Bill Bennett - On the set of The Sand Pebbles (1966)
Bill Bennett (Port Anglese, WA): I am a retired sailor and in 1966 it was my privilege to spend a day aboard the San Pablo while my ship was visiting Hong Kong. Needless to say the visit was a highlight of my naval career. It was arranged by Steve McQueen's makeup man (Mr. Acevedo). Mr. Acevedo and I were stationed on a U.S. Navy ship in 1951. He left the Navy shortly after and years later our paths crossed in one of the clubs in the Hilton Hotel in Hong Kong.
Here is a brief description of the photos and my short journey to the San Pablo. I started about 5:00 AM and took the Star Ferry in Hong Kong to Kowloon. I met the film crew in front of their hotel at 6:00 AM, where the bus waited to take us out to the San Pablo. I might mention that on the way to the motor launch pier, Steve McQueen and his son Chad, passed us in a small red convertible sports car.
Photos 1, 2, 3, 4: Shots of the San Pablo as we approached. Notice in photo 4 the rigging attached to the port side. This housed the generators, lights, camera and personnel. Another bit of information is that during the filming there were speed boats out in the bay to ward off any modern-day boats that might get within camera range.
Photo 5: One of the actors and film crew member.
Photos 6, 7, 8: Setting up for the scene where Steve McQueen fires the rifle at some of the Chinese.
Photo 9: I'm the one on the right!!!
Photo 10: During the lunch break, Steve and another actor went diving. Something in the water frightened them and I remember Steve saying to his diving partner, "What the f... was that? Did you see it? I might mention that all the food was catered by one of the area restaurants.
Photo 11: Two of the support personnel from Taiwan. Interpreters or make-up artists.
Photo 12: One of the actors was up in the rigging taking pictures when he learned that he had just become a father.
Photos 13, 14, 15, 16: Getting ready for the scene when General Quarters was sounded and the actor runs down the ladder and closes all of the open hatches.
Another interesting point is that the two scenes (General Quarters and Steve firing the rifle) were the only ones worked on during the six hours I spent on board. I never heard an "OK Print" from Mr. Wise, so I assume they continued on until dark.
Bill Bennett © 2002
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