Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mr. Peepers

I guess everyone who watched "Hollywood Squares" on TV knows who Wally Cox (1924 - 1973) was.  Us older folk remember him as "Mister Peepers."  But he was more than that.

Of his 73 titles, listed on IMDb, only 12 were movies.  Cox spent most of his time on TV.  He was also a lifelong friend of Marlon Brando (1924 - 2004).  They grew up together, and were room mates for a while. 

"Mister Peepers" ran in 1952 and 1953.  It was very well received and enjoyed by kids, including me.  A few years later, he had the lead in "The Adventures of Hiram Holliday" a show I have never seen.  Most of his TV work was in teleplays, or as a guest star.

Wally's first appearance on the big screen was in the final Marilyn Monroe flick called Something's Got to Give in 1962, with Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse.  That film was never finished because Marylin passed away, but parts of it show up on TV and are found in the anthology The Diamond Collection.  Not a good start for Cox's big screen career.

He comes back in the 1962 Pat Boone release of State Fair, and the next year as the preacher in Spencer's Mountain with Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara.  That's better.

In 1964 he appears with an all star cast in The Yellow Rolls Royce.  You'll find Wally way down the cast list, though.  In 1965 he gets to work with his friend, Marlon Brando, in Morituri, a World War II drama.  This was the only time they worked together on screen.

Next up, Wally is the perfect sonar man in the cold war drama, The Bedford Incident, released in 1965.  This is one of my favorites, with another great cast.  It showed that Cox could do serious acting as well as character stuff.

There were a few more movies for Cox in the late 1960s up until his death, but they are not much more than TV movies for the big screen.  Light comedies, with titles like The One, Only, Genuine, Original Family Band; Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County; The Boatniks; and Up Your Teddy Bear.  The good thing is that these movies had some wonderful actors, including Walter Brennan, Buddy Ebsen, Dan Blocker, Jim Backus, Robert Morse, Phil Silvers and Julie Newmar.

From what I have read, Wally Cox didn't really match his appearance.  He enjoyed his motorcycle, and was most intelligent.  I suppose you have to match your parts to your looks, but what if he had been cast as the lead in a modern action film?  Would you believe it?


  1. Wally Cox has been introduced to my kids as "Underdog". It's interesting how many cartoons have been the gateway to learning about classic character actors.

  2. (I'm back) I love Wally Cox - and even tho I was but a pup at the time, I remember "Mr. Peepers"...if not very clearly. I know his film debut was cursed, but I love those scenes from "Something's Got to Give." What a film that could've been (much as I like "Move Over, Darling" I think the MM version would've been delicious). Marlon Brando really loved Wally as a best friend and confirms he was very different from his appearance and image - he was crushed when Wally died young.

  3. Thanks for the comments on Wally. I meant to mention about his Underdog gig, but I was running short on time and it slipped my mind. Thanks, Caftan.

    Welcome back, Eve. I was only two or three when "Mister Peepers" was on, but even then, they had reruns! Luckily, we had a TV back then.


Please add your thoughts, but they will be monitored so keep it on topic.