The three wonderfully distinctive personalities I encountered and will mention in this series were all outspoken, eccentric to be sure, but full of passion for the unusual things in life. They all shared a sharp and wicked sense of humour and a youthful exuberance that probably presented itself to most who crossed their paths. I’m fairly certain of this because I had friends who encountered them as well. I feel extremely fortunate to have met all three. Sadly they have all passed on.
Another strange but colorful personality belonged to Timothy Carey, a character actor extraordinaire who I first met and spoke with just outside a Century City movie complex during a Los Angeles Film Exposition. He was protesting alone, holding a sign about the Expo’s organizers not showing his film The World’s Greatest Sinner. He paced back and forth while shouting phrases like “They show other people’s films but they won’t show my film” and “I worked with Brando and Kubrick but they won’t show my film.” He almost sounded like the whiny character he played in Paths of Glory. When I spoke with him while he protested, he just reiterated the above. When I spoke with one of the Expo’s organizers, he stated simply “It’s a really bad film.” (I’ve never seen it).
I ran into him again outside of a privately owned L.A. health food store. The store’s Korean owners rather cynically referred to this strange guy as tending to their outside herb garden. At the time I was with a friend who was clinically diagnosed as psychotic and he seemed to easily develop a rapport with Mr. Carey, especially when he mentioned that Carey should consider selling the herbs growing in the small garden bed. So imagine my surprise when I got home and heard on my answering machine Timothy Carey’s message that “The herbs are in the offing” amidst a reference to watching with some friends one of his memorable scenes in Paths of Glory where he suddenly kills a cockroach.
Another close attorney friend of mine and movie buff met Carey and told me of his plans to appear in a play Carey wrote about a guy who farts someone to death. It was never produced to my knowledge and instead of appearing in his play my attorney friend became pallbearer at his funeral. Timothy Carey died at only 65 years of age in 1994. He improvised his way into acting immortality. His cinematic legacy has become truly inspirational. He possessed a real life persona that was above all else, honest, caring and genuine and will be sorely missed.
Timothy Carey (March 11, 1929 – May 11, 1994) R.I.P.
– Arthur Grant, “Close Encounters of the Treasured Kind #5: The Eccentrics Part 2”; The Cinema Cafe, January 22, 2014