Posts Tagged ‘ loneliness ’

HEY KIDS: LISTEN TO THE ROAR OF A LONELY LITTLE LEOPARD CUB

Roar Roar Roar… Friends for Evermore!

JUNGLE WILDERNESS

‘ROAR-ROAR-ROAR!’ SAYS THIS LEOPARD CUB

image

Roar Roar Roar… Friends for Evermore!

There once was a little Leopard Cub

Who lived back in the wood.

He went growl, growl! Roar-roar-roar!

Whenever he felt he should.

He chased beetles in the tall grass,

Romped and frolicked all alone.

He skipped and jumped and rambled

‘Till his mommy dragged him home.

He loved to snap at butterflies

That perched on his fluffy tail.

He’d run in circles chasing them

Until his tongue turned pale.

Then he’d sit upon his little rump

And look up at the branches.

If he saw a mouse or squirrel,

He’d start his stalking dances.

Growl, growl! Roar-roar-roar!

He’d call out in his tiny voice.

The animals would scamper away.

They felt they had no choice.

He’d find a shady place to nap,

And close his big blue eyes.

He’d snore and whistle in his sleep,

Which of course was a surprise.

And when he would awaken,

Bouncing up like a lively spring,

He’d let out with a ferocious snarl,

The cuddly little thing.

Growl, growl! Roar-roar-roar!

He’d bellow wildly to the wind.

Telling all the little animals

He just wanted to be their friend.

Boots LeBaron —

                  http://www.amazon.com/The-Human-Race-Boots-LeBaron/dp/1494218526#

TWO UNIQUE VIEWPOINTS ABOUT HOMELESSNESS

HOW TWO VERY DIFFERENT MEN SAW LIFE ON THE STREETS

 

     I’ve had the opportunity to spend time learning about life from two very different homeless men: The late Mitch Snyder who spoke for our nation’s homeless, and Doug Grindeland, who spoke for himself.

     Mitch, in his forties, was a tough, angry, pensive activist. He had gained notoriety when he went on a 51-day fast losing 60 pounds, reaching an emaciated 118 pounds.

     That same year, 1983, the CBS-TV show “60 Minutes” made his plight famous. The objective of his fast was to force the Reagan Administration to renovate an empty federal building into an 800-bed shelter for homeless people in Washington, D.C. It worked.

     Several years before he committed suicide (1990) he told me: “Human beings are basically decent and caring creatures. But because we are a highly competitive and individualistic society, we’ve learned how to step over the broken bodies of our neighbors without seeing them.”

     The gaunt face and those dark, narrow-set despairing eyes bore the conscience of a man who had slept with hunger and degradation. Mitch literally walked in the shoes of the homeless.

     When I asked, if there was one meaningful statement he’d most like to make to the American public, what would it be? Here was his reply:

     “I was about 48 days into my hunger strike and was prepared to die when ’60 Minutes’ asked me a similar question. I knew I had millions of people out there listening to my last words. After I thought about it, I realized it was something we always say.

     “The public must reduce the distance between themselves and the suffering and lonely. The next time you see somebody sitting in a doorway, on a curb or wandering aimlessly, someone you know is alone and hurting, do something. Reach out in your own way and say to that person, ‘I care about you!”

     Mitch, at least in my book, was a rogue angel and the voice of America’s homeless.

     Doug Grindeland could have beat Mitch handily in an arm wrestle. He was a tall, thick-shouldered man with a graying goatee, clear blue eyes, and a salty sense of humor.

 When I met him, he was sitting at the counter of a Manhattan Beach restaurant having a cup of coffee. He was in his mid-fifties and had a “Want to Neck?” badge pinned to his sweater.

     The two men had never met. Each had their own skeletons to rattle. Mitch was riding a newswave while Doug, with his own set of loose marbles, lived on the beach. After he was layed off as a packaging designer at Hughes Aircraft Company’s Radar Systems Corp., the twice-divorced one-time B-29 Air Force crew chief with three years of college, “just gave up.”

     He blamed some of his woes on industry bottom liners. The saying he quoted was this: The purpose of life is finding your gift. The meaning of life is giving it away.

     “Because of greed,” he said, “the financial community today is too busy lopping off heads not really considering what’s inside of them. Sure that bothers me. Sometimes in life, you are given no alternatives. I put my time in grade. I want to enjoy life. For me, being homeless is still an adventure. I have no complaints.

