Most people have played the game of asking, "What would do with $1 million?" It seems likely the late Malcolm Forbes played more often than most, for when he did start piling up the big bucks (far more than a measly million), he sure came up with a variety of ways to have fun.
Magazine publisher Forbes, who died last February, is the guy who said the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. His included fabled collections of toy soldiers, boats, miniature firefighting models and the historic and intricately decorated Faberge eggs, as well as big motorcycles and hot air balloons.
The latter two hobbies are the primary focus of "Living Dangerously: Malcolm Forbes, The Grand Sportsman," a documentary/tribute show premiering at 10 tonight on the basic cable Arts & Entertainment network.
Given the zest Forbes brought to life, this is a curiously plodding hour. But it does illustrate the millionaire's cheerfully egoistic conviction that he should use his money first to entertain himself and then to share his fun with others.
Tape and film clips show Forbes riding the Harley-Davidsons he took up at the age of 48 and flying the hot-air balloons he became enraptured with at the age of 52. Within 15 months of his first balloon flight, he was attempting to set a West Coast to East Coast flight record, which ended in the Chesapeake Bay.
(Local trivia note: In radio station 92 Star's annual balloon race at the Maryland State Fair a few years ago, one of the balloons carried long streamers bearing the name "Roberta." It had previously been owned by Forbes and was named for his former wife.)
Most interesting in tonight's show are the fabulous decorative balloons Forbes commissioned for his 1984 Friendship Tour, in which he and a huge entourage traveled the world on motorcycles and flew balloons at various stopovers. In Egypt, for example, he launched a yellow balloon shaped like the Sphinx. In Turkey it was a towering balloon of the Emperor Suliman, and in Thailand it was a huge elephant.
"I don't believe in spending the whole of this life getting ready for the next one," Forbes is heard saying near the end of tonight's show. Not a bad epitaph, is it?
A DEADLY MISTAKE -- Media Monitor must have been bamboozled by all those plot twists. Readers should know a pretty good USA cable network movie last night, which was reviewed here yesterday, was incorrectly titled in most editions. The film, starring Jack Scalia and Kathryn Harrold and due several repeats, is actually "Deadly Desire." (We inadvertently called it "Deadly Deceit," which is merely what it is about.)