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1984 - 85: memories of Michael from Sean McCormick

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Jun. 1st, 1984 | 12:00 am

This follows on from Sean's previous account here.

We moved back to London two years later [late 1984] to work on ‘Labyrinth.’1

Michael and M.T. had divorced2 in the two years I was gone, but decided to stay friends.

I rented a room from him. He owned the house, and I think, if memory serves, that there were 5 bed-sits, all with their own kitchens (sort of).

There was an Australian girl named Jackie3 in the room next to mine. She was the only one that I remember, probably because she was so cute. I seem to remember a tree; I think Jackie's window looked out at it.

We shared the shower/tub/toilet and each room had their own electric meter out side the door in the hallway (the meter only took a 10 p coin and would only take up to 3 pounds) and the gas one for the bathroom was above the doorway on the 2nd floor landing, and it would only take a 50 p coin, and chair or ladder to reach high enough to get the coin in the slot.

I had everything in my room on a timer, so that the heater would turn on, then the kettle, then my alarm would go off at 4:00 am. Always hung over, I would lie there, dreading having to brave the frost, but being good with knowing I had my little 10 sq. foot area of warmth just in front of the heater, where my tea was even in arm’s reach, when suddenly: total darkness, increasing cold by the second, and shit! No coins for the meter (put them all in the fruit machines at the pub the night before) so I would pound on Jackie's door (she being a ‘she’, kept £5 worth at all times right by the door) and an arm with a handful of coins would come out of the opening, then slam she'd close the door.

The worst was having it happen when you were in the shower with soap in your eyes, and of a sudden, no hot water, then you’re on a chair, soaking wet, and stark naked, with soap in your eyes, trying to get the coin in the slot.

This place was one of the coldest, dampest, darkest places ever. I think I lasted just under a year, 10 months or so.

Michael had just lost the lead role [Colonel Tom Carlsen] in the Toby Hooper film ‘Space Vampires’4 to American actor Steve Railsback, and it crushed him. I think it was one of the straws on the camel’s back that started his six or seven year darkness.

We annually invited him to come see us in New Mexico, which he never did.

I last saw him days before I left London for San Francisco to work on ‘Howard the Duck.’5

I hope I've been able to shed some light on this sadly dark and talented soul and have answered some of your questions.

I think of him and all the others daily and miss them daily and thank the Powers that Be that I had the chance to have known them, and thank you for keeping his spirit alive.

~~

1 Puppet-building was done in 1984 and 1985, filming April – September 1985; released June 27, 1986.

2 No record has been found of Michael and M.T.’s marriage or divorce, though a friend of Michael's, S.B., believes there was an unofficial ceremony.

3 Jacqueline Kitching lived there during 1984 and 1985.

4 ‘Space Vampires’ was released as ‘Life Force’ on 21 June, 1985. Other sources say he was also in the frame for the role of Colonel Caine which went to Peter Firth, who had appeared with Michael in 1972 in an episode of ‘Arthur of the Britons’ – ‘The Pupil.’ Michael was eventually given the less important role of Dr. Bukovsky.

5 ‘Howard the Duck’ was released 1 August 1986.

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