     “People come to California on vacation to sleep out under the stars. I do it every night. I live off my bike. It’s not that easy. I don’t think a lot of people could handle this. When I’m out of money, I’ll go into a bin behind Winchell’s and pull out about 30 pounds of doughnuts. I’ll eat a few and feed the rest to the sea gulls.”

     A few years ago I ran across Doug at the beach. He was no longer homeless. He had spent a year at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in West Los Angeles being treated as a manic-depressive. He was drawing disability and taking medication for what he describes as his “mental short-circuit.” But his opinion about the human race hadn’t changed.

     Here’s what he learned after living homeless for more than three years: “Before the VA took me in, I looked at people going to work every day, putting up with office politics, job abuse and other social pressures. They had to make a living wage to pay the rent. Me, I didn’t have to answer to nobody!”

     He admitted that surviving as a homeless person on the beach wasn’t Paradise. “I was mistreated, even bullied. One time three young men took my bike and the cans I was collecting, and threw them off the pier. Then they tried to egg me into a fight. I might have been a little touched, but I wasn’t crazy!” He laughed at that.

     As a homeless person he discovered that humanity has different faces. “You find good and bad. There are people who detest the fact that you’re not working. There are many more compassionate people than vindictive ones!    “So you learn humility. You learn how to survive on doughnuts. When you dig into a trash can because you’re hungry, you learn to discard your ego. Ego is such a handicap. When you’re homeless you see life from the streets on a day-to-day basis. The pretty little house with the white picket fence is like shooting for the moon.

     “There were a lot of things I appreciated,” he continued. “Every single day at the beach, you look up at the sky and it’s like a beautiful picture. Every day is different. People will see you digging for cans. They’ll come up, talk, give you some change. There were people who gave me twenty dollars. Despite the rotten eggs, you see a lot of caring people when you’re down.”

     Today, whenever Doug runs across a homeless person, he might say a few friendly words. “Usually, I’ll give them some money. Maybe a few bucks. Whether they spend it on food or booze, that’s up to them.”

     One time, during his homeless period, he met a woman in a saloon. “When she asked where I lived, I told her, I live at the beach. When I brought her home with me, was she surprised!”

 

              — Boots LeBaron

 

 

EXPERIENCING SELF PITY? USE HUMOR AS YOUR WEAPON

PUTTING A FACE ON THE HUMAN RACE

EXPERIENCING SELF PITY? TRY TAP-DANCING

IT AWAY ON THE STAGE OF LIFE!

We are all starring in The Theater of the

Absurd. Look into the mirror. See yourself?

Even at your saddest moment of

wretchedness, study the character gawking

back at you. Notice the bloodshot eyes, the

twitch, the frown etched in deep furrows.

Pretty pathetic, huh? Now look deeper. There’s

a gladiator hiding behind that gloomy

facade. I don’t care how you’ve failed

or how your spirit was damaged. Give your

memory sack a good shake and there’ll be

an assortment of memorable moments spilling

out. Guaranteed, you’re gonna find something

to howl, growl or smile about. I know, I know.

You’re uncomfortable. But don’t hide. You’re

tap-dancing under the glare of the spotlight,

sharing the stage with billions whose tragedies

would dwarf the grief you’re experiencing.

You’re suffering an ego attack. Maybe a broken

heart? Everybody gets them. So stop fretting!

Even in the midst of catastrophic sadness,

there is humor. When my childhood friend,

Dick (Bumbo) Channon died at 52, I had his mother

and sister laughing. I dropped a handful of

bubble gum into his open casket. Memories are

made of happiness. Fun, never dies easy.

When my Irish pal, Frank Francis O’Leary

recently kicked the bucket, I wrote a

story turning the portly aerospace

physicist into a leprechaun stuck in a

tree. Death might be an emotional disaster for

many, but beyond those woe-be-gone tears lurks

the soul of truth that’s ready to spring forth

and bite you on the buttocks, infecting your

solemnness with happy memories. Truth harbors

a helluva sense of humor. You just gotta remember

the good times. So, if you want to temporarily

overcome those doldrums, here’s my suggestion:

Go into the bathroom and lock the door. As I

suggested earlier, find the mirror. You’re all

alone, right? Now bend over and give yourself

a kick in the ass. If you’re not double-

jointed, pull down your pants or panties and

“moon” the mirror. That act, I suspect, will give

you good reason to rise above self pity. You might even

realize what a pathetic looking asshole you are.

