Stan Lee honored at the Saban Theatre
By: Judy Shields
Beverly Hills, California (The Hollywood Times) August 25, 2017 – “A guy gave me a lift in his car, what do you mean how did I got here!” Laughter erupted as Stan Lee told Chris Hardwick after Hardwick said they made a video to show how Stan Lee got here today.
Tuesday night at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, Stan Lee was honored by a roster of celebrity guests and industry giants during an intimate, nostalgic look back at his storied career during Extraordinary: Stan Lee. The live show was broadcasted in more than 180 movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada.
Hosted by Chris Hardwick, special guests included: David Hasselhoff (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2), Tom Bergeron (Dancing with the Stars), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2), Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2), Alan Tudyk (Star Wars: Rogue One), musician/producer RZA (Blade Trinity), director Jon Schnepp (The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened?), Peter Shinkoda (Marvel’s Daredevil), Kelly Hu (X2: X-Men United), director Morgan Spurlock (Super-Size Me), Todd McFarlane (Amazing Spider-Man), Andy Signore (Screen Junkies), writer Marv Wolfman (Crisis on Infinite Earths), producer Michael Uslan (Batman), director David Yarovesky (Guardians Inferno), producer/director Kenneth Johnson (The Incredible Hulk), Hal Sparks (Queer as Folk), Disney Imagineer Ted Robledo (Iron Man Experience).
It was a narrated short by Stan Lee which started out with Lee saying “It was December 28th, it was a very important date for me in the year 1922, that was when I was born on the Westside of Manhattan 98th Street and Western Avenue, and I’m sorry I can’t remember any more about my birth.”
He went on to talk about his age at 5 or 6 and how he remembers photos being taken of him and then he moved to the Bronx at 8 or nine. He played hockey on his skates, but he wanted a bike and he was so excited when he got one that he felt so free because he could go anywhere.
He told the story of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon being the only two working when he got a job as an assistant doing proofreading and filling the ink wells. After a few months and he will never know how and why it happened but Joe and Jack left. The publisher saw he was the only one there and asked if he could handle things and only being 17, he said “sure, I can handle it.” Stan Lee went on to be the editor and the art director and he hired the artists and writers. He began to like his job and thought it was going to be temporary job and stay a little while and get a real job later. “As they say in dramatic movies, the rest is history” Stan Lee said.
The first video was from an Astronaut from NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The Astronaut greeted Mr. Lee and said it was an honor to be part of the festivities and sorry it couldn’t be there. He talked about how he liked Spiderman and there was a picture of him in a Spiderman costume as a young man. “Ultimately it is you, you’re creativity, your work ethics, your pursuit of excellence, your emphasis on team work that serves as true example of greatness, so thank you from everyone here at NASA.” The unnamed Astronaut said in his closing. Stan Lee wanted to know why NASA hasn’t offered him a free ride.
Michael Uslan, who has produced every Batman film from Tim Burton’s gothic classics to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, opened the night with a touching tribute. Stanley Lee said that he really admired Michael Uslan and said “I will never know how he did it, he is connected with DC Comics, first thing, he can still stay on the stage, (laughter). He talked the people at DC to do a series of books called “What if Stan Lee had created Superman” I don’t know why they did it and if he asked me to what if Bob Kane had created any of our things I would booted him off the stage. He got them to do is and of course, they were great!
Michael Uslan said “I met you when he was 11 years old and in June 1989 at the world premiere of our first batman movie. Every major star in Hollywood was there and I could have cared less because I got to hang out with you and Bob Kane, and you two started to raz each other and you said ‘you know Bob if I had been the writer of the new Batman I would have made a success out of it’, and Bob Kane jumped in and said ‘you know Stan, Jack Kirby told me that in the old days he used to jump on the furniture and do all these dramatic poses to show you what he wanted drawn and if I was the artist in that crazy room I could have made a big hit out of The Fantastic Four’. I was standing there and I thought, OMG Stan Lee creating Batman, what would that have been like, like bringing Henry Ford over to GM for parts.”
