I’m from Memphis. I’ve lived here my entire life. I was born here, my parents were born here. Memphis is known for a lot of things… It’s the birthplace of rock-n-roll, thanks to Elvis. We’re known for our barbecue, blues, Beale Street, FedEx, Elvis, and Justin Timberlake. Yes we have crime, but the good outweighs the bad. And did I mention, Elvis and Justin Timberlake?
We love our Memphis Grizzlies basketball, University of Memphis Tigers, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Peabody Ducks, the Mississippi River, our zoo, our local food (namely barbecue), our music, nightlife, Jerry’s Sno Cones and our pyramid that recently became a Bass Pro Shop.
There have been many tv shows and movies filmed in Memphis, but none as eventful as the time that The Firm was filmed here. In case you live under a rock, The Firm was a John Grisham novel set in Memphis. In the early 90s, it was made into a movie, also set in Memphis, and starred Tom Cruise.
Ok, I want you to put aside your personal feelings about Tom Cruise just for a moment. This was over 20 years ago, long before you didn’t like him. He was 30 years old then. Unlike now, when he’s actually 53 but still looks 30!
There were plenty of other celebrities in the movie, including Holly Hunter, Gene Hackman, Gary Busey and Wilford Brimley (the old guy with diahbetus). But our local media only had eyes for Tom. Every morning, local radio stations announced where he’d be filming. More importantly, they’d tell us where he’d been and what he’d done the night before. We knew where he ate, what he ate and who’s tab was “anonymously” paid by Tom Cruise. He was a gracious and generous visitor to our city. Eventually they wrapped up filming and moved on to film on location in the Cayman Islands.
Then, something curious happened. I don’t know if it was an additional scene or a reshoot, but Tom came back to film one last scene. If you’ve seen the movie, it’s the part where he jumps out of a window and lands on a cotton truck in the alley below.
As luck would have it, my aunt Liz worked in a dry cleaner on the corner of Monroe Avenue and that very alley. She had a front row seat to the whole thing. She decided to call her sister (my mother) to see if she wanted to come down and watch with her. Of course she wanted to!
Mama quickly showed up to the dry cleaner to watch, along with her sister, as Tom Cruise shot one last scene of The Firm. Eventually a news crew, as well as a small crowd of fans, showed up to do the same. Well, obviously not from the dry cleaner, but from the same general area. My mother stepped out onto the curb as Tom walked toward the news crew to grant them one last interview. He waved at the crowd and Mama said something like… “Tom, can we get an autograph?” He waved them on over and my mother led the group of fans toward the movie star.
Now, let’s review who I am. In my blog post called Let’s Make Up, I revealed my personal issues with make up and that I don’t leave home without it. I’m quite sure that if I thought there’d be a chance encounter with a celebrity, I’d put a little extra effort in to my makeup. My mother does not share my hang ups about cosmetics. That being said…
Throughout this entire interview, which aired repeatedly on the noon, 5:00, 10:00 and any other time news comes on; there’s my mother with not a stitch of makeup on, hasn’t seen her hairbrush, wearing a shirt that each one of her daughters had politely asked her to stop wearing… shoved all up in Tom Cruise’s personal space by the crowd behind her. He politely answered all of the reporter’s questions while practically cheek-to-cheek with my mother. And, of course, he was wearing make up.
Much to my dismay, I don’t have a picture of this to share with you. Technology wasn’t nearly as advanced as it is now and we thought our VHS tape of the event would last forever. I called the news station to see if they could help, but I wasn’t important enough to get that kind of service. So let me just leave you with this really cool shot of Tom Cruise and Hal Holbrook on the roof of our beloved Peabody Hotel.