Remember: Laughter beats tears.


— Boots LeBaron —

LEOPARD EYES PULCHRITUDE AT A ‘JUNGLE’ WATERING HOLE

THE HUMAN RACE

 

A DARK LIQUID OASIS WHERE YOUNG AND OLD CATS MINGLE

The old leopard

sits in the shade at a

jungle watering hole

known by local natives in

the Manhattan Beach Village

as The Coffee Bean.

Waiting and watching,

he crouches stealthily

sipping on his mocha latte.

He’s seen better days.

His vision is waning.

His quickness is gone.

The fangs are yellowing,

loose and brittle.

The muscles no longer

ripple beneath taut skin.

He’s losing fur

that once was coarse,

ocher, and speckled with

myriad shaped black jots.

He watches morsels

parade by innocently

slurping the magic liquid

that makes life

so socially grand.

But the memories of

his wild predator days

still linger in his heart.

Ancient and pumping,

it’s still

the heart

of a leopard.

 

Boot LeBaron

SURVIVING LIFE’S INSURMOUNTABLE ODDS!

 

THE HUMAN RACE

TRUTH BE KNOWN:  THERE’S NO COUPON FOR MIRACLES

It’s the words that meld together

creating thoughts and fears reflecting

every person’s ongoing struggle to find

a semblance of peace of mind in an

over-populated world compacted by greed,

violence, desperate naivety, and a

a message of faith that inexcusably

guarantees the kind of miracles that will

fulfill our hopes, dreams and schemes.

In every conscience, such declarations

scour the most intimate corners of our

mind — not always in an enlightening sense.

To reach Valhalla, we must somehow find

strength as individuals to ignore our

fears and human flaws to reach that final

destination when Odin welcomes us to his great

hall. No matter how painful or debatably

misleading the promises, they are

convincing enough to satisfy any doubts

that linger before Odin’s final embrace.

All we need is a shred of truth

to fulfill our hopes and dreams

and fuel our trip to Valhalla.

Actors as well as other celebrities,

bless their charismatic and

artistic hearts, are members of a talented

gang of theatrical creatures capable of

articulating believable messages

that provoke self-examination.

Even Odin’s disciples must be capable

communicators. Otherwise, these

artists will anger the gods by not

bringing home the bacon.

The precious delivery of descriptive

observations, visual expressions, the

use of metaphors and similes, reach the

mind of those who are open to reason.

No person is honestly content with

what lurks in the dark regions of another

person’s mind. We all come equipped with

guilt as well as joy glands that

need massaging. Bullshit exists

in every member of the human race.

Literary craftspeople, essayists,

poets, TV talking heads or office moguls

who paint glorious promises they never

keep have been known to preach rewards,

then deliver nothing.

That’s their talent. They come armed

with words. And you are the target.

Never lose faith in strangers.

But be skeptical. Purity might be

believable, but is not always

attainable. Despite our self-disparaging

selves, the adventures we experience

en route to Odin’s palace, make life’s

challenges worth the aggravation.

Must we agonize over our questionable

wisdom? Should we ride with the anguish

we are spoon fed with daily doses?  

It’s up to you. Go figure!

 

— Boots LeBaron —

MY DAD BERT LeBARON: A MOVIE STUNTMAN WITHOUT A FACE

THE HUMAN RACE

 

  THIS  STUNTMAN HAD A LOVE AFFAIR WITH HOLLYWOOD

imageStuntman Bert LeBaron, with arms spread in flight,

was about to knock out a machine-gun nest manned

by prison guards in the 1947 Burt Lancaster classic

movie “BRUTE FORCE.” Esquire Magazine ran a full-page

photo of my airborne dad without giving the Hall of

Fame stuntman-actor credit. That’s the way it was

in Hollywood back then. Although today their names

are entombed with crew members in end-credits, stunt

people are still ignored by the motion picture and

television academies. Since more than 50 stuntmen

and women have died for Hollywood over the years,

don’t you think the survivors deserve Academy

recognition? At least for valor? What pisses me off

is to hear actors ooze B.S. (Don’t tell me they don’t!)

