TCM Cruise: A Chat With Stars, Film Noir And Fireworks


On the way to Key West from Disney’s Castaway Cay, the cruise line’s private island in the Bahamas, we hugged the coast of Florida most of the day on the Turner Classic Movies cruise. Many on board spent the day watching classic films being showed on Disney Magic’s big screen while others attended some of over 15 different events during the day. Some used cell phones when our route allowed a signal and others prepared for a major event that evening.   I interviewed actor Richard Dreyfuss, one of a number of stars along for the voyage.

Day One - 394“My wife and I are the most crazed cruise lovers in the world,” began a very focused and engaging Dreyfuss, answering a number of questions about cruise vacations. Remembering his first cruise vacation, Dreyfuss got the same smile and faraway look many other cruise travelers get when talking about sailing, summing the experience up with “To me that was heaven.”

That first cruise for the Academy Award-winning actor?

“When we first met, our first date was on the Queen Mary from Southampton and back,” said Dreyfuss, adding “We have been on Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. We want to go on the river cruises in Europe too.”

We talked for about a half hour, touching on topic ranging from Dreyfuss’ idea for Disney and TCM to work together on a film school, located on Castaway Cay to what it is like to be a celebrity. Interestingly, the most appreciated compliment he gets from fans is a simple “Thank You” for entertaining them.

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A very intense man, Dreyfuss spoke to the notion of ‘asking for an autograph’, a topic that troubles him. “Don’t get me wrong; asking for an autograph is one of the highest complements an actor can receive. But if I sign one, I need to sign all of them(in a room) or it won’t be fair to anyone”

I saw this firsthand, a number of times on the Turner Classic Movies cruise. Dreyfuss’ fans are relentless, many sporting “Jaws” t-shirts and/or bombarding him and the other stars along for the voyage with questions whenever they appear in a public area of the ship.

Tip for going on a star-studded cruise vacation when an occasion puts you up close and personal with one of them: Keep it short and/or look for a good time to chat with your idol. They will; on their terms.

Right after my interesting interview with Richard Dreyfuss, I had some time to spend with Tab Hunter, the star of over 40 films and one I had met before, in 1965.

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Hunter was starring in the musical Here’s Love at Starlight Theater in Kansas City. At the time, my mother was working in the wardrobe department, altering costumes and standing by during live performances to fix what would later be coined “a wardrobe malfunction”. My brother was in the theater’s chorus and I came along mainly so I did not stay home alone at age 11.

Of that play, Hunter recalled “We called it Here’s Drek; it was such a bad show”.

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At 83, Hunter may not be a teen idol any longer but is a fan of cruise travel with an insatiable appetite sailing that began when he was a kid. Lying about his age to join the Coast Guard, Hunter went to sea at age 15, briefly, before they found out his real age and threw him out. Also a recording artist, Hunter’s tune “Red Sails In The Sun” is just one other reference to sailing in his performing career.

One really nice guy, Hunter was a joy to talk to, another one that loves to sail and also wants to try river cruising (very badly).

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That night was an event that many of those on board for the fourth sailing of the TCM Classic Movies cruise were waiting for.   The Night of Noir, tagged to encompass much of the film genre in the evenings activities, brought out passengers in period costume, or something like it.

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It was a memorable night of dancing, cocktails and fun as movie fans came dressed as a favorite film character ranging from a private eye to an eccentric criminal.

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Capping off the Night of Noir, a Disney fireworks display at sea. Still, at 11:30 the night was still young and there was plenty to do aboard Disney Magic. Personally, I kept going back to the interview with Richard Dreyfuss who squarely nailed the cruise experience, comparing well-orchestrated cruise vacations to filmmaking.

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“Film is done in a dream-like state while video is reality. In a way, cruises are like that.” I couldn’t agree more.