john and julian lennon

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John Lennon at Walt Disney World, Christmas 1974

John Lennon and his personal assistant/lover, May Pang, took John’s son Julian to Walt Disney World for the week of Christmas, 1974. The trio stayed ‘on-property’ at the Polynesian Village Resort, in the Bali Hai building (now known as Tonga). While in their room at the Poly, John signed the paperwork officially disbanding The Beatles (see bottom pic). The date was Dec. 29, 1974.

John & Julian on the set of Happy Days with the cast: Don Most, Ron Howard, Anson Williams & Henry Winkler ca. 1974 I Photo Source: Beatle Photo Blog

“One early morning we were shooting some simple scenes on a smaller stage. Ron, Henry, Don, a guest star, and I were the only ones working. During a lighting setup I walked over to what looked like a large tin can of coffee.  Craft service (which today provides gourmet snacks, lattes and organic pies) was not a big deal back then. Stale coffee and old apples were pretty much it. In fact Louie, our set electrician and bookie, was in charge of it. You were lucky to get milk with the black sludge. Anyway while I was pouring a cup I noticed a man who looked just like John Lennon with a young boy. Walking back I told Ron & Don.

"Yeah right” Don said, “John Lennon wants to hang out with us”  It turned out it was John Lennon! He was with his ten year old son, Julian, and they did want to hang out with us! John was out in Los Angeles and his son’s favorite show was Happy Days. They had come to the set unannounced to meet us. John was a huge fan of the fifties and he also loved the show. I was speechless, but John turned out to be a real down-to-earth genius. He was kind and so damn funny. He said that Elvis Presley was a major influence on his music, and that Elvis was “everlasting”. Soon, we all felt like we’d known each other forever.  When he tol me that he liked my  singing, I was floored. One of the greatest talents of all time had heard me sing. Ahhhhhhhh!

John & Julian spent the entire day on the set, twelve hours, all the way to wrap. John was truly humble and seemed to radiate light. Watching how he treated everyone on the set made me think of something Willie told me, “Da real great people is humble cause dey know dat dey God’s angels”

John drew ink caricatures  for most of the crew but not for the cast. We were professionals and idn’t want to bother him by asking for one. Dumb! Today I bet crew members paid off their houses with their original Lennon doodles. I do have one remembrance of that magical day : We all took a photo with John & Julian that sits on my desk. I experienced greatness that day. None of us would ever see him again, but his light, the light of greatness, continues to shine.

“Da real great people is humble cause dey know dat dey God’s angels” -Anson Williams, “Singing to A Bulldog: Life Lessons a Fellow Janitor Taught Me: My Journey from Happy Days to Hollywood and Beyond”