MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1956 BLYTHEVILLE (ARK.) COURIER NEWS PAGI MINI ouner NewsMagazine Phil Silvers, Sgt. Bilko Both Strike It Rich By DICK KLEINER NEW YORK — (NBA) — Phil Silvers, in a screaming red shirt and a porkpie hat, made believe he was in a telephone booth. This was the second day of rehearsals for another episode in the career of Sgt. Ernie Bilko, the. TV character Phil has ridden to fame. Literary Guidepost Political Author Declares He's Not Politician OFF THE BOOK BEAT — "I am not a politician," declares the author of "The Last Hurrah," a novel about a politician. "I've never even been a City Ha reporter," continues Edwin O'Oon nor, whose story of Frank Skeffing ton, governor of a mythical state- mythical like Massachusetts, say- reeks of City Hall corridors, Stat House back rooms, ward politic and party machines. "Nobody in my family has bee; active in politics," says this win ner of the Atlantic novel prize of a Reader's Digest digest, * an of the votes of the Book-of-the Month Club—as well as the vote of the .general reading public. "But I am Irish," says O'Con nor, native of Rhode Island, grad uate of Notre Dame, resident o Boston where he does a TV col umn for the Globe, and visitor t Dublin. He's that rare author o political novels: a man with no po litical ax to'grind, who isn't agains the rich, the poor, the party, de mocracy, conservatism, radicalism He's only for the Irish. Smiling, eager, his feet up on his publisher's desk, he explainei that he wanted to do a book abou the Irish, so he figured it had to be political. "Few people have been so loya to their leaders as the Irish," he believes. "But leaders of the stamp of the local boss who could do ev erything for his constituents are on the way out. The able ones realize it. too. So the book had to be done quickly, to catch them." Not that he writes quickly—this was a four-year job, along with the business of earning a living. But it's a fond book, a nostalgic one, ant .often a very funny one—"For a humorless man to write about the Iris his an absurdity," says O'Connor, a man with the wrinkles which laughter forms around the eyes and mouth. ? W. O. Rogers. FACE THAT LAUNCHED A THOUSAND •MIPS — Warner Bros.' search for "the most beautiful woman in the world" to portray Helen IB "Helen ot Troy," reached from Hollywood to New York, from London to Paris and Rome. Rome's Rossant Podesta was judged the perfect Helen. She's appeared in several Italian films and one made in Mexico. Tops in Pops Life of This Roping Photographer Doesnt Sound Too Glamorous Br IRVING DE8FOR Chiles Perry Weimer, a tall, thin, tanned traveler with a satanic, Dali-esque mustache, is most proud of his unofficial title, "Photographic Ambassador of the Americas". He has earned it with 13 expeditions to Central and South America in the past 15 years loaded down with cameras, film and friendship. In that time he has logged more than 500,000 miles and shot more than 500,000 pictures. / Between expeditions, from Ms home and headquarters in Mt. Ta bor, N. J., Weimer has blended his pictures and experiences into a na tional lecture tour. It's a full time ever-moving, no-time-for-relaxation career, he admits, but one. he's go ing to continue as long as he can carry ten pounds of cameras slung around his neck. To most camera fans, rooted to a limited area by jobs and homes this sounds like an adventurous life but it-raises some question. "What about your family?" "My wife, Marcia, has been a partner on all the trips except the Very last one," he answered. "Our son, Perry Junior, was starting high school and it was best for them to stay put for a while. Till then heh ad travelled with us also. Marcia took pictures, kept the records for captions and movie scripts and took care of the details like a traveling secretary." "How many cameras did you carry?" "Never less than four, usually five. A Letca for 35mm color slides; a 2'/V x 2%" reflex for black-and-white and another for Ektachrome; a 16mm movie camera and a Speed Graphic for architectural studies. * * * "WE LUGGED as much film as we could carry. When possible, we arranged for periodic shipments along the route but it was usually a difficult feat because It Involved customs and government controls. Then when we ran short, we had to buy what film we could In the nearest city. It might cost us twice as much, but worse than that, we nould never be certain of the film's condition until after processing." "I keep all my films in a large airplane typo suitcase, tightly locked and in the shadiest pl»ce available. Sometimes a quick transition by plane from a hot desert country U> m humid jungle country, or vice versa, will spoil the film loaded In the cameras and In my pocket*. I try to open film only when nedeed for shooting pictures,' 1 "Did you develop the film your- .ull?" "No, We'd make personal arrangement* with the best lab In th« nearest city for special attention and ship the color to the neares color lab or back to the States." "Any trouble getting around to alt the places you've been!" "We'd use planes on the long hauls and then by whatever, means were available, including the mos primitive. We've had our mishaps too Marcia has been in two plane