East Franklin retiree lands bit part in TV mini-series
A retired Army sergeant and East Franklin resident landed a bit part driving an antique military car in a television mini-series that recently aired on the History Channel.
Steve Woodside appears within the first 10 minutes of episode 1 of “The World Wars” series — which aired on Memorial Day.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Woodside said.
He said he got the part because his friend — Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Ounan of Gettysburg — owns the World War I Dodge Army car, which he is seen driving in the episode titled, “Trial by Fire.”
In October, the two friends brought the car on a trailer to a large field in Harpers Ferry, W. Va., for filming.
“They put us in World War I uniforms — we must have driven that same field close to 100 times,” Woodside said.
During a scene called “Patton Revolutionizes Warfare,” Woodside checks under the car's hood and Ounan works a wrench as Matt Dearman — a professional actor depicting a young George Patton — attaches a machine gun to the car.
Norman Altizer of Roanoke, Va., whose company finds classic cars for movie productions, wrote in an email on Friday about complications that arose before and during filming.
“About two weeks before the filming in Harper's Ferry, the motor on the 1918 Dodge caught fire and burned the wiring under the hood,” Altizer said. “Ounan had to repaint the hood and hotwire the engine in order to make everything run properly. He cranked the car by hand in order to start it because the starter and generator burnt in the fire.
“All-in-all, Mark performed the minor miracle of getting the car to the set and keeping it running.”
He also noted that Dearman had to be tied in the car to keep him from bouncing out during a chase scene involving horses.
“Steve Woodside was an incredible driver. He managed to make it all look so easy and authentic when it was extremely difficult,” Altizer said.
But for Woodside, some of the most memorable moments happened during chow time with a few actors who depicted war-time leaders.
“I had dinner with Hitler, Churchill and Roosevelt,” Woodside said. “I can say I dined with some of the world powers of the '40s.”
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.