Rick Lenz

Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction

Author Profile

Rick  Lenz

After a forty-five year career as an actor and playwright, during which I was privileged to work with many wonderful people, I am now focused on writing (plus a little painting during blocked moments). I have published a memoir and a novel and have another novel about to come out later this year. I am working on my next one. They all have something to do with Hollywood and the mysteries of time, with a good dose of romance.

Books

Impersonators Anonymous

Literature & Fiction

Late Seventies: Young, would-be movie producer Emily Bennett doesn’t believe Have Gun Will Travel star, Richard Boone, when he tells her about a 2/3 completed film, starring James Dean and John Wayne. But when she meets the old film editor who stole the master negative of the legendary Showdown, she finds two uncannily gifted celebrity impersonators and with the aid of emerging computer technology sets out to complete the movie. Filming Showdown, Emily and her stars portray characters entangled in an ambiguous love triangle with Oedipal overtones that mirrors their real life dynamic. On top of this and distrusting her prima donnaish director, Emily and her brother (three face lifts) struggle with unresolved issues about their dying father. All these flawed characters find themselves in the titular showdown of their lives when their interwoven back-stories coalesce in a stormy climax that reveals their hidden animosities and demons.

Book Bubbles from Impersonators Anonymous

The Shootist/Impersonators Anonymous Connection

Very recently, Rob Word posted a youtube interview he did with me about "The Shootist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKL9bzc8Tkc This excerpt includes a scene with Richard Boone. We were friends from a series we did, then we both worked on "The Shootist," A conversation I had with him during that time inspired one of the scenes in this excerpt.

Jimmy Meets Jimmy (James Dean)

People often don't know the people they think they know best. I'm fascinated by the notion of trying and maybe beginning to understand the people we feel closest to. At the age of twenty-six, Jimmy Riley believes he knows the star he impersonates, James Dean, as well as he knows himself. He doesn't.

Was There a Lost John Wayne/James Dean Film?

When I first heard a rumor of the existence of a lost John Wayne/James Dean film, it was from Richard Boone (Paladin on the classic television series, "Have Gun, Will Travel) I thought he was joking, but he wasn't smiling. Chapter Two opens with Emily Bennett finding out about the existence of that film, called "Showdown." At first, she too thinks it's a joke. She will soon find out otherwise.

Emily: Celebrity Challenged

"Impersonators Anonymous" is available for pre-order now. Its publishing date is 9/19/18. It was a labor of love, featuring a rediscovered "lost film" that starred James Dean and John Wayne. It's a psychological thriller about a young woman producer and the two impersonators she finds who will play pivotal roles (along with John Wayne, James Dean, Richard Boone and emerging computer technology) in the completion of that film. Chapter One introduces Emily, the producer and pivotal character in the love triangle to follow.

Casting James Dean

I've always wanted to write a psychological thriller. In this story I had to have the right cast. Emily, the young protagonist and producer of "Showdown" has the best John Wayne impersonator she could imagine. They have come together with the prime candidate to play James Dean. The love triangle begins as "Jimmy" demonstrates his art and craft as a James Dean impersonator. The Release date for "Impersonators Anonymous" is Sept. 19th. The eBook may be pre-ordered on Amazon. https://tinyurl.com/y952btjx

North of Hollywood

Biographies & Memoirs

Rick Lenz is an actor. Most people don't know the simple truth that he reveals in this captivating autobiography: Actors are real people, and acting is a real job … His inner revelations about trying to find love, keep it, and make that his legacy make the book more than a mere sensationalist and gossipy tell-all. Lenz, now in his seventies, has latterly enjoyed success as a playwright. Here he competently displays his writing skills to depict his tough slog in the magical worlds of theater, TV, and screen, and the many famous people he has met on his way—Ingrid Bergman, John Wayne, Al Pacino, Goldie Hawn, Walter Matthau—all as part of the actor's nine-to-five job. We're enthralled by the glamour, but Lenz helps us focus on the real point: The hardest part of a glamorous life, of any life, is to find one's feet and stay standing. Lenz is still standing, and North of Hollywood is a warm, credible account of how he found his place in and out of the limelight … The earned wisdom of a seasoned veteran. — RECOMMENDED by the US Review of Books "An essential book for anyone who has ever said they want to be an actor and anyone who was lucky enough not to."-Michael Kahn, former Head of Drama at Julliard "A touching, bittersweet remembrance..."-Kirkus Reviews "Applause? Standing ovation...masterful."-Writers Digest

