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Lunching at the Burbank Bob's with Angie Dickinson

September 09, 2013|By Chris Erskine, Los Angeles Times
  • Angie Dickinson
Angie Dickinson (Francine Orr / Los…)

Strange afternoon, strangely wonderful. For all the things about L.A. that I mock, tease about, sigh deeply over, there are always moments like these, usually in modest surroundings with everyday Joes, that make me wonder if I've finally been reeled in by a city that frequently over-promises.

I have long debates with friends over our region's high cost of living, the postage-stamp yards, the monotony of the too-glorious weather. At a dinner party, one buddy insisted that headhunters no longer recruit here because those they hire for out-of-state jobs invariably return to California within a few years.

That's compelling evidence, and I'm sold on the idea of staying, till I see a crummy three-bedroom ranch on the market for $999,999, dust on the window sills, maybe a body in the pool. Anywhere else, a million bucks buys the governor's manse. Here it buys you a stucco shack with an AstroTurf backyard.

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Then there are these strange, unexpected afternoons that can happen pretty much nowhere else.

Angie Dickinson, of all people, suggested I meet her at Bob's Big Boy, of all places, for lunch. Had she suggested a fancy little bistro on Rodeo Drive, forget about it. But Angie Dickinson at Bob's Big Boy? That's like shooting craps with a duchess.

"You can bring your wife," she insists.

"What wife?"

Oh, that wife. Turns out the wife is working, so it'll just be Angie and me. For those of you born yesterday, Dickinson was the sexiest star on television.

She married probably the most prolific songwriter of the 20th century, Burt Bacharach. I'm a sucker for a lot of things, but especially torch songs. "Alfie" remains one of the best ballads of all time. Sultry "The Look of Love" will be performed forever, by people not yet even born.

So what's it all about, Angie?

At 81, Dickinson remains radiant, a butterscotch blond of the first rank and a funny and lively lunch mate.

At Bob's Big Boy, she orders a shake and a cheeseburger.

"Which songs did Bacharach write for you?" I ask.

"Oh, none of them," she says.

I doubt that. In her heyday, she collected a who's who of romantic relationships with actors, directors, songwriters and singers, including Frank Sinatra. She hung around with the Rat Pack and had a part in the original "Ocean's Eleven."

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