Once upon a time in a summer in the mid-1970’s a boy from the posh part of Malibu and a boy from the south side of Santa Monica became friends while playing Little League. Later they rekindled their friendship at Santa Monica High School (Samohi). A bond between boys from two different worlds is not in itself unusual. However these boys developed a friendship that has withstood the sands of time and wild changes of fortune during their lives. Both have nurtured a strong sense of giving.
The most polarized friendships are often the ones that last. One of these friends doesn’t drink, smoke or do drugs – never has. The other has a heart of gold and has all these vices – he is constantly getting into trouble and is hounded for story material by sensation-seeking reporters. One friend’s Mom is famous throughout the neighborhood for her mouthwatering fried chicken. The other’s Dad is a highly respected and well-known actor. What the two have in common is warmth, endless energy, wit and an enormous sense of humor.
The boy from south Santa Monica, Tony Todd, was the most recruited baseball and football star of his class at Samohi. Then in a senior year football game, he broke his ankle in two places. The trajectory of his life changed more than he even knew at the time. Healing took months – one cast, then another. His full scholarship to USC became history. He went to New Mexico State to help a friend get a scholarship, and played baseball. After graduation he returned home and then re-injured the same leg. He took a job with Parks & Recreation. One day he stopped by Santa Monica’s Marine Park and saw a gathering of over 300 people. Curious to find out what was going on, he walked through the crowd and found Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal auditioning people for the movie Little Big League. There was disbelief when Tony told the producers he could play baseball. He went home, changed into his uniform, came back and “knocked it over the fence” several times. After several auditions at Castle Rock Entertainment to prove his acting skill, he was cast as “Mickey Scales”. Since then Tony has worked steadily as an actor. He has done over 30 national commercials and appeared on film and TV, including 29 episodes of “Anger Management.”
While pursuing his lucrative acting career, Tony coached baseball at Samohi, opting out of a salary. He wanted to mentor the young athletes for the love of it – it rounded out his life. When Tony found out that one of his ball players was unable to attend his prom due to financial difficulties, he pulled some strings, got him a “sold out” ticket and arranged for car, corsage, everything. As the baseball program was having financial difficulties, Tony’s previously mentioned best friend, now a major celebrity through his own successful acting career, helped him produce a fundraiser at Santa Monica’s Moose Lodge where they raised $85,000 for the team.
If you haven’t guessed the identity of the other friend in this story, he needs no introduction. Charlie Sheen in 2006 secretly had Tony’s 1966 Pontiac LeMans “pimped out” for the show “Overhaulin.” In June 2013, Tony surprised Charlie, who had left Samohi just before graduation, by presenting him with a high school diploma on the Jay Leno Show. In their relationship, Charlie provides the excitement, Tony the steadiness. Of their friendship Tony remarked, “I’ve been best man at all three of Charlie’s weddings” … that’s obviously some needed consistency!
This week Charlie and Tony are making the rounds of the late night talk shows to pitch a movie they are both appearing in – Mad Families, which debuted Thursday on Sony Crackle. Charlie is a dad and Tony a park ranger in this madcap romp through the great outdoors where three families – one Caucasian, one Hispanic and one African American, are mistakenly booked for the same weekend at the same campsite. Laughs ensue from the chaos that results and in the end we see that there is more than enough room for everyone of any background to get along and have fun.
Mad Families can be found online at http://www.crackle.com/mad-families.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. firstname.lastname@example.org.