Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Remembering Jon-Erik Hexum
I didn't post on the 5th, but I wanted to note the birthday and loss of actor Jon-Erik Hexum. Jon would have turned 55 this week.
Back in 2007, when I first posted about Jon, blog reader Ferrariboy reccounted an exchange with Jon shortly before his death. Not sure how many of you read the comment section, so thought I would share it again here.
I was fortunate enough to meet Jon just before he died. It was on 6 October 1984, in New York City when he was a guest on the TV show FIVE AT FIVE at NBC in Rockefeller Center. At that time I was a photographer’s assistant, and went along to help carry heavy equipment. The foyer and lifts where absolutely crammed, so I decided to rather take the stairs up to the third floor. Big mistake!
Halfway up, I got stuck. Just then, a gent (more like a hunk, actually) in a black jacket and white trousers on his way down, offered to help me as he could see I was now blocking the rather narrow staircase. Turns out the gent in question was none other than Jon Eric Hexum, rushing to take a telephone call prior to the show and clearly also thinking the stairs would be quicker...
I recall him saying, "Here, let me help you get this thing outta the way before someone trips over you" in that deep macho voice. "Are you going up?", he asked pointing at the door he had just come out of. I nodded like a drooling zombie as he grabbed the one end of the bag. I was gob smacked! I just couldn't believe it! Jon Erik-Hexum was offering to help get me out the way! I was a fan, but this seemed almost surreal, like a dream or something! But worse was to come...
Hexum, you understand, had grabbed the bag and was going backwards and upwards while pulling it, so theoretically he only had to push the door at the top open to go through. But, as luck would have it, the damn thing seemed to be jammed. He tried to push it with his back (I recall him grumbling that it wouldn't open), but after a few attempts it suddenly gave way and he and the bag stumbled into the crowded 3rd floor foyer - with myself still in tow!
And then it happened. As if in slow mo, he suddenly let go of his grab of the bag - which swiftly ended up on his left foot, overhead lights and all! I just couldn't believe it! He grimaced as he pulled his foot free, but said he was ok. He looked over at me for a few seconds as if to say, "Hey man, what's your story?"
I was mortified! I apologized and shook his hand - as if that would have made things better! He simply said "I'll be fine, ta. See ya" and, smiling that million dollar grin, excused himself with "I must now take a telephone call" while at the same time gesticulating down the stairwell. He patted me on the shoulder and then promptly turned on his heels...
Needless to say, I was too embarrassed to move and just stood there motionless for a few seconds looking at the door and trying to take in what had just happened. For the rest of that evening I kept thinking that he'd be limping on the set of 'Cover Up'.
Days later, when I heard on the evening news on 18 October 1984 that Jon Erik-Hexum had died, I was totally shocked. I emediatly thought of that charming, handsome man I had met on the stairwell that evening and who was kind enough to help me with that damn bag while others simply passed by.
Yes, even to this day I still remember his face (albeit grimacing) as clear as if it were yesterday, and I am still filled with sorrow when I think that someone with such promise is gone forever, taken by the most stupid of mistakes. A real tragedy, and a terrible waste indeed… The well-known axiom “Only the beautiful die young” could easily have referred to Jon Eric Hexum. And I still haven't the heart to get rid of that old duffel bag. And why should I?
Love these shots with Heather Thomas from a swimsuit issue from an 80's issue of US Magazine. US Magazine was at one time a favorite magazine of mine to pic up in the late 80's and 90's before it morphed into the trash can worth US Weekly.