paul kyriazi, author, feature film director, motivational speaker.

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Directing Edd Byrnes
Edd Byrnes

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."

At 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, as we have done four others in the past year. 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 perhaps being his biggest fan.


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