By Elaine Viets
I don’t know what you did in 1973, but I helped Kevin Kline.
Kevin was born and raised in St. Louis. In ’73, he toured the country with the City Center Acting Company, along with other Juilliard drama school graduates, including Patti LuPone. The troupe performed "Threepenny Opera" in St. Louis.
I was a 23-year-old feature writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, interviewing the up-and-coming actor with a hometown connection. Kevin was going far beyond St. Louis. He was one of John Houseman’s first students at Juilliard.
During the interview, I asked Kevin about his acting. We talked about Duke Ellington, too. Don and I heard Ellington play at the Rainbow Room in Manhattan. Ellington, in the twilight of his career, was magical.
So was Kevin Kline at the beginning of his career. His Macheath was intense and athletic.
After the show, Ellen, the theater’s public relations person, sent me a note dated Nov. 20, 1973.
"This thank-you note is a little late in coming, but I do want you to know I appreciated the nice publicity you gave us in the story about Kevin Kline," Ellen wrote. "Immediately after it appeared in the Post, we sold out. I talked to his parents at the play and they were just thrilled about it.
"Please don’t hesitate to give me a call if I can help you with anything in the future. I certainly owe you a favor."
I didn’t have the pull to pack the theater. I was a cub reporter. But newspapers had tremendous power then. A print story could fill a theater.
Kevin moved on, racking up Tony Awards on Broadway and then Golden Globes and Oscars for his movie roles in "Sophie’s Choice," "A Fish Called Wanda" and other major films.
"Wanda" has an in-joke. Kevin, trying to identify a caller, asks, "Was it Kevin Delaney?" Those are his first and middle names.
The New York Times called Kevin "America’s Olivier." In his hometown, Kevin has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. The Professional Theatre Council of St. Louis gives out the Kevin Kline Awards. Not bad for a boy who went to St. Louis Priory School.
I’ve moved on, too. I write mysteries instead of newspaper stories. "Pumped for Murder," my tenth Dead-End Job novel, will be published May 3.
I need your help, Kevin. My Dead-End Job series is making a major change. Helen Hawthorne will still be working those low-paying jobs, but now she’s going undercover as a private eye. Helen and Phil have opened their own PI agency. In "Pumped for Murder," they investigate two cases. One is a Miami-Vice style murder from 1986. The other case explores extreme bodybuilding.
The reviews are good so far, but I’d like to pack the houses. I’ll be touring seven cities starting this week. Check the Events at www.elaineviets.com. You might be in St. Louis May 25 visiting your mom.
You wouldn’t even have to read my novel. Just carry it with you on an airplane. Do you still fly commercial?
"Pumped for Murder" would make a terrific movie. It has sweat, sex and nearly naked bodies. My new book trailer shows the visual possibilities. http://tinyurl.com/5wsr9en
Come on, Kevin. We Catholic school kids have to stick together.