Book Bubbles from North of Hollywood

Cavemen Die Hard

The old line “A hard you-know-what has no conscience” has been quoted dozens of different ways for a long time. It would be silly to say there is no truth to it. The way many cultures are developing, this truth has turned out to be a bigger problem than the average caveman—I’m guessing—would have predicted. There have always been a few cavemen hanging around Hollywood; some of them are fairly benign—civilized most of us would like to think. Others appear never to be happier then when their reptilian brains are running the show. This piece from “North of Hollywood” is not only about men being reptiles with women, it’s about men being reptiles with everyone—something they will probably continue to do on some level until our brain no longer needs a brain stem (the reptilian/shark part). Hopefully though, as time passes, we will learn to hold more dearly "the better angels of our natures."

Life Restored

When I'm strapped into my seat in a big jet about to fly across the country, I always feel a wash of memories tumbling over and over each other. Writing North of Hollywood was much the same. It contains a lot of stories about my life as an actor, but it's a memoir and memoirs are personal. One of the role models in my life turned out to be my daughter Abigail. The last few pages of chapter 7 pick up the beginning threads of her story as seen from my eyes. Abigail walked through the valley of the shadow. There were times when Linda and I and Abigail's mother Jessica had no idea if she would ever make it through to the other side. Life restored is, for me, the most satisfying storyline in North of Hollywood.

Not just a tell-all

I'd like people to know that “North of Hollywood” is not just about stars I've hung out with. I knew if I was going to write a memoir it had better be an honest one. No glossing over things and trying to make it all look glamorous and wonderful. So many kids go into acting with little idea that it’s a real job and you'd better be prepared to take the downs with the ups. I wouldn't trade my life for anything. I'm happier now than I've ever been and this book is about the road that brought me to this point. Along the way I did get to dance with Ingrid Bergman and hang out with John Wayne and Peter Sellers. Those things are in there, too.

North of Hollywood: A Memoir

Biographies & Memoirs

In his forties, after startling good fortune as an actor/playwright (he’s had plays performed in New York and on PBS; played leading roles in films, on television, and stage with some of the greatest stars in Hollywood history), Rick Lenz finds it all falling apart. One evening in North Hollywood, standing alone, naked—not only metaphorically—on the stage of a tiny Equity Waiver theater, it hits him that his career has dropped out of frame and into helpless free fall. North of Hollywood is the story of his rise, fall, and rehabilitation, thanks to the faithful support of one woman.

Book Bubbles from North of Hollywood: A Memoir

North of Hollywood

Biographies & Memoirs

Rick Lenz is an actor. Most people don't know the simple truth that he reveals in this captivating autobiography: Actors are real people, and acting is a real job … His inner revelations about trying to find love, keep it, and make that his legacy make the book more than a mere sensationalist and gossipy tell-all. Lenz, now in his seventies, has latterly enjoyed success as a playwright. Here he competently displays his writing skills to depict his tough slog in the magical worlds of theater, TV, and screen, and the many famous people he has met on his way—Ingrid Bergman, John Wayne, Al Pacino, Goldie Hawn, Walter Matthau—all as part of the actor's nine-to-five job. We're enthralled by the glamour, but Lenz helps us focus on the real point: The hardest part of a glamorous life, of any life, is to find one's feet and stay standing. Lenz is still standing, and North of Hollywood is a warm, credible account of how he found his place in and out of the limelight … The earned wisdom of a seasoned veteran. — RECOMMENDED by the US Review of Books "An essential book for anyone who has ever said they want to be an actor and anyone who was lucky enough not to."-Michael Kahn, former Head of Drama at Julliard "A touching, bittersweet remembrance..."-Kirkus Reviews "Applause? Standing ovation...masterful."-Writers Digest