Michael Uslan went on to read a letter he spent to Stan Lee for Lee’s 90th birthday. He said it is more relevant today than it was five years ago. (Stan Lee will be 95 years young on December 28th).
“Stan, I became a Marvelite with Fantastic Four and Hulk No. 1’s. By the themes you incorporated in your superhero works, I grew up confident not only that good will ultimately triumph over evil, but that teamwork will lead to success, that belief in myself will be the path to achieve my goals. That if I lived by the ethics and morals modeled for me by your superheroes, I could be as good and upright a person as Spider-Man or Thor or the others. For that Stan, and speaking for an entire generation of readers I owe you a big thanks in a way that merely matches my thanks to my parents and teachers who tried to convey the same concepts to me only they could do so in such an entertaining and effect way as you did with your comic book stories. On behalf of every generation of comic book readers, I thank you, not only for entertaining us, but also for inspiring us to be the best that we could be. Congratulations to the most successful man I’ve ever known” Thunderous applause and a big hug for both Mr. Lee and Mr. Uslan. It was a fantastic and well-written tribute to Mr. Stan Lee.
Lee said “He is a DC man, but I have to be nice to him, thank you for being here”
“The only thing I used to say is write things that you would want to read, because if you try to write things they want to read, you don’t know them, but your know you, yourself, and if you write something you would want to read there must be other people who are like you, so what I did is try to write stories that I would like to read. Somehow or another it worked and here I am.” Stan Lee said during the night.
Incredible Hulk star Lou Ferrigno gave Lee a big hug and flexed for the audience in his Hulk persona. “Thank you for coming, we’ve got the pint size, the best comic book writer, the best friend, the best creator, 94 year old, still here, God Bless him.
This is when the mic problem started with Lou Ferrigno. Hardwick said “don’t get angry!” Laughter.
“Before I say anything, I want to say I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for Stan because in 1961 in elementary school I would put my comic book in my text-book in the back of the room so I could read my comic. The teacher said something was wrong with Lou because I would be making a Hulk sound and this worried the teacher. Forty years later and look at us both now.
Lee told Ferrigno that he hoped he didn’t hurt him when he squeezed him earlier.
As the night began to move on with more videos and onstage guest there was a technical problem with the microphones attached to the guests’ clothing as they went in and out, causing several folks to scramble onto the stage in a humorous attempts to fix the mics. It all started with Lou Ferrigno.
The sold-out audience roared with laughter as Lee and Hardwick mimed frustration with throwing their arms up and pretending they were talking into a mic. The somewhat annoying sound was working backstage microphone that picked up several whispering voices while the guest of honor and host remained muted. That truly was unfortunate for the audience.
It became a comical situation between Lee and Hardwick as they tried to deal with the non working microphones. At one point, Lee asked Hardwick to go get some hand-held microphones for everyone and Hardwick disappeared off the stage and returned with the old-fashioned hand-held microphone and it didn’t work at first and what comedic frustration Hardwick showed. You just had to have been there to appreciate it all!
One of the many comedic moments between Lee and Hardwick was when Lee bent down to tie his shoe and Hardwick jumped out of his seat and said “You want me to get that? It would be an honor to tie your shoe.” Lee accepted his offer and said, “If I fall, it’ll be expensive, because I’ll sue everyone here.” What a night of comedy.
Another issue Lee spoke about was his issue with being able to hear what was being said on stage by the in person guest and especially the video clips. He would lean closer to Hardwick several times to have him interpret questions and video footage. But despite his hearing issues, Lee was sharp and energetic as those in attendance.
Tom Bergeron (Dancing with the Stars) asked Lee of his created character, who among those characters would you most have been? Lee said “Iron Man, he is incredibly rich, incredibly handsome, the women love him, so Iron Man is the perfect guy to be. Even without his iron.” Bergeron said “you are there already, aren’t you, come on, you are incredibly rich, women love you, what else can you ask for? Lee responded with “I’m not incredibly rich and I bet there are some women somewhere who don’t love me, I’ve never met one yet!”
