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Double Takes : Margery Ross and Ron Long have new careers as First Couple look-alikes.

August 15, 1991|ROBYN LOEWENTHAL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It is said that W. C. Fields warned against working with children or animals because they steal the show.

But his caveat needs an addendum--never make a film with Barbara Bush look-alike Margery Ross.

Many of those who have seen David Zucker's zany new comedy film, "The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear," agree that the 71-year-old Westlake Village resident steals the show from stars Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley.

In a scene preceding the film's opening credits, Barbara Bush (Ross) is seated at a White House dinner beside Nielsen's bumbling police Lt. Frank Drebin.

While wrestling with a lobster, he repeatedly whacks the gallantly poised Ross with his elbow.

The force of a final blow sends her sprawling backward, and she lands flat on her back, legs in the air.

Similar indignities are visited upon her throughout the film as she is smashed, dumped and finally stripped to her slip and knocked off a balcony.

Ross' stunt double took the tumbles for her. But, she said, "I'm the one that got hit in the face all the time."

Yet she doesn't consider it elder abuse. She calls it acting. And she's having the time of her life.

"This is so astonishing," Ross said, "so unexpected. Everybody on the set was so sweet to me."

A retired General Telephone employee, Ross came late to the biz after a co-worker urged her to enroll with Hollywood Celebrity Look-Alikes.

"I retired in 1989, and it took me a year to even go get my picture taken," she said.

Her only previous acting experience, she said, was in grade school and high school.

"She's such a natural in front of the camera," said Ron Long, who is the George Bush to Ross' Barbara Bush on the public-appearance circuit.

The two met during a photographic session 18 months ago.

Long, who acts under the name Rod Steele, is a part-time actor living in Simi Valley whose extensive stage, theater and film credits span more than 20 years. At age 54, the only makeup he needs to enhance his resemblance to the President is some gray in his hair.

But Long is not just another pretty face.

In his capacity as senior clinical instructor for a leading manufacturer of pacemakers, he holds patents and has published articles on pacemakers.

He lectures internationally to medical professionals and has served as medical adviser to television shows, including "The Interns," "Medical Center" and "Marcus Welby, M.D."

Although she isn't a medical adviser, Ross has appeared on cable television on "Entertainment Daily Journal," a show she made with her oncologist, Dr. Asher Kelman.

As a single mother of six grown children, and a grandmother of 18, she values the work she did on that show more than her appearances on entertainment shows, such as "Totally Hidden Video" and "Entertainment Tonight."

Ross had only worked on "The Naked Gun 2 1/2" for five days before she was found to have breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy.

"Don't just look for lumps," she warned women. "I had a puckered indentation."

Ross was touched that movie makers filmed around her part until she was able to finish the role.

As for her resemblance to Barbara Bush?

"I didn't do it. It was given to me," Ross said. "I've never had so much fun in all my life."

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