Think you know all there is to know about

Jon-Erik Hexum?

 

Think again! 

 

There's more to him than meets the eye!

-Art by Nino Golia

LET'S VISIT HIS CHILDHOOD

Growing up, Jack was always very close to his mother, crediting her for her love and unwavering support.

It was reported that Jack was the first generation of his family to be born in the United States, but that wasn't true. His mother Gretha was born in Minnesota. 

In Junior High, Jack sent out these fliers and put on a mini circus with his friends to raise money for kids with leukemia. 

 

He was a ventriloquist and a puppeteer, with quite a puppet collection, and he was also a skilled magician, one who never revealed his secrets.  No self respecting magician would!


He put on shows for children's birthday parties and for the kids in his neighborhood.

 

He would often say that he was going to run away and join the circus one day!

Jack used to play gladiators with his brother when they were kids!

 

Jack loved animals.  As a kid, they had the usual cats and dogs, and all the cats were named George. 

 

They also had an assortment of other animals, some traditional, some not.  Guinea pigs, piranhas (that got Ich when the boys fed them goldfish!), frogs, worm collections, and anything else that crossed their paths and looked fun.

 

Unfortunately, none of them seemed to live very long.

Their mother, Gretha, wasn't too happy with the washing machine full of dead toads, and she locked both boys in the basement until they found all the escaped snakes! 

The tarantula had millions of babies, we wonder if some of them are still crawling around Tenafly!

TAKE A PEEK INTO HIS

HIGH SCHOOL YEARS

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- Slides by Nino Golia

Jack was the first male cheerleader in the history of Tenafly High School.

 

He was on the high school track team, he did the long jump and would do a somersault into the pit.
 

He was senior class president at Tenafly High, class of '76!  Quoting friends, he gave a "hell of a grad party," and the streets were closed off for blocks!

 

One story had him "riding the rapids" on a rubber raft off the Tenakill Brook next to the high school, after a massive rain!

 

He was definitely multi-talented, not only could he ride a unicycle, but he could juggle at the same time!   

His history teacher remembers trying to leave the school parking lot one day when Jack hemmed him in by marching the school band in front of his car!

His big moment was leading the school band in the Rose Bowl Parade.  "I just loved performing," he said. 

He went stag to one school dance, in order to be able to dance with all the girls.  And he did!

Jack is on the far left, with his eyes shut.  The party just started and he's already half asleep!

That's Jack in the white tux and top hat!  He's ready for the cover of GQ!

Recently, we found a copy of the Tenafly High School Year Book.  There were quite a few pictures of the band's trip to Pasadena, for the Rose Bowl Parade.

 

The next picture was incorrectly identified as Pasadena.  We checked with our experts and discovered (to my great delight!) that this was, in fact, taken in Disneyland, on Main Street! 


What an honor for the kids of Tenafly, to be able to perform at not only the Rose Parade, but at Disneyland as well!

Now, we know Jack played trombone. Which boy in the front row do you suppose is Jack?  Anyone know? 

Our best guess is that it's one of the two boys in the middle (probably the kid with the sunglasses).  If someone knows, please contact me so I can properly identify our boy.

STEP UP TO THE HOLLYWOOD ERA

His first place in Southern California was an 8-by-12-foot room in Venice Beach that he shared with two illegal immigrants. He paid $70 a month for that place, even after he'd shot the Voyagers pilot. 

 

To keep in shape, he used to run 2-5 miles a day (with his Walkman!) on the beach in front of his Venice home.

He had a three bedroom house in Burbank so close to the airport that he had to stop talking on the phone during take offs and landings!  

Jack's Home
2108 N. Kenwood St.
Burbank, California

He shared that home with four roommates who covered the mortgage, while he lived rent free and made a couple of hundred bucks on top of that.

 

His house was sparsely furnished: packed cartons, mattress on the floor, no couch, an ironing board that doubled as a desk.

 

He splurged and bought himself a Yamaha piano that he played daily as a form of relaxation.  Billy Joel was one of his favorites, he owned a book of his songs. 

The TV in his bedroom was a black and white TV with a wire antenna, which he thought was amusing.  He never let success go to his head, he wasn't into purchasing material things with his money.

 

Here is a photo gallery of Jack at his Kenwood home, and playing his beloved Yamaha piano. Okay, you have to seriously love the wood paneling!)