taking credit for “gigs” performed by athletes like

my old man. And now, digital animation is replacing

the acts of such stalwart guys and gals. After

35 years of proudly calling himself an actor-

stuntman, Bert LeBaron, who would never qualify as

another Laurence Olivier or Tom Hanks, developed

a heart problem that put him out of action physically

and financially. (His last stunt was doubling actor

William Bendix in a TV sitcom) When the film capital

of the world showed no compassion, he tried selling

encyclopedias. When that failed, he couldn’t even

support himself peddling newspapers on the streets of

Hollywood. Having nowhere to turn, he stepped into a

handball court at the Hollywood YMCA where he was renting

a room for $10 or $15 a week and purposely popped his

heart playing the game he loved more than women. He

died in 1956. I call Bert and his unheralded comrades

“stuntmen without faces.” I loved that womanizing rogue

whom my mother shed twice in divorce courts. My father

had so many ex-wives and girlfriends, they were lost

in the midst of his mind. Nevertheless, stuntmen and

women deserve to step up to the podium and accept a

golden statuette for their sensational athletic feats.

So tell the actors who, for the sake of publicity

or self-aggrandizement, to: Put A Cork In It! Their

crime is they continue to take credit for stuntwork

achieved by filmdom’s “faceless” others. In my book,

that’s a felony punishable by truth.

 

Boots LeBaron

LOVE IS ROMANTICALLY NUTS!

THE HUMAN RACE

 

LOVE: LIFE’S UNPREDICTABLE, NEVER-ENDING COMEDY

LOVE IS NUTS!

Have you ever been lonely in a world

jam-packed with humanity? Have you ever

wondered about your destiny in a society

that frequently seems senseless?

Have you ever searched for the being

behind the face, behind the smile,

behind the whispered words of promise

and found emptiness? Ouch!

The quest for love can be painful.

Like buying a used car. To get the feel

of it, you’ve got to drive it for a while.

Love is a word, so fragile, an angry breath

can destroy it. It can break a heart,

sooth a soul, rattle a psyche

or give a weakling Herculean strength.

For the sake of it, Romeo and Juliet

croaked. For most, a love affair is

an erratic maiden voyage.

Whether it’s documented at the

license bureau or stored in the heart,

every relationship encounters

tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis

or at least turbulent sprinkles

that test steadfast durability.

Everybody talks about love,

frets about it, writes about it

and sings about it. Nobody, even

Shakespeare, can fully explain it. Why?

Because love is nuts! Yet we’re all

scrambling in search of it.

The divorce courts are full of people

who’ve had their fill of it.

When viewed from a casting couch, a

watering hole, spiritually, or through the

eyes of a marriage counselor, love is one

never-ending soap opera that

stars everybody. Including you!

Boots LeBaron — 

TRY A LITTLE FANTASIZING AT YOUR LOCAL LAUNDROMAT

THE HUMAN RACE

A TIDY PLACE TO TWIDDLE LIFE AWAY

 

Sitting in the laundromat

watching the Speed Queen

tumble-dry your clothes

can be a monotonous thing.

 

You may pass the time gawking

at the scrumptious honeys,

or occupy the boring hours

twiddling your thumbies.

 

You can play a game of solitaire,

if by chance you have a deck.

Like waiting for your socks to dry,

it’s one tedious trek.

 

If you’re the type of person

who can slip into a trance,

a visit to the laundromat

might allow your brain to prance.

You may fly away to Paradise

on gossamer wing,

take a lover, become an NFL star,

rule the world as queen or king.

 

But for those who have a passion for

a life jampacked with washing machines,

somewhere in your ancestry

there’s gotta be some screwed up genes.

 

— Boots LeBaron —

RUTHIE WAS ONE OF MANY COURAGEOUS U.S.A. WOMEN.

Ruth Shannon celebrates her birthday on April 1st.

 

RUTH CHANNON WAS ONE OF MANY U.S. WOMEN WHO SHOWED

TRUE COURAGE AND INTEGRITY DURING ‘THE BIG WAR.’

 

     Not long after Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler’s attempt to conquer the world, obliterate Judaism, slaughter millions of Jews, invade Poland, Czechoslovakia, occupy Austria, bomb the hell out of Britain using der Furor’s powerful Luftwaffe air force, the Japanese launched its December 7, 1941 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

     They struck with carrier-based planes sinking or damaging 19 ships, killing or injuring 2,200 American servicemen, and destroying 188 planes with negligible losses to the Japanese.

