52°F
weather icon Light Rain

City’s ties to Hollywood run deep

Jon Bon Jovi. Andy Griffith. John Wayne. All these notable men have ties to Boulder City, and so does a man named Paco.

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting local resident Mr. Frank “Paco” Munoz. Munoz once held a license/permit in high explosives while working in the special effects department for different movie studios and production companies. He also has ties to Hollywood.

I met Munoz through a mutual friend, Barbara Link, and we had lunch together to talk about — what else? — explosives and “the Fonz.” During our lunch, I learned Munoz left the Army to start a career with Paramount Studios. His career took him through decades working as a set designer to a career in special effects.

I learned Munoz worked on everything from the Academy Awards, where he shared a smoke with Judy Garland, to being commissioned to work alongside Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz for their company, Desilu Productions. Desilu Productions (before being sold to Paramount Studios) was responsible for the television shows “I Love Lucy,” “Star Trek” and “The Untouchables.”

Munoz and I discussed working alongside Michael Landon on “Little House on the Prairie” and with Wayne (who he said was not a people person) on the film “El Dorado.” In fact, Munoz created the bat wing doors seen in the movie. While we went on to share a laugh over stories about his work on the set for a Jon Bon Jovi 1980s video shoot (he had no idea who “that Bon Jovi guy” was), or how people touring the lot where “Murder She Wrote” was filmed were astonished by the kindness of actress Angela Lansbury, Munoz also reminisced about the close friendship he had developed with Griffith while working on “Matlock” under Andy Griffith Enterprises for NBC and ABC.

One of the coolest jobs, I think, Munoz had was his special effects work on a variety of ’80s horror movies. According to IMDB.com, Frank Munoz worked on “Halloween II” with Jamie Lee Curtis. While Munoz told me his main job was to splash blood on the floor and create all the chill factors for a few basement scenes for “Halloween II,” he also said he had a “hands-on experience” with Curtis, which involved him pushing her butt through a window as her character tried to escape the killer.

Munoz also worked on 1985’s “Friday the 13th: A New Beginning” staring Melanie Kinnaman, Anthony Barrile and Corey Feldman and 1987’s “The Outing” starring Deborah Winters and James Huston.

Munoz said he never was star-struck by anyone he worked for, with the exception of “the Fonz,” played by Henry Winkler on the 1974 show “Happy Days.” Neither Munoz nor his two daughters, Martee and Lisa, were brave enough to ask Winkler for an autograph while eating at Paramount’s mess hall.

A now-retired Munoz — his license/permit in high explosives expired in 1999 — enjoys living in Boulder City because it’s a small community, comparable to the close bonds he created with his peers on the lot at Paramount Studios. He also enjoys the many other local connections to the entertainment industry that exist here, including studio directors, producers and writers who have also retired to our quaint, talented town.

In fact, one of the annual events that many of the retired entertainment professionals seem to enjoy is the Dam Short Film Festival, not only because of its connection to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz through Desi Arnaz Jr. and the late Miss Amy, but because it gives independent filmmakers and artists a platform to showcase their work within a landscape that truly honors thought-provoking entertainment.

I ended a great lunch with Munoz looking through photos he brought of his work on “Matlock,” including a staff photo with Griffith. Munoz is one of the many people I have met through my TBT column who has worked in Hollywood only to find themselves loving life while living right here in Boulder City. And while the city’s slogan may be “a world away for a day,” the more I dig, the more I find that our city’s connection to Hollywood does run deep.

Tanya Vece is an entertainment and music writer who resides and volunteers in Boulder City. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @hollywoodwriter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Pets have special place in our hearts, lives

Over $95.7 billion — no, it’s not how much we spent on recent elections — it’s how much we Americans spend each year on our pets, our “fur babies,” our “four-footed friends,” “our cuddly companions,” our… well, you get the picture.

Trump doesn’t require reality to act

Is America finally able to understand the consciousness of Donald Trump based on his behavior? To assist, I am able to ascertain the consciousness of human beings according to Theosophical tradition.

Varying opinions vital to democracy

Periodically, I have to remind readers that the “articles” featured on this page are not news stories. They are opinion pieces.

Time to focus on truth

We are into the first week of a new year that brings new promises and continuing challenges. Of great promise are vaccines against the COVID-19 virus. The city has already received and administered hundreds of doses to health care workers and first responders. The progress that will be made depends on how many doses of the vaccine are available. The city paramedics and the hospital staff will work to provide the vaccine based on the priorities established at the state level. More information is available at www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org.

Here’s to a better 2021

Today is the last day of 2020. I know I am not the only one who is eager to see this year end.

’Twas the baking before Christmas

A few years ago, many readers commented how much they enjoyed my column about holiday baking and requested that I make this an annual tradition. As you read this, I will be at home, enjoying the fruits of my labor after spending a week’s vacation knee-deep in flour, sugar and spices, in the true spirit of this message.

Public schools need to open

What do the library, post office, police department and public schools have in common? They are all owned by the citizens. All are open for business except, of course, schools. Schools in particular were built using funds collected from taxes that all of us paid. All of the expenses to run these institutions along with teacher’s salaries are paid by us as well.

Celebrate power to get things done

As I write this, a picture comes into my mind. It’s a Sunday in December, 22 years ago, when I wrote my first holiday piece for the Boulder City News and the Henderson Home News. It was the day after the Boulder City Christmas parade. It was 7 a.m.; I was sitting at my desk typing and a light snow was falling.

Are we circumventing city’s advisory committees?

I find that the formation of the city’s municipal pool ad hoc committee, chaired by Mayor (Kiernan) McManus with Councilman (James Howard) Adams serving as the vice chairman, to provide recommendations to the City Council regarding the proposed three ballot questions associated with a new aquatic center can easily lead to a violation of the open meeting law.

Happiness ‘Hallmark’ of holiday movies

I love this time of year. There’s a nip in the air. The leaves on trees glow in shades of red, yellow and orange. Families and friends gather for festive meals. And Hallmark airs countless Christmas movies.