Howdy! Hey, Bobby Copeland, here’s a tad of Cowboy Commentary for you from Tommy Farrell, Glenda’s son: “I think I was 15 years old before I found out “ThatsonofabitchJackWarner” wasn’t all one word.” Another, from Wild Bill Wellman. We were discussing “Stagecoach”. He said, “If the Indians had shot just one horse, there wouldn’t have been a picture.” Another—Barbra Streisand and her think-tankers were mulling over titles for her latest album. One stout-hearted man suggested, “More B.S.” He was fired on the spot.
Here’s to Tommy Cook the Lover. There is no other. If there is, must be his brother. Tommy and I went to different schools together. On Saturdays of yore in Griffith Park, I’d cheer for ol’ Tom as he volleyed and thundered on the tennis courts. Then I’d bike it to the Atwater theatre and cheer some more as Tommy “Little Beaver” Cook and Don “Red Ryder” Barry foiled the schemes of evil Ace Hanlon. Tommy’s night job was playing Alexander Bumstead on the “Blondie” radio show.
One October in Newark, NJ, at the Friends of Old-Time Radio convention, Mad scientist Gary Yoggy resurrected “Blondie”. I’m the world’s only living Dagwood, sort of a creaky Dagwood. Even so, in the magicland of radio, the theatre of the mind, all is possible. Bagwood Dumstead Rode Again! An SOS went out to Tommy to attend the family reunion. Alas! He had a celeb tennis tourney to organize.
Years before, Colonel Jack Warner invited Tommy to his spread to put together a friendly little gathering of Beverly Hills aces. “Tennis anyone? BYOW—Bring Your Own Wallet. BCYP—Beat the Colonel at Your Peril!” Tommy was ushered in through the front door—Gasp! There on the far wall was a stunning life-size portrait of Mrs. Jack Warner—the painting was so accurate in detail that it looked not unlike a photograph. The artist? Salvador Dali! Egads! The clown prince of Surrealism a sell-out? Er, not quite. Tommy told me down in the right corner of his masterwork Dali had painted a rather large, a rather repulsive insect! It looked three-dimensional! For cripe’s sake, it looked alive! At first, viewers were awed by the sheer Hollywood epic-ness of it all. Then, their eyes were diverted to the creepy crawly down near frame’s edge. They approached as if transfixed. Actually, they wanted to rid the fair flower of its blight. They flicked, they flicked, they flicked. Instead of the grandeur of the Colonel’s lady, the focus was on a hairy bug! Game-set-match. ‘Twas the beast that killed beauty. I know a pretty gal. One night at a banquet table she sat next to Seňor Dali. He looked at her. His long mustaches quivered. “Seňorita,” he said, “You have a lovely skull.”
One September Babs and I were lucky guests at a Baltimore bash. We amscrayed on Amtrak. Journey’s end—The Marriott Hotel! A grand hotel! Full of southern Horsepitality. A big sonuva big fella. A ramblin’ sort of place. Corridors of lost souls. The Winchester House East. Brings to mind a story about Elaine Stritch. Late one night she approached the hotel bartender and asked for a bottle of Vodka and a floor plan. Wonderful wait staff. They laffed at my jokes, especially when they brought the check.
Mammoth Dealer’s Room. Babs was born to shop. She bought some movie posters. “Merrill’s Marauders” in French. “The Shooting” starring Jack Nicholson—Hmmm! Back in the day I got top billing. Some Shirley Temple posters for her boss. Dobe Carey talks of the time he, Duke, and other John Ford cowpokes rang John Agar’s doorbell. “Johnny me lad, come with us out into the night. We’re on a toot.” “Aw, fellas, I’d sure like to, but Shirley wants me to stay home and watch ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’.” Steve St. John gave us a poster of “Clambake” in Spanish. “En Fuga de su Destino”. Elvis is depicted strummin’ his git fiddle. I’m shown twice, dallyin’ with some doozies. Babs bought Marsha Hunt’s tome THE WAY WE WORE; gorgeous Miss Hunt in gorgeous gowns. Also handy for pressing pants.
At the signin’, smilin’, schmoozin’ sessions our table was next to Mark Goddard’s. He’s a hoot-and-a-half. So is jolly Ed Nelson. So is vivacious Dawn Wells. That’s 4½ hoots. Most of my 8x10 glossies are 50 years old. I signed a few “One L of a long time ago.” We never left the hotel.
The Saturday banquet came all too soon. Director Don Ramlow asked me to play The Lone Ranger in a re-creation of a masked man adventure. He asked Babs to play a Pioneer Woman in distress. Danger Babs Hutchins. She was hesitant. He assured her that no nudity was required. “Dazzling!” says Long Island critic. She had more lines than I. Hmmmm! Tonto was terrific. Roy Thinnes played him with a slight hint of Borscht Belt accent. Whatta guy. The script was early Lone Ranger. He shot to kill. The silver bullets turned crimson. Penny, a super sound effects lady, created our horses’ clop clops to perfection. The big shoot-out was her triumph. I pantomimed fast-drawin’ my shootin’ irons—Blam! Blam! Blam! All was quiet. I twirled my pistolas and re-holstered—oops! More shootin’. Penny poured out more ammo than The Alamo. I pulled out a hand grenade and blew the bad guys away. Fran Stryker Jr. was in the audience. He was smilin’. Penny praised my pineapple toss. I complimented her coconuts.