Sunday, May 30, 2010

Barnaby and Me

I have been thinking about what to write regarding another acquaintance, Henry Brandon.  What can you say about Henry?  He was fun to talk to, and always ready to discuss his career, with a bit of humor added.

Henry was born in Germany in 1912.  His second film acting job was in the Laurel and Hardy classic, Babes in Toyland from 1934.  He had one of the leads in the film, which is no easy task for an actor new to film.

Some trivia about Babes in Toyland, the character Mickey Mouse appeared in the film which is one of the very few times a Disney character is included in a non-Disney movie.  Walt Disney loved Laurel and Hardy, so he allowed the famous mouse to be used.  Many years later, when Disney did Babes in Toyland in 1961 with Ray Bolger and Ed Wynn, he included two characters who mimicked L&H.

The L&H Babes in Toyland was later shown on TV as "March of the Wooden Soldiers."  Some of the film was lost (probably due to editing for TV), but then restored, so if you try to purchase it on DVD, be careful.  It would be tragic to pick up a colorized version, and I know they are available!  The original movie opened with a storybook that flipped pages for the titles.  That should be available now.  I am all for getting the most original version possible.

Back to Henry Brandon.  Henry's career was better than most.  He was in three John Wayne movies, including The Searchers, which is considered one of the most important films ever made.  Henry came from Germany, but that didn't prevent him from being cast as a Native American in The Searchers, and many other film and TV roles.  He played four different Indians on six episodes of "Wagon Train!"

Henry was a guest at the 1984 Sons of the Desert convention in the UK, and I was also present.  He could usually be found in the pub talking with many admirers.  When we held the Philadelphia SoD convention two years later, Henry was there, along with Felix Knight and Virginia Karns, who were both in Babes.  We recreated the story on stage at the was amazing!  For the big finally, when the six foot wooden soldiers march in, we had hired one of the famous Philadelphia Mummers bands to march and play.

If you look at the list on IMDB, you can see that Henry appeared in many TV shows.  I suppose that happened to quite a few actors.  TV parts were probably easy to secure, and the work would be fast, then on to the next show.  It probably gave them some exposure that could help get movie parts.

Henry passed away in 1990, but he left an impression on many people who see his work, and on the many people he met and spent time sharing stories.

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