View Full Version : Base employee has Hollywood history

08-29-04, 07:41 AM
Base employee has Hollywood history

Submitted by: MCLB Barstow
Story Identification #: 2004826141538
Story by Cpl. Andy J. Hurt

MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. (Aug. 26, 2004) -- Lights, camera, action! It's been a long time since James Hillis Gaines, a publicity specialist with Marine Corps Community Services here, has heard these words in practice, yet his career with TV, radio and newspaper media has spanned nearly six decades.

Gaines was born in the sleepy industrial community of Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1935, near the southeastern border of Tennessee and Georgia.

Life was simple for the family of Scottish descent until the upscale of atomic technology took the Gaines family to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where Gaines' father worked as a physicist on the Manhattan Project, developing the first nuclear weapons the world had ever seen. Security was tight and living conditions were isolated, so the family packed up and moved on to Long Beach, Calif., a suburb of then-sprawling Los Angeles. Gaines enlisted in the newly formed U.S. Air Force in December of 1952, during the Korean War. While soldiers and Marines battled the communist Chinese in places like the "Frozen Chosin" Reservoir, Gaines was stationed in Saudi Arabia, assisting with B-52 espionage into Soviet Union airspace, he said.

After his four-year commitment ended in the Air Force, Gaines returned to Southern California and attended college at Long Beach Community College, Long Beach State College and the Don Martin Academy of TV and Radio Science, ultimately earning a Bachelor of Letters in broadcast arts and sciences, said Gaines.

With a fresh degree in hand a young Gaines was ready to start working.

"I started working for the Long Beach Independent Press Telegraph," he said. "Boring stuff. Minor, stuff, you know. Like a dog bit into a lamppost or something like that."

Then Gaines' Hollywood career was born.

"Then I started writing scripts. I got 99.9 percent of them back, but I kept doing it. Finally I sold one to, I think it was Mannix. But then I started sending them to Bonanza, and they liked 'em. So I went to Paramount where they told me they wanted me to come in as a staff writer," said Gaines, adding, "that was in '61."

As a writer for a major Hollywood production company, Gaines said his life took many twists and turns.

"It was like going to the Moon," he exclaimed, "when you just got your pilot's license. It was a psychological trip!"

Gaines recalled his daily drive through the main gate at Paramount, among the likes of Bing Crosby.

But a star-struck writer comes down from the trip fast, said Gaines, when he realizes that he's just a part of the "big picture."

Every writer got his shot at writing the main script, said Gaines, who wrote the episode when the character "Hop Sing" got married in Bonanza.

Gaines, like all young people venturing into Hollywood, found that after a few years in show business the craft had lost its luster. He and his daughter, Marie, then packed their bags and journeyed deep into the San Bernardino Mountains to Wrightwood, Calif., where Gaines single-handedly wrote for, designed, sold ads and acted as the editor-in-chief for a newspaper called the Wrightwood Highlander Weekly. "I was the whole ball game," he said. Working long hours for the newspaper was tedious and time-consuming, yet Gaines said he still found time to write fictional short stories.

"And then one year," said Gaines in his crackly, weathered, leather voice, "it didn't snow, and I barely sold any ads. The next year it didn't snow, and I had to shut down." The newspaper business wasn't Gaines' forte, and he moved on.

Gaines moved further into the high desert to Apple Valley, Calif., and took a job at a local radio station, he said. From 1981 to 1985, Gaines' voice made its way into thousands of homes in the region, beaming in from KCIN Apple Valley as "J.G.," on the Country Ladies Coffee Club radio show. At the end of each request, which had to be a romantic country-style song, Gaines said he would soothingly reassure his listeners by saying, "Love you babe."

By this point in his life, Gaines had compiled so many notes on science fiction, physics, astrophysics and astronomy, he began a project on a three-part science fiction trilogy novel, he said, but his radio career was far from over.

"Daddy G's Musical Time Machine" was Gaines' next venture on the airwaves, from KIOT in Barstow. Daddy G's was a '50s request show, and Gaines would invite local Marines stationed in Barstow to come into the station and experiment, he said.

In late 1989, the station went under, and Gaines took work at KXXZ, DJ-ing for a hard rock show. "I just couldn't get into it," he said, "so I went back to writing my book."

Gaines came to work for MCLB Barstow's MCCS department in 1994 as a publicity specialist, and has hammered away at his keyboard since, getting the word out to MCLB Barstow's patrons on local happenings and events, he said.

But Gaines' "novel" idea hasn't died, and he recently signed a book deal with an editor and has been working on his project seriously for the last few years, he said.

His novel is based on a futuristic race of neo-humans who have traveled through deep space to contact Earth, 2017. With a family background in science, Gaines has kept in close contact with local scientific scholars and facilities, and often has a hard time breaking from his research to actually write, he said. "It just makes sense that all 'G-Class' stars have planets."


Jim Gaines, MCCS publicity specialist, spends his free moments working on the projects that might take him to the big time. Remember his name, you might hear it again one day. Photo by: Pfc. Nich R. Babb