Posts Tagged ‘ the Workplace ’

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.)

OLD LION STUDIES WILDLIFE AT STARBUCKS WATERING HOLE

THE HUMAN RACE

THE  FASCINATING PREY THIS OLD CAT GETS CHUMMY WITH       

 IMG_1973 Reeking of Eternity cologne and badly in need of a haircut, the old lion sat in a corner licking his chops, slurping coffee at a Starbucks watering hole in Manhattan Beach, Calif. It was early morning. As he scribbled thoughts on a notepad he watched a parade of morsels line up for fresh-brewed concoctions.   For weeks he had perched ready to pounce on a variety of unsuspecting characters who were sampling the dark liquid on the stage of life. It was a jungle more fascinating than the best of Broadway. Where else can one observe and even chat with such an entertaining cast of wildlife creatures — asking questions that only a scraggly old beast like me could get away with.     

Take a look:     

An unemployed wildebeest (actor) with a debilitating hangover sipping a decalf delight.   A lonely old rooster whose wealth, despite his vanity, attracts a handful of young chickadees he loves to impress.    A vulture with a prominent beak who’s always dressed in a blue suit and tie. Where’s he going? To work at the mortuary.     An award-winning body surfer who’d rather ride the waves than be the aerospace engineer whose salary pays for his surfing expeditions.   A belligerent homeless hyena who grabs the discarded newspapers, then exits Starbucks to find his own solitude.    A soft-spoken well-groomed spotted leopard, an authority on sports, turns out to be a racial bigot.    A gray wolf who calls himself “The Poet.”   He survived eight years doing hard time in three state prisons.     A fearless rhino (Los Angeles County deputy district attorney) who has successfully prosecuted and won more than 100 homicide cases, sending three men to Death Row.      A statuesque gazelle (female banker, heavy on the eye shadow) who’s tired of being hit on.     A racoon (physicist) who reached middle age before he confessed to his elderly mother who raised him as a single parent that liver made him gag. Whenever she served it for dinner, he’d wrap it in a napkin and pocket it.     An eagle (entrepreneur from New York) who decades ago maxed out a credit card to start a pharmaceutical headhunter business that now has offices nationwide.      An ostrich (buxom young woman, bellybutton exposed, butterfly wings tattooed above derriere), is poured into a clinging blouse, mini skirt, with shapely legs that stretch into stilettos. She’s looking for a “job that pays good.”          A Bengal tiger (army officer dressed in camouflaged fatigues and combat boots) who has fought his share of wars in the Middle East.      A couple of friendly pandas (English-speaking Taiwanese) who came to America 30 years ago. They diligently read the Chinese Daily News printed in their native language and discuss the editorials in Mandarin.      A chimpanzee (iron worker) who blows about walking the high beams and gushes about an on-going love affair he’s having with the woman who happens to be the mother of his children.          A porcupine (homeless young woman) coiling on the bricks outside Starbucks. Her face is dirty. Her features are classic.      A charming yet squirrely orangutan in her mid-80s who blesses every person she comes in contact with.  She claims one night she actually spoke to God.      A Hollywood gorilla (stuntman) who had injured his back when the car he was driving in a film crashed. Despite the pain, he intends to return to work.      What a parade of fascinating creatures. All tantalizing tidbits.      What a world.      What a life. Too bad I’ve already had breakfast.

                                                                                — Boots LeBaron

Click to read a preview of my nearly completed Memoir.

https://bootslebaronsworld.com/2015/01/18/conversation-with-a-dead-man-5/

(Boots’ new book, “THE HUMAN RACE,” consists of humorous and philosophic essays, poems and human interest stories focusing on life, Showbiz, love, courage, even death. It’s available on Kindle and in paperback via Amazon)

WILL SLEIGH DAMAGE DELAY SANTA’S XMAS EVE DELIVERIES?

THE HUMAN RACE

 

SANTA GETS PAT DOWN AT NORTH POLE AIRPORT. 

Kringle 

Has the Holiday Rush got to you, too? Listen to

Santa’s plea to an airport security officer in the

North Pole fearing that his flight might be delayed:

 

Your pat down brings out my usual H0-Ho-Ho!

It tickles so much, it’s misleading, you know?

 

I’m suffering from a case of holiday stress.

With deliveries to make, it’s a ridiculous mess!

 

My feisty Elves took a joy ride into the ozone.

That’s where they collided with an unmanned drone.

 

So my supersonic sleigh’s in need of repair.

On Christmas Eve, it’s gotta take us everywhere!

 

What makes things worse, Rudolph has the flu.

His bright red nose has turned dark blue.

 

We’re about to mobilize for the Yuletide rush?

If we can’t deliver, so many spirits we’ll crush.

 

Few people are aware of all the work we must do.

There are many merry makers who don’t have a clue.

 

You even seized my boots with bells that jingle!

Is that any way to treat old Kriss Kringle?

 

— Boots LeBaron —

(Boots’ book, THE HUMAN RACE, contains stories,

poetry and essays about life and ordinary people.

It’s available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon or by clicking the link below)

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

WEATHERING LIFE’S STORM!

THE HUMAN RACE

FACING THE RIGORS OF A THUNDEROUS EXISTENCE

 

Like columns of attacking Roman legions,

waves smash against the pylons

of the Manhattan Beach pier then charge

the shore with a suicidal fury.

One after another they strike.

Threatening. Magnificent.

Big invincible bruisers crashing

recklessly, angrily spewing mist

high into the air as they break.

The shore must fear the pounding.

For each giant wash kidnaps the sand,

wrenching it from its mother’s embrace.

Beyond the dark horizon a tempest is

brewing. Its rage has not yet ebbed?

You can feel it in the air.

Humanity goes through life

bracing for turbulence,

then weathering it.

