Originally Published February 17, 2010.

The year was 1987. I was six years old. There was a movie being filmed in town, and they needed antique cars. My Dad and Granddad both had Model Ts, so they were loaning them to the producers for the movie.

And, it happened to be my lucky day that they needed some children as fillers in one of the scenes. So Dad took me along for the fun.

I was beyond thrilled. I was going to be a Movie Star!! We arrived, and they whisked me off to wardrobe.


They dressed me in period clothing and gave me a baby doll to carry. Besides the fact that I was MUCH too old to be carrying around a baby doll, it was the ugliest baby doll I’d ever seen.

I hated that doll.

The scene was a carnival, so besides the fact that I was going to be a MOVIE STAR, I got to ride carnival rides – for free!!

Never had there been a better day in my six years.

Except for that stupid doll, of course.

I was assigned to sit on the Merry-Go-Round. I excitedly took my post and started my circular movement.

I went around…and around…and around. I kept thinking that surely I’d get to move on to the Ferris Wheel soon, but no. I sat, spinning endlessly with only my stupid doll to keep me company. For hours.

By the time I was told I could get off, I had sworn off Merry-Go-Rounds for the rest of my life. Or for the day at least.

I was a smart one, though. I “accidentally” forgot my baby doll on the Merry-Go-Round. After all, she was ugly.

My new assignment was to walk around the carnival with my Granddad. Five minutes into my walk, a producer comes running up to me with that awful doll.

“Excuse me, miss – I think you left this on the Merry-Go-Round.”

I was so aggravated and confused as to how they had known it was MY doll. Why couldn’t they have given it to some other little girl?

But I dutifully carried her for the rest of the shoot. Stupid Doll.

After the shoot, my Dad took me to the producer’s office, where I was paid a whopping $70 for my outstanding talent.

(For years I wondered if Dad had staged that whole thing and if HE had actually paid me, but Dad reassures me that I was actually paid for my role.)

Dad immediately took me to the bank and helped me set up a savings account to store my fortune, where it stayed for many years.

When the movie was completed the next year, I received a beautiful invitation to the Premier at The Alabama Theatre.

I couldn’t wait to go see my soon-to-be-famous face!!

Except for one small detail. It was rated R. And I was six.

My DEBUT MOVIE was rated R! I couldn’t even see my infamous performance!! That day, I came to terms with the fact that the world was a very unfair place.

My parents went to the premier, as did a few other people we knew. They told me that the movie itself was horrible, but that I did wonderfully, and that there was a close-up shot of me that EVERYONE saw.

I believed them and reveled in my fame.

Twenty-Two years later, it all of a sudden dawned on me that I was now old enough to see my star-studded performance.

But … I didn’t remember the name of the movie.

I asked Mom about it.

“Oh – you don’t want to see that! It’s a horribly low-budget and violent movie about a gangster dying of Syphilis!!”

“But I do! I was in it!”

“Well, I don’t remember the name of it either. I’ll find out for you, though.”

She went through her Shrine Of Rachel Celebration Box of her Favorite Daughter Folder of my childhood junk and found the invitation. 0212012 copy


Verne Miller.

Verne Miller

I immediately loved the subtitle. How classy can you be if you’re dying of Syphilis?

I tried to NetFlix it. NetFlix laughed at me.

Blockbuster? No record of such a movie.

Amazon – Found it. Sorta. With some qualifications:

  • It apparently was never made into DVD, so if I wanted it, I was going to have to lug out our VHS player to see it.
  • Nobody sells it new. It is as discontinued as it could possibly be. The only copies available are well-used former rentals, but very cheap, at least.

So I ordered it. A $5 investment in the excitement of seeing my debut into celebritydom.

A few minutes into the movie, I recognized the rolling hills from driving by them when we went to the movie set. Then the car turned, and sure enough, he was headed to a carnival:IMG_7701A much smaller carnival than I remembered, but a carnival scene nonetheless.

