Thursday, April 01, 2010

April 1, 2010
Went home for lunch and whipped out a Nazi In-din raising his hand. Could be a Heil Hitler salute or it could be a benign "How." Both are probably offensive, but then that's just my game.

Got back to the office and had a couple calls to return. Here's an interesting post situation: I'm on the phone with Hugh O'Brian (The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp, 1954-61, 275 shows). He's inviting me to his 85th birthday party on April 19 at his home in Beverly Hills, but I'll be at a history conference in Laughlin, Nevada. Man, he can bend your ear. I have been on the phone for about 45 minutes now.

Last year his motto was "I'm 84 and there's so much more." So I asked him what his motto is for the next year and he said, without even pausing, "I'm going to be 85 and ready to jive."

He talks away, tells me two more stories, and then gets another call. Leaves for about two minutes, comes back and says, "So anyway, I took the $245,000, jumped out the back of the plane and they never found me. Now who am I talking to?"

Hugh next tells me he is the national spokesperson for "Keep alive the spirit of forty-five." As in 1945 and the end of WWII. "Do you know that gal who was being kissed on Times Square for the celebration of the end of the WWII?" Yes, famous Life photo. "Well, her name is Edie, she's 92 and still just a cutie and she's working with me."

"Do you know I was the youngest drill instructor in the history of the Marine Corp?" I think I did know that but I think he told me when we were at End of Trail in 2006, when he refused to sign any autographs until we turned over all the proceeds for a painting I did of him:

I was giving all the gliche, or print proceeds to charity and would make my money back on the original but he demanded, and got, the whole kitty. This is a photo of me trying to reason with him. I'm not mad at him, he just is who he is (and by the way, isn't that Timothy Oliphant's hat from Justified?)

"The Hollywood Cantina was my entry into show business. I was in line and a woman came up to me and said, 'Would you like to represent the Marine Corp on a blind date radio show, and I said yes. I went back to the base and tried to get a pass from the commander and he heard me out and then said, "give this sergeant a four day pass." Then when Hugh was at the door, his commander stopped him and said, "If you don't win, don't come back."

Cut to the radio show, with four soldiers, one each representing the military branches. Hugh was there repping the Marine Corp. They couldn't see who the star was as she was behind a screen. The producers gave the soldiers cheat cards with corny answers on them.

Virginia Mayo, was the blind date but they didn't know that. "She was the Marilyn Monroe of her day," Hugh tells me. One by one they were asked questions, the last question was: "Why do you really want a date with me."

The other soldiers read their corny cue cards, but High told the truth:

"If I don't win I can't come back to the base."

"So I won the date with Virginia Mayo and we went to the Embassador Hotel, danced, I had my first brandy alexander, and she said, you gonna be in town tomorrow? So he went to the lot where the Goldwyn Girls, were filming Wonder Man With Danny Kaye, and here were 14 of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen. Went to dinner, with them and started to date several of them.

He was on his way to Yale to study law, but he was staying at the Hollywood YMCA before he left, and he goes to a rich guy's house (didn't get the name) and they had just fired the gardener, so the woman says, "if you can clean out the garage and mow the lawn I'll let you stay here for free." So I'm dating these beautiful girls and I drop one of them off at a play she was doing, but the lead actor hadn't shown up yet, so the director asked me to read some lines and I did. Later, it turned out the actor had to have his appendix out so they asked me to do the lead and I said I didn't know the first thing about acting, and the young director says, "Memorize your lines, say them so the people in the last row can hear you and don't bump into the f---in' furniture." And that's how I got in the biz.

He gets up at seven every day, stays busy, travels, he has 8 doctorates (more than any other actor by his estimation).

Before he signs off he starts pitching me on HOBY, his service organization. "II think you'd get a gas out of this. If you have any staff members who have high school age kids I can get them in. We have about 85 locations, the energy level is through the roof at these things."

He wants to know why the Westerns Channel isn't running The Life & Times of Wyatt Earp. He tells me he's 85 (and that ain't no jive) and he could promote it. I'm the only one left, he tells me. Perhaps Clint Walker would dispute that claim but anyway, I told him I'd find out for him.

Finally, he says, "Have you ever heard a marine go 'Hu-ahhhh!' Of course. "Well, I invented it." When he was a drill instructor he told his men, 'You're really going to hate me when we get through here. Three potty breaks, but I do need to know when you go and when you do I want you to go 'Hu-ah!' And that's how it started."

I started to say, "No s--t," but I didn't.

Okay, total elapsed time of call, 57 minutes. Value?


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