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In 1977, EDD BYRNES, known as Kookie in the hit television series 77 Sunset Strip, won three million dollars in Las Vegas. Immediately, two people lay claim to his jackpot, plunging Edd into a nightmare of danger.
From threats at the casino, to a home invasion, to persuading his actor friends to put themselves at risk in a potentially dangerous scheme, Edd's experience is a lesson to all who gamble.
You know Edd Byrnes from the John Travolta movie "Grease" where he played Vince Fontaine, the star of "National Bandstand" for the dance contest scene. Or if you were around in the 60's he became a household name playing "Kookie" on TV's "77 Sunset Strip."
His recording of "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb", earned him a gold record. He went on to many movies, TV roles, and stage plays. I worked with Edd on my audio-book "McKnight's Memory". Edd was great playing the part of "Floyd" the henchman to Henry Silva's gangster.
Edd had prepared and exuded total confidence when he entered the recording room. He decided to use a New Jersey accent to round out the character. The main scene is a long card game played between Silva and Robert Culp with Edd dealing the cards and giving his opinion. Frank Sinatra Jr. Said of Edd's performance, "When Edd Byrnes starts explaining the rules of the game, he really set the whole thing up."
After recording, me and my producer Larry Metzger walked Edd to the parking lot. We said our good-byes and when Edd walked off Larry said to me, "He's so cool." I replied, "Of course he's cool. He's Edd Byrnes." A that time, Edd became interested in producing his own audio-book. But he didn't want to repeat any of the stories from his first book "Kookie, No More". So he decided to tell what happened when he won a three million dollar jackpot in Las Vegas, and was stalked by a criminal and ex-girlfriend for the money.
He hired Larry Metzger and I to produce and direct the project titled "My Casino Caper. Edd asked his acting friends to re-create what happened 20 years ago. So Alan Young , David Hedison, and Henry Silva recorded as themselves. Edd tells the story to Alan Young, with the other actors joining in on the dramatizations in this full cast and effects production.
The cool thing about this project is that Edd worked auto-biographical material into the story, giving listeners info on his rise to fame in Hollywood, his gold record, his TV shows, movies, and relationships with other actor friends. Alan Young makes several references to his movie "The Time Machine" (one of Edd's favorite movies), and how Edd first told his secret story to him in 1977 just before his role in "Grease".
The part of the criminal, who stalked Edd for his jackpot, must remain anonymous and is played by Michael Callan of "Cat Ballou" and "Mysterious Island fame. Edd's two ex-girlfriends, who must also remain anonymous, are played by other actresses.
As for me, I was on "Cloud 9" working with Edd and his actor friends. They all added their own unique contributions and memories about the incident, and how they came to his aid. Later when Larry and I delivered the audio-book copies to Edd, I brought my dad along and we all met at a coffee shop to celebrate.
I couldn't believe it. My dad and I use to watch "77 Sunset Strip" every Saturday night, and now we were talking shop with "Kookie" himself. I should have asked him to park my car like he did in the show. Edd is so cool, he would have done it. But instead he gave me a hug for a job well done, and for being a true fan.
Alan Young, David Hedison and Henry Silva join Edd in this full-cast audio-book to disclose their memories of the daring and terrifying event that tread the fine line between luck and misfortune.
The part of the criminal is played by Michael Callan. Edd's two girlfriends, who must remain anonymous, are played by Ishtar Uhvanna (Jessica) and Christianna Carmine (Kristy).
And now my article on Directing Edd Byrnes in My Casino Caper
"When those three Mega-Buck symbols came up, I felt like I was on that 'Cloud Nine' that I sang about with Connie Stevens all those years ago. I felt like it was the first day on the set of "77 Sunset strip". "Hey, anybody want their car parked before eating at Dino's restaurant? Well, I'm your man. Zipper jacket, Bryllcreamed hair, comb and all. And maybe I'll do a flip before I take your car. Yeah, a three million dollar flip. And I'll tell you Alan, my 42 year old body could still do a no hands flip.
I heard some guy say, 'Isn't that Kookie from the the TV show?' Then a chick yelled out 'Hey Kookie, lend me your comb?' Then another chick yelled out, 'Forget about the comb, Kookie. Lend me a million'. I smiled back,'What's with this jackpot caper baby? Why do you want to latch on to my dough?' The crowd gave me a laugh. I added, "You're the 'ginchiest', baby. You should be happy about that. The crowd gave me another laugh, even the ones that were too young to know the song."
"Hey man, what the hell's going on here?"
"What's going on? I just won a jack pot. That's what's going on."
"What? That's my machine."
"What are you talking about? I'm playing here."
"I've been playing this machine all night. I just went the the bathroom to take a wiz.
And I leaned my chair against it. So it's my machine and my jackpot."
"Look Bub, anybody in the casino could say it's their machine, so you must be joking. Besides the cameras saw the whole thing."