Bergeron told a story about him in the 60s with comic books and be part of those who get to say thank you for all the incredible things that Stan Lee has done. Like a nerd becoming Spiderman and all the adventures. Lee said “just find a spider!”
Former Amazing Spider-Man artist Todd McFarlane flew in from Arizona to share his earliest experience with Lee. “When I was a kid, we traveled from Canada to Florida for a baseball tournament. I remember seeing a sign in the hotel lobby that read, ‘Comic Convention.’
He asked his mom if he could go check out the comic convention and went down the hall and found Stan signing at a booth. He asked if he could talk to him about his work and Stan pulled up a chair for him. He spent the next two days sitting beside him and learning about the business.
Later in his career, McFarlane — who went on to create Spawn and co-found Image Comics, relied on Lee’s support for his creative choices.
“When I got Spider-man, I didn’t want to replicate past stories or art. I took the early Lee/ Ditko images and tried to give the costume and webbing a hip 1990s look. The fans responded to it, which was great, but the executives had a heart attack when I first presented it. Luckily, Stan was in my corner,” he said.
Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2) said she met Stan Lee on set when he was there to do his cameo and she was very nervous to have met him. Lee said “being met by this young lady is worth the thrill!” “Of course when I come to do a cameo, it obviously the most rewarding thing happening that day. Everybody gets all excited, which is natural, but if it allows me to meet young ladies like you, it’s sure worth it.: (Laughter and applause). Hardwick asked Pom Klementieff who is her favorite character in the Marvel Universe and she replied “I love the Hulk.” Stan Lee asked her “why is Hulk your favorite character? Of course more mic problems and she finally got a working mic and said “I think it is my fantasy to just burst into (she did a Hulk type of yell), like a bear. Lee said “you never know, you go walking down the street and say wow, that is a great looking gal, and you start talking to her and she is polite and you say ‘tell me something about you’ and she looks at me and goes ‘roar’ that would be awkward.
She talked about her role of mantis and how it came about different about the comic one.
Next up was Guardians of the Galaxy’s Michael Rooker (Yondu). Lee told Rooker to have a seat and not to be cleverer than me. He talked about meeting Lee at a convention and wondering what Lee was doing right. It’s all about the fans, Rooker said and Lee said “don’t give them too much power.
There are some Rooker fans out there. Everyone with a Mohawk stand up, and there were several audience members who stood up. Red Mohawks! Men and women alike. Lee’s comment was “All these kids getting Mohawks and tattoos, what’s the world coming to?”
Rooker said “Chicago was kind of a concrete prison for me…the comics were my escape, but reading wasn’t my fine point. The combination of visuals and words helped keep me interested and I became a better reader because of comics.” Rooker was interviewed about Stan Lee and they asked him what it was like to meet Stan Lee for the first time. He told them “when I met Stan Lee for the first time, you where one of the only people, besides James Gunn that made sure that I was in my place.
Hardwick said “it is a very hard thing to do, keep you in your place. I feel bad because I have to do it right now, because we still have a lot more show left Michael Rooker.” Does that mean we have to go, Rooker said and Hardwick said, “yeah we got to go man. Rooker responded with “I got no more time guys, I hope you enjoy my appearance tonight.”
Stan Lee said “this is one of the nicest guys in show business, one of the most talented and even though he acts like a jerk, looks like a clown, he is a great man!” laughter and huge applause.
Actor-musician RZA read a powerful excerpt from a 1968 edition of “Stan’s Soapbox,” his regular column in Marvel Comics, in which he denounced hatred. Read aloud Tuesday night, Lee’s powerful stance against bigotry and hatred rang as true today as it did during the Civil Rights movement. RZA and Lee shared an emotional exchange afterward that struck a chord with the audience.
