December 24, 2016 1:35 am ET
Anthony Cardoza and his lovely wife, Jamie Nga Diep, gave me my “15 minutes” that will last a lifetime
Photo credit/Anthony Cardoza Enterprises: From L to R; Jamie Nga Diep, Anthony Cardoza, Hope Kelley, Conrad Brooks and Dave Fuentes. Photo taken in front of the Senator Theatre.
Anthony Cardoza and his lovely wife, Jamie Nga Diep, are two of the finest people I have ever had the opportunity to work with and know. Did I mention that he gave me the opportunity to fulfill a dream of becoming a screenwriter, an accomplishment that few writers can claim?
It was during the time that I was working at the Baltimore News American, along with my police career. One could say I had the best of both worlds.
Sadly, the News American—the other daily Hearst Corporation paper—went away, but my urge to write did not.
I spent the next 10 years writing scripts and trying to get someone in Hollywood to read them. I sent out hundreds of query letters to producers, agents, and directors in the hope that one would take a chance and produce my script. That was something I could only dream about.
For as long as I live, I will never forget the night the call from Anthony came. He tracked me down at my other home, the Sparrows Point Country Club, where I was having dinner with friends.
Anthony told me that he wanted to take my dream and make it a reality by producing a film. That was one of the major highlights of my life. The bartender approached my table and, in front of all my friends, said (quite loudly), “Mr. Beeler, there is a gentleman calling long distance from Hollywood that wishes to speak with you.”
It reminded me of the James Cagney film where he yells, “Made it Ma—top of the world!”
I was fortunate enough to have my parents still living, so that was exactly how I felt—on top of the world. Over the next few years, Anthony and Jamie dilligently put their blood, sweat, and tears into the film.
Both Anthony and Jamie had been in the business for many years by then, and both had distinguished careers in the art of getting the script onto the screen.
I was blessed with the opportunity to delve into the world of film making. Both Anthony and Jamie took me under their wings and made me feel like I was actually in heaven.
The screening of the movie took place at a Hollywood film festival, where our film was screened right after actress Brook Shields’ movie The Seventh Floor.
Luckily for me, I had a close friend—Ruth King—who lived in Studio City at the time and gave me a guided tour of the “land of make believe.”
Of course, the biggest thrill for me was the premiere of the film at the famed Senator Theatre. Even though our film was not one of the larger studio-backed type, the owner of the Senator Theatre at the time, Mr. Tom Kiefaber, told me that our film had the most media coverage at the time because I was a cop.
The media picked up on “Cop goes Hollywood,” and things took off from there.
We had some solid talent in the film, titled Misfit Patrol, including Conrad Brooks (Ed Wood and Plan 9 From Outer Space), Vernon Wells (Mad Max), and the beautiful Hope Kelley (Road House).
Over the many years that have passed since then, Anthony and Jamie, along with other member of the cast, stayed in touch.
It was with great sadness that I recently learned that Anthony lost his long battle with cancer. It left a lot of people devastated because Anthony was as true gentleman. Jamie was the true love of his life, something they shared along with their mutual love of film making.
They were, in every sense of the word, two of the greatest human beings I have ever had the pleasure to know. Both were as high on life as I was that night at the club.
When Anthony passed, it took a piece of my heart with him.
You see, reality sets in as we get older, and we realize we are not immortal and one day will all face the end of our time on this earth. I just hope I have the strength to meet the end in the manner that Anthony did, with that great big smile and his beautiful wife at his side.
Anthony, may you forever rest in peace. Your specialty was taking the dreams of others and making them a reality, and I will never forget you for that. As you look down upon us from above, I hope you can see the true impact you had on so many lives.
God Bless Anthony Cardoza and his soul mate, Jamie Nga Diep.