Clu Gulager

Interview by David Del Valle

(you are on page2)

page 1 / page 2 / page 3 / page 4 /
page 5
page 6 / page 7


THE TALL MAN (with Barry Sullivan)
THE TALL MAN (with Barry Sullivan)

up by directors (including Georges Franju, H. G. Lewis and Andy Milligan). Barrault, known for his stage directing and acting, was also in films including CHILDREN OF PARADISE (42), THE TESTAMENT OF DR. CORDELIER (61), and CHAPPAQUA (67).

Clu married Miriam in '52 and they moved to NYC together. "In New York in order to make a living, in my youth, was to do live television. I did Bang The Drum Slowly from New York, on THE UNITED STATES STEEL HOUR. That was a live production. You work on the stage when you get a job, which is what I did also. There's no money on the stage. John Houseman said, since 1976, there's no money, no financing available for any kind of project in New York City. It's all here. New York City is dead for the theatrical artist, by and large, unless you want to do bathroom theater. This is the place where it's happening. In my area in downtown L.A. we have 14 new theaters being built, mine being one of them. Out of those theaters I would hope that we get some world class quality and subsequently, recognition. Theatre doesn't have to be so stodgy. You can have people upside down painted white acting."

The Gulagers moved to Hollywood and were neighbors of Peter Falk, Michael Landon and James Darren. Son John Gulager II was born in '58. Clu did a lot of TV work. "When Universal (TV) was formed I was part of that thing. I was with MCA. They bought Revue Studios, which in turn bought Universal Studios. At that time they signed me for the first contract for a television studio player in the world. The union and the studio and myself got together and worked out the contract - television stock player. Then they signed a guy named Reed Morgan and that didn't work out so well, then they signed Doug McClure. His worked out very well. So that started the system. They worked it for many years here - television contractees. It gradually went away. They turned the whole thing loose and the stable went away. An era is gone, I don't know if it's good or bad. A lot of us learned a lot about acting. We worked constantly. We learned things that maybe you could never learn otherwise." Morgan starred on THE DEPUTY (60-61) and the late McClure was on THE OVERLAND TRAIL (60), then CHECKMATE (60-62). The biggest star to (slowly) emerge from Universal TV was RAWHIDE regular Clint Eastwood. When asked if he has tapes of any of his TV programs, Clu says "I don't save things. I don't even save things in my mind. I don't even go to rushes."

Clu acted on many TV shows in '59, but received the most attention for starring in The Mad Dog Coll Story on THE UNTOUCHABLES (11/19/59). Within months he was co-starring on a half hour NBC western. He was Billy The Kid on THE TALL MAN (60- 62). Barry Sullivan was top billed as Pat Garrett. Actors who


appeared on the series included Leonard Nimoy, Richard Jaeckel, James Coburn, Vic Morrow, Martin Landau, and Nancy Davis (Reagan). While on the show, Clu recorded two tie-in singles and even sang on AMERICAN BANDSTAND! From '59 to '62 Clu acted on three ALFRED HITCHCOCK shows. On the last one (Final Vow), he was a hoodlum after a nun (Carol Lynley). "Hitchcock threw me out of his looping rooms many times. I used to go in to study and I wanted to be a filmmaker. He used to throw me out regularly. We were both at Universal. I was there for about ten years. I was never directed by him. He threw me out of one dubbing session after another. I'd always sneak in and I wanted to watch and tried to learn from the fat master. I learned that he was very protective, very secretive, very argumentative, and very hateful."

Clu had another opportunity to shine in THE KILLERS (64), a remake of the 1946 Hemingway adaptation. It was produced and directed (as JOHNNY NORTH) by Don Siegel for Universal and was to open NBC's new Project 120 series of movies. It was declared too violent for TV, so opened in theaters instead. Charlie (Lee Marvin) and Lee (Clu) are hit men hired to kill former racecar driver Johnny North (John Cassavetes). When he offers no resistance they try to discover why, which leads them to the sadistic crime boss Browning (Ronald Reagan in his very last acting role) and his mistress Sheila (Angie Dickinson). John Williams wrote the score, but the theme was borrowed from TOUCH OF EVIL.

"I remember a lot about THE KILLERS. Our president just about stole the movie from everyone. He was brilliant. I've heard that he doesn't care for that film and that's his prerogative, but I must say I was so impressed by his acting on the screen. His wife, incidentally is a very fine actress, which no one knows. I worked with her a lot before she chose to become a politician's spouse. She was a very gifted artist and I was sad to see her leave. Nancy's good. She was a good film actress. My friend Lee Marvin was a little pie eyed during most of it. He kept making fun of some of the other actors, in his pie-eyed state, he wouldn't do that normally. Drink changes certain men I've seen. When we got to a scene with Reagan, he said to me 'Watch,' so he went in front of Reagan and he did the scene in rehearsal a certain way and then we did it again and he said 'Watch' and Lee threw him a totally different character. And Ron did exactly the same reaction as the first time. And we did it a third time, and he did it another way and Ron did it exactly the same way he'd done it the first time. He didn't change anything. Because he didn't change Lee thought he wasn't being a good actor. He was doing it his way, with his quality. When the picture came out, Ronald Reagan, with a tiny