What to Do When You’re Robbed by Ninjas


I’m not someone who has had to deal with much personal drama outside of the usual: growing up with parents who hated each other, two marriages and divorces of my own. There was the cancer thing, too. But there’s nothing that says, “Penny, you were lucky to get through that one.”

Oh, except for when I was robbed by the knife-wielding ninjas.

Let me explain. I had come home one night after a long day of filming a movie I was acting in. I pulled on my favorite flannel nightgown and applied a facial mask, one of those thick pastes. I heard a strange, unsettling noise inside one of the other rooms. I thought it was my daughter, Tracy, or my niece, Penny Lee, who was living downstairs in an outside apartment.

Ninja Robber

“Tray,” I called. Nothing. “P-Lee,” I said, trying my niece. No answer.

I walked out of my bedroom and looked in the living room. As I stared across the room, I saw someone run into the den and try a terrace door, which didn’t open.

I don’t startle easily. I’ve directed seven movies and know a thing or two about dealing with unexpected crises.

Moving methodically, I found the clicker for my alarm system on top of the bookcase, and just as I did, a guy emerged from the den. He had a stocking over his head and a knife in his hand. From his stance, I sensed he was nervous.

Another guy then appeared, this one dressed like a ninja and holding a large sword. That was a nice touch, I thought. They told me that we had to go to the bedroom, but we were interrupted by the phone. The first ring caused all of us to freeze and stare at the blinking light. It was the third line, I noticed—the alarm company. I guessed the clicker had worked.

I picked up the phone and immediately hung it up again. They glanced at me, then at each other, then back at me. “Otherwise it’ll keep ringing,” I said.

Unfortunately for them, I didn’t have much in the house to steal. I had on a necklace and a ring that had been my grandmother’s. The bad robber with the stocking and knife told me to hand over my jewelry. “I can’t,” I said. “I’m doing a movie. I wore them on camera. I have to match in the shots.”

They exchanged looks, and I suppose, this being Hollywood, they understood. They grabbed some cameras on a shelf instead. As the bad robber went to look around the house again, he told his ninja partner something like “If she moves, kill her.” He had watched too many movies.

“I’m going to wash this mask off my face.” Then, without waiting for an answer, I went into the bathroom.

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