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By Shanay Cadette
Staff Writer 
The South Plainfield Reporter
Circa 1999

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 residents.

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 said.

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 to one."

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:

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