The Coastal Star

Along the Avenues: 30 years ago, ‘Body Heat’ sizzled with scenes from Lake Worth


By Thom Smith


“You’re not very smart, are you?  . . . I like that in a man.”
That’s the appraisal Kathleen Turner made of William Hurt in Body Heat. Hard to believe the film that made Lake Worth famous was released 30 years ago.
Actually, the movie, which ignited the careers of several stars, was shot in November and December of 1980, with little fanfare. The Palm Beach Post ran a brief note about casting for 400 extras and a few weeks later added a photograph of writer/director Lawrence Kasdan.
The movie may have sizzled, but the weather didn’t. Victoria Preuss of West Palm Beach (and a copy editor for The Coastal Star) then lived in Hollywood and was an extra in that supposedly steamy beach scene that actually was shot 50 miles south at a band shell on Hollywood Beach.
“Though it was supposed to be a heat wave, it was in fact quite cold out,” Preuss recalled. “All the extras had sweaters and jackets, which we had to push down out of sight in the seats whenever the camera rolled. And Kathleen Turner was getting spritzed to look like she was perspiring. Filming went on overnight and during breaks I got hot tea from a Chinese food shop that stayed open for the business.
“I spent the 20 bucks or so I got in my Central Casting paycheck on cough medicine, as I recall. Still, it was kind of a hoot.”
Then-Mayor Dennis Dorsey was in his heyday  — utilities were cheap, the city was growing — but at the time the movie wasn’t that big a deal to him.
“The producers went to the city manager and asked what they had to do,” Dorsey recalled. “The City Commission said it would be fine as long as filming didn’t disturb the city and affect its ability to do business. But I didn’t get involved, other than to approve the applications.”
A vacant store at the corner of Lucerne and Dixie was converted into Stella’s Diner and a vacant lot across the street became a used car lot that caused some confusion for one commissioner until Dorsey reminded him about the film. The company used the now-demolished Scotia Plantation in Hypoluxo for exteriors and some sexy scenes between Hurt and Turner.
Too bad the company filmed under the radar. Kasdan had written The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Body Heat was his first shot at directing. Remember The Big Chill? That was his. Silverado, Grand Canyon, French Kiss. Out next year, Darling Companion, starring Kevin Kline and Diane Keaton.
The only star with any name recognition was Richard Crenna, whose lengthy résumé of film and TV work was topped by the The Real McCoys.
Known mostly for his work in theater, Hurt had won good notices for Altered States. Turner had been a regular on The Doctors. The movie also kicked off the careers of Mickey Rourke and the tap-dancing prosecutor — another ex-Doctors cast member  — Ted Danson. A year later he would debut in a sitcom called Cheers.
A couple of other notes: Kim Zimmer, the actress who played Turner’s lookalike friend Mary Ann in the movie, actually replaced her on The Doctors; Danson actually does like to tap dance; and Body Heat’s executive producer, although uncredited, was George Lucas
Dorsey, since retired from his funeral home business but still dabbling in politics, later moved to Hypoluxo, just a couple of blocks from Scotia Plantation and remembers it being overgrown and full of raccoons: “They were ferocious. Go down that street and they’d come charging at you.”
Two city commissioners were hired as extras — Ron Exline and Mark Foley. Exline, who later served as mayor, is a businessman holding a valise as Hurt walks by. Foley eats a burger at “Stella’s” counter.
“The city agreed to the movie in hopes of getting favorable publicity. We thought  it would be a murder mystery, Exline said. “Actually, I was told by a member of the crew that they rented a mansion down in Delray and there were some shenanigans down there. Darn it, I didn’t get into any of those. “
He also said Lake Worth was a second choice, that a New Jersey site was scratched because of a labor dispute. But it’s entirely possible that Kasdan knew exactly what he wanted. After all, he was born in Miami.
Exline, no relation to Jim Exline, the convicted West Palm Beach city commissioner, now calls himself a retired politician, and wishes he knew then what he knows now. But he isn’t complaining: “It’s one of the high points of my career, but I am still waiting for my first royalty check.”
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On those same sidewalks where movie stars once walked (Paul Newman a few years later in Harry & Son), the Downtown Cultural Alliance will hold its first Second Saturday Sidewalk Sale on Sept. 10. Bring a card table filled with treasures to support one of the largest yard sales in the region.
The monthly bazaar will range from Dixie Highway to Federal Highway along the curbs of Lake and Lucerne avenues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. City residents pay $10 per table, non-residents $15. Call 561-533-5272.
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11/11/11. The folks who ran Callaro’s in Manalapan hope that’s their lucky day — the opening of their new restaurant in Lake Worth. Sources confirm that they have a verbal agreement to take over the site that had been occupied since Body Heat days by L’Anjou, with an option to buy.
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Fans also are hungry for the reopening of John G’s, but they’ll have to wait a bit longer. Forced to leave their home of 37 years on Lake Worth Beach when the city began restoration of the Casino, the Giragos family quickly found a new space — the former Collaro’s in Plaza Del Mar.
The new kitchen is in, the old wooden benches are anchored, the old light fixtures hang from the ceiling, and mementoes from the old restaurant are scattered about. But plans for an August opening have been pushed back a few weeks.
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Chris Evert thought she was going to have old rival Steffi Graf on the court with her this coming November at the 2011 Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic in Delray Beach. But not to worry, she’s lined up plenty of other stars.
Thus far the list includes a healthy list of TV and film stars including Elisabeth Shue (Oscar nominee for Leaving Las Vegas), Christian Slater (“Oz” in TV’s Breaking In), Scott Foley (Grey’s Anatomy, Cougar Town), Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) and NBC’s Hoda Kotb, who’ll no doubt grab some cuddle time with new boyfriend, Boca Raton attorney Jay Blumenkopf.
The 22nd annual event is set for Nov. 11-13, with the celebrity gala on Nov. 12 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. More at www.chrisevert.org.
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Down in Delray Beach, David Manero has his second Burger Fi up and running on A1A. Patrons describe the fare as a “more affordable version of the burgers at The Office,” David’s more upscale spot a few blocks to the west.
… And just to the north on Second Avenue, in a town I thought had just about every kind of bar except a strip club, the first gay bar in years is open. Tag Bar replaces Paul’s Place Piano Bar, because Paul Mullen, the piano player, took a cruise ship job. Brother Kevin Mullen bought out Paul and changed the tune.
Actually, says Kevin Mullen, Tag Bar welcomes everyone, but will be gay-themed with live entertainment, karaoke nights and even drag queen bingo.
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Boynton’s new $300,000 amphitheater is open. Situated just east of the Schoolhouse Children’s Museum and Learning Center, it features a 1,200-square-foot stage and can accommodate 500 guests in lawn chairs.  The first scheduled even is a downtown open market on Oct. 16 with local arts and crafts, vintage goods and gourmet food.
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We still don’t know who bought his oceanfront Manalapan estate, but boxing promoter Don King is still hanging around. Don didn’t say where he’s living when he stopped for lunch at Scully’s in Boynton Beach, but when asked what happened to the oceanside small-scale Statue of Liberty on his lawn, the old softy told owner Kevin Scully he took it with him.
“I couldn’t leave Lady Liberty behind,” he confessed.
                                      
