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Curfew almost prevents brush with stars

lt was a Saturday night, and I was at Gramma's bar in Billings with my friend, Marsha, and her friend, Patty, drinking $2 pitchers of beer and dancing to the band.

It was where "everybody" went on Saturday night. Everybody except Marsha's boyfriend, Mark, who was at the wrap party for the movie "Missouri Breaks," for which he had worked that summer as a set security guard.

Everyone involved in the movie was invited to the wrap party at the Northern Hotel.

Mark showed up at Gramma's and sat with us for a while. Soon it was time for me to go home, as I had an 11 p.m. curfew. I had recently graduated from high school, but still had to be home by 11 p.m.

Halfway to my house, being driven by Marsha, Mark turns around from the front seat and says, "I can't believe that you're going home instead of going to Marlon Brando's party!"

I said "What?" and, then, "I'm not going home!"

I fought the urge to tell Marsha what a snot she was, as it was obvious that she had planned to dump me off at home and then tell me tales of the party the next day, probably gleefully.

When we got to the Northern Hotel, I immediately went to the pay phone (we didn't have cell phones in 1975) in the hall to call my mother and tell her why I wouldn't be home on time.

Mark walked by, knocked on the door, and laughed that I was the only person he knew who would be at Marlon Brando's party and be on the phone with her mother. There was no sense in getting grounded if I could get out of it with a phone call!

Inside the party room, Mark spotted Jack Nicholson and hailed him as though he were an old friend. It was a little comical.

"JACK! Jack! I want you to meet some friends of mine!"

Here we were, young girls with long straight hair, wearing blue jeans. Mark dragged us over to "Jack" and introduced us.

Nicholson did not make eye contact, but, with his eyes little slits, tossed his head back a bit. That was his exchange with us; no wicked smile, no evil eyebrow arch. Just the head toss, and he was on his way.

Boy was he impressed with us!

I was equally "impressed" with him.

Mark then spotted Brando sitting in front of a 6-foot-tall speaker at the edge of the dance floor, alone. We were again dragged along with Mark, to where Brando sat. We pulled chairs around him and sat, as if we belonged there.

Brando was concentrating on the dance floor and didn't seem to mind that we were now next to him.

Eventually Marsha and Mark went to dance, and a stranger asked Patty to dance. There I sat with Marlon Brando.

Why not?

I leaned towards him (we were in front of a very loud speaker!) and asked him if he wanted to dance. He, very slowly and deliberately, leaned close, put his arm around me and put his face next to mine so I could hear him. (To me Marlon Brando was, at this time, a very old man. He had to have been 50! But MARLON BRANDO was talking to me.)

He said to me in that famous voice, "I would love to dance with you, my dear, but I am very drunk and I would fall on my ass."

He then leaned back into his chair, and that was that.

Soon after my friends got off of the dance floor, Brando sat with the band and played the bongo drums for a very, very long "drum solo." (I think bongos must be an acquired taste, and one that I have never acquired.) We left shortly after that, with no further exchange with Brando.

I do not think anyone else has been snubbed by Jack Nicholson and turned down for a dance by Marlon Brando - in the same night!

- Laura Kautz


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