is incredible!  You met Jimmy Stewart!  I saw an interview when he said his role as Elwood P. Dowd was his favorite part and Harvey, on Broadway and on film, was his favorite production of his entire career.  But you met him.  Amazing, Bill.  Dr. Chumley is a very cool part.  I've always felt a bit sorry for him, however.  He could see Harvey but Harvey didn't stay with him at the end of the story.  

James Stewart was a remarkable man.  It saddens me to discover how few younger people know of him, his films or his service to the nation.  There is a James Stewart museum in his hometown of Indiana, PA, but I understand it continues to have problems finding the money to remain viable.

PS:  How and where did you meet Mr. Stewart?  

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A friend asked if I wanted to work on the video crew at a Bob Hope dinner, where he was being honored by the Friar's Club. My role was to corral celebrities and bring over to the video area so they could wish Bob "Happy Birthday". When Jimmy came over they needed to change the battery pack so we went off to the side to sit it out. I have a WW II plane and asked Jimmy about his flying days. I then asked what his favorite role was. He said everyone expected him to say "It's a Wonderful Life" but that he had a special spot in his heart for "that old rascal, Harvey" and that was his favorite.

I then mentioned I had played Dr. Chumley and still remembered my lines. He asked me to prove it, and when I jumped into it, he came right back as Elwood. I was in Seventh Heaven for sure.I only wish I had it on video!

Dr. Chumley: I know where I'd go.

Elwood P. Dowd: Where?

Dr. Chumley: I'd go to Akron.

Elwood P. Dowd: Akron? Oh, yes.

Dr. Chumley: There's a cottage camp just outside of Akron and a grove of myrtle trees. Green, cool, beautiful.

Elwood P. Dowd: That's my favorite tree.

Dr. Chumley: And I'd go there with a pretty woman.

Elwood P. Dowd: Oh!

Dr. Chumley: A strange woman. A quiet woman.

Elwood P. Dowd: Oh, under a tree?

Dr. Chumley: I wouldn't even want to know her name. Where I would be just "Mr. Smith." And I would send out for cold beer.

Elwood P. Dowd: No whiskey, huh?

Dr. Chumley: No. Then I would tell her things. Things that I've never told to anyone. Things that are locked deep in here. And as I talk to her, I would want her to hold out a soft white hand and say, "Poor thing. Poor, poor thing."

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I'm blown away, Bill.  You read lines with James Stewart.  That, right there, could be a highlight of almost anyone's life.  And you've confirmed my thoughts about Dr. Chumley.  He is such a likable, wistful, lonely character and Harvey offers him hope.  

What a remarkable experience for you.  It would be nice to have it all on film but your memories are just as good and probably better.  Harvey is such a beautiful story and it is one of the funniest films ever made.  For the record, while I cannot match your incredible experience, I can say I have had several pet rabbits over the years and a number of them have been respectfully named Harvey.  I've loved that story just about all of my life.  That and Arsenic and Old Lace are the very first DVDs I ever purchased.

Thank you very much for sharing your story with us.  It has certainly brightened my day and  I am VERY grateful to you.

Oh, and you own a WW2 airplane?  Full size?  An actual plane?  Is it operational?  What model?  You certainly lead a most interesting life literally and very figuratively far away from isolated, snowbound Upstate New York which is increasingly similar to living in the forgotten Yukon.

By the way, do you have any other stunners hidden away?  You weren't an extra in Gandhi or a personal valet for Spencer Tracy or Lon Chaney's make-up guy were you?  Do you own any other items that might reveal more about your life?  Amelia Erhardt's plane or Judge Crater's missing car (or Judge Crater himself) or the rebuilt Hindenburg or something?  

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You make me sound like Bill Cotter, Man of Mystery. Nothing quite so glamorous.

Here's the plane. Just getting ready to sell it as my partner wanted to get out. I'll miss it, but like my chat with Jimmy Stewart, lots of memories. And with the plane there's pictures!

t-6.jpg

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Well, maybe you're not a man of mystery per se, but I believe you do qualify for the title of  Renaissance Man.

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