Tribute to TC

A Tale of Two Careers

Denise McCluggage, Tim Considine, and Linda Vanlaw
Roberta Shore, Tim Considine, and Annette Funicello

Tim Considine, my long time friend and film making partner, passed away on March 3, 2022. Tim was 81 years old. Nevertheless it really came as a shock because we just had lunch together, after a long hiatus. But what made it even sadder, we both thought the hiatus was finally over, and had been talking about our next lunch.

Tim was always TC and I was always PV. It was from the fondly remembered experiences that follow. that our long term friendship evolved, and lasted right until the end.

Tim was a fascinating guy, with a multifaceted history. He literally had two completed careers, one after the other, with a number of side lines along the way. I’ll touch on some later, but this tribute is dedicated to the Tim Considine I knew and worked with.

By the time I met him, he had already left his very successful career as a child actor. A career that began at age 12, and lasted into his early 20’s. He just simply walked away from it one day to pursue his many other talents.

But that’s all before we met. So,I’ve left his earlier career to Mike Barns full story, in his March 4th, 2022 Obit to Tim, in the Hollywood Reporter. The link is included at the end of my tribute. That way you can still have the full picture of this incredible guy..

A mutual friend was responsible for getting the two of us together, thinking it was a good idea for the two of us to meet. It was sometime back in the late 80’s, or early 90’s. Our meeting place was Jerry’s Deli in Sherman Oaks, where we immediately found we had a lot in common.

First we started swapping auto racing stories, since we’d both been involved in the west coast sports car racing scene many years earlier. And then we got into show biz, since I was still in it, knowing, of course, that Tim had been in it as well. (But I had no idea of the magnitude at the time, and only learned how broad it actually was after his passing).

With so much to share, lunch turned out to be quite an extended event.

I have one particularly strong memory that remains from our meeting that day. We had been sharing some of our fondest memories from the various sports car events that we’d been involved in, back in the day. That naturally included many of the people we knew. Since both of us had the foresight to bring along large selections of photos from our personal collections, we were able to back up those memories with a visual history.

But one of mine I can never forget because of Tim’s reaction to it. It was taken in 1958, at the annual Cal Club Labor Day races at the Santa Barbara Airport in Goleta. It was a shot I’d taken of my friend, Jack McAfee and Vasek Polak, his mechanic. Jack was in John Edgars’ 550 Porsche Spyder, waiting on the starting grid, in anticipation of the 1500cc modified race that was about to start.

But in this shot there also happened to be a shirtless teenage kid, who apparently wanted to get as close to Jack and the 550 as he could. I had already planned to get a clearer shot of the two, once the kid got out of the way!

But Tim wasn’t looking at either Jack or Vasek, because after a long pause, he shouted out in surprise, “That kid is me!!!”

1958 photo of sleek race cars lined up for a race in Santa Barbara Airport featuring a youthful Tim Constantine approaching driver Jack McAfee in a red 550 Porsche Spyder and McAfee's mechanic, Vasek Polak.
Jack McAfee on the starting grid, in his Porsche 550 Spyder.

Meanwhile, a our friendship grew, and Tim and a mutual friend convinced me to join them and become a member in the Motor Press Guild. As its name implies, guild consists of a group of automotive journalists, magazine writers, p.r, people, automotive photographers, and ad agency execs, all with connections to the automotive business. I fit none of those categories, but was intrigued by their annual “Track Day” event at Willow Springs Raceway, where the car manufacturers brought out their brand new cars and urged us to take them around the track at near racing speed.

But it wasn’t until 1999 that we first combined our filmmaking talents. Tim happened to be on MPG’s Board at the time, as the Entertainment Director. MPG had given him the task of coming up with some kind of entertainment for their annual year end banquet, to be held, as usual, at the Petersen Automotive Museum, in the westside of L.A.

TC holding helmet and PV wearing helmet, at MPG Track Day at Willow Springs

But as a year end banquet this one needed to be different. It was 1999 and the end of the Millenium. So it required something more “diverting and engaging” than the usual form of entertainment.