Stan Lee was asked if he had any advice for a young cameo actor, his response was “first thing you have to do is get a good mic!” of course having mic problems when he first tried to answer the question. “You have to throw away all your previous scenes, you have to get to how you are, and you suddenly become a different person, in a different world, you’re in a cameo world, a world where a few seconds could be like an eternity, substance to your life and it’s so deep, I can’t tell you on the stage, but if any of you want to come to my office, I can see what I can do without having to send you to a sanitarium, I don’t know if you want to do cameos!”
The night ended, to no one’s surprise, with a vibrant “Excelsior!” from Lee and his audience.
Consider yourself lucky if you got to be there in person, it truly was an excellent and moving tribute to this man who has brought so much entertainment to us all through comic books and now top rated movies of his characters that have come to life right in front of our eyes on the big screen.
I truly enjoyed how each guest that night told of how comic books inspired them and the stories of their first Marvel comics. I myself was five years old when my parents purchased a small grocery store in Ontario, California and at around age 9 in 1969 we got our first spiral spinning white comic book racks so we could sell comics and I was hooked. My parents lost some profit on those comic books I took to read over and over again and the enjoyed the Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange, Spiderman and Iron Man. Boy if my parents had not thrown away all my fresh still in the plastic comic books, where would I be today!
The legendary writer spent the hour before the show speaking with fans and three Make-A-Wish attendees.
Event partners included fundraising platform Omaze, Make-A-Wish®, FILA, Society 6, Disney Home Entertainment, Marvel Studios, Marvel-themed Entertainment, Sara Lee, Randolph Engineering, White Castle, Love Bites Pastry by Val, Shaka’s Sunglasses, Panavision, and It’s a Keen Impression Cake Studio. FILA’s original Fitness x Stan Lee was designed to pay homage to signature elements of Mr. Lee’s personal style and characters from the Marvel universe. Only two pairs of the FILA x Stan Lee shoes were made, including one for Mr. Lee himself and one for the event’s Omaze winner in support of Make-A-Wish®.
About Stan Lee
Stanley Martin Lieber, popularly known as Stan Lee, is an American comic book writer, editor, publisher, media producer, television host, actor, and voice actor. He started out his career working as an office boy for the Marvel Comics––which meant fetching lunch, proof reading and refilling artist’s ink jars, eventually proving his creative talent, escalated from the position of interim editor to the president of the entire company. He is known for creating superheroes like ‘Spider-Man’, ‘The Hulk’, ‘X-men’, ‘Iron Man’, ‘Thor’, ‘Doctor Strange’, etc. and gained nationwide popularity when he created the superhero series ‘The Fantastic Four’ in which he made his superheroes imperfect rather than selling the idea of a perfectly capable superhero. He created these superheroes in collaboration with his colleagues, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. He is said to have brought in revolution in the comic world through his satirical writing and bringing in the elements of the real world into the world of these superheroes, which is how he used to make these superheroes viable and responsible. It was Lee who made Marvel Comics a multimedia corporation from just a small division of a publishing house. Apart from creating superheroes and writing story plots for the comics, he also wrote weekly columns and produced many superhero based ventures through his production company.
He was inducted into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995. Lee received a National Medal of Arts in 2008.
The Stan Lee Foundation was founded in 2010 to focus on literacy, education, and the arts. Its stated goals include supporting programs and ideas that improve access to literacy resources, as well as promoting diversity, national literacy, culture and the arts.
Stan Lee has donated portions of his personal effects to the University of Wyoming at various times, between 1981 and 2001
Lee is a fan of Bruce Lee films and follows writers like Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, etc.
Lee has appeared in movies based on Marvel characters like, ‘X-Men’, ‘Iron Man’, ‘Iron Man 2’, ‘Fantastic Four’, ‘Spider-Man’, ‘Spider-Man 2’, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, ‘Captain America’, ‘Thor’, ‘The Avengers’, ‘Daredevil’, etc.
Lee first started using the pseudonym “Stan Lee”, which years later he adopted as his legal name.
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