CLINT WALKER OBITUARY: MAY 30, 1927- MAY 21, 2018

I was not planning on writing up this blog entry but after reading a Clint Walker obituary just now, I was compelled to do so. I’m not positive but I’m pretty sure I got the last interview with ‘The Big Fella’ for a recent issue of Filmfax Magazine. It came out earlier this year and by all accounts, seemed to be a popular read.

On a personal note, it was actually the third time I had interviewed the man. The first time was for his work with Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen for Lee Marvin Point Blank and his insights were eye-opening and hysterical. Next, I spoke with him on his work with Charles Bronson on the same film as well as the strange 1970s western/fantasy White Buffalo. This time around it was much more intimate since the purpose of the interview was focused on HIS career and his career alone. When the official interview was over, we chatted like old friends and he could not have been nicer and more effusive on a one-on-one basis. He asked me about my career, my girlfriend Barbara, we laughed about small similarities in our lives and shared a true bonding over the telephone line. I know he wasn’t in the best of health at the time (he took a tumble down the stairs, recently) but we wished each other both lots of luck for the future year ahead.
And now, just days before his 91st birthday, he has relinquished his mortal coil. I was more than lucky to know him, thanks largely to the amazing help of Deb, Elsie, I was honored. It’s cliche but in truth, we shall never see his like again. Read below our conversation and see for yourself. Farewell ‘Big Fella.’ You will be missed.
– Dwayne Epstein

Filmfax Clint Walker interview, Page 1

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Clint Walker Filmfax interview, Page 8.

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LUMP-IN-THE-THROAT MOMENTS: TWILIGHT ZONE’s STEEL

As I wrote in Lee Marvin Point Blank, the actor proved to be more versatile on TV than he ever was on film so consequently, moments of genuine poignancy proved less elusive on the small screen with several ‘Lump-in-the-throat’ moments, with one in particular coming to mind; A Twilight Zone episode he appeared in back in 1963 that still resonates today.
The episode was “Steel,” written by Richard Matheson and based on his short story. It’s one of Marvin’s best performance and given in less than a half hour’s time. It takes place in the near future with boxing outlawed due to its inherent brutality. Replaced by battling robots, former boxer ‘Steel’ Kelly (Marvin) and his partner Pole (Joe Mantell) have trundled their broken down robot, Battling Maxo, into town for his next bout. The problem is Maxo, like Kelly, has fought too many fights, so Kelly decides to go in the ring as a robot against the formidable robot opponent, The Maynard Flash.

Lee Marvin’s Steel Kelly disguised as ‘Battling Maxo” with Joe Mantell as his partner, Polo.

The viewer is obviously pulling for Kelly but the result is inevitable. Watching Marvin throughout the episode is an exercise in textbook poignancy. Whether witnessing his empty boasts of his prior career, or seeing him writhing in pain on the floor near the episode’s climax, his character elicits the same emotion as Death of Salesman’s Willie Loman. He is tragic, but he never gives in to the tragedy of his own situation, making him all the more torturous to watch.
Author Steven Jay Rubin’s new book, The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia garnered some major exclusives about the show and the Steel episode in particular.

Steven Jay Rubin’s excellent new book, THE TWILIGHT ZONE ENCYCLOPEDIA.

 

 

Most notably, an interview with the actor who portrayed Marvin’s robotic opponent, The Maynard Flash.  Former boxer and stuntman Chick Hicks stated to Rubin:
“I knew Lee Marvin for a long time, and he was a real man and a great guy. During the fight scenes, while filming I had two pieces of plastic over my eyes [to make me look like a robot] and I was pretty new to the business, so instead of putting little holes in them, so that I could have some air in there, I sweated and I was just looking at a blur most of the time, and I ended up hitting Lee a couple of times but the tough Marine that he was never complained.

‘Steel’ Kelly (Lee Marvin) taking some real punches as Battling Maxo from the more advanced Maynard Flash (Chuck Hicks) in The Twilight Zone.

He always would say, ‘Don’t worry abut it, Chuck. I know your problem.’ Yeah, he was a drinker, but a real great man underneath that plastic and skin.”
By the way, I’ll be interviewing Steve Rubin in an upcoming issue of Filmfax Magazine so be sure to be on the look out for it as he told me some things he left out of the book: *wink, wink*
-Dwayne Epstein

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FROM THE 1998 FILMFAX ARCHIVES: THE RAT PACK

An old friend recently contacted me via social media about a question she and her husband had been pondering during dinner. It had to do with the infamous Rat Pack and instead of searching Google, she contacted me to ask about the group’s inception. I wrote her back based on what I remembered and the result pleased both her and her husband.
Of course, it also got me to thinking, how DID I know the answer to her query? The senior moment passed when I realized I had, albeit many years ago, written a rather tongue-in-cheek article about that very subject for Filmfax’s sister publication, Outre Magazine.
It was a favorite piece of mine as the subject is a favorite. Even though the articles are all done on spec, I didn’t have to sell this one very hard at all. A simple query was all it took. One of the many reasons I loved writing for the magazine was just that: They liked what I wrote and I liked their subject matter. A perfect fit. Besides, it allowed me to keep my chops up while I continued to research Lee Marvin Point Blank.
And so without further ado…..Oh, one more thing. The cable show I referenced but did not state by name was Mystery Science Theater. Very funny show in it’s day but I didn’t want to risk legal action….or something like that.
So NOW, without further ado, my homage to (please hold your applause until all names have been completed) Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and supporting players Shirley MacLaine, Humphrey Bogart, and Lauren Bacall. I give you, THE RAT PACK!
Rather appropriate for this Good Friday, don’t you think?

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 1

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 1

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The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 4

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 5

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 5

 

 

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