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Taste of Tuscany. It’s scheduled for Oct. 2, but you’d better make your reservations now for a special dinner being whipped up by Four Seasons Palm Beach Executive Chef Darryl Moiles. The occasion is a celebration of wines by Antinori, legendary Italian producer since the 14th century. Moiles’ 21st century four-course menu is $125 and includes a sampling reception. Call 533-3750.
                                      
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Tastemakers of Boca … is set for Sept. 13 and 14. The third annual event will feature progressive tastings and cocktails at 11 Mizner Park restaurants. A VIP ticket ($30) is good for one sampling plate and one drink at each spot, including Max’s Grille, Racks, Uncle Julio’s, The Dubliner and Mizner’s newest, Kapow! Noodle Bar. The ticket also includes specials offered at each of the restaurants through Oct. 31. For info, go to www.ggp.com.
                                      
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Taking civic duty to a new level. Office holders worthy of election should be able to take a few shots, but can they pour a decent one? On Sept. 21 the mayors of south county’s big three — Boynton’s Jose Rodriguez, Delray’s Woodie McDuffie and Boca’s Susan Whelchel — will test their skills as guest bartenders at Bru’s Room in Delray. The first “Mayors Throwdown for the Arts,” a benefit for Delray’s Plumosa School of the Arts, goes from 5 to 7 p.m. Tips and a percentage of the take will go toward a bus to transport students for field trips and performances.

Thom Smith is a freelance writer. Contact him at thomsmith@ymail.com.

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