My Acting Career
I’ve written before about my acting experience in one of those “our gang” movies — filmed over 65 years ago at the Mitch Brice Estate on Highway 280, just west of Vidalia. Some of you may not remember Mr. Brice — among other things, his company owned and operated Pal Theaters in Vidalia, Mt. Vernon, Lyons and several other cities — which also included the former Brice Cinema in Vidalia.
I actually had a speaking part in the movie, although I don’t remember what I said — I guess memory loss is something that even happens to old “actors.” One of my “costars” was a Vidalian named “Winkie Jenkins” — Winkie was the son of a former Mayor of Vidalia Frank Jenkins.
Unfortunately, folks, my sterling performance in the movie didn’t create any attention and I wasn’t offered any roles in other movies. I had hoped for an offer from the producers of the Little Rascals, so I could act with Spanky, Alfafa, Buckwheat and the others. But it never happened.
Anyway, after I wasn’t contacted about other movie roles, I decided I’d try to find something that was at least associated with movies, so I got a job with the Pal Theater in Mt. Vernon. At the Pal, I had various duties, which involved taking admission tickets, helping with the concession, changing letters on the marquee, and operating the movie projectors.
During those days, I got to meet some of the many performers who brought their “stage shows” to the Pal Theaters. “Little Beaver,” a little Indian boy, was one actor I especially enjoyed meeting. His name was Robert Blake and he went on to star in films and on TV, most notably as “Baretta” on the TV Show. And, as you may know, he also starred in a real life highly publicized murder trial, after he was accused of killing his girlfriend. continued from page
I also got to meet Lash LaRue, who was one of my favorites. Folks, that cowboy could open a coke bottle from 10 feet away with a bull whip. His helper would also stand about 10 feet away with a cigarette in his mouth and Lash would cut it off near the end. After the helper lit up again — Lash would cut off a little more. His performance intrigued me so much that I got an 8 foot bull whip and learned a few tricks myself. BythetimeI’d mastered several tricks, my friend Johnny Earl had called me every bad name in the book. Johnny Earl wouldn’t stand still when I snapped my bull whip at his cigarette. For some reason, he was afraid I was going to cut his nose off. Which I never did!
Now, that I’ve had plenty of time to think about it, I reckon Johnny Earl would have been better off if I’d left home for an acting career.
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