Pics of the Day: More SINNER-related ephemera

Today, my last post before the blog goes on a short hiatus, I present two pics pertaining to Timothy’s magnum opus, The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962).

First up is an amazing piece of memorabilia that comes our way via Facebook friends (and super human beings) Bill Ackerman and Heather Drain. It’s a letter from Timothy to Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Premiere at the time of Sinner‘s release. It appeared in the May 1, 1962 issue of Variety. The print is pretty small, so here is how it reads:

Mr. Nikita Khrushchev 

Kremlin, Moscow, U.S.S.R.

Dear Mr. Khrushchev:

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Timothy Carey. I am a motion picture producer-distributor.

I am writing for one reason. It has been said by many that you are the world’s greatest sinner. I made a film by the same name, wherein the leading character is quite similar to you, a man who wants to be God. I would like to send you a print for your viewing because it can be very enlightening. The subject matter deals with a great sinner who finally repents.

I’ve tried to show that there is some good in all human beings. I sincerely believe that there is a potent moral message in the “Sinner” and this movie can help the world, especially people who are out to conquer it. “The World’s Greatest Sinner” realized that a man doesn’t profit when he suffers the loss of his soul.

Sincerely yours,

 Timothy Carey

Letter to Nikita

I wonder if Mr. Khrushchev ever received his copy?

Secondly is a lovely photograph of Romeo Carey with Betty Rowland, taken when he interviewed Betty at her home in 2012. As previously reported, Betty, who portrayed long-suffering Edna Hilliard in Sinner, passed away recently. You can visit her online memorial here.

Betty Rowland with Romeo Carey, 2012

And that is all from me until March 31! Byron and I are headed down to Los Angeles for the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival! Trust me, if anything Timothy-related should happen there, I’ll be your girl reporter on-the-spot!

Videos of the Week: “The World’s Greatest Sinner”

Today, on the 86th anniversary of Timothy’s birth, we receive the sad news of the passing this morning of Betty Rowland. Betty portrayed Clarence Hilliard’s long-suffering wife Edna in The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962). This is not Betty Rowland the burlesque performer, as has been previously reported. I cannot get these videos to embed for the life of me, but here are links to clips from Sinner that feature Betty.

This is the Place

Come Out of the Darkness!

Romeo Carey visited Betty last year and got a wonderful interview with her. I hope to be presenting more about Betty in future blog posts. For now, we wish her peaceful rest and send much love to her family.

Pic of the Day: “Mermaids of Tiburon” revisited

Today we take another look at John Lamb‘s Mermaids of Tiburon (1962). Pearl-coveting bad guy Milo Sangster (such a great character name) enjoys lunch while plotting his next nefarious enterprise.

Mermaids of Tiburon

The Psychotronica Vol. 3 DVD of Mermaids was apparently supposed to include some commentary by Romeo Carey, but looks like it never happened. It also includes the ridiculous “Aqua Sex” version of the film, which attempts to pass off some topless women with flippers on their feet as mermaids. I guess they figured nobody would notice they weren’t wearing mermaid tails. Let the head-shaking and eye-rolling commence.

Happy Halloween!

In what is turning out to be my annual Halloween pic, here once again is Timothy costumed as Frankenstein’s monster for the legendary early 1980s Sambo’s commercial that has apparently disappeared into the ether. It’s become my personal Holy Grail of Careyana. (Many thanks to Romeo Carey for including this in the work-in-progress documentary! That’s him on Tim’s left.)

Tim as Frankenstein's monster

Wishing you all a bang-up Halloween, just as Tim would have celebrated it! Stay safe and have fun!

Quote of the Week

I was a child laborer, as were my brother and four sisters. The family property rests on a half an acre with three buildings: the family residence, a guesthouse, and the studio. The studio was alive with production work for many years, and on the property was a bustling menagerie of more than a hundred farm and exotic animals that included chickens, ducks, geese, goats, horse, cats, dogs, birds of prey, and a monkey. The animals were the responsibility of the children, supervised by my mother and father. […]

Like a farmer’s son, I felt compelled to follow in my father’s footsteps, or at least to facilitate the journey he had hoped to make as a filmmaker. As his right hand man toward the end of his life, I managed his career and helped produce and write projects with him. We were as close as a father and son could be; but I knew there were things about my father I would never comprehend or reconcile. I felt I had complete access to him in ways only a father and son could share. It was during these final years that a crystallization of understanding was formed which gave me the ability to better understand the underlying meaning in his artistic efforts. In The World’s Greatest Sinner, he was an outspoken smuggler. He had the ability to cultivate the shocks and hyperbole of tabloid headlines. Nothing escaped his scathing irony. His work was an antidote to complacency during the Cold War. American hypocrisy was always a major target. And to take on the subject matter of sex, religion, politics, and rock ‘n’ roll, he knew that he was playing a game so big that he wasn’t going to screw it up.

– Romeo Carey, “Making Sinner, A Work-In-Progress,” from Dead Flowers (Vox Populi/Participant Press, 2011)

Byron and Romeo

My husband Byron with Romeo Carey in Timothy’s El Monte studio, before the stone wall that Tim built himself, June 2013

Quote of the Week

FAX: Is a cult forming around Timothy Carey?

