Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs' Bertie Higgins of 'Key Largo' fame joins son to make a horror flick

Bertie Higgins, the "trop rock" artist from Tarpon Springs, is best known for his 1981 chart topper, Key Largo, a sentimental ballad about a lost love.

We had it all,

(We had it all)

Just like Bogie and Bacall

Well, now he's starring in his own late, late show.

It's a movie called Poker Run, a bloody thriller revolving around the plight of two couples, rich urban bikers, who unwittingly take a motorcycle road trip with a gang of psychopaths. It was filmed in the California desert; Higgins plays one of the "good guys."

"It's a scary little movie that doesn't end well," he said during a phone interview from his home in Burbank, Calif.

Higgins also is producing the film, which he co-wrote with his 25-year-old son, Julian Higgins, and writer Larry Madill. The younger Higgins directed the 96-minute flick.

This is the second film venture for the father and son team, who named their production company Cayo Largo.

Their first movie, The Wrath, is expected to be released on DVD this year. A St. Petersburg music mogul, Bill Edwards, was the executive producer on that film.

Working with his father is an "incredible experience," said the younger Higgins.

"My dad's been there supporting me in everything I do, riding the roller coaster of success and happiness that comes with making movies," he said. "We're hoping to get back to Florida and create some movies there, too."

They moved to California five years ago so that Julian could attend film school.

Julian Higgins said he's not a biker, but has been intrigued by the culture of these "modern cowboys riding around on bikes," for a while.

"Most of them are the biggest-hearted people you'll ever find," he said, "but at the same time there is this small scary underbelly."

Acting in a horror film is quite a departure for Bertie Higgins, who's been touring Las Vegas and the world with his group, the Band of Pirates. They croon of love and moonlit tropical nights.

He loves the travel, but said his heart is still in the Greek community where he grew up.

"I hope to get back to Tarpon Springs soon and see Nana Banana," he said, referring to his 93-year-old mother, Charlotte Higgins, who still lives there.

He's the great-great-grandson of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German poet who penned Faust, and thinks he inherited his ability to turn a phrase.

Bertie Higgins became a ventriloquist at age 12 and was a drummer in the Tarpon Springs High School Band.

Shortly after graduating from high school in 1962, he joined Tommy Roe and his band, the Roemans, opening for stars like the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Tom Jones and others.

When they broke up in the late '60s, Higgins returned to Tarpon Springs, where he dived for sponges, wrote songs and sang in local bars, remaining largely unknown — until he spawned Key Largo.

The song remained in the Top 40 for months and became an international hit as well.

His 10th album, Captiva, was released in March. In it, Higgins puts a tropical spin on cover songs made famous by others, including Brown Eyed Girl, Brandy and Blue Bayou.

His new endeavor, Poker Run, premiered at the 2009 Action on Film International Film Festival in Pasadena, Calif., where it subsequently received five nominations, including Best Feature Editing and Best Feature Soundtrack.

It's been picked up by Showtime and is slated to air in December. It will be released on DVD by the end of the year, Higgins said. The movie trailer for the R-rated film can be seen on YouTube.

"I'm not out to change the world with my films, but I'm out to entertain people, make a few bucks and have a little fun," Higgins said.

"It's a tough little movie, but we hope people are going to love it."

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at

Tarpon Springs' Bertie Higgins of 'Key Largo' fame joins son to make a horror flick 07/15/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 9:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Senator: American student arrested in China has been freed


    BILLINGS, Mont. — Chinese authorities have dropped charges against an American college student who was arrested and detained in the a week ago after reportedly injuring a taxi driver who was roughing up his mother in a fare dispute, a U.S. lawmaker said Sunday.

    Guthrie McLean was detained for reportedly injuring a taxi driver after the driver physically attacked McLean’s mother.
  2. Tampa-based makeup artist disqualified from contest over pro-Trump post


    WICHITA, Kan. — A makeup artist who splits her time between Tampa and Kansas says she won a national contest sponsored by Kat Von D Beauty but was later disqualified because of an Instagram post supporting Donald Trump's presidential candidacy.

    Gypsy Freeman won the contest with this image posted to Instagram. [@facesofgypsy on Instagram]
  3. Flesh-eating bacteria nearly kills Florida man who thought he just had blisters from a hike


    Wayne Atkins thought little of the blisters he had gotten while hiking. He was trekking up and down the 4,500-foot-high Mount Garfield in New Hampshire - a 10-mile round trip - and blisters were no surprise.

    Wayne Atkins thought his blisters were from hiking, but the flesh eating bacteria nearly killed him. [YouTube]
  4. Yes, again: Rays blow late two-run lead, get swept by Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As weekends go, this was a bad one for the Rays. In a word: brutal.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger, foreground, reacts after giving up a home run to Texas Rangers' Carlos Gomez during the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 23, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson) FLMC116
  5. White House offers muddled message on Russia sanctions legislation


    WASHINGTON - White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday that the Trump administration supports new legislation to punish Russia for its meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its aggression toward Ukraine.

    President Donald Trump at the commissioning ceremony for the USS Gerald R. Ford  at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, July 22, 2017. [New York Times]