Margaret and Raymond Russell of Highland Township will be going to the movies this weekend to see “Sparkle,” but not to see Whitney Houston in her last film role.
They are much more interested in seeing if the late singer sat in their 1968 Lincoln with “suicide doors” that was used in the film, which was shot in Detroit beginning last October.
The car’s journey into film immortality began when Raymond Russell took the Lincoln to a small auto repair shop on Livingston Road in Highland to see what was going on with the motor. Little did he know that trip would result in his car being in a major motion picture.
A person from Sony Pictures had been driving by the repair shop when he noticed the vehicle parked in front. It just happened to be the type of vehicle producers of the film were looking to include in the movie.
“He came up to my husband and said, ‘How would you like to have your car in a movie?’” Margaret Russell said. “We were floored. When (my husband) first came home and told me about the offer, I was like, ‘You know how they like to fool old people with scams. Let’s make sure this is real.’”
An introduction to an agent from Livonia, as well as a contract and having to file a 1099 tax form for the money paid to them for the use of their vehicle convinced the Russells the offer was the real deal.
“They kept the car for a couple weeks and paid us for the days they used it,” Margaret Russell said. “We don’t really know how it was used in the movie. We have to wait and see it on Friday. I’m anxious to see the credits at the end of the movie, to see if the car or we are mentioned. I know they put every little detail in the credits.”
The Russells acquired the Lincoln eight years ago and only drive it on special occasions, such as during the Dream Cruise.
“It really is a beautiful car,” Margaret Russell said. “It only has 22,000 miles on it. It will be so exciting to see it if it is indeed in the film.
“And if Whitney Houston was sitting in the car, it may be a future selling feature,” she said while laughing. She has encouraged her husband over the years to sell the vintage vehicle, although he has refused.
“You know how men are with their cars — boys and their toys. But maybe there’s a reason for everything,” she said.
“Sparkle,” the remake of a 1976 musical of the same name, stars Houston and “American Idol” alum Jordin Sparks, and opens on Friday, Aug. 17. The film set in the 1960s is about three Detroit area sisters striving to become a singing group during the Motown era.