Friday, November 15, 2019

"The Real Me"

My mind goes to the “Character Actor” I once mentioned who said,

“I would rather be ‘Type Cast’ than not cast at all.” 

It then moves to (the recently chronicled) Rodney Dangerfield who made his career saying,

“I don’t get no respect.”

(I would offer a third example, but I am writing shorter these days.)

My mind wonders about these people.  (Oh, wait! – the culminating third example!  It’s made up, but it fits.)

We are in circa 1941.

Two single young woman in Hollywood, casually shooting the breeze.  (Or do only men do that?  Let’s say idly chit-chatting, if that’s not distinguishingly sexist.)

One single young woman says to her friend:

“We have a new neighbor.  I think you’d like him.”

“What does he do?”

“He’s an actor.”

“An actor?”

“He’s actually a movie star.”

“A movie star!  What’s his name?”

“Lon Chaney Jr.”

(MAKING A FACE)  “The Wolf Man’?”

“He’s really quite sweet.”

“‘The Wolf Man’?”

“That’s all just make-up.  He looks fine underneath.”

“You want me to go out with ‘The Wolf Man’?”

And there you have it.  

A major star, 

Pilloried by his persona.

Nobody’s dating “The Wolf Man.”  (Even in 1941, when millions of men are at war.)

A fabricated example, featuring a less fabricated “Deal With the Devil.” 

You’re “Big in the Business”,

But you are screamingly scary.

Jumping back…

You work steadily,

But perennially cast as a “goofball.” 

You become a top comedian, “getting no respect”, and guess what? 

Nobody respects you.


“They’re not that persuasive.  That’s them!

Maybe.  But maybe not.  At least it’s not all of “them.”

Kids’ show ventriloquist Paul Winchell sparred with dummy Jerry Mahoney.  But in his spare time, he did meaningful research on artificial hearts.

Steamy Hedy Lamarr tamed Victor Mature in Samson and Delilah.  But she also did valuable work, developing “Sonar.”

Anyone remember her for that?

From some, the problem’s living up to their fabricated image.  Humphrey Bogart was seen as a “Tough Guy.”  But only with “brown stuff” (movie make-up) caked on his face.  What does he do?  He becomes a prominent nightclub brawler.   Proving his onscreen persona is correct.

“Those were real punches I took.  That guy gasping for air?  That was me!

Maybe it’s natural. 

You get what you want.

But you balk at the “price.”

Frilly-cuffed pianist Liberace was once asked about that. 

“Do you mind what people say about you?”

To which he reputedly replied,

“I cry all the way to the bank.”

Liberace made a mint from his persona. 

He was probably kidding about the “cry.”

On the other hand,

Maybe he wasn’t.
I recall, though not completely, a Jules Feiffer routine in which a meek-seeming character named “Jerome” stands onstage, complaining “Jerome” was merely his “Outside Name”, and wishing people would call him by his more muscular “Inside Name” –


Any secret “Spike’s” in the audience?



I’m just Earl.

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