Not only did that devastating attack on Pearl get the U.S. into World War II, it revealed a dormant spirit within the men and women of our nation. It was a wake-up call that made us realize that now was the time for all good people to come to the aid of their country. It was a time for great sacrifice, a time to fight an enemy that’s threatening the freedom of what we continue to call the land of the free and the home of the brave.

     And for those reasons, I’d like you to meet Ruth Channon who was one thousands of American women to change their lifestyles by giving up their comfortable world as housewives, moms, administrators and clerks to support their nation which must go to war against a well-trained, goose-stepping enemy known as the Axis.

     At that moment in history, hundreds of thousands of men left the workplace and joined the U.S. armed forces. At the same time, millions of women from all walks of life and levels of society, forfeited personal and professional comforts to take over the jobs men  vacated.

     So Ruth Channon, an ambitious young woman, gave up her dreams to become what she whimsically and proudly calls herself, “Ruthie the Riveter.” What makes Ruthie unique is her positive attitude,her sense of being a woman, and the fact that the mother of my late childhood friend, Bumbo, turns 100 years old on Wednesday (April 1, 2015).

     For at least two years, Ruthie worked as a riveter at Hughes Aircraft Co. in Culver City, Calif.  During the war, her mother would baby-sit with Bumbo and his sister Sheila while Ruth riveted away helping build fighter planes and bombers to battle a powerful enemy that would make Darth Vader look like a kindergartener.

     When I asked Ruthie if by chance she worked on a bomber that actor Clark Gable served on as a tail gunner, she had no idea. As the story went, when German field marshal Hermann Goering learned at Gable, a well-known motion picture star, had enlisted in the American Air Corps and was a tail gunner, the notorious field marshal had offered $5,000 to kill him.

     When Gable learned of the price that was put on his head, he was quoted as saying, “Tell Goering that, ‘Frankly, I don’t give a damn!'” Of course, that line was taken from the 1939 Civil War epic, “Gone With the Wind” when Gable as Rhett Butler told Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn!” “Gone With the Wind,” is considered one of the most famous films in Hollywood history.

     But back to Ruth Channon and reality: In their own way, close to 19,000,000 women went to war replacing their male counterparts who became U.S. warriors. In 1942, the original Rosie the Riveter was discovered. Her name was Rosie Ronavita. She was a welder building planes for Convair in San Diego. To land such a riveting job, the government would explain to female applicants, “If you can use an electric mixer, you surely can operate drill.”

     Working for less money than her male replacement, women were proud to become active members of the war effort. When posters showing a sturdy female with the slogan, “We Can Do It!” became quite popular. And the significance of Rosie the Riveter became as popular as the Uncle Sam recruiting poster pointing under the slogan, “We Want You!”

     When I asked Ruthie about her going to work, leaving her two young children at home, she explained that as a single parent, her mother would baby sit with her young son, my childhood pal Bumbo, and her daughter, Sheila.

     Was doing a man’s job difficult? “Not really,” she said. “I was young and strong.” Ruthie was also one of the best looking mothers residing on Crescent Heights Boulevard. She was a young mom, with raven hair, dark brown eyes and Pocahontas cheekbones.

     Was working with a riveting guy on fighter planes and bombers exhausting? “Only when I got home at night. But my kids made everything alright.”

     Near the end of the war, Ruthie married an ex-GI named Saul Channon. Lucky for Bumbo and Sheila, he adopted them.

     Saul Channon looked like an husky leprechaun. Actually, he was a Russian Jew and the son of a rabbi. I can’t remember him without a cigar sticking out the side of his mouth.

     Mr. Channon never talked about the hell he went through as an infantryman with the 45th Armored Division; never mentioned the wounds he suffered during a firefight in Messina, Italy, in 1944. They were severe enough to buy him a ticket home. I loved the guy.

     For a long time after his return to civilian life, he remained traumatized like the combat infantrymen who return from the Middle East today. Ruthie told me, a thump in the night would send the former sergeant diving under the bed. Even action scenes in a movie, like “Return to Bataan” would cause Saul to hit the deck in a movie theatre, taking cover behind rows of seats.

