Thursday, April 17, 2008

Court Adjourned

Ah, distinctly I remember. It was in the bleak December,
And each separate, dying ember wrought it's ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow. Vainly I had sought to borrow,
From my books, surcease of sorrow, sorrow for the lost Lenore,
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore,
Nameless here for evermore.

-The Raven
Edgar Allan Poe

In the wake of Cheston's death, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that Death isn't always a good thing. Perhaps it's just as well that Poe is dead, because if he wasn't, he might be weeping, for this week we lost Lenore again. The photo on the book cover at the top of this column is from the 1962 American International Picture The Raven, starring Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Jack Nicholson (No, that's not a typo, and yes, the Jack Nicholson.), and beautiful Hazel Court as Lenore, Poe's Lenore. And now, at 82, beautiful Hazel Court has died.

I have to accept the fact that I am a born trendsetter. There. I've accepted it. No sooner had I published my award-free autobiography, My Lush Life, not to be confused with Richard Price's rip-off novel, than Hazel decided to leap onto my beerwagon, and pen her memoirs. However, noting what a personal drain on me all my bookstore signings have been, Hazel sped off down Life's Offramp just before publication, as her book comes out this June. You can pre-order it from now. Here's Amazon's description of the book.

International star Hazel Court has been described as the Ultimate Scream Queen, due to her work with both Hammer Films and Roger Corman. She is the only actress to have worked with all of horror films' leading men - Boris Karloff, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and Christopher Lee. But Hazel Court was so much more than a Scream Queen! She was one of England's top film actresses in the 40's and 50's as well as one of the world's top pin-ups. Hazel went on to have a high-profile career in US television in the 60's (Bonanza, Dr. Kildare, Rawhide, Mission Impossible, The Twilight Zone, Burke's Law, The Wild Wild West, and more). Her autobiography traces her path from her childhood in the West Midlands of England to Lake Tahoe; from famous actress to internationally-acclaimed sculptor and artist. Hazel provides a unique and emotionally moving view of an English woman's life in Hollywood. Lavishly illustrated with rare photos including some that you never thought you'd see!

Now first off, I also worked with Peter Cushing, in Bats in My Belfrey and Frankenstein's Reason for Living, Vincent Price, in The Haunting of Horrible House and Poe's The Premature Climax, Christopher Lee, also in Bats in My Belfrey, and Boris Karloff in Fu Manchu's Blessed Event and Poe's The Black Pussy, though my role in The Black Pussy was entirely cut out of the picture before release. Further, I was married to Boris briefly back in the 1930s. However, Hazel also worked with Peter Lorre, which sadly, I never did, though Peter Lorre and I did have an evening of mad passion atop Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, and I'll bet you won't read that in Hazel's book, nor in mine, for that matter, out of respect for Half Dome.

Still, Hazel was the Scream Queen's Scream Queen. She was there at the birth of the Hammer Horror movie, playing the heroine Elizabeth in the very first one, The Curse of Frankenstein, with Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as the monster. Here you can see her with Peter Cushing in that movie.

Here she is with Anton Diffring and Christopher Lee in Hammer's The Man Who Could Cheat Death. (You know, if you're having an affair with Death, you're ill-advised to cheat.)

In her English horror movies, she played innocent heroines, but when she came to Hollywood, Roger Corman saw greater possibilities in her, and cast her in his film of Edgar Allan Poe's The Premature Burial in a role that seemed to be a simpering heroine at first, until we learned, about three-quarters of the way in, that she was really a scheming murderess, who buries Ray Milland alive for his money. (Well who could blame her? He deserved it for pretending to be Vincent Price - no relation to literary scammer Richard Price!) Villainatrixes became her new stock in trade, and she excelled at them. Like my dear friend, the lovely Martine Beswicke, Hazel stood head-and-cleavage above the common crowd of Scream Queens (as opposed to Screaming Queens, aka, most of my ex-husbands.) by virtue of her beauty, her talent, her intelligence, and her gift for simulating cold-blooded evil.

Here she is in her next AIP film, The Raven, seen with Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. If the shot were wider, you'd see Jack Nicholson on the other side of Peter. No honest! Jack played Peter Lorre's son in that film. Think about it. They sound exactly alike!

And here she is with my ex-husband Boris Karloff, in that same film.

It was in The Raven that Little Dougie first saw her and fell as madly in love with her as he would ever love any woman, at the Fox Redondo Theater, Redondo Beach, California, in 1963. She played Lenore as a scheming vixen with a sadistic streak. When Boris, as the evil Dr. Scarabus, announced his intentions to wring secrets from Dr. Craven (Vinnie Price), Hazel heaved that massive bosom with the skill of an ambidextrous Olympic shotputter, and purred with eager delight, "Are we going to have a little torture?" She made it sound like a special treat, and turned Poe's tragic heroine into a 13th Century Lyndie English.

How lovely is she in this still from Corman's film of Poe's The Masque of the Red Death, in which she played a would-be Satanist?

Here she is with Vinnie again in Masque of the Red Death, watching Little Jane Asher take a bath. My, aren't we a bit kinky? Well, she was selling her soul to Satan. At the time this film was being made, Little Jane was dating Sir Paul McCartney, so maybe they're checking her for Beatles. This is a really good movie. Jane is still making films. (She was just in this year's hilarious Death at a Funeral.) I have no idea what became of Little Sir Paul (I heard rumors that he died a while back, but, given how long it's been since The Beatles broke up, he's probably just destitute, and living in a cardboard box somewhere, traumatized by the movie of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, although for pure McCartney-related horror, that ghastly film can not compare with Lennnon-McCartney Night and Beatles night on this season's American Idol.)

This next lovely-but-puzzling picture hangs in a frame on Little Dougie's living room wall. That's Boris, Lon Chaney Junior, Vincent, and Hazel. What's puzzling about it is that Hazel never made a film with Lon. It must be the scene dock at Producer's Studios in Hollywood (Now called Raleigh Studios), where many of AIP's films were shot (Though not Masque of the Red Death, which was shot in England.). The outfits are particularly mixed. Boris is wearing his costume from The Terror. Lon is wearing his outfit from The Haunted Palace, Vinnie is wearing his duds from A Comedy of Terrors, and Hazel's frock is the one she wore in The Raven, although she wore her hair differently in that movie. (See above.) These were all AIP films, all shot at Producers/Raleigh.

But there was more to Hazel's career than just her period as the female Vincent Price (There were rumors of course that Vincent himself was the female Vincent Price. Absolutely almost not true!), odd as that might seem when we see such other titles on her resumé as Ghost Ship, Omen III: The Final Conflict, and of course, the classic Devil Girl From Mars, a movie that makes Bridge on the River Kwai look like Plan 9 From Outer Space, albeit, as Plan 9 would look if it were cast with the best actors in the world. She began as I did, as a Glamour Girl. Check out this gorgeous cheesecake shot from 50 years ago. Her home must have been a mess when she ws molting.

Here she is, gracing the cover of a British movie magazine of the period. "Hollywood Men and their Morals"? That must have been a short article, especially after the Hollywood Men got a gander at Hazel's Grand Canyon of Cleavage. You could lose your keys in there.

The book description above mentioned some of the TV shows she appeared on, Bonanza, Dr. Kildare, Rawhide, Mission Impossible, The Twilight Zone, Burke's Law, The Wild Wild West. Her Mission Impossible is on the season 2 DVD set, if you'd like to see it. Among other TV shows she appeared on were Alfred Hitchcock Presents, McMillan & Wife, The Name of the Game, Mannix, Gidget, 12 O'Clock High (or as I always think of it, my normal lunch.) The Wackiest Ship in the Army, Thriller, and Danger Man. She even starred in one British TV sitcom, with Patrick O'Neal, called Dick and the Duchess, which, despite it's title, was not porn.

She is survived by two daughters and a son. Let's hope those daughters preserve her beauty for a new generation. After all, just look at this headshot. She could be mistaken for Ava Gardner, except for Hazel being a far better actress, and never having been dumb enough to marry Frank Sinatra.

Oh, and the "Iris" that picture is signed to was not Little Dougie's mother Iris. Since retiring from acting, Hazel devoted herself to art, and became an internationally-praised sculptress. She brought beauty, taste, and class to even the dumbest, class-free, and most tasteless movies, and was considerably more than just an ornament even in the very best. She'll be missed, but fortunately, we can all visit with her again with just a trip to the DVD shelves. I think I'll stagger over and put on one of her movies right now. Hazel darling, we loved you. Thanks for staying around so long. We wish it could have been longer.

Quoth the raven: "Cheers darlings!"

PS. Little Jeffrey Swanson reminds me that he was the one who misheard Jayne Hamil as saying "Beef Stroking-Off" for Beef Strogonoff. Sometimes, I get so drunk, I forget just whose ears I'm listening through. Cheers darlings.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No Life for Old Lushes.

This is OUTRAGEOUS! I'm a helpless, wealthy old lady movie star. Will no one protect me from predatory scam artists like "author" Richard Price?

I was skimming over the New York Times Best Seller List the other day by accident, and my heart skipped a beat (Which is down from it's usual practice these days of skipping two or three beats, or even just taking an hour or two completely off, for some rest) when I saw that my award-eligible autobiography My Lush Life was listed as NUMBER TWO! Now admittedly, many, many readers and critics have been calling my book Number Two for years now, [Editor's note: Actually, all professional, published reviews of My Lush Life were very positive, laudatory reviews. She received no pans, other than from a couple of disgruntled reader reviewers, i.e. folks whose opinions can't get published any other way.] but this is the first time I've seen it listed officially designated in that position. I quickly consulted another few publications's Best Seller lists, and found My Lush Life on each one, usually at Number 2. Good Heavens, after a brief slow down in sales that began a month or two, all right, one, after publication 6 years ago, the long-predicted (by me) bounce-back had arrived.

I was not really bothered by the fact that all of these lists omitted the word "My" from my title, as they were clearly trying to save space and ink. I was, however, a little surprised that all of these often-prestigious publications had misspelled "Douglas McEwan" (Little Dougie, my amanuensis) as "Richard Price". That was very odd.

So imagine my horror and disgust to learn that it was not a misspelling, nor was the missing "My" an inadvertent omission. It turns out that the Lush Life currently on best seller lists is some novel written by this Richard Price person. The cheek! Obviously, this Price person (If that is his name. I suspect he's just trying to fool Vincent Price disciples into thinking he's a relative of the divine Vinnie. He's NOT!) is trying to trick unsuspecting readers into buying his fraudulent book in the false belief that they are buying my beloved obscure book! Little J.K. Rowling is going through the exact same thing, suing some rude person for doing an encyclopedia on her books, not to mention her frivolous lawsuit against me for my book Hairy Pothead and the Secret Chamber Pot.

Further, according to some outrageous law, titles can not be copyrighted, so this Price villain is free to trick people into buying his book, thinking it mine. What's worse, his book is about the murder of a BARTENDER, The Worst Crime on Earth! Imagine, nice innocent people buying my book, looking for fun, laughs, and the history of my amazing life, and instead they have the greatest horror imaginable, the killing of a BARTENDER, shoved into their unprepared faces. The death of a bartender, God's Greatest Servants, is not casual entertainment. The horror. The horror.

Fans, don't buy this Price person's book. Buy the one, the only, the true and utterly non-fictional, the critically declaimed, Greatest Book of The 21st Century, My Lush Life by ME. (Although it has Little Dougie's name on the cover as the "Author." Next time I'm having my lawyer read the contract before I sign it.) Accept no substitutes. And, I might add, this Price person is doing a book tour. If he comes to your city, go to his reading, spit on him, and say "These bodily fluids are from Tallulah!"

