Ron Howard going over the screenplay with the cast
The film Cocoon has always been a personal favorite of mine for many years. Maybe it's the great cast, unique story, beautiful scenery or great score. It's an American science-fiction fantasy comedy-drama, directed by Ron Howard. You remember Opie, from the Andy Griffith show... Well this film is about a group of elderly people who find rejuvenation in a pool owned by a group of aliens who have returned to bring cocoons home. Just stick with me folks.
The Filming Of Cocoon
The ballroom dance scene with Don Ameche comes to mind. This was filmed at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg's Florida, and the dance sequence was shot and in the can in only one day. In fact you can still find big bands playing at the Coliseum to this day. Oh..., and as for Don Ameche, he ended up winning an Academy Award for his work in this movie.
Johns Pass in St Petersburg Florida. This is where they shot Steve Guttenberg's scenes on his rental boat. Who knows, maybe good old Jack is still in the area...
The film was shot in St Petersburg Florida in the summer of 1984 and was a huge boost to the local economy. Even local residents who played extras were paid around $12 a day. That is pretty good money for back then. Cast and crew stayed at the former Hilton Inn, on what was then called St. Petersburg Beach. They rented out over half of the hotel, used lots of catering and location rentals. The film's budget no doubt trickled down into the local economy.
It was set for a Christmas release but after screen tests proved to be a huge hit with audiences, 20th century Fox decided to move the release date up early to june 21st 1985. This led to a bigger box office as it had a budget of around 17 million dollars and ended up making close to 86 million dollars. Oh and ticket prices were $3.55 back in the day! Aren't we getting old...
A commercial hit and with mostly positive reviews led Cocoon to its sequel, Cocoon the return, which was released in 1988. "The Return" was filmed in Miami and I'm sure was a slight slap in the face to the community who so graciously opened their doors and arms to the cast and crew. Ron Howard was not involved in Cocoon 2.
This is where they shot the opening scene of Cocoon and they are unloading their groceries. This was shot at the Westminister Shores retirement community. It was called sunny acres in the film. It's located at 125 56th ave south St Petersburg fl 33705. Sorry to spill the beans but when I visited the community there were sadly no aliens present.
A shot from Westminister Shores retirement community. The birds may be waiting for the retirees to return!
By the way, Robert Zemeckis was fired from the film 'Cocoon'.
Peaceful and very quiet, I actually encountered nobody there during my short visit. Maybe Mr. Howard had the seniors there on lockdown when I visited. Also... If you did not know, Clint Howard is Ron Howard's younger brother. Clint Howard played the part of Rico. He really had a stick up his ass when it came to the seniors and how they spent their free time.
Ok so moving on now......
In his free time Wilford Brimley enjoyed Florida's saltwater fishing. He actually caught a Tarpon fish that weighed over 128 pounds while fishing offshore near the hilton. He said that this is his largest catch to date!
Cast & Ages
Jessica tandy 75 & Hume Cronyn 73
Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy played Joe and Alma Finley, whose marriage is rocked by his sudden rejuvenation. In real life the couple were married for 52 years until her death in 1994.
St. Petersburg reputation as "God's waiting room" had been sealed years before with a Johnny Carson joke. St. Petersburg in the early 1980's was a city of lawn bowling and shuffleboard courts, where retirees spent final days in rickety recreation. Jessica Tandy passed away September 11, 1994 and Hume Cronyn passed June 15, 2003.
Wilford Brimley 49
Brimley was the youngest to play one of the "retirees". He actually dyed his hair white and grey to play the part. The older actors and actresses usually enjoyed their meals at Leverock's which is actually still open today. The long standing seafood restaurant is located at 840 Pasadena Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33707 or the Lobster Pot (17814 Gulf Blvd, St. Petersburg, FL 33708 and now closed ). Oh and if you didn't know Wilford Brimley is still living ( On Earth ).
Maureen Stapleton 59
Stapleton suffered from anxiety and alcoholism for many years and once told an interviewer, "The curtain came down and I went into the vodka." She also said that her unhappy childhood contributed to her insecurities. A lifelong heavy smoker, Stapleton died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2006 at her home in Lenox, Massachusetts. Maureen Stapleton passed away March 13, 2006.
Don Ameche 76
The cast enjoyed getting into hypothetical discussions regarding the opportunity their characters were offered in the film. Maureen Stapleton dead against a voyage to live amongst an alien civilization, while Don Ameche was said to be thrilled with the idea of doing so. Ameche's demanding salary had quadrupled to sign on for Cocoon 2 the return. Ameche passed away December 6, 1993.
Gwen Verdon 59
She was a cat fancier, and had up to six cats at one time, with names such as "Feets Fosse", "Junie Moon", and "Tidbits Tumbler Fosse". Gwen Verdon was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1981. In 1998, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts. Gwen Verdon passed away October 18, 2000.
Jack Gilford 76
Jack Gilford grew up in Brooklyn, learned acting by studying silent films and entering amateur contests, and gained stamina and staying power in nightclubs. He passed away in 1990 after a battle with stomach cancer. Jack Gilford passed away June 4, 1990.
Herta Ware 67
In 1934, Ware married actor Will Geer (grandpa from the tv show the waltons), with whom she had three children. She and Geer were politically-minded and relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1940s and settled in Santa Monica so that Geer could pursue his movie career. In 1951, the passionately left-wing Geer became blacklisted by Hollywood for taking the Fifth Amendment and refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. With Geer's film career destroyed, and falling into financial difficulties, the couple lost their Los Angeles home. The pair divorced in 1954 but remained close friends. Herta Ware passed away August 15, 2005.
Steve Guttenberg 26
Steve Guttenberg took a huge pay cut to play the role of Jack. This came down to the fact that he really liked the script and really wanted to work with director Ron Howard. Good choice for him as Cocoon is definitely one of his best films.
Brian Dennehy 46
Oct. 15, 1984 Brian Dennehy was leaving Bennigan's Grill & Tavern, located on 66th Street N back in the day. (it closed down back in 2008 after filing Chapter 7 liquidation.) He was driving fellow castmate Steve Guttenberg home when he made an illegal U-turn. unfortunately for the Dennehy a patrol car spotted him and The officer pulled him over. His sobriety tests didn't go so well and he was charged. a misdemeanor. Since Dennehy didn't have a permanent local residence, he was held overnight in the St. Petersburg city jail. He was a good sport about it and even thanked and took photo with the police the next day.
Tahnee Welch 24
Tahnee Welch (Raquel's Welch's daughter).... Lets face it folks...her only good film was Cocoon. Oh and maybe that episode of Falcons Crest. The scene where Guttenberg and Welch's characters having extraterrestrial sex in the pool — was filmed while a tropical storm raged outside. Cocoon 2 Coming Soon!
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