     To get the trembling ex-GI back onto his seat, Ruthie said she would have to remind him that it was only a movie they were watching in a darkened theatre.

     “Most of the time it worked,” she said. “What Saul went through, made me realize how important it was for me and all those other women, to do our duty. Although Saul is dead, I still talk to him. He was a great father and husband. I’ll never stop loving him.”

     Happy birthday, Ruth Channon. Happy one hundred years of adventures in this troubled world.

   — Boots LeBaron —

        4-01-2015

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Human-Race-Boots-LeBaron/dp/1494218526

ACTOR BOB MITCHUM WAS MY FAVORITE WISEGUY

THE HUMAN RACE

BOB MITCHUM, WITH AN ATTITUDE PROBLEM, GAVE ME AN AUDIENCE.

     On numerous occasions, life had sent actor Robert Mitchum to the principal’s office. Some of you might not even recognize his name. He died in 1997. Nevertheless, I’d like you two to meet. Not because he was a Hollywood legend. But because he wore his soul like a bullet-proof vest over his barrel chest.

     After nearly four decades as a movie star, he didn’t need to talk about himself. Certainly he had been busted for smoking pot in 1948 and wound up in jail. Certainly he was a rogue. Certainly, in the eyes of many, he was dinosaurian. Certainly he had an attitude problem that intimidated and even alienated many studio executives. Certainly.

     Several years before he died in his late 70s suffering from complications caused by emphysema and lung cancer, I spent a few evenings with him in St. George, Utah where he was starring as a killer in a mediocre ABC-TV docu-drama titled, “Casa Grande.”

     My first glimpse: He was sitting on a director’s chair talking to members of the film crew, complaining about a showerhead he had installed in the Montecito, California home he shared with his wife, Dorothy, the woman he married in 1940.

     “I had this little guy install the shower,” he said. “I told him I want it two-inches above my head. The sonuvabitch put it two-inches above his head. Damn midget!”  

     Everybody laughed.

     Robert Charles Duran Mitchum was still smoking and drinking when I met him. He was anything but vain. He was gruff.

      Hollywood was not his playground. Yet, that’s where he made his living. I liked the cynicism, the humor and the wisdom of this tough guy. See if you like him too:

     QUESTION: Do you still get the same kind of enjoyment you had when you were starting out in this business?

     MITCHUM: For eight hours a day, yeah. After that, it begins to drag my ass.

     QUESTION: Charles Laughton, who directed you in “Night of the Hunter,” [where you played a psychopathic killer] said you could very well become one of the world’s great actors. Is there any kind of role you haven’t done and would like to do?

     MITCHUM: Sesame seed.

     QUESTION: What is sesame seed?

     MITCHUM: It’s a roll. Very seldom do actors use the word ‘role.’ Acting is a job.

     QUESTION: You’re getting old.

     MITCHUM: True.

     QUESTION: You’re sitting out here on location. It’s midnight. The dust is blowing in your face. Is there anything else you would rather have done with your life?

     MITCHUM: I can’t think of anything. No. I haven’t been exposed to many things.

     QUESTION: How do you feel about the convict character you play in this movie?

     MITCHUM: Unfortunately, it runs all through the picture.

     QUESTION: You don’t act like an actor.

     MITCHUM: When I get paid for it, I do.

     QUESTION: What was your first movie?

     MITCHUM: ‘Hoppy Serves a Writ’ in 1942. It was a Hopalong Cassidy film with William Boyd. I got on a horse. Got thrown off. Played a heavy. Had dialogue. Fell off a forty-foot rock. Got shot. And went home dragging my ass, ninety dollars richer, with all the horse manure I could carry.

     QUESTION: You started in acting as a teen-ager. How have you changed over the years?

     MITCHUM: I got older.

     QUESTION: You had to get better, too! Right?

     MITCHUM: Not necessarily. It depends on the opportunities; the variances in parts.

     QUESTION: Maybe you got worse.

     MITCHUM: There you go.

     QUESTION: Why did you become an actor?

     MITCHUM: It was better than what I was doing.

     QUESTION: What were you doing?

     MITCHUM: Working in a womens’ shoe store on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

     QUESTION: How long?

     MITCHUM: Three weeks. I got fired for checking beaver.

     QUESTION: How true was that story about you escaping from a chain gang in Savannah, Georgia?

     MITCHUM: I have sixteen biographies. Take your pick. It’s not important.

