Friday, April 29, 2011

Henry "Bomber" Kulky

Here is a perennial favorite with a great name.  Henry "Bomber" Kulky (1911 - 1965) started out as a boxer and then went into wrestling.  In South America, he was in somewhere between 175 and 7,000 matches.  He remembered it differently than the rest of the world....but he said he won most of them.

During his years as a wrestler he got to know Mike Mazurki, and that led to making movies.  Click on Mike's name to see more about him. 

Kulky has 113 titles on IMDb in the movies and on TV.  His roles weren't usually big, and many of his productions weren't the biggest hits, but he brought character to the roles and life to those movies.  He looked like a wrestler with a boxing background, so that limited his roles to playing bartenders, strongmen, soldiers, cops, crooks and such. 

In 1948 he was in To the Ends of the Earth with Dick Powell.  He played a 'Giant Chinese Man.'  He was a strongman in Mighty Joe Young (1949).  In 1951 he was in Love Nest with Marilyn Monroe.  And the B-movies kept coming for him.  Red Planet Mars (1952), No Holds Barred (1952), and Target Hong Kong (1953).

He was versatile enough to play children's movies - The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), horror flicks - Phantom of the Rue Morgue (1954), and comedies - Fireman Save My Child (1954) and Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops (1955).

I recently saw him as the bartender in The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959) starring Joel McCrea.  I don't believe he said a word, but his face is unmistakable. 

When I was young, we watched "The Life of Riley" on TV, and Henry Kulky played Otto Schmidlap, Chester Riley's friend.  The memories come flooding back.  He also had a regular role in "Hennesey" starring Jackie Cooper

His final role was as Chief Petty Officer Curley Jones on "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."  I was 14 years old when that was on, so it was a show I never missed.  And CPO Jones wasn't someone to mess with!

Henry died of a heart attack during that series.  He never had big parts, but he is worth looking for.  And once you see him, you can't miss him!

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?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Robert Pastorelli

Robert Pastorelli (1954 - 2004) was a tough character actor.  I remember him for his comic portrayal in Eraser (1996) as a bartender in a gay bar, after Arnold Schwarzenegger (b. 1947) got him into the witness protection program.  He wasn't gay, and his best line was when he said, "I'm the king of Bayonne" in his natural accent.

Pastorelli was a boxer and a drug addict before he cleaned up his life and took up acting.  He started working on TV, and he made a good living in movies as well.  His first substantial role was as the mule teamster in Dances with Wolves (1990), but he had earlier roles in several good movies with some big stars.  Look for him in Outrageous Fortune (1987) with Bette Midler, and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) with Eddie Murphy.

After he was in Dances, more good movies followed.  In 1993 he appeared in Striking Distance with Bruce Willis, and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit with Whoopi Goldberg.  

Pastorelli's persona was so strong that he could remain in demand in Hollywood.  He looked like a boxer, and had a great North Jersey accent that fit in with so many movies.  Plus, he could easily inject humor into his part that could be used to broaden his popularity with fans...and casting directors.

After Eraser, he was in Michael (1996) with John Travolta, and even made the musical "South Pacific" for TV in 2001 starring Glenn Close.

Pastorelli may have had more success on TV.  Even in his early career he appeared on many great shows in the 1980s.  His biggest role was on "Murphy Brown" which ran from 1988 to 1994.  His last movie was released the year after his death, Be Cool starring Travolta and Uma Thurman.

At the end of his life, drugs had once again taken hold.  IMDb lists his death as an accidental heroin overdose.  Sorry, if you are shooting heroin, there is nothing accidental about it.