THE CHEROKEE BUFFALO
c/o Life Time Movie Book
on Grenade Curran
Co-authored by Kurt Dowdle
In 1966-67, I was working on “Camelot”, at Warner Brothers Studios. I was asked, by the director Josh Logan, to pick up a clothing change from the men’s wardrobe department up at the main studio lot. I left the back lot set walking fast through the trees in King Pelenor’s Woods to get a studio transportation limo & finish the director’s request errand. I arrived at wardrobe.
While up at the front section of the wardrobe department, I hurried into fitting room #1 and ran into the Western Duke himself. I visited with the Duke, who remembered my parents at M-G-M. I jokingly asked, “What’s your name?” John Wayne, laughing with surprise at the joke, stated, “you can call me “Duke”.
Then he asked me what I was working on. “I’m out on the backlot on the picture called, “Camelot.” I then asked him what he was working on. Wayne stated, “Another western & I’m getting ready to go on location again.” Wayne then told me briefly about his story.
It was at that time I pointed to a certain pair of rough out boots on the floor among the many other pairs that Wayne was choosing from, “You should use that pair.” Wayne asked me, “why those boots?” I answered him, “From what you have told me of your story, you are the patriarch leader of the whole valley & you would not wear a shiny pair of dude boots.” Wayne thought for a minute, looking at the boots, & said, “OK, that sounds good.” I said I had to be getting back to the backlot & get this stuff to the director, Logan, who was still waiting. I left the fitting room and returned to the Camelot backlot set.
Several weeks went by and I forgot about the visit with the “Duke”. It was after John Wayne finished shooting his film, that I got a surprise phone call while on the backlot of Warner Bros. Studios, Camelot set again. It was from the Duke himself.
The assistant director called me to the phone & stated that it was “John Wayne.” Richard Harris, the star of Camelot, other actors & production people overheard him say that. When I came to the phone, all ears were eaves dropping on the phone call. I answered the phone, “Hello.” Wayne asked, “Do you have a few minutes? I have something on the counter up in men’s wardrobe for you, I’ve got to run & say hi to your folks for me.” As I hung up the portable phone, Richard Harris came up to him & said, “Was that the Duke himself?” I said yes & Mr. Harris said he was his American hero & asked what he wanted. I raised both hands in front of me & said, “I don’t know, he has something up at the front office for me.”
I got in a stand by studio limo, went up to the men’s front office and walked up the same isle, as he had done weeks before. There waiting for me were other actors and wardrobe costumers standing in front of the main counter & as they parted there was a big tan shopping bag sitting there on top of the counter with a note written on the front, “Hold for Grenade,” & underneath, at an angle, “Don’t Touch.” I opened the bag with everybody watching. Inside, were the rough out boots that I had suggested for him to use in the movie. As indicated on the films “The Sons of Katie Elder” and “El Dorado” which he wore.
This gesture was a thank you to me for making the suggestion to use them in his film.
There is a saying… “Never judge a man, until you walk a mile in his boots!” And I have walked a mile in them very quietly.
by tscott and comments are closed.