Today is the 32nd anniversary of Mary Lou Retton becoming the first American woman to win an Olympic All-Around Gold Medal in gymnastics, which occurred at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
This isn't about that. Even with the Rio Olympics starting this Friday, with the Opening Ceremonies. But it is about Mary Lou Retton.
Back in 1993, I was doing the unit publicity on Naked Gun 33-1/3: The Final Insult. And Mary Lou had a cameo appearance in the film. She was thrilled about it -- though I suspect she was thrilled about most things. The way you have this image of Mary Lou Retton...that's the way she was, even behind the scenes. Even without a camera on. She was just outgoing, effervescent, upbeat and personable.
Her appearance took place at that academy award sequence, where she was to be named the winner in some category. And to receive her award, he did somersaults down the aisle.
Anyway though all this filming, I became friendly with her manager, a very nice guy named Shep Goldberg, who later also had good luck managing an ice skater, named Michelle Kwan. Shep was a lovely guy, and in writing this article here I wanted to check out some information about him. Sadly, I saw that he passed away two years ago. But I was pleased to read a long, terrific article on him by the Chicago Tribune's figure skating maven, Philip Hersh, titled, "Remembering Shep Golberg, agent to Kwan and mensch to all." (The sub-heading to the article, by the way, is "Michelle Kwan's agent, who had a rare rapport with media, passes away at 65." You can read the whole thing here.
Anyway, Shep was as thrilled to be on the set, as well, and loved all the press material that was written for the film -- production notes, biographies, quotes and such that I wrote which were all done in the Naked Gun style and sensibility. Sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek and all made up. (I always got the approval of the actor to put the words in their mouth. Occasionally, they'd tweak it slightly, though usually not, and they were happy to come across saying such witty things. One supposed-quote I particularly remember because the Los Angeles Times used it in an article. It was from George Kennedy and said, "David Zucker is the finest director I have ever worked with. Oh, wait, I'm sorry, I meant Norman Jewison.")
Well, as I said, Shep loved all that material, and apparently so did Mary Lou. And a couple years later, he got back in touch me and said that Mary Lou was pregnant, and rather than him put out a regular press release, he wanted to know if he could hire me to write one in the style of all that Naked Gun stuff.
Sure, I said. And wrote something out. I didn't have a clue if they both would actually want to use it, when it came right down to it. But to my amazement and pleasure, they loved it, and sent it out.
This is that release --
For Immediate Release
MARY LOU RETTON TO INCREASE
FAMILY BY ONE
Mary Lou Retton and Shannon Kelley are proud to announce the upcoming birth of their first child.
Six judges gave the announcement a 10.0, although one Eastern European doctor surprisingly scored
it an 8.7.
Mary Lou was not immediately available for comment, as she was out stopping every passing car in her neighborhood and telling them the good news.
Mary Lou Retton won the All-Around Gold Medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. A recent national sports survey by the Associated Press named her the most popular athlete in America. An active motivational speaker and corporate spokesperson, Mary Lou has been a commentator for NBC Sports and writes a column for USA Today. In July of this year, just prior to the 10th anniversary of her Gold Medal victory, the U.S. Olympic Committee created the national Mary Lou Retton Award.
Mary Lou recently appeared in "Naked Gun 33-1/3," in the riveting role of 'Mary Lou Retton,' a performance for which she did intensive research for over seven weeks.
Olympic Gold medalist-Retton and Kelley, a former University of Texas quarterback, were married in 1990. She is 4'9" and he stands 6'3"; it is hoped that the child will end up somewhere in between.
The father is resting comfortably. The mother has never rested in her life.
Okay, if I've done my research right, this is the result. Albeit 16 years and four children later...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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