For Jack is an honorable man

This column was first printed in the May 16, 1998 issue of The Malibu Times. On Saturday, it was awarded first place in the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Better Newspaper Contest under the category “Columns, Commentary, Criticism” for weekly papers with circulations of 11,000 to 25,000.

When I went to the polls this morning I must admit I was shocked. I thought they had handed me a defective ballot. Something had to be wrong.

Jack Lemmon’s name was missing from the ballot.

All week long we had been seeing tapes, letters, newspaper ads and finally telephone calls, with messages from Jack. I had naturally assumed that Jack was running for the council.

Actually I loved Jack as Ensign Pulver and in “Some Like it Hot,” and as I thought back over his career and the many happy hours it had brought me, the least I could do is vote for Jack. If he had decided to put himself on the Malibu City Council, that was just fine with me,

–For Jack is an honorable man.

I know that some of you cynics may believe that Jack, who apparently didn’t know either Hasse or Jennings before this election, should have taken the time to talk to them before putting his reputation on the line and endorsing the former and blasting the latter. That’s just nonsense because, as any fan knows, years before the camera making believe you’re someone else sharpens the mind and enhances the political acuity, and it’s not necessary to go through tiresome steps of making those kinds of judgments when you can always turn to your advisors for guidance. Besides, all you have to do is look at Tom Hasse and the word that immediately jumps to mind is “environmentalist.” You can easily see Tom astride a horse or up on a surfboard, not like some hotel-loving, highrise-demanding, citified lawyer like Jeff Jennings.

Besides, if Jack believes in Tom Hasse, I guess I should believe in Tom,

–For Jack is an honorable man.

Some have even criticized Jack for doing the voice on the video without checking out the script or taking the time to find out what in there was true. That’s utter nonsense. After all, Jack has spent practically his entire life as an actor. He opens his mouth, and other people’s words come rolling out. And we all know that real smart guys write those words, so there is absolutely no reason to mess with a winning formula. Besides, Jack wouldn’t say them if he didn’t believe them,

— For Jack is an honorable man.

I must confess that I had wavered for a moment when the Jenning’s camp said it had been in contact with Jack after the videotape had been released and mailed to several thousand homes in Malibu, and that Jack had admitted to the camp that he had read the script as written without first verifying its truth.

Well, that little apprehension was put to rest Monday night when there, on my answering machine, was a phone call from some very respectable polling service, up in Oregon I understand, which called to tell me not to worry: In fact they said, “We’re calling you on behalf of Jack Lemmon, and he wants you to know . . . that he’s researched what’s going on in Malibu and that Tom Hasse is the only one that has taken a stand against traffic congestion and over-development in Malibu,” and therefore I ought to vote for Hasse.

Well, when I found out that Jack had taken the time out of his very busy day, reading scripts and dusting his Oscars or whatever he does, to actually take the time to research what’s going on in Malibu and then had some guy in a phone boiler room in Oregon call me because he wanted me to know the facts, I must admit I was flattered. I had no idea that Jack and I had such a personal relationship. I feel a lot better about plunking down my $8 for his next movie. Besides, when I figured out that it also meant that Jennings must have been in favor of traffic congestion, I was outraged.

So much for the Doubting Thomases. If Jack says he researched what’s going on in Malibu, that’s good enough for me. He wouldn’t let anyone use his name that way if it weren’t true,

–For Jack is an honorable man.

And after the election, when all those pesky complaints are filed and questions are raised about how, with a $100-per-person limit on campaign spending, someone has been putting expensive phone banks into our little hometown elections, I’m sure that Jack or his lawyer or his agent or his publicist or his business manager or his wife are going to set the record straight and tell those nay-sayers that good old all-American Jack — movie star, community activist, Beverly Hills resident — will be able to tell us just how it was done, and I know we’re all going to believe it,

— For Jack is an honorable man.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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