In my room at the very first Virgin Hotel in Chicago late at night I went between the film on Turner Classic Movie channel ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, ( my first high school play I was cast in) and the Australian Open. Here was Gregory Peck, tennis and television, oh what a story I could tell Richard Branson. While testing out the in room system at Virgin hotel a filmmaker friend posted this on my Facebook related to another post, “…There are no accidents!”. No kidding I thought, and began writing this post, about the convergence of Gregory Peck, tennis and television into my life.
One of my ‘BFF’s’ is Danny Sarnoff, he is as Hollywood as you get. Danny and his grandfather David Sarnoff share something in common with Richard Branson the gift of vision to bring innovation into our lives. It was Danny’s grandfather that brought us sound into our homes with the RCA radio, and later had the vision to bring moving images into everyone’s living room and he spent a lot of money to make it happen and the RCA television was born, to broadcast the voice and moving images Danny’s grandfather created, NBC ( National Broadcasting Corporation ). To learn more about this just go to this link (David Sarnoff) .
Naturally having grown up in Hollywood with a family fully entrenched in the business of entertainment my friend Danny knew a lot of people, most of them I had met including Anthony Peck who I really liked the son of two-time Academy Award winner actor Gregory Peck. Anthony who would occasionally drive me to the airport in his red Porsche a gift from his supermodel wife Cheryl Tiegs. Everything to Anthony was a contest, women, tennis, anything you wanted to do it was always game on.
One day I get a call that I have to come along to play a game of doubles tennis, it was imperative that we win and defeat Tony, I was told. I asked Danny who was playing with Tony? and he told me it would be Cheryl. Well that should be easy I am pretty sure we could outplay Cheryl and Tony. I put on my tennis whites got my tennis racquets and soon Danny was at my door and off we went. The black Mercedes-Benz with blacked out windows with the interior blaring ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles and the smoke of weed made its way to the home of Gregory Peck. As we started to go up the road to Gregory Peck’s home the road narrowed a stretch limousine approached, Danny slowed the car, and pulled off the road a little to allow some room for the stretch. As both cars where side by side the window of the limousine came down and Danny lowered his window. The girl looking at us was one who could hold your gaze for a long time in a mini skirt, “Hi boy’s” , she said “Babe” was the response. We both smiled and kept driving , ” man she was hot,” I said, “LA” Danny said without missing a beat. Hey, we where in the land of milk and honey.
The Mercedes Benz still blaring ‘Eagles’ came to a stop outside the gate of Gregory Peck’s home and Danny announced himself to the security, and the gate opened. Cheryl Tiegs and Tony where already there, Cheryl’s Mercedes-Benz 280SL was parked in the driveway. Game on, let’s get straight to the tennis court through the meandering rose garden. Gregory Peck’s garden was not just a garden it was a park.
As we got to the tennis court, Tony reminded Danny where they stood in the betting and this was for double or nothing. Soon we were into the game, it was no Australian Open, but the intensity was the same. The battle was on. The games were close and let me tell you Cheryl is no pushover and it was my serve. I got a few good serves in and the score was 30-30 first set when Danny said;
Don’t look now Khan-man, Tony’s dad is coming down to watch.
Naturally I looked up, and my stomach went in a knot, there was Gregory Peck in a white robe making his way to the pool and tennis court. Now I could not give a crap about who anyone is, but this was not just anyone, it was fucking Gregory Peck. This to me was The Guns of Navarone, To Kill A Mockingbird, A Roman Holiday, this was Ahab of Moby Dick. Everything would have been cool, if Mr. Peck had just gone to the pool, but no that was not happening, he had to come sit down to watch the game. The pressure was on, all of a sudden the tennis match felt like a five set match of Nadal. I was serving to Cheryl, my first serve caught the tape and landed on our side of the court, (please Mr. Peck go away to the pool please I prayed). I trew the ball up, arched my back keeping my grip loose throwing my arm towards the ball at its peak, it all felt good and then that sound, ball hitting the tape. I had just double faulted, suicide in tennis, and in front of Gregory Peck.
Danny and I won the match we would later learn that Tony arranged for his dad to come down and watch in order to play mind games with us. The good old friendly, tennis matches.
Enjoy this clip of a tour of the house where this tennis match a Grand Slam if you will was played below.