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Chuck Norris at Kentucky Derby party, 1984

Posted on March 10, 2018 | in Uncategorized | by

From left, martial artist and film star Chuck Norris, Anita Madden and Ed Podolak, former Kansas City Chiefs football star at Preston and Anita Madden’s Kentucky Derby Eve Party, May 4, 1984. About 1,300 guests paid either $160 or $250 for tickets to the gala at Madden’s Hamburg Place Farm in Lexington, whose theme was “A Day at the Races.” Norris, star of numerous martial arts movies said he was enjoying his first trip to Kentucky. He and his wife, Diane, arrived in town from Las Vegas with Dan Chandler, son of former governor A.B. “Happy” Chandler, and Podolak. When asked who would win the Kentucky Derby the next day he said, “I just want a female horse so I can give her a big kiss.” The then-44-year-old actor wasn’t as well-known as he is today. Norris strolled through the party tent with impunity. But his black belt skills had nothing to do with it – most people in the crowd simply didn’t recognize him. The minor-league movie star then told about the very first scene from his latest film, “Missing in Action,” which he just finished filming three weeks ago in Mexico. “The Viet Cong were supposed to be chasing me,” he laughed. “I had to run down a road and get across a narrow canal. There was a tree there – so I decided to swing over the water like Tarzan. The tree popped off and hit me in the face. Then I fell in the canal – five feet of water – and the tree fell on top of me. I was there under the water,” he continued. “Any second, I thought the crew would rescue me – after all, I was the star of the movie. But nobody came. I almost drowned.” When he finally got out of the canal by himself, said Norris, “Nobody had even noticed me. I was bleeding. Finally, somebody said: O’Oh. Are you hurt?'” Among the other guests at the party were actors William Shatner, Jim Varney and Dennis Cole; singer and movie star Olivia Newton-John; Las Vegas dress designer Suzy Creamcheese and astronauts F. Story Musgrave and Sally Ride. Norris is one of the marquee guests attending the 2018 Lexington Comic & Toy Con. Photo by Charles Bertram | staff

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