Jan Berry was not in his private room at the Northridge Hospital in the San Fernando Valley.
I glanced up and down the corridor and spotted him down the hall at the nurses’ station. He was
in a wheelchair. “Just been keeping the nurses busy, he smiled. “It’s very boring lying in that bed.”
We automatically started for his room. “This is not the most luxurious place for a visit,” he joked,
“but it’s the best I can do at the present.” His room was filled with potted plants and flowers and
hundreds of cards and letters from fans and friends.
Jan Berry, of JAN and DEAN fame, was injured in an accident while making Easy Come, Easy Go.
“That was our first day of shooting, the day I fractured my leg in four places. The scene that was being
shot was that of one train chasing another. Well, the train that was chasing the flat car I was on forgot to
use his brakes. When the cars hit, one guy waved for us to jump – so I jumped and so did about 20 other guys.
When I het the ground, I felt that bones in my leg give way. The tibia was shredded and sticking up through
my skin. This scared me as I was bleeding quite profusely and I know that you can very easily bleed to death.
“As soon as I got a car to take me to the hospital, I asked for the hospital to recommend the best orthopedic
surgeon they had. My main worry was the bleeding. Dr. ROBERT GRANT was the man who took care of me
and also some of the other people connected with the accident. He worked awfully hard that night. This guy is
terrific. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate his concern. Incidentally, he promised to let me watch him in
surgery when the next one comes up.”
The reason for Jan’s interest in surgery is the fact that he is a pre-medical student. “ I went to UCLA for four
years and one year to the University of California College of Medicine. I have three more years to go. As a
matter of fact, the school called me as soon as they heard about this accident and wanted to know if I was
coming back this semester and I told them of course.”
I asked Jan about his show business plans after he finishes school.
“Yes, I plan on staying in this business. I see nothing wrong with writing songs and practicing medicine. It’s interesting!”
Jan writes his own songs and Dean does the arrangements. They work very closely in just about every phase of their work. “You know,
we only work part time, as we devote most of our time in school. Most of our jobs are on the weekends so Dean and I can study. Dean,
as you probably know, goes to USC and is working on his master’s degree.”
Just then the phone rings. It was obvious a girl was at the other end. When I switched the subject to dates, Jan became thoughtful. “I feel
people marry too fast, too soon and too long. I don’t date girls in show business, I think most of them are dumb. Maybe there are a few
intelligent ones, but not many. They can’t converse. The only subject they can talk about is their career.
“I just bought a house in Bel Air and most of my spare time is now devoted to gardening – weeding and such. I do like girls, as a matter
of fact, I think they are a kind of a game.”
Jan’s face broke into a broad smile when he talked about his family. “There are nine children in my family, and Dean always tells
people that in the eight years he has known me, my mother has always been pregnant. I suppose he’s right and you know we’re not
even Catholic,” he laughs.
I looked up and saw two nurses standing in the doorway. They asked Jan if they could have his autograph. He graciously signed
several pieces of paper. He asked one of the nurses the condition of the patient down the hall. She nodded as if to say as well as can
be expected. After they left, Jan went on to explain, “The one thing that I never realized before this accident, is that I didn’t have as many problems as I thought I had. This poor guy down the hall, who is only nineteen, just innocently dived into a swimming pool – hit his head, which in turn injured his spine. He’s got plenty of troubles now. I thank God my accident wasn’t more severe.
“I used think I had problems before. Now, I wish I had what I considered problems, They were nothing. I’ve never felt this way before. After going up and down the corridor and visiting some of the other patients, a healthy person doesn’t realize how lucky he is. People take their health for granted. I really am lucky I wasn’t injured seriously.” He glanced down at the cast that covered his leg and hip.
He looked at me thoughtfully. “I suppose the shooting of our picture, Easy Come, Easy Go will resume sometime in January. Right now, we have no other plans. We were so excited about making this picture . . . then, WHAM! We even got to help write some of the script. This accident has been a great let down for both Dean and myself. Dean was so disappointed, he says he’s going to sue me.”