accidents wniie I've been in five crashes. • • . • "A Z3-FOOT boa constrictor knocked me off a burro once. And primitive Indians in the Panama jungles made is a target for their poison tipped arrows. We were on our way In dug-outs to photograph an inaccessible Cuna tribe. The situation recalls the recent grim.story from Ecuador where five .missoin- aries were slain by primitive Auca Indians." At this point, the glamorous life of a roving photographer sounded less inviting. Certainly it wasn't the easiest way to make a living nor the fastest way to pile up a fortune. Much of the photography is taken on long range speculation. While gathering lecture material, Weimer. photographs all aspects of a region — Industrial, agricultural, scenic and native life — for possible commercial or illustrative use later. With a reputation built up with years of experience he now get? specific Industrial, travel or magazine assignments while he is on location and of course this makes it easier to finance trips. "HOW DID YOU get started?" I wanted to know. "1 was a commercial artist with a deep interest in photography," he explained. "I gave up my job with the prospect of becoming a.cruise ship photographer headed for exotic Pacisio Islands It was 1940 and the cruise was cancelled when the ship couldn't leave Europe with the outbreak of war. Marcia and I were loaded with cameras and sup- pllesso we got on,a boat headedfor jllfls so We" got on a boat headed 'or South America. We encircled the continent «nd shot pictures like crazy. "When we returned, our material mndc an Illustrated lecture called The Cavalcade of South America'. ..Other trips to the Caribbean and to each of the Latin American countries followed and our new career developed." "What's your advice to other camera fans?" was my final query. "If they love to shoot pictures with an instinctive feel for exposure and composition under allcon- ditions ... if they love people and get along with all types under all conditions ... if they don't mind discomforts and can face dangers . . if they have iron stomachs and an indestructible nervous system . . . it's a great life!" . Anybody for a trip — anybody? CURRENT Best Sellers FICTION ANDERSONVILLE, MacKinlay Kantor. MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR, Herman Wouk. .. CASH McCALLj Cameron Hawley. TEN NORTH FREDERICK, John O'Hara. AUNTIE MAME, Patrick Dennis. NQNFICTION GIFT FROM THE SEA, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. INSIDE AFRICA, John Ounther. A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, Walter Lord. THE EDGE OF THE SEA, Rachel Carson. THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING, Norman Vincent Peale. The most-sold records listed below include Friday of last week. Local l-I'll Be Home— Pat Boone 2-Blue Suede Shoes— Carl Perkins 3-1 Was The One— Elivs Presley 4-Tutti Fruitti—Little Richard 5-No Not Much— Four Lads 6-I'll Be Forever Loving You fill Dorados 7-Why Do Fools Fall in Love — Diamonds 8-Angels in The Sky—Crewcuts 9-Rock and Roll Waltz — Kay Starr ID-Ninety Nine Years — Guy Mitchell National 1-Rock and Roll Waltz — Kay Starr 2-Memories Are Made of This — Dean Martin 3-Great Pretender— Platters 4-No Not Much— Four Lads S-Sixteen Tons—Tennessee Ernie 6-Lisbon Antigua—Nelson Riddle 7-See You Later Alligator— Bill Haley 8-Dungaree Doll—Eddie Fisher 9-It's Almost Tomorrow—Dream Weavers 10-Moritak—Richard Hyman Trio Radio Requests 1-Speedoo— Cadillacs 2-Rock and Roll Waltz — Kay I Starr ' j 3-Three Penny Opera Theme — I Dick Hyman Trio 4-1 Was The One—Elvis Presley 5-Great Pretertder—Platters 6-I'll Be Forever Loving You — El Dorados 1-Blue Suede Shoes— Carl Perkins 8-Lisbon Antigua— Nelson Riddle , 9-No Not Much— Four Lads 10-See You Later, Alligator — Bill Haley "What happens here?" he called out. The story line had Bilko in New York on furlough, vainly trying to locate an old girl friend via phone, "Just throw in a one-liner," saic Nat Hiken, the producer-director- writer-creator of Bilko. "O.K. 'How long was she sent up for?'" Ten minutes later, they were running through the same scene again Once more, Silvers hesitated and asked what he was supposed to do Hiken again said to toss in a one- liner. "O.K. 'Well, didn't the lawyer ask for an appeal?'" This is Phil'Silvers, ad libbing two different gags in the same spot. No telling what he'll say when the scene is finally shot. He's one of the top ad libbers currently adding libs. He can stick to a script when he has to but when his well- developed sense of timing and comedy tells him something is needed, he can toss in an aside or a grimace or a gag and make it look like 15 writers sent a frantic weekend perfecting it. There was a five-minute break and Phil sat down on one of the folding camp chairs that lined the hall. He mopped his face with a handkerchief and bummed a eig- aret. "This is the drudgery," he said. "This rehearsing—plain drudgery." Most of the cast went outside during the break for a quick Coke. Phil stayed for a hasty conference with Hiken about an entrance, a rapid exchange of pleasantries and gags with comedian Jack E. Leonard who wandered in, a brief discussion of his publicity schedule with his press agent. + * * Then he was back to