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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Volume 3 News Update

In Memoriam
Doris Jane Gossett 1940-2010

My sister Doris Gossett (left), my daughter Sara and myself (John Ellis), Thanksgiving 1985, Alexandria, VA. Photo by Cindy Weinstein.

My sister, Doris Gossett, passed away last month at the age of 69, after succumbing to a long term battle with type 1 Diabetes.

I was stunned: I didn't really expect this as she had survived so many "life threatening" health issues over the years (including a simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplant, deep staph infection and so many other things). Doris was a bona-fide mathematical genius who was "drafted" by the Naval Research Laboratory while in college in the early 60's and worked with them for her entire adult life.

Understand, please, that there most likely WOULDN'T be a restoration of STEVE CANYON if not for her. Doris not only raised me for a few years when I was very young but also sparked and continued to fan into flame my lifelong interests in the arts and sciences. She always encouraged me to do what interested me (as unlikely as it might seem for a farm kid from Ohio to succeed in these varied fields).

When I was 8 years old she took me up in her Piper Clipper and let me take the controls for a few terrifying yet cool moments I will never forget. When I was 9 she gave me a REAL paleontologist's rig (not a toy) for hunting and preserving fossils (which was one of my passions and still is). When I was 10 she gave me a "chemistry set"...not a "Gilbert" kid's set but many boxes of REAL erlenmeyer & florence flasks (and other pro lab gear), but more importantly a mortar and pestle, which I used for years (especially in my career in motion picture special effects).

She bought me many books on art and aircraft and military subjects and also my first plastic model kit (a midget racer). When she saw my finished build of it, she said "John it's very nice, but you aren't supposed to cut the decals apart and glue them on, you put the decal sheet in water and then they will slide right off and onto the model!". She was always so loving and so darned cool and her passing has affected me profoundly. I miss her dearly.

Doris was a big supporter of my illustration/writing/motion picture work and the Steve Canyon Restoration Project. She urged me to boldly initiate the Steve Canyon Project when others that I knew were warning me against doing it. They said that it was too risky and that I would be disappointed and that it just "wouldn't work out"...well Doris was right and the nay-sayers of doom were wrong, and so I just wanted you all to know just who she was, the part she played in this and how she has affected all of us and our love of The Steve Canyon Television Series.

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Having said all of that (which has been very hard to write), I am sorry to report that I am still behind on the finishing of Volume 3. This is a MAMMOTH undertaking any way you look at it and is a tough task for me all by myself and with so little money that I have to work on additional paying jobs to help to fund this (and to keep a roof overhead and the lights on).

At the urging of many of you I plunged ahead with pre-sales and projected completion dates though I was uncomfortable trying to predict when it would be finished. One factor in all of this is trying to get critical materials that have been promised and recorded interviews that have also been promised...some for YEARS. I'm pleased to say that I finally was able to travel out of state and pick up some 200 images of Dean Fredericks' early life and military career, and to complete my interview with his daughter on camera. I only have a few local interviews to shoot then I will have all the pieces to complete Volume 3 as envisioned.


Exciting New Stuff:

On the upside we have uncovered even more phenomenal documents, photos and individuals during this period which continues to enrich the documentaries for Volume 3.

Dean Fredericks during basic training late 1942.

We now have a number of much needed (and never before seen) images of Dean Fredericks from the war years. We have also uncovered many new STEVE CANYON images along with vital information about the filming of the shows.


During the filming of OPERATION DIPLOMAT at Rogers Dry Lake (near Edwards AFB, CA) during the week of September 17, 1958.

Behind the scenes pictures from STEVE CANYON are rare, but we have managed to pull together quite a few unique and interesting images from several episodes...


Dean Fredericks (left) going over the script with Director Don Taylor during the filming of OPERATION DIPLOMAT at Rogers Dry Lake (near Edwards AFB, CA) during the week of September 17, 1958.

We also have managed to find a number of rare behind the scenes images and production stills from some of Dean's other films...


Dean Fredericks (center) with actor Richard Weber and famed WWII fighter ace and Medal of Honor recipient Gregory "Pappy" Boyington (seated) during the filming of THE PHANTOM PLANET (1961). Thanks to Drew Cook for identifying Pappy Boyington!

The most important materials by far...and the things we have been lacking until now, are images from Dean's life prior to becoming an actor in the early 1950's. This has made it hard to work on a documentary about his life, but now (as of this week) due to the kindness of his daughter, we now have many images of his mother and father and his older brother Bud.


Dean Fredericks (right) with his older brother Edward "Bud" Foote when they lived in the suburbs of Los Angeles circa 1932. Bud was a pilot and a member of "Merrill's Marauders", who were like the Rangers and later the Green Beret. Bud was killed in Myitkyina, Burma in July 1944. He received the Bronze Star for bravery and other honors.

We also have images of Dean after the war and between that time and when he began acting. All of this is SO VERY important to the proper telling of the story of Dean Fredericks on Volume 3.

So where do we stand?

I ask you to bear with us and give us a chance to complete Volume 3 the way it NEEDS to be completed. Though I am SERIOUSLY RELUCTANT to promise another finishing date at this point...I really have no choice but to say that I am HOPEFUL to be finished and releasing by the end of summer/beginning of fall of 2010. That's about the end of September/beginning of October. BELIEVE ME, I wish it were sooner but again I am literally going as fast as I can with this without the money, resources and manpower to grease the wheels of progress.

AGAIN, we are NOT a major studio (I work out of my own home), and while I used to be able to work for days on end without sleep, I have discovered that I am physically incapable of doing that any longer at my age. BUT I AM COMMITTED to finishing this project...and those that know me know my tenacity and focus and dedication to each and every project I have ever been involved with. I appreciate your support and patience and good humor, and I can say that The Complete Steve Canyon On TV Volume 3 DVD is coming! and it will be well worth the wait!

John Ellis
Pacoima, California

P.S. Again, I recommend (if you want to stay "in the loop" and you haven't already) that you 1) Subscribe to this (our official website) using the form you find over on the right hand sidebar, so you can keep up with what is going on. 2) We also have a Steve Canyon page on FaceBook that we post to regularly with updates that are "on the fly" or too minor for this blog (our regular website). Much much up to date info there!

P.P.S. Thanks to Tom Swyden, Laura Lozano and Rick Slugoski for their support above and beyond the call of duty of late on this project. Thanks also to the steadfast support of Harry and Yo, without whom Col. Canyon would still be sitting in the dark...