In real life, Dr. Bernard McNamara has a private practice in Hollywood, specializing in infectious diseases. On Oscar night, he gets a glittery busman’s holiday--backstage at the Academy Awards show, ready for even the smallest emergency.
“Last year we had one woman who got blisters from her new high-heels, a few people who had problems from drinking on empty stomachs--and one of the ushers had an asthma attack,” recalled McNamara, who is on a monthly retainer from ABC-TV for various medical duties. “Actually, the biggest problem we had was when the director of the show got hoarse from giving orders to everybody. I had to go out and get him a mist vaporizer.”
Still, this Oscar Doc--who insists he has no show-biz aspirations (“I don’t even watch ‘Nightingales’ ”)--prepares for anything: “The Shrine holds about 6,500 people. It’s like a small village, with everybody from kids to people in their 80s. So it’s like covering a mini-Woodstock. You never know what might happen.
“We have paramedics on the premises, but unless someone comes in with an AK-47, I’d say we can probably handle just about anything.”