The ‘American Graffiti’ girl

By Natalie Minasian

Flash back to the 70s. Picture a long-legged, redhead beauty dressed in a white furry vest, red plaid skirt and high red boots.

This was the young Brooke Squires. She’s about to audition for the Golddiggers – a singing and dancing troupe that performed in the style of Vegas showgirls.

A senior at San Jose State, she got a phone call one day to audition for Greg Garrison, producer of the Dean Martin Show. Upon showing up at the hotel in San Francisco, Brooke saw three to four hundred others ready to do the same. If that wasn’t intimidating enough, the famous Tommy Tune was the choreographer that day.

Some of the girls were eliminated before anything else happened because they were searching for a certain type, a certain look.  When Brooke finally got before Garrison she was asked to sing a song so she belted out the only one she knew, “Hey, Look Me Over.” Brooke admits, “As far as being a singer, I was a hell of a dancer!”

Those that got past the singing audition, then changed into their leotards to dance. Tommy Tune gave them the dance steps, showing exactly what to do. At that point Brooke’s confidence kicked in and she felt, “I’ve got this whipped!”

Five or six of those auditioned were asked to fly to Los Angeles the very next day. They were taken to NBC Studios in Burbank to do more singing and dancing. Brooke recalls how much fun it was to be in the studios and see the Johnny Carson set and Rowan & Martin Laugh-In set. At the end of the day they were flown back home.

Months later Brooke found out that of the hundreds who started, only two were chosen. One of those two was Brooke! She was asked to be a Golddigger! The other one was Taffy Jones, a very strong singer, who made it into the Ding-a-ling Sisters, a quartet that sang medleys with Dean Martin.

Becoming an onstage dancer is what Brooke had always wanted since she was a little girl. At age 10, her parents assessed she was not a real academic type, in the family tradition. They’d better get her into something else and thought, “How about dancing? She loves to perform and dance.”

Brooke took dance lessons throughout middle and high school.  Eventually she got into San Jose State with a major in physical education and emphasis on dance. After getting the offer to be a Golddigger, she quit school that minute. She’d reached her goal.

Her father was an attorney and it probably wasn’t his plan for her to become a dancer or actress. Yet, this was Brooke’s passion and she hoped in time he would understand.

“Can you dance at the Emmy Awards in five days?” The question caught her off-guard but she went for it. She, along with the Golddiggers, opened the Emmys.  Johnny Carson was the host that year.

Brooke recalls that she, Johnny Carson, Bob Newhart, Suzanne Pleshette and Barbara Eden all gathered in Johnny Carson’s dressing room before the show. Then to applause the Golddiggers escorted Johnny out onto the stage.

She danced with the Golddiggers in Los Angeles for another year then went on to do summer replacement jobs touring the country at state fairs, Forrest Tucker’s Show, and other TV shows. Her mother called one day and said, “Why don’t you come back to San Francisco and attend ACT?” ACT is the American Conservatory Theater. She agreed.

She attended ACT for a year on scholarship and among other things, developed her acting skills. It was time to sign with an agent and so she did, with Ann Brebner.

One day Brooke called her agent to ask about TV residuals, and Ann asked, “Oh, by the way, can you roller skate?” Doing her best Barbra Streisand imitation from “Funny Girl” she responded, “Can I roller skate?!”

She was told to be at Mel’s Diner, on the corner of Van Ness and Mission Streets in San Francisco, that evening.  Brooke showed up hours early to practice because of course she needed to re-learn roller skating. They gave her a bra and said to stuff it with tissue.

Finally the Golddigger hit pay dirt! She landed the part as a carhop in “American Graffiti.” The drive-in scenes were shot from sundown to sunup for four nights.

Brooke had to roller skate up to a car with actor Paul Le Mat at the wheel. The first time she rolled up, she spilled the soda on her tray right into Le Mat’s lap. The next take, they put ice cubes in the cup to give it some weight. It still went flying. So forget the contents. She skated up to the car and successfully delivered the empty cup stuck to the tray with gum.

Brooke had good times with some of the “American Graffiti” cast like Cindy Williams, Ron Howard and with Richard Dreyfus, who loved to talk politics with her because Watergate was all over the news, she said.

After “American Graffiti” wrapped, Brooke took a position as choreographer for the Oakland Raiders’ Raiderettes.  She met the very personable James Garner at one of the games. He was a loyal Raiders fan and went to all their home games.

Brooke’s father was a retired Army reserve colonel, so she’d go to the officers’ club.  At times, she’d take the Raiderettes to dance at the club. On one particular Friday night, she spotted a handsome guy while dancing and so walked by him later that night.

As she walked by, he used a corny line, “If I said you had a fantastic body, would you hold it against me?” She thought he was being so clever. Her response was smoother and to the point, “No, but you’d love me to.”

He was wearing white pants and blue top and she was wearing blue pants and white top. It was meant to be. His name was Monte Squires and he was an active duty pilot in the Navy. Brooke and Monte were married just two years later, in 1975. She gave birth to two lovely daughters, Courtney and Lauren.

During their years together, depending where he was stationed, Brooke taught dance, did commercials, had her own dance studio and landed a few bit parts in movies. They moved all over, from the San Francisco area to San Diego, Virginia, Jacksonville, Guam and finally to Colorado Springs.

Brooke worked one day in “Top Gun” in a bar scene along with Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise at Jimz’ Air, near the San Diego airport. She stood by Gene Hackman in “No Way Out” and although she was cut from the scene, stood on stairway near Dennis Quaid in “Suspect.” She remembers William Hurt off-script, reciting a long Irish poem just to entertain the cast, while working on “Broadcast News.”

Brooke played a waitress in “Gardens of Stone” which starred Anjelica Houston and James Caan.  Dressed as an extra, wearing an Australia hat, she appeared alongside Cliff Robertson in “Wind” about America’s Cup yacht race.

What a good time she’s had whether dancing up a storm on stage, meeting celebrities, traveling all over, acting in some good films, being married to Monte and raising a beautiful family. Now with seven grandchildren (Finley, Benton, J.P., Colton, Jackson, Wyatt and Harper) Brooke and Monte are both retired and plan to stay put in Colorado Springs.

Her latest endeavor was to lead Moms Demand for Gun Sense in America. While lead of its local group she got to meet with former President Bill Clinton. She remains dedicated to helping reduce gun violence in our country by using common sense measures.

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