I rather like my job of being a tattle tale of Hollywood scuttlebutt 30 years after the events! Many of the guilty are too old to care what I might write about!

It helps a lot that I have a couple of insiders. Jack Young is my super secret source for this article. So do not tell anyone! I have a hunch that even though he is 85 years old, he would hunt me down and force me into a gun fight at high noon. So don’t tell Jack I wrote this!

The story of DB Cooper is one that both Law Enforcement and Hollywood were keen on. The story was too bizarre for words. Wikipedia has this gem:

 D. B. Cooper is the name popularly used to refer to an unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in the airspace between Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington on November 24, 1971. He extorted $200,000 in ransom and parachuted to an uncertain fate. Despite an extensive manhunt and an exhaustive (and ongoing) FBI investigation, the perpetrator has never been located or positively identified. The case remains the only unsolved air piracy in American aviation history

For the FBI Mr Cooper was a huge problem, for the average American he was somewhat of a hero. He had beat the system. For Hollywood the DB Cooper story was just too good to ignore. So a decade after the event Hollywood went into high gear. There was money to be made out of DB Cooper. Front and center was Treat Williams as DB Cooper:

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The FBI agent tasked with bringing DB to court was none other than Robert Duval

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My good friend Jack Young tells the story much better than I ever could. By 1981 Jack Young had had enough of falling off horses as a western Stuntman and had moved on to a more managerial role, location manager.

Mel Dellar, a Production Manager that I worked for on Josey Wales called me to see if I was available to work. I was…he said the Director was John Frankenheimer but he wanted to meet me so he could approve or disapprove of me. I flew to LA and Mel met me at the airport. He drove me straight to Frankenheimer’s office. He was a strange lad, but he gave his approval…and, a script and sent me home. After reading the script I called and made some suggestions. They put me on the payroll, sent money for expense’s and I was off. I traveled quite a bit, scouting in Salt Lake City, Bend, Oregon; (Deschutes National Forest) for the Rapids. Then on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the Snake River. There was another river adjacent to the Snake and I think it was called Grey’s. In fact, we shot most all of the first unit stuff on that river. Both the Snake and the Greys emptied into a huge lake at Alpine, Wy.

Anyway, I sent everything back to Mel and waited for a call. They made the deal with Polygram Pictures and we were going in June to Jackson for second Unit shooting. Mainly because the Snake only ran with rapids during that period. But, the Grey’s ran with rapids all the time. They gave Frankenheimer $400,000 and four days for that shoot. I do remember that on the first day when I awoke, there was a small amount of snow on the ground. It was June 4th, I think.

However, 9 days and $900,000 later, they called me “what’s going on?” I told them I was only a location manager and had no authority but that Frankenheimer was having the time of his life. I suggested they get a Production Manager up there ASAP. They asked who I recommended so I gave them Hal Klein’s name, a great friend I had worked with before. Hal called me and asked “what have you got me in to this time?” He told me to pick him up the next morning at the little airport in Jackson. After we got to the motel and got him settled, we drove to the set on the banks of the Snake. They were at lunch and everyone was wondering who this guy was with me. Then the AD (Assistant Director) Tom May called “back to work”….Hal stood up and said, “No, we are wrapped.” They fired Frankenheimer (but he later sued and got his Million…or whatever it was) and sent me home, on salary to wait and see what would transpire.

After a couple weeks of playing golf and getting paid for it, Hal called me and said they had a new director, Buzz Kulick. Buzz had directed Steve McQueen in his final movie and brought his lead lady onto our picture….Katheryn Harrold. Frankenheimer had originally had me setting up three moves, Bend, Oregon; Salt Lake and Jackson…with some second unit stuff in Idaho. I had a long conversation with Buzz and asked him to come to Tucson because I could save a lot of time and money. He agreed, I picked him and Hal up and took them to Mt. Lemmon. 30 miles to the top, complete mountain of tree’s, etc. and told him we could shoot half of the movie there. The landing after he jumped, etc. He agreed, so we went to Jackson and shot half there, then to Tucson and shot the rest here.

After I wrapped all the locations, payed everyone, etc. I was done and took a small vacation. If I remember correctly, I took a “friend” to Mexico for some “fun in the sun!” About three weeks after I got back, Hal called and said they were not happy with the film, he wanted to shoot more and add another character. Buzz quit and took his name off the picture. They hired Roger Spottiswoode (I had never heard of him) and lo and behold, they came back to Tucson and we filmed four more weeks. They added the character Remson…it was really tough cause I had to match the log cabin house that we shot for DB’s Father’s house…and also the saw mill. So the enterior of the log cabin is in Jackson Hole and the exterior is in Tucson. Same with the Saw Mill. Exterior in Jackson and interior here. The cabin is where we blew up the truck and saw mill is where he had the $20 bills all around.

DB Cooper is a fine example of Hollywood meets the real world. Jack Young is the first to admit that they tried to be as close to the real story as possible. But what happened after DB Cooper jumped out of the plane remains a mystery to this day.

Simon Barrett

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