Tim’s idea was to do a film celebrating the evolution of the automobile from the beginning to the end of the 20th century. A great concept! The only problem was, he had no idea of what he wanted to say, or how to say it. That’s when he asked me to help him. But I, of course, had even less of an idea of what to do.

And so we began, scriptless. All we had was a title: “Memories of a Millennium”, and a bunch of disconnected film footage that we had collected, hoping we’d find a way to use it.

On our first day of editing, I remember Tim and I sitting with our editor, Brian Crouch, still with no idea of how or where to begin. We were just sort of sitting there, waiting for someone to come up with Idea of where to start this . . . !

Finally I asked Brian, “Please help! How do we start this thing?” His answer was simple, “just grab some footage and a piece of music, and it will happen”. And amazingly, it did. Out of that crude beginning, a film evolved that got rave reviews at the MPG Banquet, and many requests for copies afterwards.

Man driving early model automobile with superimposed title: Memories of a Millennium
Memories of a Millennium
Eltore Bugatti in suit and derby hat.
Eltore Bugatti
Two young men work on a stripped-down 1950s-era hot rod street racing car.
Hot roders
VW Beetle.
Original Volkswagen
Ayrton Senna
Kirk Douglas in “The Racers”
Henry Ford
Man and woman being floated down into the empty seats of a convertible driving itself on a highway - scene from a vintage Hertz TV commercial.
Hertz Commercial – “. . . puts you in the driver’s seat”
Funny car with gigantic wheels.
“Big Wheeler”

As we got comfortably into the editing processes, Tim suggested we form a production company, primarily for our own protection, since we were using a lot of uncleared music and film footage. He had already come up with a name, “CVJoint Productions”, because it carried both our initials. As I learned later, a CVJoint is also an actual car part. Leave it to TC!!!

For those of you who would like to see “Memories of a Millennium”, this is the link to it. We hope you have as much fun with it as Tim and I had making it.

For you Car Buffs who also want to know who the players in “Memories of a Millennium” are, here is the complete list of celebrities, historical figures, and luminaries who appeared in the film.

Over the years we did a number of short films together. But one of the standouts was the film we did for the Petersen Museum and their celebration of the 50 anniversary of the Carrera PanAmericana. We used footage supplied by my old friend, Jack McAfee, from the very first Carrera in 1950. All of it was beautifully shot by Jack’s friend and co-driver, Ford Robinson. We added some newsreel footage, and had Jack supply the narration. Something he could literally do in his sleep, because he used to show the raw footage to L.A. car clubs, while adlibbing what was going on.

Ultimately we chose to dedicate the film to Ford, because of his tragic death in the Carrera four years later, in 1954 – the fourth and final Carrera.

Key players in our Teaser from “A Night at the Pete”

Here’s a link to the Teaser, for all you “RaceCar Buffs” and Historians.

Always thinking ahead, Tim insisted that we simultaneously film as much of the event as possible, while getting interviews with as many of the drivers and participants as we could. Then we would edit the footage to create a teaser that we would use as a sales tool for a future TV series. The idea was to build the show around Tim as our on-camera host, and use the format to cover similar automotive events like the Carrera. This was the kind of event the Petersen would stage fairly often.

TC had already dubbed the show, “A Night at the Pete”.

We loved the teaser, which really showed the kind of excitement we were looking for. But sadly, because of scheduling issues, we were never able to get the show off the ground.

However, I left a treat for you. Just below this paragraph is another link. It’s our three minute teaser, with Tim, our on-camera host, welcoming the viewer to “A Night at the Pete!” It also has the comments of some very famous drivers, who took part in the Carrera, and had some very funny things to say about it.

But before I move on, there’s one more standout event that Tim came up with. As a close friend of Phil Hill and his family, Tim wanted us to film Phil’s eightieth birthday party, and give them the finished film as a birthday gift.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Phil Hill, he was a true American hero,. He was, and still is, America’s first and only Formula 1 world champion.

