Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Slim!

Slim Pickens

Major Kong

Happy birthday wishes go out today for one of my favorite character actors ever, Mr. Louis Burton Lindley Jr., sometimes known as Slim Pickens. He was a native Californian, just like me, and lived in California all of his life, but is well known for a kind of Oklahomian drawl, a distinct form of speech that actually was quite endearing... on him. As a young lad he liked to ride horses, something they do up near Fresno where he grew up. At 12 he joined the rodeo, and was told he wouldn't ever make much money in that profession, that there were in fact slim pickens as far as cash to be made. That's where he got his stage name! He became a famous rodeo clown, which is like the most dangerous job you can have as a live performer. I certainly wouldn't want it. He stayed with the rodeo for 20 freaking years. In 1950 he got a role in an Errol Flynn movie, "Rocky Mountain," and he was successful in films for the rest of his life. He appeared in movies with others actors like Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Mel Brooks, and Fred Ward in "Ginger in the Morning," (not a porno). I have to agree with Wikipedia on this, his best known roles were in Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," "Blazing Saddles," created by Mel Brooks, and one of Steven Spielberg's more obscure movies, his 4th feature called "1941," with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. His career changed forever after "Dr. Strangelove," in which he played the over enthusiastic B-52 bomber pilot, Major T.J. "King" Kong (pictured above), for the better, finally getting the recognition he deserved, gaining much of that recognition for his comedic abilities. He was also a voice actor, and appeared on many television shows, including a guest spot on the first season of my favorite show while a young man, "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." He was also a real pilot, flying multi engine planes while wearing a green U.S. Air Force flight suit and cowboy hat, just like in Strangelove.
Sadly he left us in December of 1983 after surgery for a brain tumor. He was born in the same year as my dad, and would have been 91 today. I salute him for the joy he brought to us, and remember him on this his Birthday. Happy Birthday Slim!

No comments:

Post a Comment