It was a sunny day in Century City. I was there at the headquarters of the famous law firm O’Melveny & Myers to interview Warren Christopher for my documentary “Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.” Warren Christopher is the former Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, and a man who has dedicated his life to service. Warren Christopher knew Johnny Myers for many years. They both were members of the Sunset Club and both had worked for O’Melveny & Myers. Warren told me some great stories about Johnny Myers. Warren felt that Johnny Myers represented the Walter Mitty in every attorney because he lived such an adventurous life, even though he started as an attorney. Warren told me the history of the O’Melveny and Myers law firm. He told me about how Johnny Myers’ father was Supreme Court Justice in California who went partners with O’Melveny to create one of the nation’s most successful and prestigious law firms. Warren Christopher told me the story about how John Myers became the nation’s first entertainment attorney, representing many famous Hollywood actors including George Murphy and Bing Crosby. He talked about how Johnny’s passion for flying led him to become the Chief Test Pilot for Lockheed, then going over to Northrop for the P-61 and the Flying Wing. Johnny Myers was one of the only test pilots who worked for both Lockheed and Northrop at the same time. Warren talked about how he and Johnny Myers enjoyed great friendship and experiences as members of the Sunset Club. He talked about how Johnny Myers had such a contagious laugh. In the later years, Johnny Myers would still come by the office sometimes. One time John Myers did a slideshow of his flying exploits for the O’Melveny & Myers team. Warren talked about how even today new hire attorneys are told about the history of the firm, about the two founders and their values and integrity, and also about the fun and exciting adventures of Johnny Myers. Warren talked about the courage and character of his friend John Myers. Warren talked about how John Myers was a man with strong values, like his father. Warren talked about the sense of humor or John Myers. He told the story about John Myers was flying once with this very heavy set lawyer and they were flying from the East Coast to the West Coast. Evidently the plane was having trouble making it over the Rocky Mountains with such a heavy load, so John Myers dropped off the lawyer and had him take a train or bus to the other side of the Rockies where he picked him up and on they went on their journey. I really enjoyed meeting Warren Christopher and appreciate him taking the time to talk about John Myers.
People we have interviewed for this documentary include:
Here is former Secretary of State Warren Christopher talking about his friend, Johnny Myers:
Peter Allen talks about his good friend John Myers
Peter Allen -- Part Two
Carroll Shelby talks about Johnny Myers ("The Flying Man")
Tom Jones Remembers his Friend Johnny Myers
I drove up the windy road up to the top of the hill looking over Beverly Hills and to all of LA, to the home of John Gavin. I was there to interview John Gavin for my documentary “Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.” John Gavin was a successful actor in Hollywood during the 50s and 60s, in movies like “Psycho” for Alfred Hitchcock. He also was a successful businessman and then became the Ambassador to Mexico under Ronald Reagan. John was also a good friend of Johnny Myers for over 25 years. John likes to be called “Jack” Gavin. We sat together as I recorded on video his memories of his friendship with Johnny Myers. I could tell that Jack Gavin stilled misses Johnny Myers. Jack talked about how he met John Myers at the Sunset Club. Jack talked about the good times he had with Johnny Myers. He talked about their times at the Los Angeles Country Club and at the Bohemian Grove outings. Jack Gavin talked about John Myers the man. He told me that Johnny Myers was a wise man, a humble man, a man whom he admired very much. Jack talked about flying with Johnny Myers. He told a story about how Johnny Myers could do rolls with the aircraft without anyone ever spilling their drinks. He talked about the character of John Myers. Jack talked about Lucia Myers and how she was the first woman on the Bank of America Board of Directors. Jack talked about Johnny Myers’ sense of humor and how he used to call himself “skinhead” because of his balding hairline. Jack Gavin said it must have been contagious, pointing to his own hairline with a smile. Jack was very nice in our interview and he did a great job in describing many excellent stories about John Myers. He talked about the great aviation stories that Johnny Myers would tell, only if asked. He said that Myers wasn’t the type of person who talked about the past unless you dragged it out of him. Jack Gavin talked about how kind Johnny Myers was to everyone and how he had great courage. Not the kind of courage one brags about. The humble kind of courage. I could tell that Jack Gavin had many fond memories of his experiences with John Myers. Thanks, Jack Gavin, for taking the time to talk about your friend, Johnny Myers.
