From Paul Cross

Earl’s longtime friend Paul Cross sent the following to be posted here…

I have waited to write something about Earl on this site and for the life of me I didn’t know why I waited so long. I have been putting it off for a reason that I didn’t understand. But of course I do know why. It’s because I didn’t want to believe that he was gone and by committing something to print would be confirming that he was not here anymore. However that reason is actually inaccurate because of course I realize that he will never be gone from my thoughts and that there will always be a place for him in my heart.

I listened to the excellent speakers at Earl’s memorial service and realized that Earl had a life that I was not all too familiar with. Earl and I met while doing a musical and we discovered that we had several things in common. A love for the musical theatre and Disney. I did not share his interest and association with the Sons of the Desert or animation other than Disney. But nonetheless we had many common bonds that we shared together.

I have to admit that I’m still not ready to accept this. I have a very hard time saying good-bye to a friend as genuine as Earl. But I realize that I must try to. I’m going to miss Earl, but I will always treasure the time that we spent together and all the things that we shared and enjoyed. I have never known anyone kinder or gentler. I am so grateful for all the memories of him.

Like the time that we decided at the last minute to fly to San Diego for dinner. We hurried to LAX, caught a flight then when we got to San Diego we took a taxi to a restaurant by the ocean then hurried back to the airport and caught our plane back to LA. After that we jokingly referred to ourselves as jetsetters. (I wasn’t joking)$$$

On my birthdays for several years Earl would take me to Disneyland where he always had a few surprises waiting for me there like having dinner at the 33 Club and a train ride on Walt’s private car, the Lillybelle, named after Walt’s wife. That was always such a thrill for me. Earl was very thoughtful and giving.

I will be eternally grateful that Earl had some flaky girlfriends at one time or another in his life because when they canceled on him at the last minute for a night at the theatre, he always called me as a replacement. I saw so many great shows that way! (I’m glad that Denise wasn’t in his life at that time, or I would never had seen all those musicals)

I was doing the musical The Apple Tree and there was a part open, that of a Roman soldier. I told Earl and suggested that he come and audition. I was there for his audition and my mouth dropped open when he arrived in full costume replete with toga, Reynolds Wrap for armor, sandals, sword, the whole nine yards! Then he proceeded to sing. I have to tell you that Earl had a lot of talents in many departments,…but singing was not one of them. He was terrible! He did not get the part but it gave us something to laugh about for a long time after.

But that episode was a good example of how much Earl loved the musical theatre and proved what he would do to be a part of something that he loved. We laughed about his audition but I had complete respect for him for putting himself on the line like that. So typically Earl.

I remember with fondness the Christmas shows that we did for several years that we took around to hospitals and retirement homes. I came up with an idea to do a Christmas show about Christmas in the White House. We got a lot of actors together and Earl wrote and directed it. I think we cheered up some lonely people which is exactly why we did it.

And how can I forget the times that I had gone to Disney studios for lunch when Earl was working there. At one of our lunches he said to me that he had found a “treasure chest” in the back of the lot and that after lunch he would take me there. So we gobbled down our lunch and hurried to the back of the lot. I noticed that no one was around and I also noticed that there was no sign of a “treasure chest”. So I said to him ” Where is the treasure chest”? He looked at me with a silly grin on his face and pointed to a large garbage bin. He then walked over to the bin, lifted the lid and said “look”. I looked in the bin and said, “WOW”! The bin was filled to the gills with cells! DISNEY CELLS! And they were throwing them away! Like someone jumping into a swimming pool on a hot blistery day that was us jumping into the bin. Our plan was twofold. One, if we heard anyone coming we would quickly close the lid until it was safe to climb out. And if caught we would claim that we were looking for a contact lens that one of us lost. Two, grab as many cells as we could possibly get in our hands then get out of Dodge as fast as our legs would take us. Earl had short legs so I was momentarily comforted with the fact that he would get caught first.

We later examined our actions. Did we do something wrong!?? Is it a bad thing to steal garbage! Can it really be a crime to steal garbage! NO, it wasn’t!!! That’s what we decided we were going to tell the judge anyway. Fortunately we never went to “Disney prison” for our little caper but it gave us something to talk about for a long time after. It also gave us some great cells!

We spent almost every Saturday night together for a few years. Earl would come over to our place for dinner, it was always pasta. Then Earl, my ex-wife and I would play a board game of some kind. It was a weekly ritual that I wish never ended. But our lives changed at some point and I divorced and later moved to Rome then to New York and Earl and I lost touch.

Even after being absent in each other’s lives for several years we re-connected and picked up exactly where we had left off years prior when we re-connected. Our individual lives had changed completely by then but our friendship had not wavered in the slightest. At one of our lunches together about a year ago at the Coral Café he told me that he re-married and that his wife was Denise who he had met when we all did a show together years before. Earl and I were always very honest and open with each other and I asked him if he was happy with his life. He answered without even the slightest pause, yes. He said that Denise made him extremely happy as did her family which was now his extended family. This was great to hear because boy, did he deserve to be happy.

I had asked Earl to do a movie with me called, Operation Terror, but this was a few months ago and he didn’t think that he would be up to it. That was very unfortunate as it would have been great to have worked together again and I know how badly he wanted to do it. But that was not to be.

You left a lot behind, Earl. Wonderful things that will always say that Earl Kress had been here. I am extremely grateful that you were in my life for so many years. You seeped into my heart and will always remain there. I can’t bring myself to say good-bye, so,…until later my friend.

With heartfelt sincerity,
Paul Cross