By Stacy Jenel Smith
It's not enough that Arnold Schwarzenegger
won the world's top honors as a bodybuilder, became one of the biggest and richest movie stars in a generation, and then became governor of California. No, even while he was on vacation this month, Arnie had to be rescuing some drowning guy in 20-ft. deep water off the beach at Maui - hauling the man up out of the water and onto a boogie board and taking him back to shore.Is there something about playing an action hero that makes a person act like an action hero in real life? Because Schwarzenegger certainly isn't the first celebrity-to-the-rescue.
Vin Diesel has shown that his heroics are not confined to the silver screen. In September 2002, he saved a whole family. Vin was riding down the Hollywood freeway on a motorcycle when a car in front of him got into an accident in which it rolled over and burst into flames. The "Fast and the Furious" and "XXX" star screeched to a halt behind it, as the incident was widely reported at the time, ran to the car, pulled the children out of the back seat while keeping everyone from panicking. After the family was out, the automobile became completely engulfed in flames.
This gives Vin something in common with "Navy: NCIS" star Mark Harmon. Harmon rescued two teenagers from a burning car in 1996, using a sledgehammer to break the windows and pulling the boys to safety. The car erupted in flames after crashing through a fence and into a tree near Harmon's home in Brentwood. The former UCLA football star, who costarred in the big-screen "Freaky Friday," ran from his house to help -- and rescued the teens before authorities arrived. Harmon declined to comment on the incident, but neighbors and medical personnel agreed the boys owed Mark their lives.
The year 1996 was Tom Cruise's banner year for rescuing, with no less than three incidents widely reported in which he starred as a real-life hero. First, Tom came upon a woman injured in a hit-and-run automobile accident, helped her out, took her to the hospital - and then paid her bill! Then, Tom reportedly saved two little boys who were endangered by the crush of a throng of people - by pulling them out of the crowd himself. And then, while yachting, Tom supposedly saved a group stranded aboard a burning boat, giving them a lift. The latter rescue was later disputed - there was a burning boat, but Tom was not involved in rescue efforts -- with some authorities ascribing the erroneous reports to media that was, by then, overeager to continue the Tom the Rescuer saga.
There's no disputing Harrison Ford's rescuing exploits. An accomplished pilot with a particular fondness for his Bell helicopter, Ford has volunteered his services for rescue activities near his Jackson, Wyoming digs. A few years ago, a young female hiker named Sarah George was overcome with heat, dehydration and altitude sickness while on a five-hour climb of Table Mountain. Ford flew in to get her. She didn't know that none other than Han Solo was at the controls of the chopper that saved her 'til told by an emergency medical technician. With about a minute to go before landing at Jackson's St. John's Hospital, the ailing George vomited into a hat. Later, she told press, "I can't believe I barfed in Harrison Ford's helicopter!"
The amazing list goes on and on: "Lord of the Rings" star Viggo Mortensen saved his co-star Zuleikha Robinson from a runaway horse - by jumping off the back of the animal and grabbing the reins that had slipped from her hands -- on the set of his latest film, "Hidalgo."
Tom Hanks was jogging on the beach near his Malibu, California home two years ago when he heard the screams of a drowning man - and wound up rescuing him.
Just a few days ago - April 12, to be exact - Robert Davi of the "Profiler" series and the big-screen "License to Kill" answered a cry for help from his neighbor's kids in Northridge, CA, and wound up rushing into the neighbor's burning house and (with two L.A.P.D. officer friends) fighting the flames until the fire department arrived, saving the house from destruction.
Don't think for a moment that only the fellows are involved in real-life derring-do. Recently, it was Renee Zellweger turning real-life action hero when she saved a woman who had collapsed when out hiking in California's remote Runyan Canyon.
Renee was walking with her personal trainer when she saw the lady faint and fall down part of the canyon. Instead of waiting for help, Renee risked her own safety and slid down to help the woman while her friend went to get paramedics.
Hooray for Renee! On the other hand, gals, can you imagine a more dreamy rescue than that experienced by Janice Flisfeder at the Toronto Film Festival back in September, 2001?
Ms. Flisfeder collapsed while at a screening of "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing." She later recalled being brought around by a kindly rescuer: "I felt a man stroking my hair and kissing my forehead saying 'It's okay, sweetheart,' and realized it wasn't my husband," the mother of three said. "When I opened my eyes and looked back to him I just thought 'nahh can't be.'"
The man who rushed to her assistance was none other than Matthew McConaughey.