When we put together our May 4 blog, In Support — WALTER BRENNAN, we had some trepidation about how widely this excellent supporting actor of the Thirties, Forties and Fifties would be known by contemporary readers.
Our concern was unfounded. Judging by the email response to our blog, you guys are not only aware of but really admire Brennan’s work. Here’s reader Jeff Woodman:
I caught Brennan’s work in reverse, being first exposed as a kid to AM reruns of ‘The Real McCoys’ as the patriarch to Richard Crenna’s clan, and then, if we were lucky, in the evening at the movie houses, in Disney fare such as ‘The Gnome Mobile’ and ‘The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band.’
He was a presence not unlike William Demarist; both curmudgeonly, but Brennan was somehow twinkly whereas Demarest was often sour.
And I recall seeing a second tier borsht belt comic (a Jan Miner or a Jack Carter) open his set on Merv Griffin by saying, “I saw a movie last night that was so old Walter Brennan got the girl.” I tried to repeat it to my friends, but the frame of reference was lost on them!
Thanks, Jeff. Your friends are worse off for their loss.
Regular reader Mike Sheridan puts it this way: I can so easily categorize Walter Brennan as a true favorite. He was the humblest star in Hollywood during his days, and his days were the best.
Patricia-Nolan Hall contributes this: My introduction to Walter Brennan when I was a kid was his radio hit, ‘Old Rivers’. I was shocked (shocked!) to discover the singer was an actor. I still remember my movie buff dad shaking his head at that one.
Thanks, Patricia. “Old Rivers” was one of several recordings Brennan made in the early Sixties. On the record’s flipside was a ditty titled The Epic Ride of John Glenn. (Brennan was a lifelong political conservative.) In any case, the record was very popular, climbing to within the top 10 of the Billboard charts.
YESTERDAY’S MYSTERY WOMAN was — Marie Wilson.