Book Bubbles from North of Hollywood

John Wayne & Dixie Thorpe

One of the things I knew for sure when I was writing "North of Hollywood" was that the through line would not be my string of silver screen triumphs. I'm afraid that would be a... slim volume. I knew that I would have to be as candid as I could be, which includes telling embarrassing stories as well as the ones that show me in a kinder light. The final story in this excerpt isn't exactly one of my great embarrassments (of which there are many in the book), but it is one that has stayed with me for most of my life.

The Alexandrite

Literature & Fiction

When Jack Cade is fired from a no-pay production of Hamlet, he has no inkling his next role will be opposite Marilyn Monroe--forty years back in time, in 1956. As a down-and-out aging actor, Jack's luck and life change when he's anonymously sent a pawn ticket for an alexandrite ring. After his wife leaves him, a mysterious woman asks him to meet her at an old mansion deep in the San Fernando Valley. With nothing to lose, Jack decides to go. Once he steps through her door, he enters a world of beguiling physics and plain old magic to travel through time. Through a dark, glitzy whirlwind of events, Jack meets Marilyn, gets killed more than once, and emerges with the jewel that changes his destiny. He discovers the answers to all his life-and-death questions within the constantly shifting colors of the alexandrite.

Book Bubbles from The Alexandrite

Message from Sophie

I don't know about other writers, but for me, there's always something I've overlooked, forgotten. When I finished the final draft of "The Alexandrite", I realized that when he temporarily returns from 1956 to his starting point, 1996, he/we must hear from Sophie, his wife, the love of his life. This excerpt is what's on Sophie's mind at this point in their marriage. Jack wants to be with Sophie again more than anything on earth. This message is what starts him on the next leg of his journey.

Marilyn's Birthday

Marilyn Monroe's birthday was a week ago tomorrow. In looking around the internet, it's amazing how much she remains a part of the culture. From the point I realized she needed to be in a character in "The Alexandrite," I knew I would have to do a lot of research to get her right. As I went about that task, it turned into not being a task at all. Norma Jean Baker was a fascinating, troubled, sometimes difficult, but more than anything--beneath the Marilyn Monroe exterior--a tender, gentle soul who wanted more than anything to live in peace and happiness in the world she was born into. The excerpt I have chosen for today is Marilyn's first scene with Jack/Richard. I think she reveals herself in this setting in a way most people don't picture her.

New Hit Single: Heartbreak Hotel

The next thing Jack Cade knows is that something is very, very different. What he does NOT know is that he's gone 40 years back in time and that he now has a passenger. Soon, he'll find out it's 1956. President Eisenhower is running for his second term. There's a new singing sensation, named Elvis Presley. Jack is soon to be inundated with news that that hasn't been news since the nineteen-fifties. Jack and his passenger (Richard) are on the first leg of a journey that all the phantoms of their minds could never have foretold in their wildest imaginings.

A Blast for an Actor/Writer

I knew this passage was going to be fun as soon as I knew the sequence had to be in the story. My protagonist is Jack Cade, an actor at heart, but his outward persona is Richard Blake, an unhappily married gemologist. Very near the beginning of this piece, Jack bursts "out of his manacles." Richard is driving, but the Jack within him is in control, and it's dawning on him that he is in 1956 Hollywood. What would it be like if he could find entryway into the acting world of this era? He heads over Laurel Canyon, over the Santa Monica Mountains to Hollywood, first to the legendary Schwab's Drugstore ... Maybe he'll make a connection.

How Marilyn came to be in The Alexandrite

I knew my story would take me back to a pretty specific time in mid-fifties Hollywood. I had to hook it in with that time. I researched films that were shooting then and stumbled on Marilyn Monroe. As I began to read books on her I realized she meshed perfectly with my protagonists personality, with his predicament, and with his hopes and dreams. Marilyn had to be a featured character in the unfolding suspense of my story.

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