LOS ANGELES (Aug. 4, 2016) — Veteran performer David Huddleston died Tuesday at age 85. Over the course of three decades, Huddleston served more than 10 years on the national board of Screen Actors Guild. He was elected to multi-year terms in 1976, 1982, 2000 and 2004. He was also elected to serve on the board of the SAG Hollywood Division.
“David Huddleston was a uniquely gifted actor and a proud unionist,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “He will be forever remembered for his service to our union and the countless characters he brought to life on screen. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and loved ones.”
The veteran character actor appeared in parts in projects ranging from Blazing Saddles to The West Wing, but may be best known for starring as the titular character in The Big Lebowski.
Paul Napier, who originated the Mr. Goodwrench character for General Motors, has died. He was 85. Details of his death were not immediately available. Napier broke into show business as a hockey announcer and had more than 400 commercial credits along with TV credits on “L.A. Law,” “Taxi,” Coach” and “Dynasty,” on which had a recurring role as a gardener. Napier was also active in the Screen Actors Guild, serving 26 times as a member of a negotiating committee on national contracts, and chaired the L.A. representatives in the commercials contract bargaining in 2009. Napier was also one of the founding members and producers of the SAG Awards show. In 2010, he was selected to receive SAG’s Ralph Morgan Award from its Hollywood Division for service. Napier was also active in coaching youth sports teams in the Los Angeles area.
Retired actor Paul Napier — the first Mr. Goodwrench on TV — has been coaching high school and youth sports for decades. And he’s still at it.
By Chris Erskine LA Times
September 17, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
To fully appreciate Paul Napier, you have to know that he played the original Mr. Goodwrench in the GM commercials, a natural fixer, good at keeping things running.
You’d also have to understand that the retired actor with the playful Dick Van Dyke voice has coached 77 seasons worth of youth sports — football, baseball, basketball — in Los Angeles, across 45 years, with such standouts as Erik Kramer and Charles White.
“I played him at guard,” Napier explains with a chuckle. “Back then, White was a guard.” Once, when Napier was out of town, one of his assistants cut DeSean Jackson, who could fly like a champagne cork and would go on to soar at California and now with the Philadelphia Eagles. Napier laughs about it now. He laughs about a lot of things that might otherwise do you in — overwrought parents, or the only thing worse, absentee moms and dads. He’s seen a lot in 77 seasons, and the eyes still crinkle at the memories. “Seventy-seven,” he says. “That was Red Grange’s number, you know.” No, actually, I didn’t. But then I’m not 83 years old and still coaching high school and youth sports four or five hours a day, oozing wisdom and keeping things running. For two years he was Mr. Goodwrench, part of a long career as an actor, much of it in commercials. Did a few pilots. Bit parts in “L.A. Law,” “Taxi” and, of course, “Coach.” Had a recurring role as a gardener on “Dynasty.” Once, late on Thanksgiving Eve, everybody tired and wanting to get out of there, Linda Evans kissed him on the forehead for getting a tricky scene right on the first take. Good memories, yet also the sort of career enjoyed by every third stool at a coffee shop near you. It paid the bills. It put three kids through school. It kept the marriage going … 56 years and counting. Fifty-six. Like Lawrence Taylor. That one I know.
What really elevates Napier’s life, what makes him sports’ version of Mr. Holland in “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” are the thousands of young lives he’s affected across his decades of coaching.
Sure, one knee gave out already, and the other one is barking, but the competitive zeal and the fire are still there, the steely resolve. And maybe that most valuable tool in Mr. Goodwrench’s belt, composure.
“I try not to be from the yelling school, even though that’s innate with a lot of coaches,” he says. “I try not to criticize a young man in front of his teammates … only praise him.”
Over the years, the challenges have changed, even the kids. But it’s the kids who still make it all worthwhile, the differences you can make.
“We have a lot of kids whose family situation isn’t ideal,” he says of his 9- and 10-year-old players. “We have some kids who don’t have any father figures except for us.”
Then there are the parents who care too much.
“I think more people today see a youngster, if he has any talent at all, as their ticket out,” he says of pushy parents.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Yet Napier pushes on, working with the high school team at Campbell Hall from 4 to 6 p.m. each day, then racing over to Grant High, for the 6 to 8 p.m. Valley Youth Conference practices.
“The Patron Saint of Late Dinners,” his wife Marie calls him.
The patron saint of a lot of things.
What do you glean from 77 seasons? All sorts of old-school stuff, according to his son Scott, head coach at Campbell Hall.
“When he believes a player is dogging it, or feigning an injury or questionably claiming that his equipment is faulty, Dad will say, ‘Son, don’t try to con a con man; I’ve heard and seen it all,’” Scott Napier says. “He’ll tell them, ‘I was coaching football before your parents were born and was playing the game before your grandparents were born. And may have dated your great-grandmother.’”
That’s not to say he hasn’t mellowed in his older years.
“I don’t think [Vince] Lombardi would do as well these days,” he says of coaches who are too rigid.
Some day, there needs to be a place — sponsored by Nike, or Gatorade, or a consortium of pro leagues — where coaches like Napier can give workshops for other coaches, the young guys who have been at it only 10 or 20 years, relative newcomers, sharing wit and wisdom and a sensible approach to the often nonsensical world of youth sports.