CAREY: Oh yes, there is no doubt about that. I get e-mail from around the world from people who are just now discovering him. My dad was always pretty famous. As kids, we couldn’t go anywhere with him that he wouldn’t be recognized. He is remembered because he was a great actor who appeared in some landmark films, like Paths of Glory and The Killing. He made his own films, which influenced other independent filmmakers. It all comes down to originality. Someone as iconoclastic as my father resonates down the generations. It’s a mystery why he is becoming more popular since his death, but I think there’s a whole pirated underground of [The World’s Greatest] Sinner tapes out there. There are regular screenings of Sinner in Brooklyn that attract a thousand people per screening. There are Tim Carey film festivals in Chicago, San Francisco, even Australia! For a guy who did what he did in his little way, it’s pretty impressive. It just goes to show, if you put the right kind of energy into something, it doesn’t go away.

Romeo Carey, “Carrying On in the Family Tradition”, interview by Harvey F. Chartrand; Filmfax Plus #102 (April/June 2004)

From the Filmfax Plus #102 article

Happy Father’s Day!

Timothy Carey, 65, A Character Actor

On this date twenty years ago, Timothy passed away. It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty years already. However, though his corporeal form has left us, his spirit remains, as vital and larger-than-life as ever. For someone I never actually met, he certainly has essentially taken over my life. And I’m perfectly fine with that. Here is his obituary, as it appeared in the New York Times on May 17, 1994.

Timothy Carey, 65, A Character Actor

Timothy Carey, a character actor whose films ranged from Paths of Glory and One-Eyed Jacks to 1960’s beach movies, died on Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He was 65.

His son Romeo announced the death on Sunday and said the cause was a stroke.

Timothy Carey’s acting career began with a part in Billy Wilder‘s 1951 movie The Big Carnival [aka Ace in the Hole] and included more than 50 feature films and many television roles.

He often played a villain. Two of his most recognized roles were in Stanley Kubrick films, The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957). He acted in One-Eyed Jacks (1961) with Marlon Brando and in John CassavetesKilling of a Chinese Bookie (1976).

He also appeared in Bikini Beach (1964) and Beach Blanket Bingo (1965).

Mr. Carey wrote and directed himself in The World’s Greatest Sinner, in 1962.

In addition to his son Romeo, he is survived by his wife, Doris, and five other children, Mario, Velencia, Silvana, Dagmar and Germain.

Visiting Tim.

Me visiting Tim, 2011.

Timothy and his mother, Ida Agoglia Carey

And since it’s Mother’s Day, here’s Tim and his mom.

Quote of the Week

TWGS [The World’s Greatest Sinner] has been difficult, but not impossible to see, until recently. Much rarer is Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena, a collection of footage, shot between 1969 and 1974, that was slated for a TV pilot in the 70s. This train wreck makes TWGS look like Citizen Kane; my first reaction was that it was unwatchable, but as it went on and I laughed hard at one and then another ridiculous scene, I couldn’t look away, always wondering what the hell he might do next. Carey stars as the roller-skating, bib-overall wearing Tweet Twig, caretaker of a menagerie of animals including goats, chickens, ducks, dogs and kittens (all of which belonged to the Carey family). Who talk. Yes, Timothy Carey made a talking animal picture, and naturally, the German Shepherd has a German accent.

After the four hours of films were over, Romeo Carey, who expressed surprised that more people didn’t walk out on Tweet’s (several in the audience did), took questions from the audience. I asked if he knew about this newspaper item:

New York Times, May 8, 1957
Missing US Actor is Found

MUNICH, Germany, May 7 (Reuters)–Timothy Carey, 31-year old Hollywood actor who disappeared from his hotel here Sunday night, was found gagged and handcuffed on a lonely road outside Munich this morning, the police said here today. They said the actor had hitched a ride in a car driven by two English-speaking men, who held him at gunpoint, robbed him of $40 and finally dumped him by the roadside.

Romeo Carey did know about it. After shooting for Paths of Glory had wrapped, Timothy Carey had been frustrated with the publicity around Kirk Douglas and his other co-stars. So he faked his own kidnapping. In another incident around that time, the crew had gone to a burlesque show one evening in which one performer ended her act in a bubble bath on stage. Timothy Carey walked right up to the stage and got into the bubble bath with her.

Carey’s son painted a picture of life with father that was funny and uncomfortable. Romeo admitted that he used to be tremendously embarrassed by the Tweet’s footage. Toward the end of his life Carey became obsessed with the artistic possibilities of the fart. His last, unfinished project was a play called The Insect Trainer, about a man convicted of murder by farting. Carey liked to fart in church, just before reaching out to greet his neighbor in a sign of peace.

Pat Padua, “Timothy Carey’s 57 Varieties”, the bloggy, bloggy dew (April 16, 2010)

Quote of the Week

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.

Grover Lewis, “Cracked Actor”, Film Comment Jan/Feb 2004; interview conducted in 1992

Tim's El Monte studio, from the Dead Flowers book

Timothy’s El Monte studio, from Dead Flowers (Vox Populi/Participant Press, 2011)

 

Happy Birthday Don Calfa!

We here at the TCE are thrilled to wish a very happy 74th birthday anniversary to the great Don Calfa! Romeo Carey and I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing him last summer, at his memorabilia-packed home deep in the California desert. He shared some amazing memories of working with Timothy in Peeper (1975), and of his friendship with Tim in general. Here are the two of them in a scene filmed aboard the Queen Mary.

Peeper

Calfa is very much like Tim in that he brings his unique presence and flair to every role, no matter how large or how small. He’s a big part of what makes it so much fun to go to the movies. Happy birthday, Don!

Don Calfa and me