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- Slides by Nino Golia

This is a picture of Jack in his office at home.  I love pics like this, with so many things going on in them, kind of gives you a little sense of who he was: a little messy, hole in the sole of his boot, torn up desk chair.  He definitely wasn't a materialistic celebrity.

 

See that red brick behind him?  You're probably thinking like I was, that it was his fireplace.  We're only half right.  It was a fake cardboard fireplace!  Jack found it

for free at a neighborhood yard sale, and had to have it.  Friends say it was funny watching him drag it home, in 90 degree weather, no less!  Can you just picture it? 

 

Well, I have been teased before about how I can possibly see other things in a picture when there is such a gorgeous man right there in the middle of it.  It's not easy! Seriously though you wouldn't believe the number of hours I've spent with these pictures. Not just doing the website and Facebook groups, but I'm a huge fan like you are. I have scrapbooks and albums, the pictures make up my computer screen saver and cell wallpapers.  I have so many of them memorized that after awhile you start picking out other details.  LOL. And finding those little details have opened up all new stories for us, like with the fireplace.  So it's actually a good thing!

Having said that, you have to carefully study these photos taken in his bedroom.  If you look  in the left bottom corner of the photo, you can see that the mattress is on the floor.  Yup. Right there on the spiffy 70's shag carpet. 

 

And if you needed second confirmation of that little tidbit, look to the left of his boot.  That's an electrical outlet right there. Yup.  Jack had an older home, in an older neighborhood, and this was the 80s.  They didn't usually put outlets up very high in tract homes in those days.

(This coming from a girl who's father was a contractor, I paid attention! LOL!)

In this pic, above his head you can see the mock People Magazine cover from Male Model. You can also see the ever present bachelor dart board on the wall, and scattered darts in the sheet rock. 

 

I bet that would've been a pain to plaster that wall when it came time to paint it.  Of course, if it was my house, those dart holes would stay. I'm surprised he has curtains on the wall.  That had to be from a woman complaining.

But look on the shelf above his feet.  Is that an owl?  A gift from a fan, perhaps?  It reminds me of the Tootsie Pop owl that we all grew up with:

Rumor had it that he turned down opportunities to replace actors in CHiPs and Dukes of Hazzard, but as far as we know he was never even offered those roles.  Publicity stories perhaps?  Publicist padding the ole resume?  More rumors that he turned down roles in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and replacing Jeff Daniels in Fifth of July.  

 

Another rumor said he landed Voyagers! after being in LA for only four months, however, that also appears to be a bit of resume padding.  He was in LA for quite awhile and went on many auditions before he finally landed the role of Phineas Bogg.

 

Jack was quoted in an article saying he enjoyed playing Phineas Bogg because "He was a lot like me."


 

He earned $10,000 a week for his 20 episodes of Voyagers! and $50,000 on Male Model.  He stashed his money away for his pet project - getting his own film production company rolling.

He took acting and singing lessons right in his trailer on the set of Voyagers!  He worked 12-15 hours a day or more.   "I was working all the time.  I was literally sleeping in the studio," he said.

When he showed up for principal photography on Cover Up, he'd just finished filming The Bear in which all of his hair had been cut off in a buzz cut for the role. 

The cut was not the most currently in-vogue look for male models, the role he was to play as Mac Harper.

 

Wait. Do you see those eyes?  Holy guacamole, Batman!  With eyes like that, who notices the hair?

They had a state-of-the-art hairpiece made for him, and he was very rattled by it.  He kept asking to have it trimmed a little more, and if they had left him alone with it, he would've trimmed it himself right down to the roots.  They had to work through that until his hair eventually grew back in.


I'd have to say that round goes to Jack.  That hairpiece was horrid and stuck out like a sore thumb.  In the pilot episode of Cover Up, some scenes were filmed with the hair piece, some with Jack's real hair.  It's down right funny watching it change right in the middle of a scene. 

Did the censors just not catch it?  Were they that blind?  Apparently so.   

After filming Male Model, Joan Collins suggested Jack try out for the role of her lover on the series Dynasty.  He turned her down, thinking a three year commitment might get in the way of a bigger chance in the movies.

Jack was chosen as one of the Ten Most Watchable Men in the World for 1983, chosen by Man Watchers Inc. 


I seriously hope Jack held the #1 place, as he was by far the most gorgeous on that list!   

