Think back. Remember that fellow. When was it? Junior high? High school? He was that one with the smile that blended sincerity, mischief and adoration. It was the innocent twinkle in the eye and that smile that convinced your mom that he was the one. It was that touch of naughtiness that had your dad on all-force alert. You didn’t care. He was just so darn adorable. If he had foibles, you could rehab them.
But there was more to him than the look. It was the fact that music had a different sound when you thought of him. It was that blue shirt that he wore. It was that intoxicating scent that arose when he was near. It was that connection look that he would give you that made you electric.
Come on. You wrote about him in your diary and/or you told your ultimate BBF. Now, you’re remembering. Sure, that diary has been lost ages ago and your BBF is more concerned nowadays with her gray roots than your memories. But he still remains in your memory eyes as a star burst.
Well, on Friday, April 10, his prototype was there in the flesh and proved to be just as adorable as you remember. In your memories, you’ll have to supply the name. But on this day, he was Kevin Costner.
Even before the VIP reception was to start at 10:30, parking lots were filling to the max with NFNL volunteers driving ladies in stilettos from the satellite lots to the Hyatt Regency. One driver was just plain grateful that the predicted rain had held off.
Knowing that the New Friends New Life “Wings Luncheon” VIP was to take place at 10:30, countless socialites turned up for the VIP reception acting like teenagers at a Justin Bieber concert. Instead of squealing, there were cellphone salutes. Ah, shoot! The gals all knew better, but as one Hyatt Regency staffer summed it up perfectly, “I’ve seen him on TV for years, but I want to see him in person just once.”
For those who had attended the night-before reception and dinner, they stood in the background knowing they had already had their moment with Kevin. A scant few were showing off their fuzzy photos of Kevin.
The meet-and-greet was packed with more people than normally attend a full-blown fundraiser. Despite the stage, Costner insisted on standing at the stage’s base to get to know the guests. Instead he was totally surrounded by the mass of women and few were giving up their spots. You just know you’ve hit the honey pot when even the most proper media types smile like giggly school girls pulling out their cellphones for a hopeful shot of the man.
At 11 Luncheon Chair Jeanne Johnson Phillips raised her voice at the mic beseeching the crowd to release their hostage.
Reluctantly they did, trying to grab just one more selfie-on-the-fly as he headed to the stage. His briefs remarks were kind. He said how he appreciated the ladies wanting to take their photo with him. Then he was whisked away through a back door.
By 11:15 the crowd of 1,500 inside the ballroom had grown, including Holly Reed, Claire Emanuelson, Pam Perella, Debra Nelson, Di Johnston, Mary Jalonick, Carol Seay, Gerald Turner, Jill Smith and Bobby Lyle. Video cameras on extension poles scoured the room for faces. It wouldn’t have been surprising to have seen a drone do a fly-by.
At 11:20 an unknown voice announced that the program would start in 10 minutes. The voice returned at 11:35 announcing the program would start in five minutes. This time it had a slight edge as it was heard to say, “Please take your seats.”
At 11:40 the color guard appeared at the side of the stage. Still people just stood chatting. At 11:41 the unknown voice put out the final call: “Ladies and gentlemen, PLEASE take your seats. The program is about to begin.” The guests followed the voice’s instructions this time.
Despite assurances that she would not be attending, former First Lady/Honorary Co-Chair Laura Bush entered the room from the side of the stage with Honorary Co-Chair Ruth Altshuler and the two took their seats at a front-row table. Secret Service folks suddenly popped up around the room.
Following a video, Dallas Police Chief David Brown arrived at the podium with the color guard. Following his providing the invocation, one of the flag guard shouted a command for the guard to move on. David said, “Yeah, I forgot he was in the Marines.”
A second video was shown and awards were presented to Sabre, the Letot Girls’ Residential Treatment Center and the Texas Department of Public Safety’s human trafficking team.
At 11:54 Jeanne thanked everyone for being patient with the parking and for coming. It was the largest attendance ever for the group. She then went on to say that the problem of human trafficking is “one of the worst situations in the city. “
Four minutes later another video was shown reporting that Texas is second in sex trafficking and 400 teens are on the streets of North Texas each night.
At noon, Chris Kleinert announced that a men’s advocacy group had been launched and he would be chairing it.
As guests finished their meals and tables were cleared, music created by Kevin played in the background.
At 12:15 a new unknown voice — a female voice — announced the program would continue in 10 minutes. A man warned the hotel staff, “You guys have to be out of here in one minute.” A minute later the male unknown voice told people to take their seats, since “the program is about to begin.” Lights dimmed.
KTVT’s Karen Borta was at the podium and welcomed Gary Cogill to the stage where two chairs were placed. Gary was soon joined by Kevin for a chat.
With a comfortable style and boyish charm, he touched on a variety of subjects. Highlights of the conversation included:
- A movie that had a profound impact on him as a youth was “Giant,” especially the scene in which the Rock Hudson character loses a fist fight to the owner of a diner over serving Hudson’s Mexican daughter-in-law. In American movies at that time, Rock Hudson was not supposed to lose a fight. Kevin admitted that this situation confused him. “My hero was on the ground…As a young man, I was embarrassed that he lost.” What impressed Kevin the most was the Elizabeth Taylor character saying to Hudson, “You never stood taller.” It was at that young age of 9 or 10 that Kevin decided that’s the kind of person he wanted to be.
- “Women are the ones who say, ‘We have enough. We need to take care of others.’”
- His parents came from Oklahoma. His grandfather was 19 and lost everything during the Dust Bowl. “Maybe this isn’t the right place to say this, but he (his grandfather) married his 14-year-old sweetheart. (Laughter rose throughout the room, as Kevin looked around sheepishly)…and they were in love until the day they died.”