It was a beautiful day in Santa Monica. I was there to interview David Price for my documentary “Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.” David Price is a very nice guy. I could tell that immediately. He came from very humble beginnings to become a very successful businessman, aviator, and spiritual inspiration to many people. David Price is the CEO of American Airports, the largest developer and operator of airports in the country. He was the founder of American Golf Corp which managed over 300 golf courses. He also is the founder of a Christian school and the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica. During our interview, David was awesome. He showed me some airplane models all over his office. These were models of all the different planes he has flown. David’s eyes lit up when talking about each plane. As we toured his office, David showed me his diploma certificate when he graduated from UCLA law school, pictures of his time as an attorney for O’Melveny & Myers, and he was very proud of a bell from the USS Arizona from Pearl Harbor. As we sat down for the interview David reminisced about his friend John Myers. I couldn’t get the camera started fast enough. David was moved by him memories. We talked a bit about his own life. David really is a self-made man. He came from humble beginnings. He is the son of Welsh immigrants but did go to college studying economics at USC and then went to law school at UCLA. He was a US Navy pilot during the early 1950s. He missed the Korean War, but clocked in lots of flying time as flight instructor. He talked about his childhood in the Santa Monica area where Lockheed was building airplanes for the war. He remembered seeing all the pilots in their flight suits. This was where he probably got the bug for aviation. He remembered all the cool interesting airplanes he saw in his youth. David talked about his first solo flight in an airplane. That is a moment that most pilots will never forget. David talked about his love for airplanes, especially those planes from WWII. He owns a few now and tries to fly as much as possible. He talked about his flying in the Reno Air Races and about the tremendous friends he has met through aviation, including his friend General Bill Anders. I asked David to talk about those days at O’Melveny & Myers, his first law firm experience. He talked about the incredible fundamental values he learned from those days. He said they were very professional, efficient, and extremely dedicated to honest day work ethic. Over the years David enjoyed working with many of the Hollywood celebrities who were clients of O’Melveny & Meyers. He told stories about working with movie stars like Marlon Brando and Bing Crosby. He talked about working with actor William Holden and negotiating the pay for his role in “Bridge Over the River Kwai.” David told about his blessings to have met and learned from some wonderful mentors over the years. He talked about a turning point in his life when he met Joseph Drown, a local businessman and real estate investor. He quit the law firm and went to work with Drown, which led him to leadership positions in several businesses like Getty Financial Corp, Beachcomber restaurants and the Bel Air Hotel. Then David went into the Golf business and the rest is history. During our interview, it was very interesting to me how David Price could recite Shakespeare and quotes from the Bible. We talked about John Myers and his being such a great friend to so many. We talked about how John Myers had so many friends that did not know each other. I mentioned this might be the best legacy a man could have, to have touched so many in so many different ways. David told me how he got to know John initially through John’s wife Lucia. Lucia was a remarkable woman in her own right. She was on the Board of Directors of Bank America for a long time. David talked about times with John Myers at the Sunset Club and at Bohemian Grove and at the LA Country Club. He talked about flying with John in his helicopter in Merced and about thier common love for aviation. I was very touched by my interview with David Price. He is a nice guy. He is a true lover of aviation. David Price a self-made man who reads the Bible, can recite Shakespeare, and loves to race WWII airplanes for fun.
It was a warm day in Brentwood. I was driving to meet Peter Mullin, CEO of MullinTBG, to interview him for my documentary “Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.” Peter is a great guy. He is a car lover. My dad was a car lover and I think I am a car lover, too. I saw a show on the SPEED channel last year that showed Peter Mullin and his car collection. Peter has one of the world’s greatest collections of French classic automobiles. From Bugatis to Delahayes, Peter has one. He is also a great race driver himself. Trophies and ribbons and placques are everywhere. Peter is a successful businessman, but I could tell the race car trophies mean a lot. Peter did an excellent job in the interview. We discussed his friendship with Johnny Myers. Peter talked about John’s integrity and his love for automobiles. He said that John used to come over and look under the hood of these incredible cars. Peter talked about the incredible character in the man John Myers. He said that he was a rare man indeed. I really enjoyed my time with Peter Mullin. He seemed like a good man. It is interesting to me how so many of the successful business people I am meeting all have a similar focus on the importance of values and character and integrity. I told Peter about how much my Dad loved Model A Fords and had restored many. Peter said, “they were a great car.” As I looked around at the incredible high end French classic cars, I thought how Model As would compete against such beauty and grace. Peter talked about how the French auto makers used aviation design to enhance the aerodynamics of these French automobiles so many years ago. As you look at the smooth lines of these cars you can see a lot of aviation in those cars. Maybe John Myers could see that too.
