How a 'General Hospital' Star and Three Other Hollywood Veterans Began Swapping Stories (and Busting Balls) Every Morning
"This is the table of hooligans," says Stuart Damon of his weekday get-togethers with Mickey Callan, Bridget Hanley Swackhamer and David Kramer at the Motion Picture & Television Fund commissary.
This story first appeared in the May 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
The ball-busting quartet sitting in the corner by the window in the dining commissary at the MPTF Country House's Fran and Ray Stark Villa started as a table for two: David Kramer, 81, began dining with Mickey Callan, 79, soon after the latter moved to the campus. "Then Bridget [Hanley Swackhamer] showed up and Mickey hit on her and then changed his mind, then I hit on her and I wasn't going to let her go," Kramer says. "We left our original table and took a place where the three of us could be together, and Stuart [Damon] asked one day, 'Could I join your table?' and we just stood up and we applauded and he sat down and that was it."
A Broadway star ('West Side Story') and Columbia contract actor, Callan appeared in 'Cat Ballou' with Jane Fonda in 1965, among other film and TV roles.
Damon played Dr. Alan Quartermaine on ABC’s 'General Hospital' for more than 30 years (with stints on other soaps and series including 'Space: 1999').
The four ("three stars and a press agent," says former publicist Kramer of his retired actor pals) have met every weekday since. At 8 a.m., the game is on: "This is the table of hooligans," says Damon, 78. "Sarcasm reigns. We don't listen to each other — we also don't hear each other!" Notes Callan, "We talk about our ex-wives." Swackhamer, 74, jumps in to object: "No ex-wife here." Damon: "That's OK, we can always talk about your name; it looks great on a marquee." Callan, as is often the case, has the last word: "Two marquees!"
Hanley Swackhamer starred as Candy Pruitt (here with Bobby Sherman) on the 1960s series 'Here Come the Brides,' and later was on 'Harper Valley P.T.A.'
Kramer worked as a publicist for stars including Leslie Nielsen (right, with Kramer in the 1980s), Tony Curtis, Farrah Fawcett and Richard Harris.