Jim Bartlett lends support to 'Life of Pi' nominee at ceremony

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO  - Ron Bartlett, nominated for an Oscar for 'Life of Pi,' accompanies his wife, Nattee, his father, Jim, a Beaverton resident, and his brother, David, before their limo ride to the 85th annual Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday in Hollywood, Calif.When asked how he dressed himself up to attend the Oscars in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jim Bartlett downplays any notion of putting on airs for the Hollywood crowd.

“I rented a tux is all, which is way out in left field for me,” says Bartlett, a self-described “old Beaver from the back woods” of Beaverton. “But it was real worth it. I’m glad I did it.”

Bartlett, 78, who operated his own wrought-iron fabricating business in town for decades, had a pretty good reason for flying south for the 85th annual Academy Awards: His son, Ron Bartlett, was nominated for one, in the Sound Mixing category for his work on “Life of Pi.”

Although “Les Miserables” ended up winning in the category, the Bartlett family — which made a mini-vacation out of the event — felt victorious anyway.

Jim attended Sunday’s ceremony in the balcony of the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood with his son, David, while Ron and his wife, Nattee, commanded floor seats reserved for the nominees. Jim’s daughter Marsha Kelly watched the show from her brother’s Studio City, Calif., home with Ron’s children, James, 16, and Pailin, 13.

“He didn’t win, darn it,” says Jim of his 49-year-old son, a 1981 Sunset High School graduate. “But ‘Life of Pi’ won four awards — more than anyone else.”

Night with the stars

Regardless of the voting results, Jim’s first Oscars ceremony was truly a night to remember.

“It was pretty fantastic. I never saw anything like that,” he says, noting the thrill of seeing Barbra Streisand as she sang “The Way We Were,” and Shirley Bassey reprising her 1964 James Bond theme, “Goldfinger.”

Noting the friendliness of everyone he met, including “Silver Linings Playbook” actor Chris Tucker and some stars whose names he couldn’t immediately recall, Jim says his fellow audience members were courteous as he gingerly negotiated the steep, narrow aisles in the high balcony.

“It’s so steep, your feet are even with the person below you,” he says. “There’s nothing to keep you from falling on the guy. But all the people who were sitting where I was walking would stick their hands out to stabilize me.”

The encounter with Tucker, a friend of Ron Bartlett’s, was the closest Jim felt to being a red carpet celebrity.

“The crowd was crazy when he shows up, and we’re standing right with him, like we’re somebody,” he says. “He really knows how to work a crowd, but he was a whale of a nice guy. Everybody I met was everyday sort of people.”

Although he knew it was coming, hearing his son’s name announced during the Sound Mixing category nomination was something he’ll never forget.

“It’s a great thrill,” he says. “It really was a pride thing.”

Plenty of Variety

As Jim and David exited the balcony, they wound up in an elevator that delivered them directly to an exclusive Variety magazine-hosted party.

“We got into that by accident,” Jim recalls. “The elevator guy took us downstairs. We didn’t know where we were. There were girls running around with trays of hors d’oeuvres with food made by Wolfgang Puck. There were little cookies that were flat and shaped like an Oscar (statue).”

A non-drinker himself, Jim and David simply made the most of the situation.

“We just milled around and got stuffed with hors d’oeuvres,” Jim admits, adding he skipped the after-hours parties his sons attended for a limousine ride back to Ron’s house. “I just don’t do well staying up late.”

Although he never pictured himself attending the Oscars as the guest of his son, Jim wasn’t particularly surprised Ron made a name for himself in Hollywood.

“He’s a very go-er type kid,” he says. “He works hard, long hours. He puts in 20-hour days every once in awhile.”

As for supporting Ron at the ceremony, the proud papa wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

“Once you’re a dad, you’re always a dad,” he says. “I’m always watching out for him, even if he’s more successful than I am. I’ve never really worried about him. He’s a very solid thinker. He moves along slowly and accurately, and does a good job.”

And of course, there’s the 86th Academy Awards to look forward to.

“It’s too bad he didn’t win,” he says. “but he’ll go after it again next year.”

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