The great thing about Mr. Napier is that he knows when to play ball! Admirably he plays ball with LA youth. As a SAG member, even more admirably, he refuses to do so with those board members who are selling us out to our employers. Way to go Paul! Ah, I mean Coach!!!!
Sumi Sevilla Haru, who served as the interim Screen Actors Guild president in 1995, died Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 75.
The New Jersey native joined SAG in 1968 and AFTRA in 1972 and served as a national board member for both organizations for multiple terms since 1974, often addressing the lack of opportunities and roles for Asians.
“It is with great sadness that our SAG-AFTRA family says goodbye to Sumi Haru,” said SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard. “Sumi notably represented SAG-AFTRA and its predecessor unions for decades on our local and national boards, and as Screen Actors Guild recording secretary and interim president. Sumi served our members through her lifelong dedication to actors, the labor movement, and civil rights and equal employment. She did that with conviction, passion and grace. Our deepest condolences go out to her loved ones. We will miss her.”
She served as interim president of SAG in 1995 after Barry Gordon resigned to run for Congress and remains the only woman of color to hold the position. Her acting credits included “Krakatoa,” “East of Java,” “MASH,” “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Hill Street Blues.”
Haru was a co-founder of SAG’s Ethnic Employment Opportunities Committee in 1971 and helped negotiate affirmative action clauses into contracts.
Haru became a national vice president of the AFL-CIO in 1995. Her six-year term as a national vice president marked the first time an Asian American has served on the AFL-CIO’s executive council.
In 2013, she was elected for a two-year term as a member of the first elected national board of the merged SAG-AFTRA.
In 2009, Haru was honored with SAG’s Ralph Morgan Award for distinguished service to SAG’s Hollywood Division. She published “Iron Lotus: Memoirs of Sumi Sevilla Haru” in 2012.
Funeral services are pending.
It’s a sad day! Thank you for your service dear Sumi!
MEMBERS: Don’t DARE Download the New Logo from the SAG-AFTRA Website!
Instead of looking for actual misuse and infringement, Pamela Greenwalt, the Assistant National Exective Director, Communications, and the legal department at SAG-AFTRA have decided to take preemptive measures and fire off a terse, impersonal missive to dues paying members who downloaded the brand new logo from the sagaftra.org website. Read the letter. Rather than being phrased in the manner of an inquiry, it assumes bad faith and makes demands.
While anyone on the entire planet can go to Google images to find several websites hosting much higher resolution image files of the new logo than the small one offered by SAG-AFTRA, and instantly download it to their computer without filling out a form, reading a batch of legalese, or agreeing to any terms and conditions –then do whatever they please unbeknownst to all — Pamela Greenwalt has chosen to spend her handsomely paid time ($217,804.00 in 2012) chastising members of the union. Simply for possessing an image file of their own union’s logo. Without one iota of evidence of use or misuse. Policing infringement which doesn’t even exist. (Like in that Stallone film where he arrests people for future crimes.) How is this not offensive to members? How is this a wise expenditure of time and money?
Listen, I fully understand how copyright enforcement works. When an incidence of infringement is discovered, it must be swiftly met with an inquiry, warning, or request for immediate removal by the copyright holder. That’s clearly not what has occurred here.
“You represent and warrant that you… are a freelance news reporter…”
Bloggers certainly qualify as freelance news reporters. Nicki Finke of Deadline would agree, as would Matt Drudge and Arianna Huffington. Apparently, Pamela Greenwalt conveniently forgot that I am both the cofounder of this blog, SAG Watchdog in 2003 with Arlin Miller, and the founder and operator of SAGactor.com since 1999. To ignore this fact and assume that I had “downloaded the logo in error” is erroneous and offensive. It also bears mentioning that both of these sites are widely known and frequented by staff members at SAG and AFTRA for many years, as well as journalists from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
No member of the union should have received that e-mail.
So, this also raises the question: Are dues paying members of this union not allowed to possess an image of their union’s logo on their own computer!? Not allowed to use it on their own website to display their loyal membership in the union? After all: Who paid for it? I don’t know how much they paid for it, but they paid too much. It’s goddam ugly. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Read the comments on this site. Actually, I think the estate of the late, great Freddie Mercury is who should be suing SAG-AFTRA for infringement, n’est-ce pas?
A Systemic Problem That’s Growing Worse
This policy, and the manner in which Pamela Greenwalt has chosen to implement it, are very bad. It’s another symptom of a growing systemic problem at the new union. Members aren’t treated as shareholders, they’re treated like outsiders. I would like to remind every staff member at SAG-AFTRA:
You don’t work for David White. You don’t work for Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. You work for the members, like me, whose dues collectively pay your salary. We are the reasons why you have a job to begin with.
In the former Screen Actors Guild, most staff members fully understood this. Now, while many more of them are quite handsomely compensated, there seems to be a pervasive lack of loyalty to the membership, and strong allegiance to their corporate superiors. It consistently shows in their attitudes and behavior. Too many treat members as if they’re doing them a favor, and I’m sick of it. Several departments need re-training from the top down.
I was a voting National Board member of the former Screen Actors Guild who voted to hire Doug Allen as National Executive Director at the plenary in 2007. He brought Pamela in as the guild’s Executive Director for Communications on February 27, 2007. I served on the Hollywood Board of Directors during the 2006-2007 year, and on several committees in the years before and after.