HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO MY ‘DEADBEAT DAD’

THE HUMAN RACE

 

I think of my father, Bert LeBaron, often.  Although he was a Hall of Fame stuntman with 35 years serving the demands of Hollywood, he died in poverty in 1956.  Financially, he never supported my mother (who shed him twice in divorce court) or me.  Yet, he was always visiting the one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles with my mother and grandmother.  I think the old scoundrel truly loved my mother.  Throughout my life, he was always there for me supporting me morally and physically.  He confided in me, revealing the dark side of his youth, running away when he was 13, winding up in Southeast Philadelphic being raised by a mobster I called Uncle Jake.  In Los Angeles, the kids in the neighborhood idolized him.  Bumbo Channon, my childhood pal, cherished a gift from my dad, a pair of stunt shoes he used in movies swordfighting with actors like Errol Flynn, Gene Kelly and even Laurence Olivier.  He took us on picnics, to the beach, to the circus where an elephant sneezed on another friend, Irv Drasnin.  My old man who died on a handball court at the Hollywood YMCA leaving me, $20,000 in gambling debts, which I didn’t have to pay.  He left a note in the locker leaving all his earthly belongings to me.  Since he was experiencing chest pains when he stepped into that handball court, and since Hollywood refused to help him, I am convinced he popped his heart on purpose.  Just like the man himself, it was a unique way to commit suicide.  He died at fifty six.  Old Bert LeBaron called himself a stuntmen-actor.  After watching him spew dialogue in many movies, I like to say, he was one of the worst actors ever to set foot in front of a camera.  I’m rambling here.  I just wanted to tell my dad, Happy Father’s Dad…  I love you dad.  And whenever I see you in action in some old TV movie I am thankful to showbiz that in my heart, you will never die.  Although you were an award-winning womanizer, thanks to the film capital of the world, you will be with me forever.   My only regret is my wife, JoAnne, kids and grandkids will never know you.  That’s it dad.  When the time is right, I’ll talk to you tonight.  Your loving son, Boots.  P.S.  I’m finishing a memoir about the two of us growing up in Hollywood.  You as a womanizing actor-stuntman, me as your kind’a lost child-actor pal who turned out alright.

 

 

 

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