You can see a nice inteview with Peter from the SPEED channel by clicking here:
It was a little bit smokey over in Pasadena this afternoon. There was a 120,000 acre fire up in the foothills. But it was pretty nice down in Pasadena. I was there to interview H. Russell Smith, former CEO of Avery Dennison and good friend of Johnny Myers for over 75 years. Russ had agreed to be interviewed for my new documentary “Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.” Russ was originally from Ohio and his family settled into the Whittier area in the 1920s. Russ had some great stories about his youth and his family history. His family were Quaker farmers who raised Russ with tremendous values and integrity. Russ went to high school with Richard Nixon. Russ always had interest in economics and political science so he won a scholarship to Pomona College where he was the captain of the track team. After college Russ went to work for Kidder Peabody investment banking in New York City. This was in the middle of the Great Depression. He spent a year working in Switzerland during the late 1930s. Upon returning to the US, he worked for a year with Blue Diamond until the war started. He served in the US Navy during WWII. After the war he took a leadership role in Avery Adhesives (later Avery Dennison) where he rose to CEO. He first met John Myers through John’s lovely wife Lucia. Over the years John Myers and Russ Smith became close friends. They were in a lot of clubs together including the California Club and the very exclusive Sunset Club. Russ told me some great stories about his friendship with John Myers, including some of his fun flying adventures together. Russ talked about Lucia Myers and her terrific personality and wisdom. Russ did a fantastic interview and I really appreciate having the opportunity to meet him. Russ talked about how John Myers was a handshake type of man. I could see that Russ Smith was that type of man, too. Russ and I talked about family history and biography. He showed me two books he had written, one about his life and one about the letters he wrote to his mother throughout his life. Russ signed his autobiography book and gave it to me. I am grateful for his generosity. As I started reading his book I learned how many charities and important causes that Russ has helped over the years and the list is long. Pomona College. Childrens Hospital. Philharmonic. Psoriasis Research. The list goes on. Russ is an inspiring man in many ways.
It was a warm day in Southern California. The news had headlines about the terrible fires all across the hilltops of the Ranchos Palos Verdes area where I was headed and I didn’t know what to expect. Luckily the fires had been mostly put out and the actual fires were about two miles over the hill from where I was going. I was there to interview Roy Wolford, the official photographer for Northrop during those incredible test pilot years when Johnny Myers was risking his life on first flights. Roy had worked over 60 years for Northrop. Hard to believe these days that anyone could work one place for so long. Over the years Roy had worn many hats in many departments. He was the first photographer for Jack Northrop when he was pioneering the Black Widow and Flying Wing technologies. Eventually Roy led a whole department of photographers with high tech still and motion picture cameras. We talked for a long time about the different kinds of cameras and equipment he used to capture the test flights. Then we talked about John Myers. Roy was a good friend with John Myers since Myers first day with Northrop. Roy talked about the character, will, and integrity of John Myers. He talked about the leadership skills John had when he eventually became the VP of Northrop. Then we talked about the crash. Roy was there that day that John Myers had a terrible crash that nearly killed him. Roy told me about how he ran up to the wreckage and he screamed to John several times, only to see Myers totally quiet. Roy feared the worst but he kept screaming to John and finally he saw John’s eye twitch some movement and Roy realized John was alive. This was a very emotional moment of the interview. Roy is a great guy. He talked about how he first learned to fly and how much he loved aviation. Roy showed me several books on Northrop history and a lot of the photos from the test pilot days. In one book he showed me tons of photos of John Myers and the test pilots. All the photos had a credit to Roy Wolford. In one photo it showed several of the pilots all together with Roy in his flight suit. Roy flew in the planes being tested and outside the planes and in front of the planes and behind the planes. Roy’s photos were a tremendous help to the engineers working to test these aircraft. In the early days, the test pilots would have a small notebooks taped to their legs so they could make notes during a flight. Roy had the idea that photos would really help the engineers learn what really was happening during those flights. He was right. Thanks to Roy we have lots of photos of those early test flights and early planes. Roy has donated all of his photos and materials to several museums in the area. I am hoping to get access to them there and also through Northrop, who has kindly donated access to their archives for this project. Roy and I hit it off. I enjoyed talking to Roy very much. He lived during some of the most fantastic times in Aviation history and he was right there. He talked about flying with John Myers in the P61 and about his meeting Howard Hughes. Roy’s wife of over 59 years died a few years ago and now Roy lives in a nice assisted living place. But I don’t think he’s ready for much assistance yet. We went out to lunch and Roy showed me where the Western Aviation Museum is located at Torrance. Roy talked about how at the age of 94 he still feels strong and wants to keep active. At his apartment he showed me boxes where he has over 30,000 slides. Through his work at Northrop he was able to travel all around the world, including time during the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia. All the time, in every continent of the world, Roy Wolford took photos. I kept asking him how he could hand hold a camera and get perfect focus on those test flights. He said he had a steady hand and good eyes. As a lover of photography myself, I was in awe of the incredible skills of Roy Wolford. Meeting him was a true joy.
