Raj, Redford and All the Presidents Men
A couple of weeks ago I wrote to you guys about watching “70s Fever” on the History TV channel. I said I was only 12 when the Watergate scandal broke and didn’t know much about it.
I’ve since seen “All the Presidents Men” starring Robert Redford as Bob Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein.
These two men pretty much brought out the whole Watergate scandal with the help of “Deep Throat,” aka W. Mark Felt, the FBI honcho who kept the two reporters going in the right direction as they uncovered the break in and eventual fall of Nixon. I see Felt died Dec. 18.
After writing about this, my friend Raj e-mailed me the following:
This is one of my favorite college-era stories. Hadn't thought about it in ages until I read your latest column. I think it was my first year at George Washington University. I was walking along a street in downtown D.C. not far from the White House and a few blocks down from the Washington Post. I see a guy coming towards me in the lunchtime crowd wearing shades, jeans, herringbone jacket, etc. Nothing to distinguish him from the rest of the crowd. Blended right in. Could've been a grad student. It was Robert Redford. (I have a sixth sense about such things.) But to make sure, I turned around just as he was entering a hotel. I waited about five minutes, went to a phone booth, called the hotel and in a very officious voice said, "Gimme Bob Redford's room." Two rings later, "Bob" picks up the receiver and hurriedly says, "Yah???", like he was on a mission or something and this better be important. It was definitely him. I'd seen "Butch and Sundance" enough by then to know that voice. My reply: (Pause.) "Uhh, sorry. Must have the wrong room." (I couldn't believe they'd actually put me through.)
He was in town at the time, filming "All the President's Men", scenes of which were actually filmed at the Washington Post. He's a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I went there earlier in the year to see a friend's son perform. They have small pictures of all their graduating classes going back decades in the lobby. There's Redford, class of '55 I think.
OK, so thirty years later, I'm walking through 30 Rock. There he is in wire-rimmed glasses with another guy. He has a way of moving so he's almost anonymous when he wants to be. Short guy, too. That helps. No one noticed him. He was wearing that cap like he wore in "The Sting". They're coming in my direction. I wasn't even aware of who it was right away. I just sensed there was someone looking at me when I realized who it was. I quickly said, "Hey, Bob," and moved right along.
Got the drop on him again! I have no idea who he thought I was. But if I'd had the presence of mind, I would've stopped to thank him. To this day, whenever I'm at work, someone calls and I want to sound "officious", I grab the phone and go, "Yah???", like I'm on a mission or something and this better be important. Thank you, Mr. Redford!
I love that Raj has these memories and shares them with me so I can share them with you.
Now that I’m up to date on what went on in politics in the 1970s, I feel much more apt about presidential politics today. Rock on Obama – the inauguration is Jan. 20 and I’ll be glued to the TV.