It was a wonderful idea, and fortunately turned out very well. But at the beginning it looked overwhelming because of the sheer size of the facility and the number of guests that would be filling every bit of it.

The event was being hosted by Jay Leno, at his huge car museum, in Burbank. A facility that consisted of two huge airplane hangers, that housed his massive collection of cars, motorcycles and other strange machinery. And located at the north-west end of the Burbank Airport.

Two display rooms in Leno’s museum/garage

While Jay was hosting it, Alma Hill, Phil’s wife, was acting as MC for the festivities.

The turnout was amazing, and included hundreds of guests and celebrities, many having flown in from other parts of the country, some in their own private planes. All of them showed up to help Phil celebrate his 80th birthday.

Also included were many other racing greats and dignitaries from all over the world, but were unable to be there in person. So they sent their birthday wishes and anecdotes about Phil, on film. That film then became an integral part of the film we were putting together. Again, it was Tim’s idea, and it turned out to be a wonderful birthday gift for Phil and his family.

When Tim and I first became friends, it didn’t take long before I learned of his many other passions. And believe me there were many.

Photography was one, along with a passion for soccer. As a result he combined the two and became Pelé, the world famous soccer star’s personal photographer, and “Go To” guy for a number of years. In fact his first book, called “The Photographic Dictionary of Soccer”, came out of his relationship with Pelé, and his love for the game. Then he wrote a second book about sports, “The Language of Sport-A Handy Dictionary”.

At the same time he used his photographic talents to shoot photos for book covers, magazine articles, advertisements, and celebrity photos. He did one for Joni Mitchell that ended up on one of her better known record albums, called “Blue”.

But of all things, he had yet another passion. “China”!!!

Tim’s interest in China apparently began after he read a book by Edgar Snow, called “Red Star Over China”. Not only did he find it to be a rousing adventure story, but then he met Snow’s first wife, Helen, and got so intrigued by the story of their lives in China leading up to WWII, that he decided that he wanted to make a documentary about it.

Needless to say, when Tim got passionate about something, he went at it full bore. And this documentary was no different, to the degree that he organized a film crew, and along with Snow’s wife, went back to China to film it.

Unfortunately he was never able to get the funding to complete it. Yet he was so intrigued by what he’d seen and the friends he made, that he continued to make trips to China. As a result he made many close friends over there. According to Willi, Tim’s wife, he remained so in love with the project that he was still working on it when he passed away. But no matter how many projects Tim was working on at the time, his primary passion and claim to fame, after he ended his acting career and became an automotive journalist. He was a full bore “Car Guy”.

Back when we started working together, he was working on his third book, “American Grand Prix Racing-A Century of Drivers and Cars”. It was so well received that it even won the Motor Press Guild’s coveted “Dean Batchelor Award” for 1997, the year it was published.

But I also became aware of another pet project of his. One that he was researching at the sametime. It was going to be a book about the history of ALL the American drivers who ever raced at LeMans in the 24 hour event, from the time it began, in 1923, until now.

But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized the sheer magnitude of his LeMans endeavor. By then it had reached three volumes, and would become his Magnum Opus. Yet there were at least two more volumes to come, after the world wide release of the first three. Because of frustrating problems with the publisher, it only reached the book stores, the internet and the public the year before his passing. But what a splash it made! Titled “Twice Around the Clock – the Yanks at LeMans”.

Man seated signing the fly cover of a book as another man looks on.
TC signing his Magnum Opus, “Twice Around the Clock/The Yanks at LeMans”

Yet despite the delay, it was an immediate success. The photographs and art direction alone were worth the price of admission. Many of the photos came from private collections, having never been seen in print before. Plus, Tim’s choice of art director was briliant. Her name is Jodi Ellis. and she organized the books in such a visually stunning way that each volume was turned into a work of art.

But as irony would have it, Tim was working on the next two volumes when he passed away, because the first three only reached 1979.

For those of you interested in Tim’s earlier career, follow the link to Mike Barns’ wonderful Obit from the March 4th issue of the Hollywood Reporter.