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Email: leonielyttle@gmail.com


The Beginning
A Knifemaker: Why?
Knife Preferences
Advice for New Makers
My Pride & Joy
My Current Favorite Steel

Two Visits with Brad Pitt
Prop for "Lonesome Dove"
Folder for "The Edge"
Conquering Diabetes II& Obesity

TWO VISITS WITH BRAD PITT (written for Aug, 2001 and Jan. 2008)
A few years ago, I think it was 1993, my wife answered the phone to someone identifying himself as Brad Pitt. I was very busy at the time and she was gate-keeping for me. After some vague answers from him (he described himself as "sort" of a collector), she thought that he might be a tire kicker who wanted to visit me in my shop and waste my time. Fortunately, my teenage son knew who Brad Pitt was and quickly insisted on running out to the shop across the yard to tell me who was on the phone.

I talked to Brad about what sort of knives he was interested in and we arranged to meet the following Sunday afternoon in the bar of a little hotel in a town called Okotoks. Brad knew how to find Okotoks from Calgary, but wasn't sure of the rest of the way to my place. As he was about to hang up, he asked how he would recognize me. I assured him that I would recognize him.

Anyway, the following Sunday, I was in the bar sitting where I could see the door and in he walked. He was dressed in boots, jeans, a fringed moose hide jacket and wore a western style hat with his hair down to his shoulders. As he looked around, I caught his eye with a wave and he came over to my table while every head in the place turned and followed him. When the barmaid was taking our orders, she very unashamedly drooled all over him. I tell you, there is no shame left in this old world.

Brad spent the afternoon at my place where we shared a bottle of whisky, discussed the knives that he wanted, and then joined my family for some corn on the cob. He was in the area for the filming of "Legends of the Fall" so I had enough time to make the pieces that he wanted. They were to be gifts, I believe, to the other actors on set (Anthony Hopkins, Aiden Quinn, & Henry Thomas) and... one was a pocket knife for his father.

In December, 2005, when Brad Pitt was in Calgary for the shooting of the movie, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (which was released in October, 2007), we were pleased to receive a call from him requesting me to bring in any knives I had available. Leonie and I spent a half hour with Brad on set between shoots. We also spoke with him at the movie's wrap party to which he invited us. The Calgary Sun managed to get a few details as shown in the following writeup (click here).
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Shortly after Brad Pitt's visit, I was introduced to the property master of the series "Lonesome Dove". He wanted me to design and build something to contain a knife safely up an actor's sleeve and to somehow be made to appear instantly in the actor's hand. It was quite a challenge, but I made a thin narrow leather-lined metal container for the knife which strapped to the actor's forearm and which had a spring-loaded trigger device which could be activated when the actor lightly pressed his arm against his body, allowing the knife to drop instantly into the actor's hand.

When I went to deliver the rig to the props master, I wore the rig hidden, of course, by my jacket sleeve and I carried a briefcase in my left hand. When he came into the office where I was waiting, he looked at my briefcase and said, "Well, let's see it." Well, I lightly pressed to my body my right arm which was hanging straight down by my side and the knife was in my hand in a flash and I had it aimed at his throat. He was so surprised that he flushed red and I thought that I had gone too far and had scared and upset him. However, slowly a grin came to his face and, beaming, he said, "At last, a prop that works!"
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Through the property master mentioned above, I was given the chance to compete to make the knife for the movie, "The Edge", starring Anthony Hopkins, Alex Baldwin, Harold Parineau, and Elle McPherson. When my prototype for the knife and other works were passed around the table at a production meeting for approval or disapproval, I was told that, as Anthony Hopkins looked over my knife and spotted my name, he said: "Lyttle... I have one of his. Damn sharp!" That helped in the decision process and I got the job. Later, during filming, I got a job as an extra and spent 3 weeks on set. If you see the movie, I am the guy in the slicker and fur hat standing on the dock when the plane first comes in and, later, taking up the rear carrying in the bags. (You have to really keep your eyes peeled to find me and, unless you see the wide-screen version, you will miss me entirely!) (Back to top

CONQUERING DIABETES II & OBESITY (written for Feb, 2003)

The majority of North Americans die prematurely from degenerative diseases caused by poor nutrition. If one has not gone beyond the point of no return, a balanced diet, combined with exercise, can quickly improve a person's overall health as well as greatly improve one's odds of avoiding cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes II, the three major killers of our modern age.

I am 59 years old and I have been overweight most of my life, getting worse over the last few years. I was suffering from high blood pressure & high cholesterol (8 years) and Sarcoidosis (25 years). I also had a heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) for a lot of years that at times got severe. I had indications of decreased kidney function, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, constipation, and heat rashes. My gums were constantly sore. And…as if all this was not enough, in April, 2002, I was diagnosed with Diabetes II with the beginning symptoms of peripheral neuropathy (deadening of the nerves in my legs and feet) and vision blurring. Diabetes II is a leading cause of amputations, kidney failure, and blindness. It is also closely connected to heart failure. My blood sugars were 3 times the upper normal limit--a very dangerous condition. The week following my diagnosis was a haze of conflicting emotions verging on despair. After talking to several knowledgeable people, I began to seriously study the problem of Diabetes II. (Back to top

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