The Lost Hook Tapes

It really is a waiting game based on luck and endurance.

I am banking on the idea that if you stick to your artistic career long enough all the riff raff will fall away and you will be standing with the aid of a cane or walker, waving your hands in the air, finally visible. BAM! You will be discovered for the talent you have always had.

Red Wood Coast

I am starting to limp so maybe it’s coming.

Every once in a while, the universe steps up its game with a tease and it’s just enough to keep you involved with your abusive lover, aka your career, and if you focus on gratitude your eyes may open to some of the amazing experiences you’ve had.

About a year ago a person I don’t know on Facebook, a friend of a college friend sent me a direct message asking if I had worked on the film Hook. He connected me with Michael Matessino. Michael was working with the approval of Sony music, Stephen Spielberg, John Williams, and Leslie Bricusse to bring the lost music of the Hook soundtrack to life in a beautiful three-disc set, now available on LA LA Land Records. Prior to this he had been the producer on many of these expanded, restored, and remastered soundtracks, including The Sound of Music. These projects take years and years. In the case of Hook the green light came in 2016. He was simultaneously working on the anniversary project for ET.

Hot Jazz Jubile

My three months on the Hook set is by film standards a long time especially, when you compare it to my three seconds on the screen. The production values that went into the look of us 18th century tarts were so visually stunning Spielberg wanted us call girls to be “on call” for various scenes. Yes! the Hook Hookers were lookers! (I may have stolen that from Mr. Bricusse.) Anthony Powell, the three-time Academy Award winning Costume Designer garnered another Oscar nomination for the costumes.

My first call with Mike started out with the intention of a short fact-finding mission and then turned into Michael mining my very willing brain for anything I might remember about my time on the set and in the studio. It turns out retracing those steps brought back so many amazing memories. It was during that session on the old MGM lot, in the huge soundstage where Judy Garland recorded “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” that I made a promise to myself I would become enough of a musician that I would never feel as lost as I did in that moment. I need not have worried because not only is John Williams gifted musically, but he also has that rare gift of making you feel so at ease he knew that is the way you get the best performance out of a street walker.

It wasn’t just connecting the dots about me in the scheme of the film. It was filling in blanks that Mike wanted regarding people who had passed on, session info, voices that no one could identify on the master. Speaking of masters the hunt for those tapes was extensive. “We” were all laying in a box in a warehouse in North Carolina. Michael sent me the scoring log sheet. My name misspelled but there I was—on a 30-year-old digitized piece of paper! (Remember paper?) Then Mike, as a thank you for my help, sent me a sneak preview. Me and Maestro Williams in the studio and that really gave me the shivershearing John Williams’ voice, directing me in the session. I can hear my own anxiety as I asked a question but then heard others asking their questions and I decided I would only feel joy and gratitude at having had that experience. I mean if anyone can browbeat a 30-plus-year-old recording, I am the woman for the job, but even I had to admit that that was a level of neurosis I really could not give into.

Spielberg was itching to make a musical and had hoped that Hook would give him that opportunity. There were musical numbers that unfolded when Peter arrives in pirate town, these numbers were completely cut out. I will never forget the day after the production saw the dailies (which is a term that means viewing the previous or current days’ work). We were told the audience in the screening room: producers, executives, and select crew gave our musical scene a standing ovation.

A wonderful musical theme is woven through the soundtrack, entitled “Low Below”this is still heard on the original soundtrack only without the pirate vocals. Like all good themes it recurs. Missing in the film were the musical numbers that were laced into the narrative. There was a song that Maggie Smith sings, a lullaby called “When You’re Alone,” and it was nominated for an Oscar. The “musical” section of the film was designed to be Peters’ introduction to Neverland’s Pirate Town via song and dance. There were four of us brothel babes and we had a number, and the peg leg pirates did a number with their legs taped behind them with prosthetic pegs attached which they then used to do a bit of a soft shoe. I keep hoping those tapes will resurface in another box in a warehouse.


During our lengthy conversations I became quite fascinated with Michaels’ job specifically the piecing together of the past. I know from hearing his various levels of stress that logistically it was not an easy job. Getting Spielberg to sign off was probably the most time consuming. He was involved in the re- making of West Side Story at the time and this was low on the priority list.

Michael is as down to earth as you get in the music/film industry. His job as a memory excavator is from a love of film and film music and a very necessary part of his job. Although I am sure it’s just fun to hear about the behind-the-scenes antics of people who were there. I wanted to know how he came to have both John Williams and Leslie Bricusse in his hip pocket so just like he did to me, so I asked.

“It was in 2004 when a label was going to do Goodbye, Mr. Chips, the 1969 musical version for which Leslie wrote the songs and John did all the adaptation, orchestrating and conducting. It’s one of those obscure films that happened to be a favorite of mine, and artistically and professionally it was a key project for John. So I came into that with “tribal” knowledge in order to do the project correctly, and connected with Leslie and his arranger (since 1960!) Ian Fraser. It became very expansive and took more than a year to do the project. John was very pleased with the result and things just went on from there.”


Mr. Bricusse’s name came up many times when we would speak. These types of projects take a number of years, but this one really took a long time. They were aiming for Hook’s 30-year anniversary in 2021.

The “pirate ladies” in Hook. Randi Cee is first on the left. (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment)

It was sad that Mr. Bricusse did not live to see the final product. They had formed a real friendship that went back many years. He even told me about the summer he was invited to Ginny Mancinis’ Thames-side tent to watch the Cambridge-Oxford boat races in 2016. (Tell me that doesn’t sound like a Noel Coward meets My Fair Lady moment.) Ginny Mancini was not just Henry Mancinis’ widow, she was one of the Mel-Tones who sang with Mel Tormé from 1943 to 1946, as Ginny O’Connor. She also sang in the chorus of many MGM musicals including my favorite film musical: The Harvey Girls. Before her passing she was one of Hollywood’s biggest philanthropists.

Ironically Bricusse’s passing created another hurdle—he had approved of and had been an active participant in assembling the CD project, but with death comes the birth of mounds of paperwork. Now the project had to go through his attorney, adding yet another time suck.


Even as a very young performer, I really knew how unbelievably rare that I got the chance to create anything with John Williams. It was not a common experience for someone just starting out or really…anyone. I hope when I do speak about it, I am not conjuring up my inner Norma Desmond, but man, I am grateful.

The last five years with the Pandemic followed by the strike has been brutal for me financially and emotionally, and even though the strike is over there is a regrouping or maybe backlash going down, which has seen my auditions go even deeper into hibernation. The work scarcity is being felt across the board.


Luck is such a huge component of my business. I went to college with a few people who you see on your televisions regularly and when I tell you my cat has more talent than one of them it is only a tiny exaggeration. One actor I had an acting class with, and one day I happen to turn to look at the professor (because the work was painful) and he had his head buried in his hands. She is a beautiful lady inside and out who really couldn’t act.

Talent is not a requirement for success, but luck is.

I was told I would get a copy of the new CD set and a small check. I signed a contract and release so I know it should be coming. I have not received either but with some more luck they will arrive before the 40th anniversary of the film.

There is even a picture of me in the liner notes! Thirty years later, finally there will be proof of my very good fortune.

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Randi Cee is a bandleader and a swing and hot jazz vocalist living in LA. Her CD, Any Kind of Man, is available via To see clips from her acting and dance career watch this video. For booking information, write: [email protected]

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