Penthouse Retrospective

by Allan Sonnenschein Originally Published: January, 1993

Charlie Sheen

Spending a few days with Charlie Sheen, I learned that his interests in reading material go beyond baseball and his press clippings. During our time together we had an on-and-off debate about the Kennedy assassination and Oliver Stone’s JFK. I had questioned the conspiracy theorists and thought that Stone had done a disservice in mixing fact and fiction in the film. Charlie disagreed with me about the assassination and Oliver Stone:

“Oliver does not pull any punches. He tells it like it is and I respect him for it, especially in a day and age when most movies are catering to public for­mula needs. Silence of the Lambs was a great film, but what does it really say about society? It won best picture of the year over JFK. the most important film in the last 20 years. The film changed the course of history because it is creating activity on opening the files on the assassination, which I think were altered years ago. As far as the fiction in the film, it was one man’s way of say­ing consider this possibility. It was his version within the facts available to him. It’s fiction in the same sense as Arlen Specter’s ’single bullet theory.’”

Charlie was talking about the Warren Commission when Jeff’s doorbell rang again. It was former child star Adam Rich from yesteryear’s TV series “Eight is Enough.’’ No longer looking childlike, the heavy and grim Adam had a few hours earlier been released from L.A. County Jail and a halfway house after serving time for several drug-related misadventures. Adam was under the gun and had been advised by his parole officer to get a job or else. Char­lie listened sympathetically to his tale of woe. Before Adam left the room to speak to Jeff, Charlie promised to do what he could to help the former television star.

The visit disturbed Charlie, and he forgot about the assassination, Reds, Mets, and tabloids to talk about the Adam Rich, quick and slippery road of stardom in Hollywood: “You see, my brother [Emilio Estevez] didn’t go as nuts as I did when he started getting that first taste of it all. I just thought that’s what you’re supposed to do. You be­come a fucking overnight success and suddenly everything’s free. Everybody wants to be your best friend. It’s amazing and dangerous: The more money you make, the more things people want to give you for free. It should be the opposite. It’s very easy to get caught up with that fast life. Once you understand that you have to pay your way, you begin to handle your success and life.”

We decided to take a break for lunch, and headed to a Chinese restaurant in Sherman Oaks with Jeff. Throughout lunch Charlie challenged my knowledge of baseball trivia. Once you tell Charlie Sheen that you’re a baseball fan, he turns into that teacher we all dread, throwing spot quizzes at you at any time. Do your homework or don’t show up in Charlie’s classroom. He was disappointed that I hadn’t kept up with everybody who had played baseball in this century.

Before returning to Jeff’s house, we decided to walk a few blocks to the Scorecard, a store specializing in baseball, football, and basketball clothing. If there is any item of apparel out there with the Cincinnati Reds’ logo on it, Charlie Sheen will possess it. Although Charlie dresses down as much as possible-jeans, khaki jacket, and baseball cap drawn down to his eyes ­he was recognized throughout the three-block walk. While Sheen politely shook hands and signed autographs, his admirers never mentioned the movies. They knew what was on Charlie’s mind: “Whatta you think, Charlie,” was a typical question, “will the Reds catch the Braves?” Although a true Big Red Machine believer, Charlie’s reply was the stuff that makes baseball managers less than quotable: “It’s going to be tough, but we got a good shot at it.”

To be fair, Charlie Sheen does a great deal more than talk a good game of baseball; as they say, he walks the walk. He was a damn good pitcher, and had he not dropped out of high school, would have accepted an offer to play baseball at the University of Kansas. If you’ve seen Charlie in any of the baseball films he’s starred in, you would know that he’s not your typical actor attempting to be a baseball player. Without mentioning names, Charlie ex­pressed his disdain for certain actors who’ve failed the attempt “I don’t know what those guys were doing as kids, but it sure as hell looks like it had noth­ing to do with a ball and bat.”

Is Charlie Sheen the victim of tabloid sensationalism? Or is he just a sensation? Charlie speaks frankly about troubles that have plagued him in the past and opens up about some topics most wouldn't associate with him.