     QUESTION: You describe Howard Hawks, Charles Laughton, John Ford, John Houston as great directors. What makes a great director?

     MITCHUM: Oh, I think a comprehensive overview.

     QUESTION: I knew a guy, Adrian Thornsbury, a one-time Golden Gloves boxing champion from Kentucky, who claims he got in a scuffle with you over a girl in Long Beach (California) when you were just starting out in acting.

     MITCHUM: Yeah, I remember. I was maybe nineteen; trying to impress his girlfriend. He called me a theater queen. I called him an Adrian. He beat the crap out of me.

     QUESTION: Since you were born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and grew up in Hell’s Kitchen, how did you wind up in Hollywood?

     MITCHUM: I came out in a private plane. My health was delicate. My family took me out of private school. I was emaciated from dancing lessons. They had an airplane built for me and flew me out on the Southern Pacific Railroad.”

     QUESTION: Are you good at business?

     MITCHUM: Do you think I would be sitting here at midnight in the middle of a sand storm doing this TV crap if I was good at business? One time in Kenya (east Africa) I was working with Carroll Baker in a John Huston movie. The Massai tribesmen horrified Carroll. But she had her publicity man get a picture of her posing with all the brothers; then put out a story that tribal chiefs offered a hundred black cattle in a trade for her.

     That represented a fortune in cows. Through an interpreter, I got together with a chief and we actually bartered for her. The sonuvabitch whittled me down to one fucking cow. He probably knew she wasn’t a real blonde.”

     QUESTION: Do you do any of your own stunts?

     MITCHUM: I ended up under a pile of stuntmen once. One of them said, ‘Hey, we get paid to do this.’ That’s when I realized I was doing them out of a job.

     QUESTION: Ever get knocked out?

     MITCHUM: Raymond Burr banged my head against a post one time in “His Kind of Woman.” I went out. When I came to, the director said, ‘That didn’t look real. Do it again.’ I had a lump on the side of my head the size of a grapefruit.

     QUESTION: Is it true that John Wayne was really physical when he staged fights?

     MITCHUM: Nah. He had some pretty good doubles. One of them was Charlie Horvath. He could take your jaw and twist it right off. Really, right off! In those close-ups, Duke would just mock fight. But if he fell sideways standing at the bar, which he did on occasions, he would clean out the whole joint like a row of dominoes. I tried to lift him over my shoulder a couple of times but he had those big football legs. He might throw up on your back, but he’d give you no help.   

     QUESTION: Who taught you to fight?

     MITCHUM: Tommy Loughran. Fought [Jack] Dempsey. He was a light heavyweight, actually. It was on the banks of the Indian River in Delaware. A church camp. I was 13.

     QUESTION: How did you learn to ride a horse?

     MITCHUM: A wrangler named Cliff Parkinson taught me. Cliff was an all-around rodeo cowboy. He was supposed to be a pretty good bronc rider. He said, ‘Just get on and pretend you can ride, kid.’

     My last glimpse of Robert Mitchum: He was alone sitting in his trailer drinking Budweiser and smoking Pall Mall cigarettes.    What I found behind those legendary hooded eyelids and deadly-calm green eyes was a man who didn’t like to be alone; an intelligent, well-read, cynical wit whose view of the human race was skeptical. His search was for simple honesty in a sea of greed, insincerity and not much loyalty. Because of his celebrity status, there were a lot of industry people and strangers he came in contact with that he didn’t trust.

     Since he was still a recognizable icon, Hollywood continued to embrace him. After all, he had starred in more than 120 movies including some great ones like “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison,” “The Enemy Below, “Cape Fear,” “The Sundowners,” “Not As a Stranger” and “The Longest Day.”

     I left that old Hollywood dinosaur alone in his trailer realizing that I genuinely respected the man behind the actor.

Boots LeBaron

(NOTE TO PEOPLE WHO READ MY BLOG:  IN A DAY OR TWO, I’M RUNNING

A  STORY ABOUT  ADRIAN THORNSBURY,  A TRULY TOUGH GUY WHOM

MITCHUM TAUNTED, REFERRING TO THORNSBURY’S “SISSY” FIRST

NAME.  SO “THE THEATER QUEEN” TOOK ON ADRIAN.   MITCHUM’S BIG

MISTAKE.)

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