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Jack Elam


Subdeacon Joe

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What is an example of a person practically falling into a movie career and becoming famous(with no prior experience)?
There are lots of great answers to this question, so it feels a bit unnecessary to add one more. However, I’m going to do it because I love this story.
There was this guy who was very nerdy in the 1930s. He loved bookkeeping and was quite happy working in offices. In fact, he was a terrific accountant. World War II came along and he enlisted, serving out his time NOT in the “actor’s division” in Hollywood but as an ordinary soldier. Then, at the end of the war, he mustered out of the US Navy along with everyone else and returned to his accounting practice. However, this time he opened up his own office and worked for well-heeled people in Los Angeles.
And there the story might have ended, but one day the fellow got some bad news from his doctor. A childhood accident had deprived him of the sight in one eye, and the doctor told him he was straining his remaining eye too much. If he continued working long hours as an accountant, he’d go blind.
Well, the poor fellow had no interest in doing anything else and no aptitude, either. Certainly, he would never be able to find another career that paid as well as his accounting gig.
So, he moped around for a while, at loose ends. He talked to one of his clients about his problem, and the man offered him a job. It wasn’t much of a job, and he had no training in the field, but he figured, well, why not.
The client was Jack Warner. The audiences loved the accountant and he went on to a spectacular career as a character actor playing heavies and ornery western parts. From what I have heard, he was a hell of a nice guy, too.
Oh, one last thing. Late in his career, after he had been in films for decades, someone asked Jack Elam if he’d rather still be an accountant. “In a heartbeat,” he replied.
Read more>>> http://tinyurl.com/3stam498
 
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20 minutes ago, Abilene Slim SASS 81783 said:

Hmmm. How did he serve in the Navy if he was blind in one eye from a childhood accident?

Hmmm…..Good point!

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26 minutes ago, Abilene Slim SASS 81783 said:

Hmmm. How did he serve in the Navy if he was blind in one eye from a childhood accident?

 

I've seen conflicting accounts, almost evenly split, of "despite being blind in one eye he was able to enlist" and "being exempt because he was blind in one eye, but still wanting to serve, he worked as a civilian for the Navy."

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4 hours ago, Abilene Slim SASS 81783 said:

Hmmm. How did he serve in the Navy if he was blind in one eye from a childhood accident?

His eye was injured at age 11 but wasn't blind until the lens was removed years later.  The eye still tracked with his working eye until his 30s. 

 

I've read that he enlisted, served 2 years in the navy, was discharged, and read that he was hired by the navy as a civilian worker in Culver City.

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42 minutes ago, Warden Callaway said:

Jack at his best.

 

 

 

Love that movie!! Tyrone Power and Susan Hayword:wub:

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Plenty of great Jack Elam roles. He was a treasure. Still is.  ;)

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Elam once described the career arc of a character actor:

 

It goes like this, the director says “Who’s Jack Elam? Then it's "Get me Jack Elam." Then, "Get me a Jack Elam type". Then, "Get me a young Jack Elam". Finally, "Who’s Jack Elam?"

 

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He stole every scene in Rio Lobo and Support Your Local Sheriff!

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i enjoyed his character in everything i saw him in , the guy you loved to hate , 

 

as an aside , i almost lost one eye in a similar accident at a boy scout meeting - about a half inch and instead of a slight scar id have been blind in my right eye 

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