Charles Herbert 1948 – 2015

We were very sad to learn today of the sudden death on Halloween of Charles Herbert, child star of the 1950s and ’60s and Timothy’s nemesis in Bert I. Gordon‘s The Boy and the Pirates (1960). As it’s Video of the Week Wednesday, we dug into the archives and are re-posting this enjoyable video review of Pirates.

“Do you know who Timothy Carey is?” Herbert asked Classic Images during a 2006 interview. “He, on that movie [Pirates], probably scared me more than the Colossus of New York [laughs]! But he was a nice man, and he always tried to make you feel, ‘I’m not really crazy,’ and you would say, ‘Okay.’ And then he would walk away and you’d go, ‘He’s CRAZY!’ He was a scary man.” We wish Mr. Herbert peaceful rest.

Pic of the Day: “The Boy and the Pirates” revisited

I decided we needed some pirate Timothy today, so here he is once again from Bert I. Gordon‘s The Boy and the Pirates (1960). Morgan, that scurvy dog, is relishing the prospect of committing some mayhem upon young Jimmy (Charles Herbert).

The Boy and the Pirates

In a 2006 interview with Classic Images, Herbert mentioned that Tim scared the bejabbers out of him during the making of Pirates. When asked to elaborate, he said, “It was just his eyes—those eyes! He’d look at me and I would run behind my mother. And I had to catch up to her, because she was tryin’ to find somebody else to hide behind [laughs]! His eyes, and the way he talked—all the time, he just seemed ANGRY, and out of control. But after a while, it didn’t bother me. He wasn’t somebody who was different off-screen—he was crazy on- AND off-screen.”

Quote of the Week

EDITOR’S NOTE: The “pirate actor” is unnamed, but I asked Mr. Gordon about it, and he confirmed that the actor was indeed Timothy.

But, of course, doing a movie isn’t all fun and games. Much of it is hard work with long hours. And sometimes painful, like our young star Charlie Herbert experienced. The script called for one of the pirates to discover Jimmy hiding on their pirate ship, and to pull him out of his hiding place. The pirate actor wrote his own action… grabbing the boy and viciously hurling him across the deck. And if you think Charlie hurt himself when he hit the vessel’s railing, you’re right. The poor kid almost made his lower lip bleed from biting it so hard to keep from crying.

From what I was told about the actor’s reputation of bordering on psychotic behavior, I shouldn’t have been surprised at his treatment of Charlie, but I didn’t think the man would be so violent with a young boy. Anyway, I didn’t want him in the film anymore. Now my problem was how to get rid of him, since the script called for him to be in scenes throughout the film, including the last scene of the movie.

So, after the day’s shoot was over, I got busy writing a scene where the pirate would be killed in a shipboard sword encounter. The scene could be easily cut into a sequence we had already filmed. Because he was established in so much of the already-filmed footage, it was critical that I would get him to do this additional scene. If he refused, I would have to carry him throughout the rest of the film as written.

When I gave him the new pages the next day, he asked me how he could get killed in the beginning of the movie when, according to the screenplay, he appears in the rest of the film, until the end. Of course I lied. I told him the new scene was to be a new ending with his death at the very end.

He bought it, and we quickly set up the scene on the ship’s deck… filmed it in record time… and our production manager quickly handed him his notice of completion.

Bert I. Gordon, The Amazing Colossal Worlds of Mr. B.I.G. (Bert I. Gordon, 2009)

The Boy and the Pirates lobby card

Pic of the Day: “The Boy and the Pirates” revisited

Today we revisit Bert I. Gordon‘s The Boy and the Pirates (1960). The boy, Jimmy (Charles Herbert), meets the pirates, including Morgan, Blackbeard (Murvyn Vye) and Snipe (Paul Guilfoyle). They appear to be skeptical of Jimmy’s claim that there is a genie (Joe Turkel) in that bottle.

The Boy and the Pirates

Vye appeared often in Broadway musicals, originating the role of Jigger Craigin in the 1945 production of Carousel. He also sang often in the movies (introducing the Gypsy tune “Golden Earrings” in the film of the same name), but usually ended up playing tough guys.

Pic of the Day: “The Boy and the Pirates” revisited

ACK! I knew there was one I forgot!! One last death scene, folks. This is from Bert I. Gordon‘s The Boy and the Pirates (1960). Morgan the pirate has just been shot by Captain Blackbeard (Murvyn Vye) as Hunter (Than Wyenn) wonders if he’s next.

The Boy and the Pirates

In his autobiography, The Amazing Colossal Worlds of Mr. B.I.G. (2009), Gordon wrote about the challenge of writing an unnamed “pirate actor” (which he later confirmed to me was indeed Timothy) out of the film, due to what he described as borderline violent behavior with the film’s young star, Charles Herbert. “When I gave him the new pages the next day,” Gordon relates, “he asked me how he could get killed in the beginning of the movie when, according to the screenplay, he appears in the rest of the film, until the end. Of course I lied. I told him the new scene was to be a new ending with his death at the very end. He bought it, and we quickly set up the scene on the ship’s deck… filmed it in record time… and our production manager quickly handed him his notice of completion.” Strange thing is, Morgan’s death does come very close to the end of the film. Herbert talked about his experience working with Tim here. He doesn’t mention Tim being too rough with him on the set, but he did find him rather scary!

Pic of the Day: “The Boy and the Pirates” British lobby card

Our final entry for Memorabilia Week is a British lobby card/still for Bert I. Gordon‘s The Boy and the Pirates (1960). I have three of these, which are identical to the U.S. publicity stills, except for the text and the fact that they are tinted blue. Which is pretty cool, actually.

The Boy and the Pirates British lobby card/still

Young Charles Herbert, shown here being menaced by mean pirate Morgan, had vivid memories of working with Tim. “He, on that movie, probably scared me more than the Colossus of New York!” he told Tom Weaver in an interview for Classic Images in 2006. “But he was a nice man, and he always tried to make you feel, ‘I’m not really crazy,’ and you would say, ‘Okay.’ And then he would walk away and you’d go, ‘He’s CRAZY!’ He was a scary man… It was just his eyes—those eyes! He’d look at me and I would run behind my mother. And I had to catch up to her, because she was tryin’ to find somebody else to hide behind! His eyes, and the way he talked—all the time, he just seemed ANGRY, and out of control. But after a while, it didn’t bother me. He wasn’t somebody who was different off-screen—he was crazy on- AND off-screen.”

Quote of the Week

CH: Do you know who Timothy Carey is? He, on that movie [The Boy and the Pirates (1960)], probably scared me more than the Colossus of New York [laughs]! But he was a nice man, and he always tried to make you feel, “I’m not really crazy,” and you would say, “Okay.” And then he would walk away and you’d go, “He’s CRAZY!” He was a scary man.

CI: For instance?

CH: It was just his eyes—those eyes! He’d look at me and I would run behind my mother. And I had to catch up to her, because she was tryin’ to find somebody else to hide behind [laughs]! His eyes, and the way he talked—all the time, he just seemed ANGRY, and out of control. But after a while, it didn’t bother me. He wasn’t somebody who was different off-screen—he was crazy on- AND off-screen.

Charles Herbert, “So You Wanna Be a Kid Actor…? “Not I!” said The Fly Co-star,” Classic Images, May 2006; interview by Tom Weaver