Roddy McDowall's Birthday
Roddy McDowall would have been 78 today (September 17). He died much too young for so vibrant an actor and personality. Ann considers him her all time favorite. No one took more secrets than Roddy when he left. His letters and papers were deposited at Bowling Green University with the proviso they remain sealed until the year 2100, so you can forget that Amazon pre-order. Everybody liked and trusted Roddy. He was also a major film collector. Rumor suggests he owned a five-hour print of Cleopatra acquired before the film was mutilated for release in 1963. I’d love to see some of those Monogram cheapies he made during his awkward age --- rugged titles like Killer Shark, Big Timber, Tuna Clipper, and The Steel Fist. These sound more like things Richard Dix or Chester Morris would have been doing, but Roddy? To his credit, McDowall really worked at his craft through the fifties, and emerged a seasoned adult performer. There was something vaguely sinister in his manner, and he played psychotics well. I seem to remember him approaching an old lady from behind with a giant set of tongs in a picture called Shock Treatment. His Bookworm turned on Batman in that meteoric first season, so every kid in the land learned his name and remembered it. If that didn’t assure his immortality, those ape planet farragoes surely would. He rode the bobsled of these most of the way to the nadir of Number Five, and wait; didn’t he do the short-lived TV series as well? There was never any question but that Roddy would give a terrific performance, no matter the worthiness (or lack of) in the product. Fright Night was his third act triumph, a tour de force in one of the few outstanding horror films of the eighties. He should have gotten a nomination for that one.