Thursday, June 08, 2000

West side boy in Hollywood

        When you get famous — besides a good table at fancy restaurants and the opportunity to be stalked by the tabloids — you get “people.” Obviously, I do not know this first-hand, but from careful observation.

        For the past two years, The Cincinnati Enquirer has helped bring famous women to Cincinnati. They all have “people.” As in, “Mary Tyler Moore's people say she is ready to leave the hotel.” Or, “Lauren Bacall's people say she uses a Sharpie pen to sign autographs.”

        This week, as part of the “Unique Lives & Experiences” lectures, Carol Burnett came to town.

        Backstage at the Aronoff, I watched her talking with a blocky guy wearing baggy Bermuda shorts. His head — gray with a no-nonsense, precise flattop haircut — was close to hers. One of her people, I am thinking.

        I was wrong.

The un-diva
        Jack Eberhart, a nice 65-year-old west side Cincinnati boy, is his own person. He left Fairmount to work in Hollywood for 36 years as a stagehand. For seven years, he was The Carol Burnett Show's property master, the top of the stagehand ladder. “One of the best experiences of my career,” he says. “She's just great.”

        The un-diva, the woman Newsweek magazine calls “Hollywood's nicest superstar,” returns the compliment. “A doll,” she says.

        “Well,” he says, “your reputation kind of follows you.”

        Retired now, Jack was here for a reunion of his class at St. Leo's (which later merged with St. Boniface). When Carol Burnett did an afternoon rehearsal at the Aronoff on Thursday, he surprised her. She gave the patented Carol Burnett shriek. Not exactly the Tarzan yell. But close.

        “Carol was just folks,” he says.

        “Stallone is a screamer. You'd stay out of his way. A terrible guy.”

        “Danny Glover and Mel Gibson (Lethal Weapon) ate with the crew. Didn't hide out in their trailers at lunch time. In fact, they stood in line with everybody else.”

        He worked with Danny Glover again in Places in the Heart with Sally Field. “She's a sweetheart, too.”

The right to be choosy
        Like most of us, he prefers working with sweethearts. As for the others, he says, “Don't treat 'em like stars, and they won't act like stars.” Mostly, he's good enough to be picky.

        Movies pay better than television, but TV lets you go home at night and on weekends. He goes home to his wife of 29 years. I told you he is a nice west side boy.

        He worked in Cincinnati on three movies — The Pride of Jesse Hallam, Tango and Cash and Lost in Yonkers, hiring locals. He says the stagehands here are some of the best in the business. “Bob Haas (technical director at the Aronoff) is one of the best I ever met. Calm, polite, smart.”

        Maybe it's a Midwest thing?

        “Naw,” he says. “It's a Cincinnati thing.”

        Camp Washington Chili. River Downs. The Reds. He likes coming back home. Even likes the weather.

        Anyway, he was huddling with Carol Burnett. Who actually does have some people, but I never got to talk to them. I suppose they were very decent. Like Barbara Bush's “people” and Peggy Fleming's “people” and Mary Tyler Moore's “people,” I'll bet they'd say how much they like the boss. I am guessing they don't have nervous tics or ulcers.

        Reputation. Or as Jack says, this is something all us people have in common with stars who get the good tables and the tabloid headlines.

        Word gets around.

        E-mail Laura at


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