Editor's note: This week, the Times continues its new, occasional series called Moments in Time. We're publishing stories from our senior readers that capture treasured memories from a specific part of their lives. These stories typically will have a beginning and an end, deal with vibrant images and include period-piece references. Please submit your entries to [email protected]
Today's submission comes from Bernice Halpert, a resident at the Bridges Retirement Community in Riverview.
It was on a whim that I decided to sign up for an acting class.
The ad in the newspaper read, "Modeling & Acting Workshop." It was being held at Blue Ridge Community College in Hendersonville, N.C., which is where my husband, Max, and I lived during the summer months.
I had done some modeling in my 50s, so I thought I'd give acting a try. When I told my Max that I was signing both of us up for the class, he thought I was nuts.
"We're not actors, Bernice," he exclaimed.
I was just persuasive enough to talk him into joining me, although I had to drag him with me to the first class.
We learned to memorize lines, write commercials and to "slate in." At an audition, one needs to "slate in," which means to state your name, your agent and something about yourself.
Even though I had dragged Max to class, he loved it. The one thing our acting teacher told us that has stuck with me all these years is "to never, ever wear white shoes" to an audition.
We returned to our winter home in Coconut Creek and immediately signed up with the Boca Talent Agency. Within two days, we had a job as "extras" in the short-lived television series Moon Over Miami. The acting bug had struck us and at one time we had 15 talent agents working to find us auditions. We even joined the Screen Actors Guild.
The acting job I most fondly remember began with a telephone call from our agent. I was visiting my daughter in Brandon when the call came.
When I picked up the phone, I heard, "Bernice, you are our Barbara Bush and we need you in Miami tomorrow!"
My excitement quickly turned to fear when I realized I had to drive to Miami by myself. Max was visiting his daughter out of state. So, at 73 years old, I found myself driving to Miami to play Barbara Bush.
I arrived at the Orange Bowl, where the movie was being filmed. My agent told me to wait in the tent for the director, Oliver Stone, to arrive.
Nervous excitement rushed over me. Little ol' me was meeting the famous Oliver Stone! When Mr. Stone walked in, my agent introduced me. "Oliver, this is your Barbara Bush."
The film, as it turned out, was Any Given Sunday with Al Pacino and Jamie Foxx. My role took place inside a restroom at the Cardozo Hotel in Miami with the girlfriend of Foxx's character.
I wore a light green suit and a string of pearls. The outfit I wore was mine. I soon learned you get paid more when you wear your own wardrobe.
When the cameras roll, his girlfriend and I are looking in the restroom mirror when he walks in and exclaims, "Barbara Bush, I've always had a thing for you, girl!" While my speaking part was cut from final production, I still had the time of my life.
Everyone asks me about Jamie Foxx. He was so polite and very talented. The thrill continued when my grandsons accompanied me to the movie's premiere in Pompano Beach.
Every year I receive an envelope in the mail from Warner Bros. with a residual check. I still get so excited at the thought of my role as Barbara Bush.