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SEPTEMBER 2015

Howdy! Happy 21st birthday WC!  At last, you’re of age—or as my Pappy told me, “Son,” he said (never could remember my first name), “Son, now you can go out into the world and explore the Seven Cs: Cussin’, Cavortin’, Chawin’, Chug-a-luggin’, Courtin’ Calico Cuties.”

How was your Arghhhgust? Here, the pollen was fallin’. Here’s lookin’ achooo, kid! Folks call me Ian Phlegming. Hot? Our local market sold all its fan magazines. Took you 10 minutes to peel-off your T-shirts. When you got up from the toilet, the seat followed.

Loyal WC subscriber Randy Erdman from Matthews, NC, writes with advice to all of you flying to Pamploma for the Running of the Bulls: “Be sure to wear lotsa bright red clothing, so you’ll stand-out in photos.” Randy adds, “In his autobiography country music singer and songwriter Larry Gatlin writes about the time he toured as star of ‘The Will Rogers Follies’. One night backstage he noticed a blackboard on which someone had written, ‘Will Rogers never met Larry Gatlin.’” Ouch!

Here’s something new to me. In the old west a .45 cartridge for a six-gun cost 12 cents. So did a wee tumbler o’ whiskey. If a cowhand was low on cash, oft’ times he’d give the bartender a loaded cartridge in exchange for a drink. Hence, a “Shot of whiskey.”

Dawns on me why Andy Griffith’s Mayberry was so peaceful ‘n quiet: Nobody was married! Here are the single Mayberrians that come to mind. Andy, Opie, Aunt Bea, Barney, Floyd, Howard, Goober, Sam, Ernest T. Bass, Helen, Thelma Lou, Clara, the Darling Family. In fact, the only one married was Otis, and he stayed drunk.

Here’s a sure way to cadge a drink in a saloon. Bet the guy next to you that he can’t sit, raise his right foot a tad, twirl it clockwise, while at the same time, draw with his right hand the figure 6 in the air. A lady emailed us that she can do it. Uh-huh, lady. Seein’s believin’.

Years ago, Michael O’Shea shouted me to a drink. We were at the bar of the Pheasant Run Playhouse, a short drive from Chicago. He and June Havoc were appearing there in “George Washington Slept Here”. Havoc was strictly method. O’Shea was all razzamatazz. A perfect blendship. I was in rehearsals for the show to follow, “Early to Bed”. Hotsy Totsy! Why, in one scene I appeared in undershorts! Frank Sinatra Jr. was originally booked for the stint. He backed out. I read the script. “Hey, Frank! Wait for me! I’ll get my hat and go with you!” Too late. The bartender poured my drink. I poured out flop sweat. O’Shea changed the subject. He talked of his life with Virginia Mayo. When not acting he moonlighted. He’d hop on his hog and chase speedsters as a uniformed CHiP. During WWII, he starred on Broadway in “The Eve of St. Mark”. Opening night he’s ensconced in a foxhole. He looks out into the audience. Front row center sit Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Gulp! Show ends. Curtain call. Michael takes a bow. Kate smiles up at him, all teeth, applauding with vigor. Spence sits back, arms folded, giving Michael a tight-lipped smile, a wink, a nod. The play closed. Michael flew to Hollywood to re-create hs role in the flick version. One night, he went to Chasen’s for dinner. Who should be coming out the front door but Tracy and Hepburn. Spence took one look at him and said, “What took you so long, kid?” Thank you, St. Michael. You rid me of my fears. I did ok. Opening night on my dressing room mirror, June Havoc had written in lipstick, “Merde, Darling!

“Once there was a fleeting wisp of glory…once there was a spot for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot…There’s simply not a more congenial spot for happily-ever-aftering…Camelot!” Have you every been to Camelot? I lived there for five years. Call it what you will: Camelot, Utopia, Eden, Never Never Land. I call it Warner Bros.’ TV department. William T. Orr was our King Arthur, also our Merlin for making magic for the millions. Thanks, Bill, for letting me hamalot in Camelot.

Thanks, Robert Colbert, for refreshing the memory with your tribute to Bill Orr on <westernclippings.com>. I hoist a tankard of sarsaparilla with a dash o’cherry in your honor. Hail fellow well me, Bob Colbert. We worked on that sizzling saga of the south, “Claudelle Inglish” starring Diane McBain. Bob sent me flying to eternity when he hit me head-on, full speed, with his flivver. I have an 8x10 of my stuntman, head-over-heels in the air, not unlike a NYC predstrian in action. Bob lights up the set. One day during the shoot, a bunch of us were hunkered down, jawin’ away. Bob said, “I have something to show you. Give me 100 objects. Script gal Marie Halvey, please jot ‘em down.” So, we took turns. #1, telephone. #2, aspirin tablet. #3, Jack Warner’s mustache wax—on and on, up to 100. “Now,” Bob said, “Give me a number. 85?” That’s the Connie Stevens sandwich. “Now, give me an object.” Jimmy Cagney’s grapefruit? “That’s #54.” On and on. Marie Halvey verified that Bob got ‘em all correctemente! We were all gabberflasted! We wanted to keep playing, stay in our chairs, bask in the glow of Bob’s miracle. Recently, Boyd Magers said to Bob, “Come on, wizard, tell me how you do it. What’s the trick?” Bob said, “No trick. Really. Just concentrated visualization! To which I add Wow!

Arthur Kennedy restrains Will Hutchins as he and Robert Colbert are about to fight in Warner Bros.' exploitation of the Deep South--"Claudelle Inglish" ('61).

On July 30 at the Glen Cove, LI, NY, Senior Center, Will and Barbara Hutchins (second and third from right) and friends entertain.

On July 30th, I gave a talk at the Glen Cove, NY, Senior Center to a gathering of my peers. Every July is Cowboy Month. I wore my white John Wayne shirt. Babs dresses Western style 24-7. She’s Long Island’s designated cowgal. Before my chat, Rick Smith, owner of the town’s piano store, showed a mint 16mm print of “Sugarfoot: Short Range”. I dedicated the screening to Olive Sturgess who sweetened-up the episode considerably. We’re pen pals. There’s a nifty scene on a horse, I’m in front, Olive’s in back. She wasn’t exactly my sidekick. My pard Jeff Sorg strummed and sang a song he composed, “I Am a Cowboy”. Then, I went into my spiel, a hodgepodge, sorta surreal, easy lopin’, carefree as a tumbleweed. Babs hated it! From the front row she kept up a steady stream of suggestions: “Drink some water!” “Wipe your mouth!” “Oh, no! You’re not going to do that, are you?” Hi Ho—‘Twas an illustrated lecture, expounding on 8x10 glossies. One showed me in skivvies. I said, “Sugarfoot in a nut shell. My favorite. Doesn’t sell too well at fests o’ the west. Goes to show, hain’t no silver in long johns.” Groan from the front row. All in all, I reckon most of the folks had a pleasurable afternoon with the A/C on. Leastwise it was free, including Mocha Java and donuts. I ended my gabfest: “Old TV Cowboys never die—They just fade to black…”

Jeff Sorg sings as Will does his Sugarfoot dance.

       —Adios