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Howdy! My first four gigs in showbiz were on Albert McCleery’s “Matinee Theatre”, NBC-TV, live, five noons a week, cross-country, in beautiful compatible color. I had the good fortune to work with Ed Kemmer on one of those puppies. First hand, I got lessons from a consummate pro in action. Good fortune followed on “Sugarfoot”. Ed acted in, at least, two episodes, lending a touch of class to the proceedings. In ‘64-‘65 I worked with lovely, talented Fran Sharon on Broadway in “Never too Late”. I played her husband. Later, Ed played her husband in real life. Ah, yes—Ed Kemmer, Mensch! ^ ^ Ah, yes—our lovely buddy Jan Merlin! His sweet, sweet wife Barbara! But did you know they are not well liked? Not even liked? No, my friend, they are loved!

Jocko Mahoney.One night, back in the ‘70s, Jock Mahoney phoned me. I didn’t know Jock, Jock didn’t know me. No matter to the world’s extrovertest extrovert. He invited me out to a valley shoot on a Western movie street for a Canadian magazine spread. Roy, Dale, Buttram, Don Barry, John Russell, all the usual suspects, including Fred Feldkamp, Western movies’ most famous street crosser. Thus, the beginning of a beautiful friendship. From time-to-time, Jock would get me on the Ameche and tell me to get my duds out of the moth balls, and we’d go play cowboy. Not long before I went overseas for three years, he wrangled a gig for me on ABC-TV’s highly rated special, “When The West Was Fun—A Western Reunion”, hosted by Glenn Ford. In ‘83, I came home and hooked up with Babs. Before long we hooked-up with Jock and Autumn Mahoney, and the adventures began. Jock got us invited to the Memphis Western Film Festival. Babs and I were greenhorns on the nostalgia trail. We didn’t know to bring b/w 8x10 glossies. We didn’t know to own b/w 8x10 glossies. On that fandango we met Boyd and Donna Magers, and our horizons widened.

First day at a Roy Rogers Fest in Portsmouth, OH, the press gathered for a session of Q&A. I remember Jock’s revealing that he considered himself a psychic. I’d toss-in Mystic. He was asked to recall some of his favorite stunts. He chuckled as he recollected working with The Three Stooges. The scene: a western saloon. He played a gangling goofy galoot with a gitfiddle. He moseys along the bar, trips on a spittoon, accomplishes a full frontal forward flip, lands on his boots, moseys on out. “Dogies! I’d love to see that rip snorter!” I told Babs. Next a-yawn, I turn on the TV, waiting for Babs to cowgal-up for breakfast. What do I see first thing before my very eyes? Moe, Larry, Curly in wooly chaps in a saloon. Yipes! Here comes a long drink of water, a weird cowpoke, carrying a geetar. Could it be? Yes, it is. It’s Jocko! He galumps along. (Look out for that spittoon! Too late.) Durn, if he doesn’t complete an airborne somersault, landing on his boots, cradling his git fiddle! That’s just the sort of thing that happened when Jocko was around.

Before we knew him, he’d suffered a stroke. He did his own re-hab. Everyday he’d report to the indoor track at the Hollywood Athletic Club. Members would job counter-clockwise. Jocko’s left side had paralysis, so he walked around the oval clockwise. If he faltered, he’d stumble to his left, hitting the wall, never falling, always pushing onward, getting stronger and stronger.

He invited us to drive with him to San Diego to judge gunfight recreations. We judged the contestants on dramaturgy, authenticity, costumes, and gun safety. Jocko preached gun safety, animal safety, actor safety. He never got over Vic Morrow and the two Viet Namese kids’ deaths during the filming of the little seen and long forgotten “Twilight Zone”. A fellow judge was Keenan Wynn, helluva talent, helluva guy. I asked him his secret. “I adapt to the times,” he said.

Next day, on our way home, we paid Mr. and Mrs. Budd Boetticher a surprise visit. They welcomed us with warm smiles and hugs. They dwelt in posh digs in a snazzy apartment complex, their horses stabled out back. Budd showed us clips of his work-in-progress, a documentary of the life of Arruza, El Matador Magnifico. Budd told us his wife had been deathly afraid of horses, and then they met. He proudly showed us a clip of his wife on horseback. She wore a form-fitting outfit, black from hat to boots. She controlled the strutting horse with her knees, a lance held in each hand. ¡Ay Carumba! She was now La Picador Magnifica.

The light turned yellow. Time to head homeward. Adios, amigos. I would have chosen a direct route home. Mr. Mahoney was an action star, a stunt man, an ace pilot, a jock of all trades. He chose for us a moonless mountain drive, high along narrow, winding roads. He drove fast, a tad unsteadily. Was he trying to scare us? He succeeded. My toes still curl.  He gave us a framed 8x10 signed glossy. Over the years it oxidized. Now, we have a beautiful picture of him in profile. No longer in black and white. Now, in silver and gold. On our wall of fame there’s no one like him. In the whole wide world, there’s no one like THE GREAT JOCKO MAHONEY!