The scene lasted MAYBE two minutes, and I saw zero traces of myself.


Okay…calm down. Maybe he comes back to the carnival.

Sure enough, nearing the end of the movie, he returns to the carnival. This time, it’s about one minute long.


How could this be true?!!?!?

After the movie was over (which wasn’t as horrible as we expected – I guess my Mom helped out by completely trashing our expectations), I agonizingly-VHS-slow-re-winded it back to the original carnival scene to study every character, and then, although skeptical at first, became pretty convinced that I found myself.

IMG_7703 copy
There I am, on the Merry-Go-Round, right behind the amazing Star of the Movie, Scott Glenn.

(Don’t ask me who he is. I have no idea.)

My screen time added up to about one fifth of a second. Surely that will earn me my Screen Actor’s Guild membership.

Later, I went back and scoured the second carnival scene and managed to find myself again, this time on my second assignment of walking through the carnival with my Granddad.

Although my screen time was longer, it only featured my backside.IMG_7743

(I don’t know who the woman was, but she was most definitely NOT my Grandmother.)

And then we were seen again from the Police’s point of view when they’re coming into the scene, still backsides only:

IMG_7753Luckily, my Grandfather was a very recognizable figure – I’m not sure I would have even been convinced that I was a girl, much less me in these shots.

Since I know you’re dying to see my amazing acting skills, here’s the first excerpt. Watch very carefully over Verne’s shoulder as the brown arm retracts, and whatever you do, DON’T BLINK.

I know. I’m amazing. I’m expecting a call any day now from James Cameron asking me to star in the Avatar sequel.

16 thoughts on “Rachel, Child Not-So-Star.

    1. Good point – VERY good point.

      …Except that I rode that merry-go-round endlessly for at least 3.5 days to create that 1/5 of a second.

  1. Several years ago, our family was called to be extras in a movie being filmed in Birmingham. We went to the state fair ground and rode a ferris wheel for 3 hours. Why? It was a “reflection” in a car window while the main characters were talking in the car…..

    We did get to ride a lot of rides with the stars too, but I don’t know if any of it made the movie. I’ve never seen it:-)

  2. I used to do a lot of extra work… it was basically boring. A lot of waiting, and standing around. Except for the time that one of the stars of Dawson’s Creek (give me a break, I was nineteen) stripped down to his boxers repeatedly right in front of me for repeated costume changes; that was kind of interesting.

  3. I was an extra in a local movie while I was in college a few years ago. I filled a chair in a coffee house poetry reading scene. There is a lovely shot of the back of my head. I did not get paid. They filled our coffee/tea cups with watered-down soda. We could pretend to sip it, but they didn’t want us to actually drink it, so that the level of liquid wouldn’t change between takes. “How You Look to Me” is also rated R, for some completely unneccessary sex scenes.

    1. As a person who cares VERY much about continuity, I really appreciate their efforts of not letting you drink it. I get so frustrated when two characters are talking and it flashes back and forth between their faces, and the girl’s hair keeps going from behind to in front of her ear. It ruins the magic of the moment completely.

  4. Scott Glenn played astronaut Alan Shephard in the movie The Right Stuff, one of my favorite movies and really huge at the time. Made in 1983, at first I couldnt figure out why you never heard of him and then I realized how young you are and how old I am.

  5. When I was in college many of the RA’s I worked with (all the boys) were extras in Starship Troopers since it was filmed in the middle of nowhere near our college. Our college is considered nowhere, so the middle of nowhere was to the west of town. :) If you watch the battle scenes, one of the cute ones (blond, blue eyed…), gets killed rather gruesomely. We all cheered when we watched it together. I hope we were cheering because we saw him, not because he died.

  6. What I learned from that whole “adventure” was that if you like movies or sausage, you really don’t want to see how either of them are made! The Model T was in a movie about baseball filmed at Rickwood Field. That time I dropped it off and picked it up after they finished shooting.

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