Uncle Jerry and Joe Turkel at Fromin’s Deli

January 25, 2013 | By | COMMENTS

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And now a funny story from L.A.

For his birthday, I decided to take my 91 year-old Uncle Jerry out for lunch to his favorite spot, Fromin’s Deli in Santa Monica. It’s a pretty traditional deli with lots of character: salty waitresses, corned beef sandwiches, black and white cookies at the register. We were sitting at a table near the front, despite the fact that Uncle Jerry would’ve preferred a booth (there was a wait), and chatting about Craig’s movie and, later, Uncle Jerry’s experiences in World War II. As we were getting up to go, the man next to us said, “You’re leaving? I feel like I know you guys. You’re talking about the film industry, and you, you’re talking about the war.”

After he and Uncle Jerry connected about serving in the second world war, I confessed to the man that I wasn’t in the film industry. “Were you?” I asked.

“Was I in the film industry?” he said, puffing up his chest, “I was in three Kubrick pictures.”

I looked at him more carefully. “Really,” I said. “Which ones?”

“Have you ever seen ‘The Shining’?”

“Yes….”

“I was Lloyd the Bartender.”

Immediately it clicked. “Oh my God,” I said. “Wow! What was it like working with Kubrick? Was he difficult?”

“He wasn’t difficult at all,” he said. “He was a sweetheart.”

“I hear he did a lot of takes.”

“He did a million takes.” His other two Kubrick films were “Paths of Glory” and “The Killing”; he was also Dr. Tyrell in “Blade Runner.” (Warning: this scene is graphic! I’m glad to see he still has his eyes.)

Uncle Jerry hadn’t seen any of these movies but was excited nonetheless. The man introduced himself as Joe Turkel and I said it was an honor to meet him. We said our goodbyes; he returned to his crossword puzzle.

L.A.’s a funny place. You can be eating lunch (and for the record, I had a half a tuna sandwich and chicken soup)…

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…sitting next to a demonic bartender from a classic work of cinema without realizing it. It was a real thrill meeting him; though as I got up, he put his hand on my shoulder and asked, “How are things going, Mr. Torrance?”

I ran back to my car screaming.

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Categories: Essays

  • http://www.thepickygirl.com Jenn

    This is great and reminds me of The Holiday. How many of those guys are still around, hanging out at delis? So cool.

  • April Hill

    Love your blog, keep up the good work! I am new to the food blogging world and hope that mine will be as entertaining to view as yours! – April Hill

  • http://koloadeb.typepad.com/blog/ Deborah

    Great story! Enjoy your blog, so much.

    Ciao!

  • Kath

    Spend as much time with Uncle Jerry as you can. You won’t regret it. As people have say to me… “jewels in the crown.” not sure of the reference, but an awesome thing to do…

  • Anonymous

    I love Fromin’s! I used to work down the street. This brought a tear to my eye. This is my Los Angeles. For everyone who says it’s stuffy and superficial, this is what LA is like to me.

  • Anthony W.

    That is such a cool story about meeting “Lloyd the Bartender.” I just discovered your blog about a couple of weeks ago and have enjoyed it. Cooked the Carnitas recipe the other day, then the Frittata with pickled jalapenos added, and now looking at the Spaghetti Carbonara. Thanks for adding to my adventure in learning to cook.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1111188195 Ron Dionne

    Wonderful blog. Thank you so much!

  • Mike

    I really liked this post and that you got to talk to Joe Turkel. I love The Shining for a horror movie fix. Btw…for a half sandwich it looks like they don’t skimp on the tuna! I like it. But, I liked it best because you took your Uncle Jerry out to lunch, Adam. Thanks for making me smile on that.

  • Holly Swafford

    Hi Adam, just wanted to say how much I enjoyed listening to you speak at Food Blog South 2013!! Your words were thoughtful and encouraging for a blogger newbie (not to mention, the Janet Jackson cupcake was hilarious…) Thanks again for the laughs and advice! -Holly Swafford, baguetteandbiscuit.blogspot.com

  • Connie

    Just found your blog when googling Joe turkel :) Joe is a gem, no doubt about it. I met him last year at a convention. He was so down to earth and by the time we finished talking it almost felt like he had come there to see me. I have been eagerly awaiting this years convention lineups because I’m so hoping to see him again!

    BTW good on ya for taking Uncle Jerry out. tell him happy b-day and thanks for serving!

  • Madame Moogalot

    AWESOME!! A true inspiring and influential pro of the camera and for electronic music. What a great guy!! Truly, more human than human. ;) HAHA <3 MM

  • Claudia G Cotner

    I just saw Joe T on Bat Masterson and killing a nasty Leo Gordon by shooting him in the back. Good to see an ole time actor still around. Stay well, Joe