When I was a kid, I adored the Disney movie Johnny Tremain (1957), as well as the book by Esther Forbes. I recently watched the film again to see how it held up. Hal Stalmaster (Johnny) and Richard Beymer (Rab) look achingly young to me now, and the pancake makeup of the period is very obvious on a modern screen. Still, watching the movie brought back lots of memories, and it was fun to make screencaptures. Since these days everything seems to relate the western Laramie, I have to mention that Luana Patten (Priscilla) was later married to John Smith.
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Hal Stalmaster & Richard Beymer
I’ve been trying to watch my favorite westerns with actor Robert Fuller. Netflix keeps skipping over my Laramie and Wagon Train discs,which are “short waits.” Two months is NOT a short wait! Anyway, what they’ve been sending are movies in which Fuller appeared as an extra. You can understand why they’re pretty far down on my queue! Still, I watch them, enjoy them, find Fuller, and make a collage. Here’s Calamity Jane (1953) starring Doris Day and Howard Keel. Fuller doesn’t appear with these leads. He just has a few brief seconds onscreen giving flowers to actress Adelaid Adams (played by Gale Robbins) and exiting backstage behind her.
Robert Fuller as an extra in Calamiity Jane (click to see larger versions)
Later, Fuller was an extra in Friendly Persuasion (1956), starring Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire and Anthony Perkins. He was chosen to appear with Cooper and (Peter) Mark Richman in the shooting gallery scene because his sideburns were real. Another actor in this film was John Smith, who would later star with Fuller in Laramie. Fuller sits right behind Smith in the Quaker meeting scene at the beginning of the film.
Robert Fuller in Friendly Persuasion with Gary Cooper (click to view larger)
Still not enough young Fuller? Check out my latest YouTube videos: Fuller’s 1958 appearance in Rin Tin Tin, and United States Marshal (1959) with a nasty Charles Bronson.
(If you’re saying to yourself, “Not another Robert Fuller post!” just keep this in mind. I have about fifty other collages that I haven’t shared!)
There’s an interesting connection between the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and the TV western Laramie (1959-63). Actually, two connections.
Laramie star Robert Fuller grew up dancing, which isn’t surprising, since his mother and stepfather were both dancers and instructors. Fuller danced in the chorus of several movies, including the famous number “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. With his sideburns dyed grey and a grey mustache, I spotted young Fuller (age 19 or 20) just once, in this shot behind Marilyn Monroe.
Young dancer Robert Fuller behind Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Soon after Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Robert Fuller was drafted. He served for two years in Korea before returning to LA in 1955. He spent several years working as an extra and a stuntman. He took acting lessons from Richard Boone, guest-starred in many TV series, and went on to play Jess Harper in Laramie, his first starring role. Retired now and ranching in Texas, he appears at various western festivals, talking to fans about his fifty years of work. I’d love to hear him tell about this particular shoot!
The other Laramie connection? Hoagy Carmichael wrote the music for two of the songs performed in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: “Is Anyone Here for Love?” and “When Love Goes Wrong.” Carmichael later played Jonsey in season one of Laramie, with Robert Fuller, John Smith and Robert Crawford, Jr. Hollywood was once a place where chorus boys and songwriters could grow up to be cowboys!
Robert Fuller (Jess Harper) and Hoagy Carmichael (Jonsey) in Laramie
(L to R) Hoagy Carmichael, Robert Fuller, and Robert Crawford Jr. in Laramie (with John Hoyt’s back)
Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. I had to include this one just because I love pink.
Check out this great moment from the second season of the western series Laramie. In Queen of Diamonds, Slim Sherman (John Smith) has coffee at the Laramie cafe with guest star Julie London. Instead of a pitcher of cream, the Chinese waiter gives them a gravy boat! Either the prop staff was off their game that day, or they thought it would be charming for folks in a western town to make do. Perhaps a rowdy cowboy broke their pitcher? Or maybe cowboys like a LOT of cream in their coffee.
(It’s always the little things that amuse me…)