Today’s pic takes another look at Matty Trifon, the gangster who enjoys nothing more than taking his friends out to dinner and stuffing them with yummy food. He appeared in the very first Baretta episode, “He’ll Never See Daylight”. It first aired on January 17, 1975 and was directed by the legendary Bernard L. Kowalski.
I am fairly certain that the actress portraying Matty’s confused girlfriend is Judith Hanson, who is helpfully listed in the credits as “Girl”. I am also fairly certain that she is the same Judith Hanson who is now a country singer with a CD entitled Even Perfectly Nice People Go to Jail. She has this to say on her CDBaby artist page: “I was a child entertainer and became a top model in New York. I did national commercials and then went to Hollywood where I worked on television and some movies. I started writing songs for a very unusual reason and it turned into a business. Now I own my own publishing company, Hanson Payday Publishing, and I’m ready to cash in my chips!”
He was expelled from five schools in his native Brooklyn, the Marine Corps and nearly every job he’s tried while hitch-hiking across the country. He’s slept in vacant lots and cellars. Despite the fact he works regularly in Hollywood, he bought a four room house 25 miles away in a poor section of the city.
Plays With Cobra
“People are finally beginning to understand me,” barked Tim. “The trouble is, people in Hollywood never saw a guy like me before. They think I’m a man from another planet.”
Tim stands 6-feet-4 and has a mop of black hair hanging over his angular face. His behavior is so unruly that when I talked to him in a restaurant I often wished I was elsewhere. Carey kept jumping up to shout his answers and even demonstrated a sensual dance he does with a live cobra between pictures in little bistros downtown.
“I’ve been in and out of more jails on vagrancy charges – the police always arrest me on suspicion because I look suspicious,” said Tim.
“When I was little I had an insane desire to wear a uniform so I forged my way into the Marine Corps. My mother and father both worked – I wanted attention.
“Why are people afraid of me? One producer thought I was on dope. I don’t even drink or smoke. I’m just enthusiastic,” said Timothy Carey. “I don’t need any stimulation.”
– Aline Mosby, “Carey Is Strangest, Wildest Actor”; newspaper column, March 7, 1957
Today we observe the 93rd birthday anniversary of legendary cinematic tough guy Charles Bronson. Here he is with Timothy and Jim Hayward in a scene from Andre’ De Toth‘s noir masterpiece Crime Wave (1954).
Born Charles Dennis Buchinsky to a Lithuanian coal-mining family in Pennsylvania (one of fifteen children), Bronson was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. After a stint in the coal mines himself, he flew bombers in World War II and received a Purple Heart. Odd jobs after the war brought him to a theater group in Philadelphia. He soon found himself in New York City and then Hollywood, determined to pursue an acting career. Like Timothy, he turned in many small and/or uncredited performances in film and on television throughout the 1950s. His big break came when Roger Corman cast him in the title role of Machine-Gun Kelly (1958). Shortly afterwards he won the lead in the TV series Man with a Camera (1958-1960). Important supporting turns in films such as The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1964) and The Dirty Dozen (1967) followed. He then headed to Europe and made several spaghetti Westerns, including Sergio Leone‘s incredible Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). He came back to the United States a bona fide star, and he remained one until his untimely death from pneumonia in 2003. He once said, “Someday I’d like a part where I can lean my elbow against a mantlepiece and have a cocktail.”
Carey is a Brooklyn boy who never went far in high school but has acted in 16 films and six TV shows. He says: “What I really want to do is write. I’ve got a script right here, which I call L.A., that I’d like you to read.”
Carey isn’t about to quote Shakespeare but he’s living proof that “All the World’s a Stage…” He’ll say: “I joined the U.S. Marines at 15, was at Parris Island and finished boot training when they learned my age. Then I was out.”
That brief hitch with the Leathernecks was enough to entitle the unusually tall (6 feet 5 inches) Carey to go to school on the GI Bill. He elected drama school. He says: “When I got to Hollywood, I heard Henry Hathaway was casting Prince Valiant. I rented a Viking costume for $15, climbed a studio fence, confronted him with drawn sword. I didn’t get the part.”
Carey’s early penchant for such monkeyshines had him in the doghouse with half of Hollywood—but he’s acting and eating while many a more retiring youngster is waiting for a call, he says.
– George Murray, “Loop Movies,” Chicago Daily News, January 15, 1958
Ending the week is another look at “Fortune City,” the episode of It Takes a Thief that was first broadcast on February 2, 1970. Creepy Art makes a pass at kidnapped Mona (Stefanie Powers), unaware that series protagonist Alexander Mundy (Robert Wagner) is lurking in the rafters.
Powers, a Hollywood native, has been gracing films and television since 1960. She is a great champion of wildlife preservation, and is the founder of the William Holden Wildlife Federation in honor of her life partner of many years. She and Wagner went on to create one of television’s most delightful and enduring partnerships in the series Hart to Hart (1979-1984).
Setting up an appointment with Carey was tricky. He is, for one thing, a recluse. On the other hand, as a benched performer, he craves attention. Finally, Romeo Carey, the actor’s [then] 32-year-old filmmaker son, smoothed the path for a series of encounters at the modest Carey family bungalow in the L.A. suburb of El Monte, not far from the Santa Anita racetrack. The neighborhood, quiet and working class, seemed far in psychic miles from Hollywood.
I’ll say it was a gas meeting Carey and get that out of the way. The character and the actor meshed seamlessly, and he responded to my interest like somebody who’d been in solitary and couldn’t stop talking once he started. If he was often over-the-top in his comments, he also seemed painfully insecure, even as his long index finger jabbed the air. He struck me as a man of high ideals, however curious—at once a show-off and a fragile dreamer. He answered my questions perched on a mock throne in his cluttered backyard studio, once again wearing his glittery Sinner costume. To add to the general bizarrerie, Romeo Carey filmed portions of the proceedings for a documentary-in-progress.
Today we revisit Curtis Harrington‘s What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971), a gem of a film if ever there was one. Harrington, a humongous Careyphile, insisted on Timothy for the brief but memorable role of the bedraggled tramp who hits up Debbie Reynolds for a hand-out in Depression-era Hollywood.
I am currently reading and greatly enjoying Harrington’s long-awaited (and posthumous, unfortunately for us) autobiography, Nice Guys Don’t Work in Hollywood: The Adventures of an Aesthete in the Movie Business. In fact, I’ve already used a couple of his observations about Tim for Quotes of the Week. Please do yourselves a favor and check out this book (and his short film collection while you’re at it); I predict you won’t be disappointed!