work. In a twinkling, he was Bilko—scheming, plotting and gagging. He made the transition look easy. And, to Phil Silvers,' it is easy. , He's spent 30 years in perfecting the character that is Bilko; it's second nature to him now. The Bilko-ish character is a result of three decades of work in vaudeville, burlesque, movies, the stage. Gradually, Silvers evolved the curious mixture of larceny and lov- ableness that is Ernie Bilko.'Gradually, he acquired the sense of timing that makes this a comic masterpiece. There is nothing admirable about Bilko, yet people are drawn to him. Silvers explains this simply. "There's a little larceny in all of us," he says. "I've known million- aires who love to get free tickets. They could buy the theater, but they.like free ticket*. Sgt. Bilko appeals to that streak. He's no angel, but nobody hates him." * * * Silvers started in show business a£ M as a singer. When his voice changed he became the "brat" in an old vaudeville act. Here he learned that he could make people laugh and—more important — that people laugh at brats. (Bilko is, after all, a mature brat.) He drifted into burlesque and here he acquired the sense of timing and the ad lih-nhillt-y that's annthpr fart, nf anas of television. There was another break in the rehearsal. Phil flopped down in the chair, bummed another ciga- ret, stretched his legs out and tried to catch his breath. "Drudgery," he said. He was talking to himself. Bilko. In Hollywood, where he was usually cast as the hero's fast-talking pal, he learned the tricks of the camera trade. On Broadway, where he starred in several musicals, notably "Top Banana," he learned the discipline of a script. As he says, "All these factors combine to make 'The Phil Silvers Show' successful. It took me 30 yeqrs to get it all." There was one other contributing factor — patience. For, over a year, after "Top Banana" closed, he was in virtual retirement. He was plotting and planning, creating and rejecting, until he and Hiken came up with the Bilko -format. Before Bilko, they'd dreamed up some 50 other ideas—one would have cast him as the proverbial brother-in- law, another as the proprietor of a gym. * * * "What we did watt see if we could come up with a good idea for the 30th show," Silvers says. "Anybody can do one good show—if he can't, he should get out of town. We tried to get a series where the 30th show would be as good as the first." His success can be measured in ratings. Phil is the first to outrate Milton Berle, and he's done it several times. Silvers is a native and confirmed New , Yorker. He likes to hang around with the boys in Lindy's, the connoisseur's delicatessen. He likes the sports and theatrical bunch. He's never alone, His one marriage—to one-time Miss America Jo Carroll Dennison—went on the rocks, his friends say, because his idea of a big night out with his wife was a basketball game and a late supper at Toots" Shor's with covy of his cronies hanging around. Lots of laugh, no privacy. Now he's at the top. Thlr years of work and a solid year planning have given him fame ai recognition as one of the top ban Poetry Award NEW YORK UP}— Poet, critic and anthologist Louis Undermeyer has been awarded the 1956 Gold Medal for Service to Poetry by the Poetry Society of America. Fntry, Not Exit LAWTON, Okla. Wl—Prisoners in he Comanche County jail didn't ry to escape when hack saw blades vere smuggled in the jail. They awed an opening into an adjacent 'ault where liquor - was stored, lelped themselves to a dozen bot- les of wine and started a celebr- tion. Bufford Shoe Shop Expert Shoe Repair Good Shoes at Good Prices 112 S. Broadway It Was Hot FORT WORTH, Tex, Uft—. Polic summoned to break up a gan fight downtown travern found n gang fight, not even a gang, bi ttie b.ar was wrecked. The tavern was emptly excep for an 18-year-old youth who ex plained: "T only came to delived the ho tamales." Rebuilt- Bikes For Sale We Carry All Parts And Repair Bikes * Tricycles CULLISON BICYCLE SHOP All Work Guaranteed Across From Kroger Ph. 3-6122 Barzin Named NEW YORK (IP)— Leon Barzin has been named artlstlq director of the Symphony of the Air. He will continue as musical director of the National Orchestral Association. Manuscript Gift NEW,YORK Iff) — He.rmtn Wouk, author of several books, among them "The Oalne Mutiny" and ; the current bestseller "Mar- orlc Morningstar," has presented nost of h,ls original manuscripts la Columbia University. To Sell — To Buy REAL ESTATE r Ei«ivm* ^ TERRY PO-2-2381 Try a Texaco Service Station First! We Can Supply You with the Finest TEXACO HEATING OIL "Let us power your farm and heat your home" We deliver anywhere in Mississippi County BOB LOGAN "YOUR TEXACO MAN" Blytherille Phone 3-3391 Joiner Phone 2421 APPLIANCES INSTALLATION TRACTOR CONVERSIONS Phone For Free Estimates R. C. FARR & SONS Owners Phone 3-4662 — 400 Railroad — Phont S-45JT CYD CHABISSE fits costly In western togs'for her role la MOM'i forthcoming musical "Meet Me lo Las Vegas," which was filmed at the famous resort. Dan Dailey Is co-star. CARA WILLIAMS, in private life, Mrs. John Barrymore, Jr., als* has an important singing: and dancing role in Meet Me in Las Vegas. 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