As if this literary fraud isn't bad enough, on the news today, after we got past Britney's latest catastrophe (Crashing into people on the freeway this time. That walking car wreck is now a literal car wreck.), Hilary's latest attempt to drive people into voting for O'Bama by appearing to be an ever more strident and horrific harridan (What no one else but me has figured out is that she's actually supporting Barry O'Bama - he's Irish you know, at least according to political sage and hardcore unemployable James Diederich. It's the only possible explanation for her otherwise insane form of campaigning. I mean look at how she appears in public. Is she trying to nag America into voting for her? Is she running for First Fishwife? No, she's trying to get O'Bama the nomination. No other explanation makes any sense.), and John McCain so out of it that he spent several days campaigning in France, all we got is endless coverage of Dubya rolling out a red carpet to a visiting Nazi, namely Pope Eggs Benedict!

It was amusing that they made The Lame Dodo drive out and pick up The Nazi Pope at the airport himself, but someone had to do it, and Dick Cheney, our lycanthropic VP, is busy losing the war in Iraq. Besides, for some unfathomable reason, they didn't want to risk the Vice President shooting the Pope in the face, although it's one time when Cheney's psychosis might have done some good. However, they're treating the unimportant visit of this Nazi head of an international cult of sexual predators (Something I know a little about) and child molesters that was outdated 500 years ago like it was a state visit. It's not. The only place Eggsy should be treated as a VIP is Argentina, where his surviving old cronies all reside.

And they kept saying on the news that Dubya and Eggsy were visiting "The National Cathedral". THERE IS NO SUCH THING! This is a secular country. We don't have any "National" churches, not even of any kind. The whole concept is a violation of the Separation of Church and State. and if anything is Truly Sacred, it's the Separation of Church and State. They don't look too separate however, when you have Dubya out there with his tongue up Eggsy's butt.

To be fair to the Evil Old Nazi, they always treat Pope visits as though they were important. Hello news media? 75% of the populace doesn't give a rat's ass about the visit of any Pope. However, I did think putting Eggsy's picture on Souvenir Pope Condoms was appropriate, as well as probably giving him his first ever visit to a bodily orifice over 12 years old.

Too bad Cheston died before Eggsy's visit. After all, what's the point of religion (Really. What?) without Cheston, The Voice of God Himself? Once upon a time, darling, sexy Lon Chaney (No relation to our psychotic Vice President) made a silent movie titled The Unholy Three. As it happened, Little Dougie's maternal grandfather worked on that film. Lon later remade it as his only talkie. Had Cheston survived to join his BFF Dubya with Eggsy today, we would really have had The Unholy Three.

Speaking of Cheston, I've had a number of positive reactions to my posting last week on Cheston's demise, and of my revelation of our working together. My long time friend, TV writer and actress Jayne Hamil said: "I howled reading about his hairpiece that has survived him (and learned to act from him.) I encountered that hairpiece close-up when I was a waiter for the On Golden Pond premiere party. My job was to stand behind a tray of beef stroganoff and spoon it onto attendees plates. Down the row came 'Cheston', and leaned over my steam tray to gaze at the stroganoff. Up close that bathmat revealed its thatched underpinnings. I was amazed that such a big star would have such a cheap and ratty-looking rug. But there it was, right in my face. However, he was very charming as he acquiesced to have me pile some stroganoff on his plate."

Now admittedly, my hearing isn't what it used to be a century ago, so I misheard Jayne the first time. It had sounded to me like she said, "My job was to stand behind a tray of beef, stroking-off, and spoon it onto attendees plates." Just what the hell kind of party was this, and why wasn't I invited? And then: "Cheston ... leaned over my steam tray to gaze at the stroking-off." And as if that wasn't kinky enough, this amazing revelation followed: "He acquiesced to have me pile some stroking-off on his plate." Was this party for On Golden Pond or On Golden Shower? Who catered this event? The Farrelly Brothers? Who was spooning out the Soylent Green?

Heston's fan remembers well Upchuck's famous line in Planet of the Apes: "Take your filthy paws off of me, you damned dirty ape!" Screenwriter Rod Serling, the man who put me into My Zone, is usually credited with writing the line, but actually it was Cheston himself who came up with it, 14 years earlier, when working in my immediate vacinity on The Nude Bush. He actually ad-libbed it to me when we were rehearsing a love scene, while I had him innocently padlocked in my undressing room. Later, he remembered his flash of rudeness and suggested using it in his silly monkey movie.

By the way, the working title of our jungle epic was The Bushmaster, but it was changed when we learned that, with Cheston, well "Master" wasn't the accurate word. and The Bushfumbler just didn't have the right ring. Poor Lydia The Tattooed Heston. No wonder they only had two kids despite being married for 60 years.

Oh, and I was wrong about them prying his gun from his cold dead hand. It was decided to leave it. Better it should be buried with him, where it couldn't fall into the wrong hands, like Dick Cheney's for instance, or Pope Eggs Benedict.

Hmmm. Eggs Benedict. That sounds like it would be good right now. I Gotta run. Or is it: I've got the runs?

Cheers darlings.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ben-Hur, Done Him

Little Dougie, monitoring my shemail, informs me that readers have actually written to me asking me why I hadn't posted any flogging about the long-overdue demise of Charleton Heston, or as I have always thought of him, Cheston. Apparently some of you long-time fans have picked up on a slight feeling of - well - less-than-adulation in my past remarks on Chuck's acting and political work, and seem to be expecting me to write some sort of gloating, Welcome-to-Hell, dancing-on-Cheston's-grave flogging. How tasteless that would be of me. How uncalled-for that would be of me. How much time that would take away from the now four-days-and-still-counting, drink my ass off, Get It Off My Cheston, celebration of the life and death, but mostly the death, of Cheston that I've been throwing in my lush solarium. Cheston is survived by his wife, his son, his daughter, and the thing that lived on top of his head, pretending to be his hair. It might have been more convincing as hair, but sadly, it learned acting from Chuck.

The thing that's really depressing about the passing of a legendary man like Cheston is that you have to spend at least a week hearing and reading people praising him. I was so extremely pleased that Richard Nixon had the good manners to die while I was in London, and therefore not subjected to his tributes and funeral coverage, that I sent him a thank you note, the first such note I had ever sent him. And I might add that, true to his lifelong policy of rudeness, he never bothered to reply or even acknowledge my note. Typical!

Conversely, I nearly died myself during the weeks following the deaths of Ronald Reagan and, worst of all, Bob Hope. The endless praise heaped on these two evil men made me quite literally sick. When the Los Angeles Times ran a headline following the overwhelmingly overdue death of Bob Hope, anointing him "The First Citizen of the Twentieth Century," I nearly dropped dead in my tracks. Thank God I was drunk. Saved by vodka once again.

(By the way, Bob was not The First Citizen of the 20th Century. First off, he wasn't born until May 29, 1903. I was born in 1897, so the day Bob was born, I had been a citizen of the 20th Century for 3 years and 148 days. Furthermore Bob, unlike me, was not born a citizen. He was a foreigner, born in England for Christ's sake, like Benny Hill, Prince Edward, and Jack the Ripper. He didn't become an American Citizen until years later. In fact, he was actually Sir Bob Hope, thanks to Helen Mirrin knighting him during her rush of euphoria following the death of Lady Di, so she certainly still considered him one of Them! And Them ain't Us! So back of the line, Limey! Some of us were born here. In fact, let me ask you this, Bob: It's The American Revolutionary War, Christmas at Valley Forge. Which army are you making creepy sex jokes to Angie Dickenson in front of, huh? Pick a side, Tory! Also, they always say "Bob Hope entertained 11 presidents." No he didn't. He performed for 11 presidents. He only entertained 4 of them.)

Cheston was born here, in Evanston, Illinois, in 4758 BC, near bulrushes, so we have only ourselves to blame. He was undoubtedly the whitest gentile ever to be best known for playing Famous Jews, namely Moses and Ben-Hur. (Although at the end, Ben converts. It's a REALLY long movie, and the last hour, after the chariot race is over, and there's nothing left but Christian Uplift and Leprosy, is a boring slog, so few have ever actually made it all the way to the end. I fast-forwarded. He converts. If they had only allowed theater audiences in 1958 to fast-forward through the last hour, that turgid slop might have won an Oscar, or even two. Well, one anyway. Let's not go nuts!) Cheston was the reverse of the usual Hollywood leading man. Hollywood is full of Jewish actors who have turned from Issur Danielovitch Demsky into Kirk Douglas. But you half expected Chuck to become Izzy Hestonberg, as his greatest achievement as an actor (Besides keeping a major career afloat for 40 years with only a minor talent.) was his practiced skill at acting like he'd been circumcised. You should have seen the walk he used during the first week of shooting on The Ten Commandments, before Cecil explained to him that he'd read in a book somewhere that the pain of circumcision usually wore off by adulthood.

Let's face it, Chuck was just Steve Reeves without Steve's charm, sex appeal, and Marvin Miller's voice. And you never saw Steve Reeves trying to arm every school kid in America, or constantly expressing his Deep True Love for a parade of America's most evil men.

Sometimes people - well, Rush Limbaugh - well people also - Let's say, People and Rush Limbaugh - ask me afterwards why I didn't like Cheston, onscreen nor off. You have to wonder about people who say he was a good actor. I always want to ask them things like, "Was your view of the screen obstructed? Did the speaker hanging in your car window short out when he entered? You do know he was the guy with the long white beard right? The bald sexy guy who can act is Yul. Was this perhaps the first movie you've ever seen in your entire life?"

Well first, it's not like he was always bad. He gave two perfectly wonderful acting performances, in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers, playing The Most Evil Man in France. He was lousy playing all the most noble, heroic men of history and fiction. His real niche was villains. His natural unlikability, and the way he made your skin crawl, just went so much better in baddies.

That was as Cardinal Richelieu, a role he cadged from Vincent Price, who played it opposite Gene Kelly, in MGM's truly weird film version. We are given June Alyson and Lana Turner as French courtiers, and Angela Lansbury is presented, with a straight face, as the Queen of France. But that's all right, because the King of France, her sexually jealous hubby, is Frank Morgan. France has apparently been relocated to somewhere in Iowa or Indiana, ruled over by Jessica Fletcher and The Wizard of Oz! Actually, they've put the Normandy Coast into California, as there's a long sword fight shot in Carmel, and when they arrive on "The French Coast" and we see "England" across the channel, they're actually on the shore of the Palos Verdes Peninsula less than three miles from where Little Dougie grew up, and Santa Catalina Island across the channel plays England, far more convincingly than anything Cheston ever played. At least Cheston's version actually seems to be taking place in Europe.

Richelieu was one of two roles that both Cheston, and the divine Vincent Price (In every way Cheston's superior) essayed. They were the original Robert Nevilles in the first two film versions of I Am Legend. Vincent shot it as The Last Man on Earth in the 60s. It was set in Los Angeles but shot in Rome. Rome's performance as Los Angeles makes Cheston look like Brando. Cheston shot it as The Omega Man. It was during his Planet of the Apes - Soylent Green period, when filmmakers realized that only in dystopian science-fiction could you ever believe in someone who acted the way he did. Now I eagerly await seeing Will Smith's Cardinal Richelieu.

The Ten Commandments, Cheston killed Vincent Price, almost drying up a promising source of cast-off roles. Most of Cheston's roles, Moses, Benny-Hur, etc., were ones Burt Lancaster had passed on, Burt always having had more taste and talent than Chuck. Burt did go on to play Moses eventually. If only Chuck had played more Price-intended roles. Imagine how scary Cheston's The REALLY Abominable Doctor Phibes, or The Ravin' would be.

