Thinking quickly (not Dougie's specialty, which is ironic, as the show he was directing, Fakespeare, was an improvised production of MacBeth), Dougie leapt out of the way of the speeding Sedan of Doom, avoiding becoming Bumper Kill by only scant inches, and then he saw the face of the man who had nearly killed him, as he raced by, just a few centimeters away. It was Broadway and movie legend James Whitmore.
Whitmore was known for one-man shows, particularly as Will Rogers. Little Dougie's grandfather was a personal friend of Will Rogers, so he was not impressed by Whitmore stealing Rogers's act and calling it a "Tribute". Rip-off would be another term for it. But now he understood why Whitmore did one-man shows; the way he drove, no actors in their right minds would want to risk being in a parking lot when he was unleashed behind the wheel.
Whitmore did a lot of movies, demonstrating a singular lack of singing ability when he and Keenan Wynn sang Brush Up Your Shakespeare in MGM's film of Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate. Of course, he was best remembered for starring in the beloved science fiction classic THEM! Little Dougie discusses THEM! in his most recent book, The Q Guide to Classic Monster Movies, available wherever small books are sold. In the book, Dougie shows a forgiving nature that makes Jesus look like Medea, by not mentioning that Whitmore had once tried to take his life!
THEM! is about Los Angeles being terrorised by voracious, mutated giant aunts. Dougie writes in his little booklet: "This movie, which has a fairly intelligent script, featured full-sized, giant mechanical aunts that looked like crude Disneyland ride exhibits. Godzilla has better-looking special effects." Dougie finds the whole concept of giant aunts terrifying. You would too if you'd had Dougie's Aunt Evelyn, a sort-of Mormon General Patton in drag, in your family.
But notice how Dougie passed up the chance to revenge himself on Whitmore for his vicious, unprovoked attempt on Dougie's life by likening Whitmore's performance to an audio-animatronic robot. If Dougie weren't an atheist, he'd have been granted Sainthood for that one act of forgiveness alone.
Whitmore's most prescient performance was as President Barack O'Bama way the hell back in 1964, when O'Bama was only 3 years old, in the movie Black Like Someone Else.
Anyway, James Whitmore is dead now. America's highways, parking structures, highly-talented pedestrians, and giant aunts are finally safe once again.
Oh yeah, he was also a really good actor; just a lousy driver.
Actually, they've been dropping like flies again this week. Most deeply missed: the late, great Granny Goose, a.k.a. Phillip Carey, whose other credits beyond his memorable potato chip hawking included the western transvestite musical Calamity Jane, where I believe he played Doris Day, or something like that anyway. I forget. And he also spent many years playing Asa on One Life to Live. Phil has lived his one life now, and left a lot of good work behind.
And long-forgotten 1950s country-singing star Molly Bee passed away this week. She originally became famous on Cliffie Stone's Hometown Jamboree, and later on The Tennessee Williams Ford Show, an odd daytime variety program in which country music mixed with searing dramas about faded southern belles clinging to their fleeting youth and hot, paid gigolos, while tormented by memories of their dead gay husbands, and incessant backwoods ballads. Bee also co-starred on the aggressively obnoxious 1950's kids TV program, The Pinky Lee Show.
Little Dougie saw Molly Bee live onstage once, playing Irish lass Sharon McLonergan, opposite James Dunn as her dad, and Alan Young as a very large leprechaun in Finian's Rainbow, played in the round in Anaheim's infamous Melodyland Theater, back in that same 1964 when James Whitmore was singing Mammy in blackface in Not Black Like Me.
In 1960, Molly starred in Chartroose Caboose, possibly the greatest movie ever made. Possibly not. I saw it 48 years ago, but I don't really remember it vividly. I do recall that it was in color. But I am certain that it is the greatest Caboose movie ever made, except perhaps for Fanny and Ass You Like It.
Gotta run. Be sure and check out my first Survivor recap over on The Huffington Post. Here's a link to it.