Following is a slightly modified and enhanced version of an email I sent to a representative at Creative Artists Agency, as part of my quixotic effort to contact Tom Hanks or Steven Spielberg:
Thanks for your email. I have been attempting to contact Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, an effort many would liken to tilting at windmills. I can imagine that folks in the entertainment industry get mighty tired of being handed scripts by waiters, who are really screenwriters. I apologize in advance if that is the impression this email brings. I was very excited to hear that they are producing another 10-part miniseries for HBO, called The Pacific. I own the DVD set of Band of Brothers and have watched it repeatedly. It is unfortunate that I first heard about The Pacific years after principle photography was finished. I have a friend who was a decorated USMC dive bomber pilot, stationed in the Marshall Islands during the Second World War.
I would like to introduce them to my friend, Cecil A. Alexander, Jr. He is a Fellow with the American Institute of Architects, a recipient of the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award whose firm FABRAP, designed Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, Coca-Cola World headquarters and many other prominent Atlanta buildings. He is the recipient of the Philip Trammel Schutze Award from Georgia Tech. The New York Times wrote an article recently on the renovation of the “House of Tomorrow” he designed for his family and himself in 1958.
After retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel, the United States Marine Corps aviator, having flown the SBD Dauntless dive bomber (and later the Corsair) in the Marshall islands during the Second World War, he studied architecture at Yale (he is a recipient of The Yale Medal) and Harvard, and studied under Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, some of the founders of the Bauhaus Movement, regarded as some of the pioneering masters of Modern architecture. While at Harvard, he met and befriended a fellow pilot and war veteran, who was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, named Conrad Johnson, and that friendship did much to inspire his life. Why should that fellow pilot not be entitled to the same benefits and opportunities? Cecil knew a bit about discrimination.
Cecil is Jewish, and was born and raised in Atlanta. His ancestors fought during the Revolutionary War and for the Confederacy during the Civil War. His family’s prayer book is in the collection at Emory University, and is loaned out for certain occasions. After flying 60 dive bomber missions with the USMC in the Pacific in WWII, Cecil fought in the Civil Rights movement, working with Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. to quell the race riots which were threatening to break out, serving on the Mayor’s Housing Resource Committee (21,000 low income housing units) and the Committee to Mediate Racial Unrest.
Cecil and his friends were the white face of the Civil Rights movement. After Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Noble Prize, there were no plans to honor him in the city, until Cecil and some other brave souls stepped up to the plate and made it happen. Here is the letter Martin Luther King, Jr. sent Cecil to thank him. Helen Alexander (to whom Cecil has been married since 1985) and Cecil’s first wife, Hermi, co-founded the Minority Speech and Hearing Clinic (when they were outraged that a deaf African American girl they had met could not get into the white school for the deaf). These were people who risked their lives and their livelihoods to bring about positive change.
He formed the Atlanta Black Jewish Coalition with U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), (Cecil was co-chairman of his campaign for Congress).
Cecil is a member of The Temple in Atlanta.
Cecil’s first wife, Hermione, was killed in an accident when she and Cecil were hit head on by a young, drunk driver while they were returning from dinner. She was killed, he was so badly injured that he was unable to be at the funeral of his beloved wife, whom he had married during the war and who was the mother of his three children. After her tragic death, Cecil asked the Fulton County Government to rename the pedestrian bridge across the Chattahoochee at Paces Ferry after her. She had, after all, been the one who fought to save the bridge, when they replaced it with a then-modern, two-lane cement structure. Over the years, the bridge had fallen in to disrepair, but Cecil spearheaded the effort to renovate the bridge and finally got the funding approved this year and work has begun to renovate it.
Cecil is a baseball man. His firm, FABRAP, in a joint partnership, designed Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, and was largely responsible for bringing professional baseball to Atlanta. A little band called The Beatles played there.
Cecil is a friend of Hank Aaron’s (Cecil is goddaughter to Hank Aaron’s stepdaughter, Cecile). Cecil’s original name was “Henry Aaron Alexander.” It was changed at a young age, against his will.
Cecil was pitched to by (and actually got some hits from) Satchel Paige.
Cecil was the basis for the one positive Marine character (Colonel Virgil "Virge" Hedgepath) in Pat Conroy’s book, “The Great Santini.” Here is the autograph Pat Conroy wrote on Cecil’s copy of the book.
Cecil designed the flag which replaced the 1956 Georgia State Flag (the one with all the Stars & Bars) and was honored by Georgia Governor Roy E. Barnes for it.
Cecil, along with his lovely wife, Helen, was in the movie “Driving Miss Daisy.” Cecil is very much in demand with Public Television stations, who interview him frequently, as he is a walking library about the history of Atlanta. Helen is a gifted actress (among other things), who is well known for her portrayal of "Sparkles" in the Georgia Lottery commercial. She just got a call back for a new commercial for the Georgia Lottery and was on a great high . The field had been narrowed down to two actors, Helen and another woman. Helen lost the part because she did not look old enough. Being a gentleman, I won't state her age but let me state that I've seen women a fraction of her age jump for joy when they get carded by clerks in liquor stores. There are worse reasons to be rejected. She is the most elegant woman I've ever known.
At the tender age of 91, Cecil no longer flies airplanes (a hearing loss 10 years ago grounded him), but he pilots a Hybrid Camry (he was just checked out by a driving instructor, at his daughter’s insistence, who passed him with flying colors).
He received a patent a year ago for an invention, called the Sitcase, a suit case with a built in chair.
Cecil has a wicked sense of humor. When you put someone high up on a pedestal, it’s good to remember: “Once a jarhead, always a jarhead.” He also seems to have developed a taste for Jarhead Red.
For several years, Cecil has been working with writer Randy Southerland on his memoir "Crossing The Line," which is currently being revised. I have been working with Cecil and Randy to help set the book up and I cannot for the life of me understand why it has not yet been published. He is a remarkable, great man, who has lived a great life with courage and vision. He is absolutely my hero.
His life story would make a wonderful movie.
Here are some links to letters about Cecil from Coretta Scott King, Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Young, Pat Conroy, Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. and Eugene Patterson (editor of the Atlanta Constitution after Ralph McGill).
I tried (apparently unsuccessfully) to fax some of this information to Playtone Productions, but did not hear back. I would appreciate any assistance you could offer in forwarding this to Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg or others who might help to get his book published.
I have copied Cecil Alexander and Randy Southerland on this email.
Did I mention he’s 91? We’re burning daylight …
Thanks for your assistance.
Stephen H. Moore
"You round 'em up, I'll shoot 'em"
319 Summit Forest Drive
Marietta, Georgia, 30068
Tel: (678) 401-8092
Cell: (678) 777-3768
Helen and Cecil A. Alexander
16 March 2008 Cecil Alexander's 90th Birthday Celebration (Page One)
16 March 2008 Cecil Alexander's 90th Birthday Celebration (Page Two)
16 March 2008 Cecil Alexander's 90th Birthday Celebration (Page Three)
4 August 2007 Cecil Alexander Architecture
The Cyclorama with Cecil Alexander
Hermi's Bridge Second Shoot
3 June 2007 Hermi's Bridge Third Shoot
24 July 2009 Hermi's Bridge Renovation
17 October 2007 Alex Harris Book Signing
6 July 2007 Margaret Sartor Book Reading
26 April 2008 Memorial Service for Marshall Jay Mantler
Good Neighbor Air Show SBD Dauntless