Paying your dues
Behind the scenes behind the scenes

A lot of the pictures on Bloodlines are behind the scenes pictures from the filming of a publicity film produced by G.M. featuring the Firebirds, or at least the Firebird II, around 1957.

If it looks a little bit like the Jetsons, well so did the car. This was right in the midst of GM's Motorama days, when they had a big travelling show of all the future designs. Attendance peaked at 1.5 million people, but the shows were stopped in 1961 when GM realized competitors were learning as much about what people liked at the show as they were.

We haven't actually seen the Firebird film, except for once during an NBC broadcast on the history of the electric vehicle, (aired for the launch of GM's EV1,) there was about a 10 second clip, with Emmett at the wheel. This isn't the first time we've seen references to the Firebird III as an electric car - but how this myth got started is a mystery.

The touching scenes showed a family enjoying their nice 200 HP turbine family car, and were played by a group of professional actors. Or at least they were supposed to be, but "dad" never showed up.

So with "dad" missing, and a whole crew ready to go, they decided that Emmett was a handsome gent and borrowed him to play dad. As an added bonus, he could actually drive the car.

So they did the Hollywood thing, gussied him up, and sent him off to play Baywatch for a day.

Well, he cleaned up nice, and looks at least as real as his virtual family. So off they went and shot a film for the day, and then Emmett went back to being an engineer.

But surprise surprise, the Screen Actor's Guild caught wind of it and hounded Emmett for years on the grounds that he was now an actor, and thus owed them dues!

As one might imagine, they never did get paid.

What a nice family shot this is, with the back of everyone's head. Actually, we just threw this in as a bennie for reading this far, and to give you an idea of just how long the Firebird II really was.

Ultimately, this movie trailer about "The Family of the Future" was sold to a private concern, and for the moment lost to the annals of time.

NEW! Well, all isn't lost. Check out this great Firebird family video now up at GM's site. Requires RealPlayer.

NEW MATERIAL: 04/28/98

A new cache of pictures was discovered, many of which are shots from the video shoot as well. Here's an even better shot of just how big the Firebird II really was. The Firebird II is actually operational again, today, and apparently the big turbine whine of it starting up is enough to turn anybody's head!

We were really pleased to find this high overhead shot of the movie production scene. What's especially fascinating is the highway shown in the movie is in fact not a G.M. test track or road exactly, since as is clearly visible here, it just comes to an abrupt end.
One of the problems of with dealing with history is trying to figure out who all the people are. We know it's Emmett on the left, and we thought we knew the next guy, but that has been called into question, so we'll punt.

It is unfortunate we cannot identify the other people in these photographs, who make silent testimony to hundreds of people who ultimately contributed to the Firebird projects. If you can positively identify any of the people in the photos, please let us know!

Update: From Bob Carlson, names for the faces. "Emmett Conklin, Bill Turunen, Gene Flanigan, Bert MacKenzie, Bill Hoef, Bob Tarien, and a familiar but unknown technician from GMR." (left to right)

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