This has been a week of memorials, flags, wreaths and remembering. We saluted faces and names we’ll never forget.

Star reporter Amy Calder gave us the story of her courageous father-in-law, Franklin Norvish; and journalist Madeline St. Amour wrote beautifully about World War II frogman John Gee.

I’ve compiled and written my own family war book, and I’m done with that now. The hour is late, and I have to get to work on my next and last book, which was to be titled, “Don’t Worry, You’re Not In This Book.” But now it’s, “Everybody Else Is Dead.”

Crazy? You’ll see why.

It’s a memoir. That’s a book that can’t be written until you’re my age or older, and it comes with rules and regulations.

If you’re honest — and that’s rule No. 1, you have to be honest — you have to put in the pain, laughs, tears and broken promises, treachery and betrayal, hellos and goodbyes. We all have those, you say. True, but treachery and betrayal in Hollywood has a darker smell than in Vassalboro.


You have to get everything right. It can’t be satirical with comedic snips, with half-truths and flourishes. It has to be a tapestry of truths, truths like flowers, truths like daggers.

Hidden behind the pretty face and jovial wit you’ve read each week for 32 years, there is another J.P. Devine with other faces, other names.

I decided to use this week’s memory spot to promote the book, hopefully due out in late fall. Chutzpah? I’ve always been shameless.

And this is why I changed the title. I spent many months combing through old address books, old photos with addresses, old notes, even matchbooks with numbers scratched on the inside. Ever tried that? Then you know how futile it is, how cold the streets are that led to those numbers, how empty the rooms are in the old houses you once remembered.

The plan was to reconnect with as many as I could, from St. Louis to Tokyo, Chicago to Cleveland, Hollywood to Maine, and to ask permission, to promise to include or to swear to forget.

There are so many stories, touching and torrid, heard in the bars on Sunset Strip to the makeup rooms on shows.


It always ended with, “If you write this, I’ll deny every word,” or, “Now don’t repeat this, you promise?” Or, “His wife is still alive.”

This has been a hard decade of loss for all of us, I’m sure.

I can only write sweet words about comedian Dom Deluise, May 2009. Dom and I started out together as beginning actors. Before he zoomed to fame, we did dozens of plays together and had years of great adventures. The first time I saw Dom, his arms were green from set paint. The last time? He waved to me from the front seat of Orson Wells’ Rolls Royce. That’s Hollywood.

It turns out my search was mostly a waste of time. It seems that everyone I wanted to include, those full of warts or wonders, darkness or light, is dead. That’s it. Everyone worth including is dead. Only the boring are still alive. Ain’t it always the way? That’s what comes of waiting this long to write a memoir.

This year was the worst. I was saddened to watch a clutch of friends, classmates and co-actors drop away suddenly, without warning. You wouldn’t know those. Had I stayed close, I guess I would have seen the signs.

Once upon a time, I spent a couple of wonderful weeks with the cast of “The Bob Newhart Show” and made good friends. All on that segment are gone.


Suzanne Pleshette, with whom I shared a ton of lunches and street coffees, passed in January 2008. My closet friend, Jack Riley (”Mr. Carlin”), with whom I competed for roles for years, August 2016.

Marcia Wallace (receptionist Carol), October 2013.

John Fiedler (Mr. Peterson), June 2005. Of that segment — “Group On a Hot Tin Roof” — only Bob Newhart and I survive.

And that is how it ends.

“Faces remembered we’ll never forget.

Over and over and this is how it ends.


Time after time my passion never ends.

This is where we came from, and this is where we met.

Faces remembered we’ll never forget.”

— “Lion Heart,” by Bury Tomorrow

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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