It was a warm and beautiful drive down to Corona Del Mar. I was there to interview Tad Devine for my documentary “The Flying Man: Life and Times of Johnny Myers.” Tad is a great guy. He is the oldest son of the famous actor Andy Devine and he knew Johnny Myers ever since he was a little kid. I have always been a fan of Andy Devine. He was in my favorite movie of all time, the John Ford and John Wayne film “Stagecoach.” Andy Devine had worked in Hollywood since the silent days, had tremendous success both in the movies and on television. He had a very successful television show for many years. Tad did a fantastic job in the interview. He told me some fantastic stories about his family history, how his mother’s family raised horses and his father’s family ran a hotel in Kingman, Arizona for many years. He talked about how his father came to Hollywood and got into the movies because of his football playing. Tad told me how his father got that unique voice that became his trademark. Then we talked about Johnny Myers. Tad had met Johnny Myers when he was very young. John Myers was one of the world’s first entertainment attorneys and had worked with many of the most famous movie stars in the 30s, including Bing Crosby and Andy Devine. Over the years John Myers became more famous as a flyer and a test pilot. But he kept in touch with his friends, including Tad Devine. Tad talked about how their friendship endured all the way until Johnny died in his 90s. I asked Tad if he could tell me stories of John Wayne, since John Wayne was always my number one hero. Tad told me some great stories about John Wayne and his memories of his dad. I could tell that Tad was very close to his father. I am very grateful that Tad took the time to let me interview him for my movie about Johnny Myers. It was a great experience.
Eric Rhoads – Personal Jet & Helicopter Pilot for Johnny Myers
By RJ McHatton
Eric Rhoads is a lucky guy. He was hired to be the personal jet and helicopter pilot for the legendary aviator and businessman Johnny Myers. We drove down to Redondo Beach to meet with Eric for our new documentary “The Flying Man” about the Life and Times of Johnny Myers. Eric sat down and started grinning as he remembered “Myers” as he called him. Eric first met John Myers about three years before he died, when Eric was hired to be his pilot. Over the years they became good friends. Eric said that his life was changed for the better because of the wisdom and character and integrity he learned from John Myers. Eric said that “Myers” was a “hand-shake” type of a guy. Someone who was bigger than life, someone who once he became your friend, you could count on being a friend for life. Eric talked about John’s love for the outdoors and for his dog Gus. He told great stories about flying with John Myers and Gus. He said that John Myers might not be well known in the general population community, but that among the pilot friends he knew, John Myers was a true to life hero. Eric said that everywhere he went, he saw how people lit up with enthusiasm when they met John Myers. Eric said that John was well respected among people all around the world. Eric talked about when he flew with John to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. when they introduced the P-61 Black Widow Night Fighter that John Myers was the original test pilot. He talked about the man he was fortunate to call friend. Eric talked about his many tripw with John Myers up to the Flying M Ranch in Merced, where John ran a real cattle ranch. He said that John Myers loved cattle and ranching. We talked about John Myers love for boating up at Big Bear and his joy for driving fast cars. Overall Eric kept talking about the wisdom and integrity and character of John Myers. He talked about the good friendships that John Myers had built up over a lifetime well into his 90s. He talked about the last time John Myers flew a helicopter and how thrilling it was to see the master fly it perfectly. I could tell that Eric enjoyed his time with John Myers and that he would never forget the lessons he learned from that tall man with the dog.