- Having been brought in a conservative blue-collar family, Kevin’s father wasn’t too thrilled to learn that his son intended to become an actor. Years later, after achieving success in acting, Kevin told his father he was going to direct. His father’s response: “Ah, Jesus. That acting thing was going so good.” When Kevin decided to venture into music, the last person he told was his father.
- His storied encounter with Richard Burton, who supposedly inspired him, “wasn’t that big a deal.”
- In making “JFK,” Kevin recalled, he remembered one story that might be interesting since Laura Bush was present. “She doesn’t know anything about this…When I was making ‘JFK’ with (director) Oliver Stone in this beautiful city (of Washington, D.C.), Oliver was very agitated all the times. And he said that I should play Bush. I told him I don’t know him. I’d never met him.” Still, Stone pushed and pushed. Finally on a Sunday Keven was going to watch the Baltimore Orioles play in Washington, D.C. He ended up working out with the team, playing shortstop with Cal Ripken. Cal’s father even pitched to him and he hit a home run out of Memorial Stadium. “I was having this fantastic day. Then I went into the locker room and I was going to go out and watch the game. A phone call came and it was the president of the United States. It was George H.W. Bush and he said, ‘Wanna play golf?’” Kevin was escorted to the golf course and they had shoes for him. On the way he admitted that he hadn’t eaten, so a sandwich was ordered. As he arrived at the place, he got out of the car with sandwich in his mouth while trying to put on his shoes. Kevin ended up being on the president’s team, along with Andre Agassi. At one point he swings and the ball goes somewhere, with the Secret Service finding it. As they approached the 17th hole, they were being beaten badly. “George said that if we get this, we’ll tie them.” Kevin couldn’t figure how that could happen, but it did. “So now the day’s over and I’m gonna say ‘Goodbye.’ George said, ‘Wanna come to the White House?’ I said my pat answer: ‘Yes.’ So, we got on to the helicopter and received the Marines salute. My brother was in Vietnam in ’67 and ’68, so that means something to me…So, we went into the White House and the President said, ‘Do you want to go for a swim?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ And there was nobody in the pool except me.” Afterwards they played horseshoes and had dinner with Barbara. As Kevin left for the evening, the President told how he was going to Moscow the next day and how he was going to deal with the situation. Kevin was amazed at how generous the President had been with his time and thought, “I was just going to play baseball today.” The next day, Kevin went to work and Oliver came into the makeup room saying, “I went to your buddy’s house yesterday…I got a chance to tour the White House, but they didn’t show me the good stuff. I didn’t get to see the pool. There was a guy swimming in the pool.”
- “My journey as an actor has been magical.”
- On “Bull Durham”: “It’s about men and women trying to get together. We can’t get along, but we have to.”
- Westerns: “I always think sitting in the dark watching westward expansion in this country, thinking about the people who settle Texas and wondering, ‘Am I that tough?’ When a western is done really well, you create the architecture for the moment where actually as a man that if you want to be really honest with yourself, you go, ‘I don’t know what I would have done.’”
- “I still have another western in me. It’s about 10 hours long.”
- On “Dances With Wolves”: Years after the movie came out, he had finished a long day at the studio and was headed to his car when he heard a woman’s voice call his name. He was tired and continued walking, pretending that he hadn’t heard her. Again and again she called his name. He stopped and turned around. She described the ‘Dancing With Wolves’ scene in which Kevin had kissed his Indian love upon being reunited, and said it had meant so much to her. Then she told him that her husband was missing in action. She longed to have a similar reunion with her husband. In the following days Kevin arranged to have that one scene sent to her.
- Sir Edmund Hillary: In conquering Mt. Everest, Hillary fell and was held by the strength of a single man, sherpa Tenzing Norgay, whom he didn’t even know. In deciding whether to proceed up the mountain or retreat, the sherpa said, “Do you hear that?” Hillary said he heard nothing. It was just the howling of the wind and the rain pounding. The sherpa replied, “It’s the mountain. It’s the summit. It’s calling us.” Kevin said, “To this day, no one knows who stepped first on the top of Everest. It’s kinda cool. Cause it’s not about who gets the credit. They needed each other. I think the summit is calling this room. It’s calling Texas because Texas is always up for a fight. These numbers that were done so beautifully in this film bother me. I can tell they bothered the room. We just can’t depend on Ray (Hunt) and Nancy (Hunt). They depend on us. So we’re kind of in this together.”
- Kevin in raising his children told them every day, “You’re special, but it doesn’t make you better than anybody.”
- On his daughters’ suitors: “I tell them that I am the first man to lay hands on my daughters. My daughters know what a man’s hands feel like that love them. Some of these young girls have not have had hands on them that have told them they were special. They have not had hands on them that love them, so they know the difference.”
- Music: He had loved music as a kid, but put it aside until his wife asked why he hadn’t pursued it. The reason: one person who critiqued his music “was very cruel to me” when Kevin was in his 20’s. So, he dropped it. His wife persisted for two years, very gently. Finally, she “sat me down and asked me two questions, ‘Are you happy when you’re making music?’ ” He said, “Yes.” She then asked, “Do you think people in front of you…not this guy writing…but the people in front of you are happy?” And he said, “Yes.” She said, “What could be wrong with that?” He realized that it was such a “simple release for me.” He’s been playing for the past nine years.
As the hundreds made their way to their cars, Kevin headed to Ardmore to join his band Modern West, the Jeff Allen Band and Rich O’Toole at Heritage Hall that night.