Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Póg Mahoney.

The excitement mounts as we are a mere seven days from the second annual Talk Like Slip Mahoney Day!

"We've osculated by joy!"
To help buoy your enthusiasm for the king of the Bowery Boys during the seven-day countdown, here's seven things you may not know about the great Leo Gorcey, who portrayed Slip for more than a decade. Today we will take a look into the darker side of Leo, I'm afraid, but we shall want to know the whole man.

1. Gorcey's father, Bernard Gorcey, played shopkeeper Louie Dumbrowski in the Bowery Boys series, at whose sweet shop the boys frequently hung out. Bernard died in 1955 in a car accident, so Louie was not in any further films in the series. They couldn't CGI a guy into the film in those days.

2. Leo Gorcey, and consequently Slip Mahoney, did not appear in the last seven of the 48 films considered to be part of the Bowery Boys series. He got drunk and wrecked a movie set, then was incensed when the studio wouldn't give him a raise. ('Magin' dat.) He was replaced by Stanley Clements as Duke Coveleskie.

3. Gorcey's drinking was pretty horrid, especially after his father died, and ultimately killed him at the age of 51. Despite that, he managed to get married five times, which is pretty impressive. I mean, I know he was a movie star, but he was 5'6", kind of funny looking, and not always a cheerful drunk, and his movie career was pretty much washed up by 1956, when he still had two marriages to go.

4. Huntz Hall, who played Sach, is on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but Gorcey is not. He was going to be in the blank spot to the left of Hall. Supposedly his agent demanded $400 from the Beatles, which even in 1968 would have been pocket lint to Paul McCartney, but they just took him out. I don't know if Fred Astaire got any money out of it.

5. Leo's kid brother David actually appeared in more of the Bowery Boys movies than Leo, playing Charles "Chuck" Anderson. Funny that his character should have such as WASPish name, since he was just as much of an authentic New York ethnic blend as anyone---born in Manhattan, half Jewish, half Irish. After his acting days David became a minister and founded a halfway house for recovering alcoholics.

6. Leo Gorcey wrote a book toward the end of his life, the hard-to-find An Original Dead End Kid Presents: Dead End Yells, Wedding Bells, Cockle Shells, and Dizzy Spells. Reviews are mixed; seems he wrote like, well, a rambling drunk. But Gorcey really did have a great sense of humor and was known as a practical joker, and it seems a lot of that comes through in the book. The title is horrible, though.

7. Leo Gorcey's son, Leo Jr., wrote a book about his father in 2003 that sounds like it should have been a Mommy Dearest type of Hollywood complainorama, and certainly Leo Sr. earned it, with his drunken, explosive temper. But the title (Me and the Dead End Kid: Leo Gorcey, the Hollywood Legend: His Happy Ending) tells you that this is going to be a more loving story of survival and grace. I haven't read it, but the Amazon reviews have been mostly full of praise.

Considering Gorcey's personal problems, he was a monster for work, cranking out movies day in and day out for years. He was one of the most popular film stars of the time. Although working in B movies was never a means to critical acclaim. He would have to settle for the abiding love of the moviegoing public.

Keep thinking those Slip thoughts, and we'll have more Mahoneyist information later in the week.

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