Little Dougie saw Cheston act live onstage, as John Proctor in Arthur Miller's depressing little skit The Crucible, a role Little Dougie had played also, back in high school. Dougie truly feels that his own, 16 year old John Proctor was better than Cheston's, and I tend to believe him, but Dougie stoutly maintains that Cheston's performance was up to the highest level of any high school in America, except, you know, that high school in Fame. Those kids were good! Not like Cheston. Dougie said it was interesting to see him perform in person; his body acquired three physical dimensions, his chin possibly acquiring four, while his acting remained trapped in the two-dimensional universe. To get the full effect of his pan-dimensional work, you had to wear special glasses.

Well here's a headline: Cheston and I made a movie together, a bit over 50 years ago. This will come as a shock to readers of my award-adjacent autobiography, My Lush Life, as there is no mention of this movie or experience in my book, nor does this film appear in my filmography at the end of the book. There's a good reason for that. I forgot to mention it. Things slip my mind sometimes. Sue me. Remember the Seventies? Well I don't. For all I know, I may have starred in a 12-episode series of Nancy Drew, The Golden Years TV movies, between 1974 and 1979 (I found scripts for three of them upstairs in my bat-infested attic.), and it was so bad that people are just too polite to ever mention it to me. [She didn't. - Editor.] Could be. I don't remember.

And I'm not the only one, I might add. Like my Nancy Drew series, my Cheston flick is so forgettable that few people even recall seeing it, which is wise of them. I did my damnedest to wipe all memory of the movie or the experience of shooting it from my mind, and I succeeded quite well, until Cheston's demise stirred it all up again. Anyway, in 1954 I made a movie for Paramount, for delightful, impish producer George Pal, co-starring with Chuck, then on the way up, so he was then known as Upchuck, in a lush, Technicolor jungle adventure titled The Nude Bush.

I, of course, sported the title role. In this poster, you can see Chuck's fingers beginning to explore the wild bush, heading upstream to my fertile delta, while his right hand proudly displays the small weapon he is brandishing from his crotch. By the way, that's the very same gun that was pried from his cold dead hand last Sunday. (When Cheston first became head of the NRA, some comedian, Dennis Miller? Jon Stewart? Tina Fey? Chevy Chase? I forget who, said, "Charlton Heston has become the head of the National Rifle Association. I had no idea Charleton Heston had a small penis." The acting style, the gun nuttiness, it all screams "Overcompensation.")

In our back lot epic, based on the classic short story Loonychuck vs His Aunts, Cheston owns a Soylent Plantation deep in the dense, uncharted jungles of Anaheim. Since he's far into the jungle, and wants to be even deeper into the bush, he sends for me, as I posess the deepest bush in Anaheim. I sail up the Tustin River, as Cheston's email-order Fancy Woman. (The original script used quite a different word to describe my character's profession, but Chuck suggested "Cleaning it up" and calling her a "Fancy Woman." As it was, every time I was called "Loonychuck's Fancy Woman," Chuck blushed.) We have the usual, everyday jungle-living problems: monkey housebreaking, native torturing, drug smuggling, a small-dicked virgin man intimidated by a woman who has had sex with normal-sized men, rogue crocodiles, etc., until the climax, when the Soylent Plantation is laid siege to by an army of Soldier's Aunts. These pesky old Soldier's Aunts want their Soylent Green FRESH! But the laugh is on the Soldier's Aunts. Soylent Green is made from the natives. Soylent Red is made from the better people. If those Soldier's Aunts had known whom they were eating, they'd have keeled over, and been Soylent Red themselves inside of a week.

George Pal was a darling man, but he made movies about a world of his own. I mean really, just look at his idiotic Destination Moon. Men land on the moon, and return to earth, alive yet! And as if that isn't ridiculous and unbelievable enough, all they find on the moon are rocks. Not even one little alien monster! Not one! Let alone caves full of breathable, pressurized air, and monsters, and beautiful starlets in miniskirts and red pumps like on the real moon! (Science has proved it!) Were we really supposed to believe such nonsense?

