Friday, May 14, 2010

Jack Kelly - "I Hated Horses When I Was a Kid" :)

Howdy Everyone!

After reading Jack Kelly's stirring column about the Lone Ranger and Silver, I got to wondering: How did JK really feel about horses himself? We know he rode Sickle, a.k.a. Goldie, and other mounts in Maverick. And, of course, he rode horses in the western films in which he appeared.

So, I did a little digging and found an article from 1960 which reveals how JK felt about horses and some other interesting things, as well:

"TV's Maverick Once Didn't Even Like Horses -
Let Alone Ride Them

by Joe St. Amant,
United Press International, 10/30/1960

Jack Kelly, television's sophisticated easy-in-the-saddle Bart Maverick, talks to his horse these days but there was a time he was not on speaking terms with any of the four-legged critters.

This suave TV gambler with the educated eyebrows [B27 - I love that description!] who looks perfectly at home on a horse in his video shenanigans, was not born to the saddle. He was not raised in the saddle. And the only range he knew as a boy was the kitchen stove at home in Astoria, Long Island.

Between scenes in the shooting of a Maverick episode on the Warner Bros. lot, Kelly came clean on his relationship with horses.

'I hated horses when I was a kid,'
he recalled. 'I was afraid of them.

'When we moved here to Southern California, I used to ride at weekend boys' camps--I don't know whether they have things like that any more--but I never liked it. Then, in 1951, I signed a contract with the old Universal Studio--for about 150 or 200 bucks a week. They had regular classes for young actors in almost anything you can name--including riding and Balinese dancing where you'd have to strike a lot of kookie poses. [B27 - I had to stop here because I was laughing so hard - can you imagine JK dancing like that?] This was the greatest thing that ever happened to me as far as training was concerned. You learned poise. You learned how to cock your head or lift an eyebrow to get an idea across. I do that a lot today in Maverick, if you'll notice. [B27 - Yep!]

'But the riding class--I thought I could do without that. I missed the first two classes and Bob Palmer, head of talent then, called me into his office and told me, 'Listen, young fella, the measure of your success in this business may well be how you can handle a horse. Now get out of here and get your satchel over to the stable.' I got.'

Thus began a great friendship between Kelly and the equine family.

'I really learned to handle a horse," Kelly continued seriously. 'In the first place, I lost my fear. You couldn't hold me then. I wanted to get out there every day and saddle up as soon as possible. The wranglers they had at the studio were great guys. They knew horses, of course. And they taught you how to treat a horse. It was their responsibility to see that the horses were not mistreated. They did a good job on the horses and the students.'

For the past three seasons, Kelly's been grateful for his acquired horsemanship.

'In the situations in Maverick, I could look awfully silly if I didn't know how to handle a horse," he explained. It's getting on and off mostly in the show, and I could look foolish if I didn't know what I was doing.'

But, he isn't about to indulge in any mad gallops down the side of a mountain or any other such breakneck stunts.

'I've got too much at stake," he said. "A broken arm or leg and my career might be wrecked.'

That career is a serious thing with Kelly. In real life, he displays few of the characteristics of the light-hearted drifter, Bart Maverick.

He recently completed a movie for Warner Bros. called A Fever in the Blood. He plays a straight part as a district attorney who exploits the prosecution of a murder case as a lever to try to become governor.

Kelly recently renegotiated with Warner Bros. and signed a seven-year contract covering Maverick and four more movies.

'I got what I wanted,' he said.

Kelly said he does not think movie audiences will identify him with Maverick.

'It doesn't have the stereotyping characteristics that some other westerns have," he explained. "I like doing this show. The stories are usually whimsical. The spirit infiltrates the whole company and turns it into a lot of camaraderie. It helps to make the work easier.'

It's easier in the saddle now, anyway."

JK is tall in the saddle as "Curly Mather" in
Gunsmoke (1953), one of his early Universal westerns.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jack Kelly - Who Was That Masked Columnist? :)

Hello All!

