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Saturday, December 25, 2010

More on Pat McCormick

More on Pat

That's Pat McCormick towering over his friend and occasional partner, Paul Williams, in one of the Smokey and the Bandit movies. (Photo missing) I think of him mainly as a writer but Pat did an awful lot of on-camera performing, in part because people just liked having him around.

Among his many attributes was that he always had some great, utterly topical joke. No matter what was in the news, Pat had a line about it, sometimes even in good taste. It was among the reasons for Mr. Carson to keep him on the payroll of The Tonight Show for years, regardless of what he handed in. The other writers on Johnny's staff were held to strict production quotas: You had to produce X number of monologue-worthy jokes each week or you were outta there...but the rule didn't apply to Pat. Rumor has it there were long stretches — months, sometimes — when Pat handed in nothing or at least, nothing useable. It was no secret that his life was a flurry of drink and drugs and women. For a time, he was involved with Johnny's "matinee lady," Carol Wayne, and was deeply affected when she died in a boating accident. Johnny reportedly never pressed Pat for material, telling his staff, "When he turns in something good, it'll be worth it."

You had to admire the speed. One day in 1992, I was driving over to a meeting with an agent. On the phone, I heard the sad news that singer-dancer Ben Vereen was in serious condition after having been struck by a car on a beachfront road just north of Los Angeles.

When I walked into the agent's office, Pat was in the waiting room. He walked up to me and said, "Mark, do you know how to get to Malibu?"

It sounded like a straight line so I said, "No, how?"

Pat said, "You go north on Pacific Coast Highway 'til you hit Ben Vereen..."

From, Mark Evanier's blog:

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