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Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida • Page 58
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Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida • Page 58

Tampa Bay Timesi
St. Petersburg, Florida
Issue Date:

8-D St. Petersburg Times, Wednesday, October 3, 1973 AUTHENTIC JAPANESE RESTAURANT EXOTIC JAPANESE FOODS SUKIYAKI TEMPURA TERIYAKI, Etc. OPEN 5-10 P.M. DAILY RESERVATIONS 822-0124 800 4th ST. SOUTH ST. PETERSBURG Lash LaRue Now Cracks His Whip For The Lord 'There's no doubt I am an entirely different person now says Lash LaRue. 'I lived for the moment then. Now I know I'm preparing for a life in isney II uXZ I World IT'S A GOOD THING "SPECIAL" Staff Photo It was studying drama, to overcome a speech impediment, that turned LaRue from a law career to theatrics, he says. Now, his films are a nostalgic attraction at the churches. For the "King of the Bullwhip" says "It's nice to be remembered." He'll tell you only parts of the story. "About I960 I thought I'd passed my prime. I couldn't keep on with the fight routines and all, so I was going to slow down and do some writing." He'd sunk his movie money into Reno, "Sin City of the world," he calls it. "There's more money controlled from there than any other place in the world." THE 1964 DIVORCE from his last wife broke him, he says. His Reno motel for quickie-divorce clientele, the restaurant, the land; all gone. And the first night out from en someone stole his trademark whip and guns. He'd been a "camie," whooping and cracking his leather for Wild West shows with traveling carnivals, and hoped to get back on the circuit to make a living. It was in those carnival midways that LaRue met John 3:16 Cook, Cook says. Following the carnivals that pushed South for the winter, LaRue was cornered by depression, poverty and disgust in a Miami bus depot. Bedraggled, unshaven and shuffling his black cowboy boots, the old cowpoke asked a police man to kindly kill him. "I wanted a transfer from the physical to the spiritual." He was arrested for vagrancy, but returned to Califronia via Tampa and Atlanta. Tired, he looked for a new life. "I took a course in real estate and wanted to work for a water-conditioner company, but you know, you have to lie to sell about anything. They twisted the facts so much that I couldn't stand it." It was when a minister friend asked him to speak at church that LaRue began leaning toward preaching. "I'VE BEEN ON the road for the Lord since 1972, and now I want to see what I can By MICHAEL MARZELLA Of Tht Timet Staff We've been looking for Lash LaRue about a inonth now. Rumor had it that he was holed-up in Tampa, a shadow of his former whip-cracking movie cowboy self. lie wasn't. Even the Screen Actor's Guild in Hollywood had misplaced him. Now, big as life, Lash pops up in St. Petersburg, to add his weight to the cause of skid row evangelist John 3:16 Cook's mission work. You'll remember LaRue as the slim, hawk-faced good guy that wore black clothes. He "was an anomaly among white-suited cowboy heroes. Preferring the bullwhip's effi- cacy, Lash disarmed many a villain without ever firing a shot. That was between 1944 and 1960, when he was in his heyday. After he played in "Song of Old Wyoming," movie fans clamored for more of the black-suited whipsnap-per, and "Lash" LaRue became a permanent character. THAT WAS 39 movies, nine wives and a Wyatt Earp television series ago. The young Lash is dead, resurrected periodically from the film cans LaRue carries on his church speaking tours, to entertain, and attract young minds to the words of a cow-" boy who's turned-in his guns. "There's no doubt I am an entirely different person now," he says, staring fixedly beyond the Ramada Inn window. "I lived for the moment then. Now I know I'm preparing for a life in eternity. I don't want this to sound like a sob story, because I'm happy with what I'm doing, witness- ing for the Lord and telling of the plan for salvation." He'd rather not talk about the past, understandably. It's a long, long trail, winding from fame and fortune in Hollywood to arrest for vagrancy in Miami in 1966, to the Lash LaRue Evangelistic Association in California. He won't give his age, but judging from a creased brow and graying hair, you'd guess he is about 55. "For 40 years I've rehearsed for a one-night stand, and I'm not yet hooked," he says. He doesn't explain, but you suppose he's speaking of death, "passing through the veil." "God is the writer, producer, director, casting director and editor of this whole thing. I just hope that when the time comes I get picked." THE RELIGIOUS theme is ever-present in his conversation, declaring his new-found hope and dedication. He'll talk with John 3:16 Cook about working in the new mission headquarters in the Almay Hotel, 1027 Central Ave. Cook says he signed a contract on Tuesday to purchase the property for $50,000. It will be dedicated Thursday, at 1 p.m., and LaRue will be there. can eat Wednesdays For Fact Finding Call 898-6776 Answer Desk t. Pftprsburoffimpa Evening Independent iiinn yf and Fridays only FAMILY RESTAURANTS Available at these locations: 1271 Pasadena South 2700 34th Street North 1849 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. you 11 Money Refunded All $1169 do for brother John, here. He has a work with these derelicts that is so important. I think the Lord put me through those experiences to get me ready for what I'm doing now," LaRue says. He's glib, articulate. The philosphy he offers is laced with Biblical quotations and his own homilies; some quixotic and paradoxical. "It is very egotistical of man to think he is the only intelligent life in the universe. When God wants to show us his power, it will be very impressive. "If I were voting, I'd vote not for the destruction of Vatican City, but the demonstrative destruction of Washington, D.C. The Vatican City is closer to God. Watergate is nothing new; that went on in Lincoln's administration." Scripture, he says, tells of a time when there will be people about who have never been before. They are young people, today, he says, who "subconsciously seek the control of their inner selves. "THEY MAY NOT even belong to this time. This could be a projected possibility, all the time between 1933 and here. Time is relative to the mind of God. Everything that has been is yet to be." Asked for clarification of this time conundrum, he smiles, and explains there are things we cannot yet understand. "You'll find out when you pass through the veil that you were there when you were here." The quirks of time, and the implications of age, are "A psychological trap that people get caught up in," LaRue says. "I prefer to say I was born in 1963, when I had my experience with the Lord. If we think about age, we compare ourselves to others by age and impair the mind, the most important part of the anatomy." By THOMAS JOSEPH 27. 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