Friday, August 2, 2019

TinselTales: Forrest and His Big Log

When it comes to naming off some of the "big guns" of old Hollywood, the list most often included Milton Berle, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Gary Cooper, Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx and the star of TV's F Troop, Forrest Tucker. Stories abound about the aforementioned gents and others, but the ones about Tucker tend to be the most, er, jaw-dropping and amusing.

Now, Forrest Tucker was a big guy to start with at 6'4" and he got his start in films rather auspiciously as a man who spars with Gary Cooper in The Westerner (1940.) He had a tendency, especially as his career wore on, to play spoilers, brawlers or other antagonists, though not exclusively. He worked very steadily, if unspectacularly, until WWII in 1942 caused him to interrupt his screen career to serve in the U.S. Army.
Screen debut with "Coop."

Afterwards, he returned and was able to play colorful supporting parts in a large number of movies from Errol Flynn's Never Say Goodbye (1946) to The Yearling (1946) to Sands of Iwo Jima (1948) which got a little notice here in The Underworld. In 1953's Laughing Anne, he played a bare-knuckle boxer in skin tight pants, but was so trussed up it was hard to discern much of anything.

Later in the movie there seemed to be something pendulum-ing around on his right sight (our left.) This is more discernible when watching the actual film.

Film roles diminished by the 1950s and he turned to TV, though he still won the occasional part such as in the wildly successful Auntie Mame (1958), in which his white fox hunt pants caused a stir that continues to this day!

Lesser known to many folks is that he toured for more than four years playing Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man, an experience he found to be overwhelmingly fun. By 1965, Tucker was starring on F Troop (which, surprisingly enough, only ran two seasons) and then proceeded to a busy career blending both TV and movies. He died in 1986 at age sixty-seven of lung cancer and emphysema, but had continued acting regularly all along. (He did have an alcohol addiction that sometimes affected his work.)

Tucker knew he was different "down there" and was not only frank about it, but even gave his penis a nickname, "The Chief." He also swam nude at George Cukor's Sunday afternoon pool parties, not for sex, but just to revel in showing off. As a voracious heterosexual male, he had a thing for young ladies and was married (to one of four wives) for virtually all his life. The first three were around twenty-one when he married them, but some were teens when they met.

He and his buddies at Lakeside Golf Club (a private club close to the Hollywood studios in Burbank and teeming all the time then with movie stars) had many raucous moments from contests as to who was the biggest (he handily won over Johnny Weissmuller, who was reportedly huge) to the time when columnist James Bacon brought a guest to the locker room and found Tucker asleep on a massage table wearing only a towel. The tourist, who'd been eager to see the sights, took a look when Bacon raised the towel and exclaimed, "Fuck the Grand Canyon!"

Then there was the day when Tucker's close pal, comedian Phil Harris (husband of Alice Faye), and he were nearing the end of a very close golf game. Tucker's ball was about a foot from the 17th hole and he was going to take it as a "gimme" putt, but Harris wouldn't hear of it. Tucker said, "Hell... The Chief could knock that in!" So Harris pulled out $100 and bet Tucker that it couldn't, but Tucker dropped trou, got down on the green and knocked the ball in with his penis!

Reportedly during his lengthy tour with The Music Man, he picked a day to call all of the chorus boys into his dressing room and announced that he didn't want there to be any sidelong glances or surreptitious peering to see "if it's true" or what it looks like, so he took it out and got it going for all of them to see in person!

Tucker did have one oddity apart from his aggressively straight lifestyle and that was the presence of a very gay masseur who was in his employ and practically adhered to him from 1960 to 1984, doing any and all odd jobs for him and acting as a sort of personal valet (apart from the one or two daily massages.) This symbiotic working relationship confounded some of his other friends, but it lasted for nearly a quarter of a century nonetheless.

At this youtube link is an interview with Tucker's third wife, who he met during The Music Man in 1958 and wed in 1961. The timid host beats around the bush to a hysterical (and lunatic) degree when approaching her with the subject at hand and then she hilariously drops words like "cock" and "fuck" in her responses! Ha ha ha!!!

And then there's this faux documentary promo (four minutes) which contains all sorts of stories, clips and reminiscences from people, some unexpected, about Forrest Tucker's endowment. It's worth a watch.

I know this post is frivolous and rather pointless, but I'm in the midst of a staggeringly busy period of rehearsals and heavy workload (and I had some photos on hand that hadn't been available for this old post on phallic symbols!) This is the pic I think best shows a hint of what we're dealing with here from his prime. Sometimes evidence came across even though all the costumers and dressers (including everyone from makeup artist Perc Westmore to even Edith Head) did their best to conceal these things on screen. An even more substantial photo from his later years is below!


Gingerguy said...

Wow, I never expected a deep dive like this, I can hardly see the Forrest from a tree! the story about the chorus boys is a shocker true or not. I loved that he "got it going" for them. Hail to The Cheif I say! Sounds like there was great humor all around and will watch the short faux doc for sure. I don't know who can hold a candle to this guys of yesterday, maybe Jon Hamm? Thanks for a great Summer weinie roast

hsc said...

"I know this post is frivolous and rather pointless..."

For THIS audience??? No such thing is possible.

I absolutely loved this post, especially the carefully chosen stills of Tucker grimacing as he wields a phallic object. said...

Hey Poseidon,
Apparently, Forrest wasn't a tucker!

I'm surprised that Joan Crawford didn't recruit Forrest for one of her '50s epics... he would have fit right in : )

Thanks for giving us a little appetizer (though we're talking Tucker her!), during a busy time for you. I know i'll be busy once school starts, so I've got my next four posts written and laid out to last through Sept.! Too bad I was never this industrious in school!

