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The Rough Life and Times of Gil Favor


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Eric Fleming, who played trailboss Gil Favor in the series "Rawhide" ("Get 'em up...move 'em out!"), was the stereotypical strong & silent Western film hero.

 

But his real life was nothing like his role.

 

Born with a club foot, Fleming was bullied as a child, and regularly beaten by his father. After a failed attempt to shoot his father at age eight, he ran away, and ended up doing odd jobs for gangsters. After a gang shooting that left him hospitalized, he was returned to his mother at age 11.

 

After a stint as a Merchant Marine, he enlisted in the Navy, serving as a Seabee. During a weightlifting contest, he dropped a 200 pound weight on his face and head, causing severe injuries. Extensive reconstructive surgery was required, and substantially changed his appearance.

 

After some stage work in Chicago, some exposure on Broadway, and some low-budget Hollywood films (including "Queen of Outer Space" with Zsa Zsa Gabor - I'd stay up late to watch that one), he landed the role of Gil Favor in Rawhide in 1959.

 

After the show was cancelled at the end of the 1965 season, Fleming returned to films. In 1966, while filming "High Jungle" in Peru, Fleming's canoe overturned in a river. While the press reports of the time list his death as caused by drowning, the search team that found his body confirmed that he had been devoured by piranha.

 

LL

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And on that cheerful note.... :blink:

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Eric Fleming, who played trailboss Gil Favor in the series "Rawhide" ("Get 'em up...move 'em out!"), was the stereotypical strong & silent Western film hero.

 

But his real life was nothing like his role.

 

Born with a club foot, Fleming was bullied as a child, and regularly beaten by his father. After a failed attempt to shoot his father at age eight, he ran away, and ended up doing odd jobs for gangsters. After a gang shooting that left him hospitalized, he was returned to his mother at age 11.

 

After a stint as a Merchant Marine, he enlisted in the Navy, serving as a Seabee. During a weightlifting contest, he dropped a 200 pound weight on his face and head, causing severe injuries. Extensive reconstructive surgery was required, and substantially changed his appearance.

 

After some stage work in Chicago, some exposure on Broadway, and some low-budget Hollywood films (including "Queen of Outer Space" with Zsa Zsa Gabor - I'd stay up late to watch that one), he landed the role of Gil Favor in Rawhide in 1959.

 

After the show was cancelled at the end of the 1965 season, Fleming returned to films. In 1966, while filming "High Jungle" in Peru, Fleming's canoe overturned in a river. While the press reports of the time list his death as caused by drowning, the search team that found his body confirmed that he had been devoured by piranha.

 

LL

I was aware of the piranha episode but, not the rest of the story.

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He may have drowned and the piranhas ate the remains.

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He may have drowned and the piranhas ate the remains.

At that point, don't reckon it mattered much to him, either way! :D :D :D

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Whenever I run across a serial tragedy like this, I think of Joe Btfsplk, the Andy Capp character from Li'l Abner, whose jinxed life was reflected by the black cloud over his head. No matter where he went, it followed him everywhere.

 

Next time you think movie and TV stars have the best lives....think again.

 

LL

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Wow, interesting thanks for that. Good actor and he was great as trail boss in Rawhide!

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