The late Jim Croce sang a song titled You Don't Mess Around With Jim. In addition to not messing around with Jim, the lyrics advise, "You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger".

But, in 1979, someone did pull the mask off the Lone Ranger. Clayton Moore was renowned for portraying the legendary masked man in films and on television. However, when the Wrather Corporation decided to produce a new feature film version of The Lone Ranger, they chose a younger, unknown actor for the part. What's worse, they legally barred Moore from wearing his trademark mask in public.

Unfortunately, Jim Croce was gone by this time. Fortunately, though, Clayton Moore and "the old Lone Ranger" had another defender in 1979: a columnist for the Huntington Beach News by the name of Jack Kelly.

JK, of course, knew something about cowboy heroes, and, as you'll see from his column dated September 27, 1979, he also knew something about writing:

"There's a gag card making the rounds: 'Old Actors Never Die--They Just Fail to Perform.' I'll be the first to publicly deny the allegation if you promise never to question my wife. Her answer could wreck a career.

"There is one actor who will never die, and as sure as Tonto is faithful, has never failed to perform. He's a great guy named Clayton Moore. He played the Lone Ranger for so many years, the silver bullets have tarnished. He galloped so many cinematic miles on the great steed Silver, he should be enshrined in Hollywood Park. Clayton saved so many sod busters from cattlemen's wrath, they should have named chicken fried steak after him. He used so many silver bullets as momentoes to startled and thankful range families, laid end-to-end they'd stretch from Dodge City to the Chicago stockyards. His courage-provoking salutation, 'Hi-Yo, Silver, Awayyy!', is more memorable a rallying cry than 'Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!', or 'Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition'.

"Clayton Moore's next birthday celebration could be his 50th, 58th, 63rd, 69th, or 75th--one answer you'll never get from him is whether I'm being vindictive or kind--though his body still easily slips into a 32" waist, to get him to discuss his birthdate would be an accomplishment equal to proving Wilt Chamberlain wears elevator shoes, Chrysler Corporation isn't really stupidly managed, or John Wayne is a bad guy!

"Clayton Moore is so loyal to the Lone Ranger, he wouldn't go to a restroom at the L.A. Coliseum without wearing his mask. He's so determined to separate his private life from the outstanding fictional hero of the West, he'd likely be fingered as the masked rapist in a police lineup, and still wouldn't request Tonto to vouch for his character.

"Since The Lone Ranger went off the air, Clayton has been earning a living at state fairs, rodeos and every other conceivable personal appearance where his services are continually requested by eager entrepreneurs. Last week, Clayton Moore was legally ambused as indelicately as when the 'dirty little coward' plugged Mr. Howard, as when the infamous Bob Ford squeezed the shot that propelled Jesse James into an orbit of American folk legend.

"The Wrather Corporation, owners of the Lone Ranger rights and trademarks, successfully enjoined Clayton Moore from ever appearing again as the masked crusader. Ain't it a shame. A man who subverted his own identification to perpetuate his fictional career partner will have to hang up mask, six-guns and future as if he were a hopeless mosquito, smashed on the forearm of a jet-setter taking sun in Acapulco?

"The Wrather Corporation is into a rejuvenation cycle of the Lone Ranger, in keeping with the the Superman flick of recent issue. Since westerns have vacated TV and theatres for the past ten years or so, the Lone Ranger movie should be successful. The producer is rightfully protecting his ability to capitalize on appearances of the new artist portraying the legendary hero.

"Mr. Wrather, for a happy birthday to Clayton, whenever it is or whichever one it is, you might consider appointing him to a position of value in the new project. He's been of continual value over the years by keeping Silver's rider unsullied."


Alas, the Wrather Corporation didn't take JK's hint and failed to give Moore a role in the new film, which was released in 1981 as The Legend of the Lone Ranger. But, after the film bombed big-time, Clayton Moore was allowed to wear his famous mask once more. :)