Cheers, Rick

BrianB said...

Thank you for posting these pictures of Forrest. All these years of seeing him in movies it's the first time I've ever noticed his face!

But I kid. The James Bacon story is about the same as one I heard way back in the 80's only it was Forrest pretend napping in his dressing room during F Troop and Larry Storch lifting the towel for visitors to the set for a few bucks. And not just one time, it was a regular thing. So maybe this was a story that got changed from the James Bacon version. Although I can see Larry Storch pulling something like this!

He was a luscious young blonde soldier in "Never Say Goodbye" 1945 with Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland. He had a scene with Flynn where they shared a bedroom and he was in pajamas but there's nothing to see. He must have had an amazing tuck, even with those baggy pjs!

Hilarious story about Forrest's "putter". I can just see Phil Harris telling it on the Carson Show! During the commercial break of course!

Such a fun post!


VictorG said...

What the world needs now
Are more posts like these,
Frivolous and pointless
Only if you're dead now,
What the world needs now are
more like these,
Thank you very much
and the comments are hilarious!

DJWildBill said...

Poseidon, this is by far the best pointed post you've ever conceived! I'd love to have been there at the thrust of the concept, knowing the breadth and depth of the skills you implored as you probed the dark depths of the internet for the Chief to arise and be appreciated as a wonder of the world once again. You efforts leave me drizzled, dripping, and drooling and although I never need it, thinking of being drenched along with the Chief in Albolene.

The "Ride the Man Down" image is amazing, stunning, and leaves little to the imagination. You can even make out a partially retracted foreskin on the Chief...

Ahem... I digress...

You omitted a wonderful Forrest Tucker blooper segment from F-Troop and your audience will love seeing it, hearing the campy camp gang, and viewing a "what if" moment we can all appreciate. The good segment starts at 1:22 but the two prior bloopers are a bit funny too, just not as unique as the third on starring Forrest himself in full regalia.

Oh, the stories I wish could have been told and would have been if the times had been different.

Dan said...

Well, thanks a lot, now I've had the F Troop theme stuck in my head all week. And I just got rid of My Mother the Car.

Yesterday I caught the last third of "Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas", a British production in which Forrest plays an ethically challenged explorer hunting the legendary beast. Unfortunately, the baggy arctic wear precluded any sightings of Forrest Jr.

Despite the title, I found it a very good and thought provoking movie - more a morality story than a monster story, with the type of ambiguous ending I like. I do recommend it.

Poseidon3 said...

Gingerguy, supposedly one of the chorus boys stayed behind with an offer like, "if you ever need that thing taken care of..." and Tucker bemusedly shoved him out the door with a smile and a "get the hell out of here!" Who knows if it happened or not, but it's amusing. Can you imagine anything like that going on in today's social climate? Yowza...!

hsc, ha ha! I'm glad you enjoyed the pics (and the post.) One had to wonder with all the photos like this out there if Tucker or anyone knew how phallic they were. I was too discombobulated to remember to link the first post of phallic still photos, but I've done it now and it is HERE if you want to revisit. (It's been five years!) --->

Wow, Rick, you are smart to get a lot done in advance like that. I'm always scrambling around like a howler monkey. LOL I agree about Joan. I believe I read that she did take him for a test drive at some point, though! It's hard to keep track....!

BrianB, somehow I can't quite "get" Larry Storch. He comes off to me as weird and goofy in his roles, which is expected, but I can never quite find the actual person beneath it when he's just himself! I feel like he had trouble just being at ease and not "on," but maybe it's just me. Seems like an odd duck. RE: Errol and Forrest (and others) -->

VictorG, we have a Gershwin brother in our midst! LOL

DJWildBill, I'm glad you enjoyed this. I wish you could use more flavorful adjectives in your writing, somehow create a picture in our mind's eye (one eye! Ha ha!) I have to confess that I have never seen more than a few clips of "F Troop!" I think it has damn little chance of being broadcast these days because of its portrayal of Native Americans... Thanks for linking those bloopers for people to see. The tail end of the last one is in the documentary I mentioned (and in that one, Forrest kisses Ken Berry on the cheek at one point!)

Dan, I always somehow think Forrest Tucker is in "The Thing From Another Planet" when he's not and it's because he is in "Abominable Snowman!" I don't think I've ever seen that... Both films have a cold, snowy setting. I'll have to keep watch for it. Thanks!!

bitter69uk said...

Ah for a time machine to attend one of George Cukor's pool parties when Forrest Tucker was present!

hsc said...

Tucker was also in another British horror film around the same time, "The Crawling Eye" (UK title "THe Trollenberg Terror").

Candice Bergen was on David Letterman back in the "Murphy Brown" days, with a story about how "The Crawling Eye" scared the bejeezus out of her when she was younger, with this big, pulsating gelatinous eye.

She said that years later when she was married to french director Louis Malle, they were at a dinner where the main course was some sort of roast cooked inside an animal's stomach or bladder like an organic oven roaster bag.

When the platter came out with this bloated, glistening round object quivering on it, she had flashbacks to the eye, freaked, and ducked under the table. After a long embarrassed pause, she heard Louis Malle desperately ask from above, "Candice, is this an American tradition, to hide while the main course is being served?"

RidesandDrives said...

Not mentioned anywhere here is the locker room story. Supposedly Forest Tucker, Milton Berle and some other named TV personalities were in the locker room of a golf club and Forest was claiming to have more than Milton, and one of the comedians, (Sorry I forget his name but well known) said "Just take out enough to win Milt."