Tuesday, April 10, 2012
From my collection: Clark Kuney, war hero turned prof. "corpse"; Robert Kendall, "Sabu of Michigan"
From gossip columnist Erskine Johnson:
Hollywood. Jan. 1 —A Hollywood casting office can expect: wild orders from producers fur anything rom a talking bird to a dancing worm, but casting director Menifee Johnstone of Monogram Studio did a double take when Producer Jeffrey Bernerd said: ”Menifee, what have you done about my corpse?”
"The prop department has a big selection of dummies," replied Menifee.
"But the dead man is the title role of my picture, Face of Marble,” said Producer Bernard. "I want something special. I want a real live corpse."
So Menifee auditioned six actors for the role of the corpse. A fellow named Clark Kuney got the part. The studio was so pleased with his quiet performance that he was even given a bonus.
Clark Kuney was actually Lt. Clark Kuney, U.S. Marines, ret., a genuine war hero from Chicago who had seen action in the Pacific and was wounded in battle. All of which did little for a screen career that petered out after a couple of walk-ons. But at least he didn't have to play any more corpses.
Too young to have have served in the war, Robert Kendall (1927-2009) reportedly came to Hollywood as the winner of a contest that, sadly, turned out to be bogus. Kendall still earned a movie contract with Universal, who saw in the exotic-looking youngster a resemblance to Sabu and Turhan Bey. Unfortunately, wartime escapism had given way to post-war realism and Robert Kendall never became a star. He did play Baby Face Nelson, though, in Ma Barker's Killer Brood (1960) and later published a book about his time teaching inner city kids. Late in life Robert Kendall reminisced in such publications as Classic Images about his days of playing exotics in Yvonne de Carlo movies.