It’s funny when you pick an area to focus on what you can uncover.
First I learned that screenwriter/producer/director Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Night at the Museum, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) was from the Youngstown, Ohio area.
Then I learned that the producer Paula Wagner (Mission Impossible, Vanilla Sky, Valkyrie) was born and raised in the Youngstown area.
Now I learn that E.T. was from Youngstown. Okay, technically E.T. was from space, but one of the key personnel responsible for being inside one of the E.T.’s was 2’10″ Pat Bilon of Youngstown, Ohio. There were many people (and actually several E.T.’s) responsible for E.T.’s movements depending on what was needed. Tamara De Treaux and Matthew De Meritt also wore E.T. suits, but according to Fred Skidmore, spokensman of Universal Studios, “Pat did do the majority of the movie.”
Bilon worked as dispatcher for the Mahoning Country Sheriff’s Department when he was discovered by a casting director at a Little People of America conference. He first appeared in Under the Rainbow that starred Chevy Chase. Upon auditioning for Steven Spielberg he was reportedly cast within a day.
His role in making E.T. move required him to wear the E.T. suit up to six hours a day with no ventilation. After the movie was released Bilon told Roma Sochan Hadzewycz that his favorite scene to play was a chase scene on a bike, “I was in a yoga position in the basket of Elliot’s bike, and a truck with a camera was pulling the bike. I couldn’t see how fast we were going, but I could feel the breeze and I could tell it was very fast.”
E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial was released in 1982 and in January 1983 it passed Star Wars at the #1 all-time box office champ. (It is currently #5 domestically.) Sadly, also in January of 1983 Pat Bilon died. But what a journey he must of had.
So while you’re dreaming (in between your writing), why not shoot for the moon?