But George was a sweetie. You had to love him, even when he forced you to play a love scene with Cheston. Here's a picture of Georgie, with his son, Dave Pal, back when he was a very little boy.

Of course these days, when people see this movie advertised on Netflix, they think "Heston, Nude Bush" and naturally assume it's a film about President Bush back in his playful college scamp years (1960-2007), and so avoid it like the plague, afraid they might see Dubya undraped. They won't, but what they will see is just as revolting.

On another matter altogether, friend and fellow flogger Kent Levine, who writes the divine and hilarious flog By Ken Levine, as you might guess from the title, has picked up a radio gig that some of you in the Los Angeles listening arena might enjoy hearing. He's hosting some sort of talk show called Dodger Talk, that airs on KABC Radio, 790 AM, after something called "A Baseball Game." I have no idea what the hell they gab about on the show. Dodger means two things to me:

1. The Artful Dodger, a charming pickpocket and orphaned waif in London around 160 years ago. Dead now I believe, or fictional. Is there a difference? Not much conversation fodder there. Or maybe it's like a fan chat room, and they discuss stuff like whether Jack Wild or Anthony Newley made the better Dodger. I know Kent likes musicals, and Oliver is a musical, but I liked the David Lean non-musical version better myself.

2. Draft Dodgers. You know, those charming, nonviolent young men who went to great lengths, even as far as Toronto, to avoid having to kill strangers in Vietnam. A juicy topic for discussion, but not too current, as the current crop of young men being employed by Cheston's buddy Dubya as Endless Roadside Bomb Fodder were all roped in with guile rather than by an autocratic draft. After all, once in a while, a rich Republican's son got drafted, while there's no danger of any of them being drafted into Bush-Cheney-Heston's "All-Volunteer" Stoploss pool. I don't see Kent getting a new discussion every night on this limited a topic.

As a last resort, I tried listening to it. Big mistake. Kent sounded charming as always, but unfortunately, during the three and a half minutes I endured of it before shooting a handgun at my radio (The gun was an end-of-the-film-shoot gift from Cheston.), the show was completely dominated by some doofus callers, and a sports-obsessed (Yes, one of those!) in-studio guest, who all went on and on and on and on about some children's game, actually discussing in depth some hard-working immigrant's efforts to smack a thrown rock or something with a big stick, and how often he did or did not hit it. Believe me, after three and a half minutes of that, it was me or the radio, but one of us was going to get shot. Sadly, it was the radio.

There was a lot of mention of the phrase "Dodger Blew". At first it seemed to me that discussing who the Artful Dodger blew was dangerously close to child erotica. But then I noticed that they all seemed to be discussing a sandlot fracas that had occurred that very day, and The Artful Dodger would be over 160 years old now, so whoever he's blowing, it's okay to talk about it, but why would you want to?

Anyway, here's a picture of Kent (Center) conducting his radio show. This may not be the broadcast I heard a tiny portion of, so I have no idea who his guest in the picture is. You'll notice that KABC hasn't even given him a real broadcast booth. Kent darling, you have no roof or side wall. Kent, you're too talented and experienced to be treated like this. Insist on an actual room. Drop my name if it will help. (Though only as a last resort.)

Anyway, when a "Baseball Game" is over, if you feel like listening to folks chew the fat about Dodger stuff, whatever that is, and are really in the mood to hear "Baseball" talked about in a witty, incomprehensibly-well-informed manner, and perhaps even dissect recent "Plays" (Theater Criticism! That I understand!), you should tune into Kent's Dodger Chat and enjoy. I'm sure if you call the station, they can tell you when these "Games" occur, so you can make an educated guess as to when Kent will be on.

And even if all they talk about is this "Baseball" ritual, at least you can be certain that Upchuck Cheston won't be a caller or a guest, although it's always possible that one of his disciples may run riot through the stadium with his arsenal. That would be the True Cheston Legacy.

Cheers darlings.