While they were shooting an episode of Cover Up at the marina, the cast and crew would go out to dinner together if there was a restaurant nearby.

 

Not Jack. He wouldn't go because the catering truck was there and he could eat for free!

 

The staff stayed at a hotel for $126 a night, while Jack stayed in a dive motel at $14 a night.  He couldn't see paying more: "To sleep?  I got my eyes closed when I sleep.  I can't tell what the wallpaper looks like."

There were drawbacks to staying in such a cheap motel, the place was riddled with people who weren't exactly the most "upright citizens," including a car theft happening in the parking lot.  "That's true.  There was this guy about 65 years old in the next room.  He was just sitting there in his underwear with the door open, surveying the happenings in the parking lot.  Then about three a.m. six guys in a pickup truck hit three cars.  Just like boom, boom, boom."   (One likes to hope he would've grown out of that habit at some point in his career! Bet he gave the producers a heart attack doing that!)

He was offered a chance to bare (almost) all for Playgirl to boost sagging ratings of Voyagers! 

 

He nixed the idea, not because he was a prude, but because "It would put me 2 years further away from my Academy Award." 

 

He did consent to an interview, fully clothed, in 1984, and the issue hit the newsstands right after his death. 

 

Way to go, Jack. I knew you had more class than that!

LET'S CHECK INTO HIS PERSONAL LIFE

Some of his favorite hobbies included diving, skiing, playing the piano, organ and baritone horn, and singing. His favorite sports were football and diving (big surprise there!)

 

Favorite rock music bands included Foreigner, Boston, The Go-Go's, Joan Jett and Rick Springfield.  Other articles credit him with also liking The Human League and the Waitresses.  Friends report that he loved The Rolling Stones.  He was crazy about Olivia Newton-John too.  Since he and John Travolta shared a manager, he was hoping to parlay that into an opportunity to meet her.  Sadly, that meeting never came to be.

 

It was reported that his favorite color was blue, however, in one article they quote him as saying it was pink.  Friends confirm that it was, indeed, blue.

He played tennis with John Forsythe, and together they played Bjorn Borg and Mike Connors. "I have a dynamite serve," he was quoted as saying, "it goes in about 1 out of 8 times.  Totally pansy second serve."

He tried to eat right, even when he didn't want to. Who can pass up a hot pretzel with mustard? 

 

He ate mostly salads, meat and dairy products.  He didn't really have a sweet tooth, but one of his favorite foods was cheesecake.
 

He was always on the go, and often ate in his car.  "That's why I'll never get a stick shift," he said, "because you can't hold the burgers." Friends report: one thing he HAD to have was his burgers cut in half. Even fast food burgers!

 

When asked what his favorite foods were, he said, "Pizza, chicken supremes at Jack in the Box and cheesecake."

He also tried to get plenty of rest.  He would break up a bowling party with friends so he could go home and go to sleep.

 

Jack was a person who believed in safety.  He buckled his seat belt when he got in the car. He also carried flares in his car, just in case he ever came upon an accident on the busy Southern California freeways.

 

He claimed to have no definite type of lady he went for, but he was turned off by people who were pretentious and stuck up.

 

He was a self described fiscal conservative.  "A Republican straight down the line as far as the economy goes." 

 

Writing was another of Jack's hobbies, he took classes to improve himself, and for one such class he had to dive out of a plane so that he could describe what it felt like!

Here's your Tenafly Guy trivia for the day: What is the question fans ask me most about Jack?  They want to know if he really was a smoker, and how much he smoked.  Yup. Of all things.  I was even asked what type of cigarettes he smoked.

 

Jack really wasn't much of a smoker, friends say he smoked a bit so that he'd look natural smoking in a movie, if the role/scene called for it. Remember: this was the 80s, and an action hero that smoked in movies was still a pretty common thing.  On rare occasions that he did, it was Marlboros.

Ooh! Wouldn't Jack have been good as the Marlboro man?  Wow!

 

Up until recently, we believed Jack never appeared in any ads.  However: we have recently come across a script with his notes on it, for a commercial for Chevy Trucks.  So far we haven't found any footage, Tenafly Guy is working hard to find it.  If we do, you'll be the first to know!

Personally, whenever I see this breathtaking photo, I can't help but think it would make a great Acqua Di Gio ad:

Am I right?  Our boy would SLAY that ad!