Grand Marshal Steve Guttenberg Brings Optimism to the Fourth

 

(Editor’s note: This story appeared first in the 2024 Palisades Americanism Parade Association Fourth of July publication is reprinted with permission.)

Steve Guttenberg is the 2024 Grand Marshal.
Photo: SOPHIE ELGORT

Steve Guttenberg, one of the most beloved residents in Pacific Palisades, will serve as Grand Marshal in this year’s Fourth of July Parade.

“I’ve lived here for 37 years and every day in the Palisades is like a vacation,” the actor and author told Circling the News.

He has participated in the Will Rogers 5/10K Run, rode in the parade as an honorary mayor and watched the fireworks show at Palisades High, but his favorite part of the day is “the enthusiasm of the people. There is an air of delight and town togetherness for the various events,” he said.

A co-star in movies such as Three Men and a BabyDiner, Cocoon and Police Academy, Guttenberg received acclaim on Broadway in Woody Allen’s play, Honeymoon Hotel and more recently for his one-man show, Tales from the Guttenberg Bible, based on his 2010 memoir.

Guttenberg is the author of three books: a middle-school book, Kids from D.I.S.C.O., The Guttenberg Bible: A Memoir and Time to Thank: Caregiving for My Hero, which he is currently promoting across the country. The book is a poignant autobiographical story of growing up with his father, Stanley, who was his best friend.

His father stood by him throughout his career, as Guttenberg became the toast of Hollywood, and was an important sounding board. But when he had to undergo dialysis, Steve became one of the caregivers who learned how to do it so his father could receive the treatment at home.

Time to Thank is a page-turner, with honest emotions — and funny stories.

When Guttenberg became the town’s honorary mayor in 2002 (serving until 2006), he thanked his mother, Ann, for his “election.”

Arnie Wishnick, the late Palisades Chamber of Commerce executive director, kept asking Steve to be the mayor. And Steve kept putting him off.

“Then Arnie started asking my mom, telling her that I should be the mayor,” Guttenberg said.

One day he was having lunch with his mom at Mort’s Deli [on Swarthmore] and sitting at a table across from them was Anthony Hopkins [2000 mayor] and Martin Short [1998 mayor]. Hopkins had just played the imprisoned forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the 2001 movie “Hannibal.”

“My mom went up to Tony and said, “Excuse me, Hannibal, should my son be mayor?”

Hopkins replied, “It would be a wonderful thing.”

Before his “political” career, Guttenberg rode in the PAPA parade in 1997, but this family-friendly parade was quite tame compared to the Mardi Gras Bacchus Parade in 1993.

“I was king of Bacchus, it was an exciting week of Mardi Gras,” Guttenberg said. “My dad rode with me.”

Steve has also taken martial arts classes with Gerry Blanck and he teamed with Wishnick to produce a play, The Marvelous Wonderettes, at Theatre Palisades.

Making his producing debut in 2014, Guttenberg was confident and told this editor, “Arnie is my leader. I do what he wants. Plus, the food is good.” One of the most important duties of a Theatre Palisades producer is to make sure the cast is well-fed.

In describing the difference between acting on stage and film, Guttenberg said: “Stage is a blast when you are sailing along. When it’s stuck [not working], it’s not so fulfilling.”

By contrast, “With film you only have to hit a home run once every set up.”

When Wishnick and Guttenberg learned that tickets were scarce for opening night, they were delighted but also wary.

“I’m waiting for my invitation,” Guttenberg said. “As of today, I’m number eight on the waiting list.”

Asked if his producing partner could help him out, he replied, “Arnie is number seven.”

Guttenberg grew up on Long Island and started his acting career in 1976, when he was 17. He flew to Hollywood. His parents gave him $300 and two weeks.

After landing, he found his way into Paramount Studios and took over an office in the Lucille Makeup Building. He strung a phone line from a nearby stage and started making calls to casting directors, agents and producers.

Whenever anyone pressed him for credentials, Guttenberg turned the tables by asking for their name so he could report them to his father whom he said ran the studio.

Guttenberg soon landed a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial, which led to the television movie Something for Joey and films The Chicken Chronicles and Rollercoaster.

Yet after a year in Hollywood, he decided it wasn’t for him, and he went home and enrolled in State University of New York at Albany. He was only three months into the semester when a Hollywood producer called and offered him a co-starring role with Gregory Peck in “The Boys from Brazil.”

He talked it over with his dad because Steve had qualms about an actor’s lifestyle and the uncertainty of being a freelance worker. After speaking to both parents, he went to bed.

He recalls, “I woke up the next morning with my dad sitting at the foot of my bed.”

“Anything, Steven?” his dad asked.

“I want to do it, Dad.”

“Good choice,” his dad said. “And let’s see what happens next. That’s the excitement of life—what’s next.”

Guttenberg told Circling the News, “I’ve lived that way ever since.”

Look for him this summer in the movie Floaters, directed by Rachel Israel. Co-stars Jackie Tohn and Sarah Podemski return to work at their childhood Jewish summer camp. Their job? To mentor the camp’s misfits, aka the “floaters.”

“The cast of this movie is honestly bananas – it’s so Jewish and so iconic,” said one reviewer.

Guttenberg will also be in a series on ABC this fall, High Potential.

If you want to check in with him before watching him in the parade, go to his Instagram account @steveguttenberg.

 

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One Response to Grand Marshal Steve Guttenberg Brings Optimism to the Fourth

  1. M says:

    A wonderful choice. Congratulations to PAPA and Steve for this choice.

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