Wednesday, July 24, 2019

"How Did That Happen?"

(Deviating immediately from the “It’s okay not to know” perspective of just yesterday.  I guess, for me, “suspension of disbelief” is restricted exclusively to magic shows.  I mean, “simply accepting things as they are”?  What would I write about?­  Certainly not this.)

On my last birthday – wait, that sounds like it’s my last birthday!

Lemme try that again.

On my most recent birthday – that’s better – I received a large-format paperback entitled, Hollywood Hoofbeats, which is about recognized horses featured in Hollywood movies and TV shows.

You don’t need to know I know that Hopalong Cassidy’s horse was “Topper”, the Cisco Kid’s horse was “Diablo,” and Zorro’s horse was “Tornado.” 

Or that I know Gene Autry’s horse was “Champion”, Roy Rogers’s horse was “Trigger” and his wife Dale Evans’s horse was “Buttermilk”?

Or that singing cowboy Rex Allen’s horse was “Koko”, Alan “Rocky” Lane’s horse was “Black Jack” and the great Tom Mix’s horse was “Tony.”

(Note:  The foregoing was done without outside assistance.  Applause, appreciated but optional.)

Hollywood Hoofbeats also chronicles onscreen horses that did not appear in westerns, but in films ranging from Lord of the Rings to the Marx Brothers’ A Day At The Races.  It even includes Francis, the Talking Mule, though he was not technically a horse.  (And don’t think the horses were not pissed about that, one of them taking an outraged dump on the publisher’s carpet.)  (Or they would have, if horses read books.)

Thumbing through Hollywood Hoofbeats I came across a brief “mention”, making me wonder once again – as I have wondered about before – reprising this post’s title but adding “the heck”,

“How the heck did that happen?”

I draw your eager attention to Hollywood Hoofbeats, Page 121.

And I quote,

(concerning the oft filmed and televised saga of The Lone Ranger)
“‘The Legend of the Lone Ranger’ (1981) starred the unknown Klinton Spilsbury (whose high-pitched voice resulted in his being dubbed throughout the film by actor James Keach)….”


Apprised of that historical tidbit, being of a curious and somewhat suspicious nature, I can’t help wondering, “What exactly am I missing?”

Just think about this.

After a long and painstaking “Search” for a man to play “the daring a resourceful masked rider of the plains”, an “Unknown” is cast in the lead role of a major motion picture, budgeted at 18 million dollars – I looked it up – which in today’s dollars is, I don’t know… more.

Up till there, this is possible.  It’s actually an inspirational story.  “Unknowns” everywhere can point to Klintin Spilsbury, and think, “If him, why not me?”  After momentarily thinking, “Why him?  And also ignoring the word, “fluke.”

But a “cattle call” suggesting you’re “The Guy” is just the fortuitous “Step One.”

“Step Two?”

You have to “read for the part.”

Because Klinton Spilsbury is not “big in the business”, there is no,

“Klinton Spilsbury does not ‘read.’”

Marlon Brando does not “read.”

Klinton Spilsburg unquestionably “reads.”

And when he did,

Did they not notice his voice?

In which case,

“Thank you.”

“Was it my voice?”

“Yes it was.”

Apparently, that is not what transpired.

The man read for the Lone Ranger, as a “soprano”,

… and they gave him the part.


How did Klinton Splisbury get to star as The Lone Ranger?

Did he have a bad cold when he read, and his voice came out “normal”?

Did the producers fall in love with “The Look”, considering his voice sounding like Mickey Mouse in his prime something they would “figure out later”?

Is there a famous Hollywood “voice-lowering” coach they planned to recruit, but an unfortunately scheduling conflict made him unavailable for service, or they actually used one, but after working with Spilsburg, they threw up their hands in frustration, fuming, “He’s impossible”?

Was Klinton Spilsbury simply “a friend of the producer’s”?  (Or a blackmailer, promising to spill the ignominious beans unless they gave him the part, chirpy high voice and all.)

Or what this The Producers as a western, the studio sabotaging the project in search of a tax loss?

I don’t know why this curious hiring isn’t one of “Hollywood’s Greatest Mysteries.”

The movie quickly disappeared, so I guess nobody cares. 

But you know what?  I care.  And I have to live with not knowing.

As do capable actors of yesteryear, sitting at home, grumbling,

“I was the Lone Ranger.  And they gave it to Spilsbury.”

I know the world makes no sense.

But sometimes, it makes even less sense than that.
Travel Note:  Today, I leave to visit Toronto, and later, our little log cabin in Indiana.  So if you see someone on Bloor Street or in Michigan City who looks like i write, feel free to say hello.  I may or may not write while I'm away.  If I don't, hopefully there is enough here to make do.

I shall be back in person on August the 5th. Enjoy your summer, and I will see you back then.


Anyone who leaves a comment hoping for a personal response, I am sorry if I did not spontaneously come through.  I was actually unaware that I could, responding only in this venue if I found something to say that is of general interest.

My apologies for those who feel unintentionally ignored.

I appreciate everyone, and I regret if it appears that I don't. 

Again, happy summer.  And, as I instructed my kids when they were young, there is only one rule about swimming:

"Don't drown."


Pidge said...

One of the highlights of my childhood was when Roy and Dale came to town and played the Ex. My Dad was in the band and took me and my little sister backstage after the show to meet them. All I really cared about or remember was meeting Trigger and Buttermilk. And I did.
Big thrill!
Looking forward to your northern migration.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Have a good vacation. We can chat among ourselves in the comments while you're gone. :)

I personally have read enough books on magic to understand something of how a lot of effects are accomplished. Do not do this if you want to enjoy magic shows as a mystery.


JED said...

You're going to get a ton of comments now that you're leaving and can't react to them.

Your mention of horses reminded me of reading a funny, short piece in The New Yorker by John Kenney from May (it was in a doctor's office). I enjoyed it on its own but the most delightful thing was that it reminded me of you and your writing. It's a discussion among the horses that were in the Kentucky Derby and explains their side of what happened there. The horses sound just like you would have written them.

Hope you enjoy your time away.

YEKIMI said...

1981 $18,000,000 dollars is equal to $50,721,386.14 in 2019 dollars.