Sunday, April 8, 2012

From my collection: Duff Whitney

In 1944 marine sergeant Duff Whitney, of Sacramento, CA escorted Lana Turner to a benefit and someone from Lana's entourage encouraged the handsome soldier to “come to the studio after the war.” In 1946, Whitney did just that -- and was met with apparent apathy. The male acting drought was of course over now that Hollywood's established heroes had returned safely to home and hearth and young Duff was just another pretty face on the lot. As the Imdb reveals, Whitney became an extra. In fact, we don't hear about the former marine until 1951, when veteran producer Harry Sherman, of Hopalong Cassidy fame, announced that Duff Whitney, “a Gregory Peckish-looking newcomer,” would play Beau Tyler, “Hashknife Hartley” by any other name, in a western movie series based on W.C. Tuttle's sagebrush stories. Sadly, Sherman died shortly thereafter and nothing came of the project. Whitney instead turned up as a bit player in A Star is Born (1954). And that, as they say, was that.

Also arriving in Hollywood in 1944, but as far as can be determined, not in uniform of any kind, Lane Watson was under contract to International Pictures in 1946. Prior to that, Watson had been another bit player/extra but the affiliation with a rising company like International boded well. The production entity, founded by Louis B. Mayer's son-in-law William Goetz, operated out of Universal City and would actually merge with that company in 1947 to become Universal-International, only to be swallowed whole by Lew Wasserman's MCA. Not that any of these behind-the-scenes shenanigans did anything for Lane Watson, who disappears from view around the same time. Except, that is, for advertizing Carling's Red Cap Ale, “Better Than Beer,” alongside the likes of television personality Betty Oakes.

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