The threat alone forces us to

fear, fret, worry, cower, think.

We do our damndest to batten down the

hatches. Some of us face the unknown

boldly, ignorantly, hopefully. When

tumult strikes, we must ride the waves.

Many become forever lost in the

unrelenting grip of a riptide.

Ironically, storms are like

waves, they never end.

So survivors may rest assure

that somewhere out there,

another rampage is brewing

and heading for shore.

 

       — Boots LeBaron

(Boots’ book, “THE HUMAN RACE,’ speaks of

life, courage, art, religion, love, war, etc.  It’s

available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon)

ACTOR KARL MALDEN: ‘IDEAS CHANGE AS WE EXPERIENCE LIFE.’

THE HUMAN RACE                            

OSCAR WINNER DISGUISED HIMSELF TO STUDY HUMANITY

Karl Malden had just finished co-starring

as Gen. Omar Bradley in “Patton,” the 1970 film

biography about the World War II exploits

of Gen. George Patton when he  explained to me

how characters in movies and novels change as the

 story unfolds.  Since I don’t have his exact quotes, I

paraphrased.  He told me that actors, directors,

writers realize that life experiences can

alter the philosophy of any person, real

or fictional. Malden might just as well

have been talking about today’s politicians.

 (In 1951 Malden won an Oscar for

Best-Supporting-Actor for a co-starring

role opposite Marlon Brando in “Streetcar

Named Desire”) He took his art seriously.

He told me: People change by experiencing

the good and bad of living. When I asked,

how did he know? he said that emulating

a real person is a significant part of the art

of acting.    “We work hard studying the

characters we must play. We’re all flexible.”

We were alone in his home when he pointed to his

large nose. “Even with this,” he said joking,

“I’ve disguised myself to study people. In

this line of work, it’s hard to hide from

the public.” Marlon Brando, he said, (In 1955

won an Oscar for Best Actor in “On the Waterfront”)

“had a two-way mirror installed in a tobacco

shop Off-Broadway to study people. He approached

characterization quite seriously. In real life,

people make mistakes; their philosophies change.

Failure to change course can lose a war, break a heart,

or turn a honest man into a criminal.  experience

alters the life of every person.”  With that, he gave

me a shove.  Behind that large dimpled nose was a

pair of handsome blue eyes.  They were smiling. 

Boots LeBaron

(Malden is not mentioned in Boots’ book, THE HUMAN RACE.

But Robert Mitchum is.  The book contains  a collection of interviews

with unique people interspersed with light poetry and essays about

life, death, love, courage, art, etc.  It’s available on Kindle and Amazon)

THE LAUNDROMAT: A PLACE TO TWIDDLE LIFE AWAY!

THE HUMAN RACE

 NEED TO STRETCH YOUR FANTASIZING BUTTON? 

VISIT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD LAUNDROMAT.

 

Sitting in the laundromat

watching the Speed Queen

tumble-dry your clothes

is an excruciating thing.

You could spend time gawking

at scrumptious honeys,

or occupy the boring minutes

twiddling your thumbies.

Play a game of solitaire,

if by chance you have a deck.

Waiting for clothes to dry

is one monotonous trek.

 If you’re the type of guy

who can slip into a trance,

a visit to Laundry Land might

allow your thoughts to dance.

 You could become a movie star

or perhaps a pool hall champ,

win an Oscar, be a lover,

or massage Aladdin’s lamp.

 But if you enjoy the tedious

buzz of laundromat machines,

somewhere in your ancestry

there’s mutilated genes.

 

Boots LeBaron

(Boots’ current book, “THE HUMAN RACE,” is available

on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.  It features

light poetry, essays and human interest stories.)

LOOK TO THE STARS TO HEAL YOUR PERSONAL SOAP-OPERA

THE HUMAN RACE

ASTROLOGICAL  FORECASTS YOU WON’T FIND IN

THE journal SCIENCE OR ON TV’S BREAKING NEWS:

Aquarius:  Today you will bring tears

to the eyes of those you are close to.

Take a mint. You have halitosis.

 

Aries: To fill the emptiness in your

 life, buy or adopt a dog.  It will give

you what humans aren’t capable of:  True

love, absolute trust and a sloppy lick.

 

Pisces: As a senior citizen, beware

of a sudden change in the attitude

of your adult children. They are

turning into your parents.

 

Taurus: Tonight, your best cure for insomnia

 is to make love to your sex-deprived mate.

As the aligned planets declare:  Don’t

procrastinate, you’ll rise up to the challenge!

 

Gemini: If you’re suffering with a

four-hour Viagra erection, don’t call

your physician. Planets are affirming

that today you’re blessed with the op-

portunity to satisfy the needs of many.

 

Cancer: Especially today, don’t fall

in love with yourself. You’re not

worth it.

 

Leo: Now is the opportune time to

take credit for the marketing ideas

created by your assistant.

 

Virgo: You can’t afford to become enraged

at the man who’s having an affair with

your wife. He’s your employer!

 

Libra: For the sake of sanity, don’t ask your

 secretary to bring you coffee, lie to your

wife or take his laundry to the dry cleaners.

She knows you for what you are:

A CHAUVINISTIC HORSE’S ASS!

 

Scorpio: Warning to passionate lovers.

In the heat of the night, don’t forget to

turn off the electric blanket.

 

Sagittarius: Stay calm when you take your written

driver’s exam. If you sweat, the ink on your palms

will smear ruining your chances to pass the test.

Capricorn: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah

revellers, brace for a hurricane during the holiday season!

You’re mother-in-law’s coming to town!  She was

 the out-spoken one who felt you weren’t good enough

to marry her child.  So when the doorbell chimes, be

forewarned.  It ain’t gonna be Santa.

                  — Boots LeBaron —

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

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