By Shanay Cadette
The South Plainfield Reporter
In the history of famous threesomes,
there were the Three Stooges, the Three Musketeers and the South Plainfield
Threesome. Wait a minute -- the South Plainfield Threesome? Does such
a thing exist?
Indeed it does exist in the form of Dennis Madalone, Irving Lewis, and
Mark Riccardi, who all graduated from South Plainfield High School in
the early '70s and early '80s and landed smack dab in the middle of
a little movie in the '90s called "The General's Daughter," which grossed
more than $100 million this summer. Not bad for some former South Plainfield
According to Mark, who was the stunt coordinator for the thriller, the
whole thing started back in the early 70s when Dennis had $52 and a
dream. Well, it might go back even further than that because Dennis
said he remembered always umping off his roof when he was a kid and
he did Irving, affectionately called Irv, when Irving's friend threatened
to beat him up.
"I wasn't going to beat him up," recalled Irving while laughing. "I just happened
to be there." Dennis said when they saw how "crazy" he was, the fight ended before
it began and he and Irving became fast friends. "We were best friends ever since," Dennis
The twosome didn't become a threesome until after Mark and Dennis bonded over
a touchdown. Dennis said the two still argue over whether he ran 40 yards and
caught Mark's 60 yard pass or if Mark threw an 60-yard pass and he ran 40 yards
after catching it. "That touchdown always bonded us," Dennis said.
The three guys distinguished themselves as athletes in track and field, football
and baseball and kind of went their separate ways once Irving and Dennis graduated
in 1974 and Mark left for college in 1975.
Meanwhile, an idea was growing in Dennis' head to move to Hollywood and Irving
remembered Dennis saying, "Let's go to California and become stunt men." Irving
said he had a track and field scholarship at Middlesex County College and didn't
want to leave his many lady friends -- whops, family behind.
So, Dennis took his $52 and did like everyone else does in movies and fiction
novels. He ran off to Hollywood. Dennis said he didn't have a car or any job
prospects, but I didn't have a lot to lose. I was young."
While in California, Dennis trained to become a stuntman for 1 1/2 years, joined
the Screen Actor's Guild and did his first stunt in "Swiss Family Robinson." "No
one gives you anything," recalled Dennis about the stunt business. "You've got
to earn it." "I knew if I did well (at the first job), I knew I could get two
more jobs," he continued.
And that's exactly what Dennis did. He worked on many action packed television
shows because audiences loved the tough guy genre. "I didn't want big parts," Dennis
joked. "Just give me two lines then throw me off the roof."
Then Dennis appeared on "The Johnny Carson Show" in 1979 and the South Plainfield
Threesome was born. First Irving went out West with his wife to visit Dennis
and never came back, then Mark went out to visit and never came back.
It was Dennis' appearance on the Carson show that gave Irving, then Mark, the
incentive they needed to join their high school friend in California. With Dennis'
help, Irving made his debut as a stuntman in "Tenspeed and Brownshoe" and Mark
made his in "The Greatest American Hero."
Along the way, Irving distinguished himself as one of the only African-American
stuntmen who would jump 100 feet or more off a building, Dennis became
the stunt coordinator for "Deep Space 9" and "Star Trek: Voyager"
"We're always working together here and there," said Dennis. "It's a we thing.
We're sharing the glory." When "The General's Daughter" came up, Mark cast his
friends as stuntmen and he said they had a blast.
"It's kind of a cool thing to be involved in a movie that made over $100 million," Mark
said. "Our relationship goes back almost 25 years." "We were able to carry on
the friendship from high school and eventually became stuntmen on the other side
of the country," said Mark. "The odds of that happening are probably a million
The threesome keep the feisty spirit they had as athletes alive by remembering
all the great times they had in the borough and by giving credit to the coaches,
teachers and their families who have supported them along the way.
"I'm always visiting with old teachers and coaches," said Dennis. "They're the
ones that built my character." As far away the South Plainfield Threesome may
be, they said they still walk around movie sets singing the South Plainfield
fight song and saying "Let's do it for SP" around onlookers who might think they're
a little strange.
But, Dennis said, "We carry the good feeling we had in South Plainfield with
us. I always wanted to make my mom and dad proud of me," Dennis continued. "Little
did they know that I'd end up doing this." Little did the borough know that the
South Plainfield Threesome wuold be history in the making.
For further information on the South
Plainfield Trio's exploits, check out: