Forgetfulness of things past
Copyright © 2020 Nat Segaloff
When I had a little more hair and a little less stomach I used to hear “you remind me of Richard Dreyfuss” a lot. I mean a LOT. When he and I were both in our 40s and he was making pictures, I used to get stared at by tourists in LA and I would see them whispering to each other. I always knew what they were saying. Airplane rides were fun because I like to sit on the aisle and often would feel fellow passengers looking at me as they walked back to the bathroom. It got really bad once when the inflight movie was “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” in which Richard plays a teacher, and even I was stunned by “our” appearance in the last third of the picture. Others must have been stunned as well because the lavatory parade got to be intense (either that or the meal was off). But c’mon; would Richard Dreyfuss be flying coach?
Strictly speaking, Richard and I don’t think we look alike, although he admits that people who don’t know him might see a resemblance. I’m a little taller, my nose is bigger, and I have less hair (particularly since I got rid of my comb-over). But we both have blue eyes, talk fast, use articulate speech, have a sense of humor, and throw off similar energy. There must be something to it. When he had offices at the old Goldwyn Studio on Santa Monica Boulevard (now Warner Bros.’ The Lot) I used to be able to drive on whenever I wanted because the gate guard thought I was he.
When I say that we don’t think we look alike, it flows from forty years of bumping into each other. We first met at the United Artists offices in New York in the summer of 1975 when Jaws had just opened and Richard was enjoying much-deserved fame. He had just finished a vanity project for UA titled Inserts and spent a lot of time in the publicity department flirting with the female employees. UA was a very loosely run ship (little realizing that it was the S. S. Titanic; see my narrative in Screen Saver) and the executives tolerated, even encouraged, Richard’s presence. Nobody thought we looked alike at the time.
Not until he won his Oscar® for The Goodbye Girl (1977) and I started appearing on Boston’s Evening Magazine on TV that same year did people begin stopping me to ask if I liked the panties drying on the rod. Every now and then we would see each other on a press junket (The Competition, Stakeout, etc.). When I moved to LA, we met at an ACLU fundraiser and I would verbally download the compliments his fans had mistakenly given me thinking I was he. Meegan Ochs had a photo taken of us at one of them. One night I was having dinner with friends at Musso & Frank’s Grille in Hollywood and word went around the restaurant that Richard Dreyfuss was eating there, which I ignored until it turned out that Richard was, in fact, eating there, but in the next room. I didn’t stop by his table, but my friends discussed one of them going over and saying hello to him as if he were I.
I don’t really have an ending for this story except to say that I am grateful that Richard Dreyfuss is a bright, talented, honorable man and not an asshole so I don’t get any blowback. And I try to be the same so he doesn’t catch any fragging aimed at me.
The reason I went into such detail about me reminding other people of someone else is that I found someone who really is me, but isn’t. A routine visit to the Vimeo.con website uncovered a filmmaker named Nathan Segaloff. My name is Nathan Segaloff. I use the shorter name “Nat Segaloff,” but my real first name is Nathan. Now then, two people having the same name isn’t all that unusual. Lots of Smiths, Joneses, Levines, Reynoldses, etc. know the feeling. But two “Nathan Segaloff”s? I have, in fact, met only one other Segaloff in my whole life. I’ve met Sigaloffs, Sagaloffs, Seigeloffs, Segalovs and other permutations (they come out of the woodwork if you become the least well known) , but never someone with my exact name.
So I Facebooked him.
Nathan Segaloff lives in Victoria, Australia. His people came there from England when he was five months old. My Segaloff half came from Russia in the 1880s, before Ellis Island, and settled in Baltimore so there is no traceable record inasmuch as the Czar rarely threw going-away parties for Jews fleeing his Cossacks. Oz’s Nathan Segaloff is also a film/video maker and, from the looks of his product reels on Vimeo, quite a good one. I won’t discuss his personal life except to say that he has one. And it’s also nice to know that the Segaloff name will carry on somewhere even after I do not.
I’d be interested in comments from people who have found their lookalike or namesake and what happened if you made contact with him or her. I have long held the theory that, by the time we finish high school, we will have met one of each physical and personality type we will ever meet in the rest of our lives. And with 7.5 billion people now infesting the earth, the genetic lottery must certainly have spawned a few copies.
I found mine. Where are yours?
I don't write on spec, but every now and then something gets me fired up and I can't stop my fingers from hitting the keyboard.