One of the nice perks of this weblog is that I occasionally get e-mail inquiries from fans who sometimes ask for information on nostalgia-related issues…that is, when my e-mail spam filter isn’t dumping them in the same file as the ones needing my help to move a large amount of money out of Nairobi (seriously—would you entrust a task like that to someone like me, a guy who’d make Maxwell Smart look one of the men from U.N.C.L.E.?). Okay, I’ll come clean and admit that’s pretty much the only perk—unless you include the extra ketchup I sometimes receive with my onion rings order at Sonic…though I’m not certain my authorship of TDOY has any connection with that.
N-E-wayz—as my friend Lynn often writes—I got a nice e-mail from a fellow Georgian named Bob Brooks a week or two ago; Bob lives up the road a way from the home office here in Athens and he was looking for some info on Al “Fuzzy” St. John. I was able to help him out with what I know about
Al maybe have been a mere second banana in the Comique shorts but a better one you could never hope to find; both he and Keaton were integral to the success of the Arbuckle comedies they appeared in and their antics are downright hysterical at times. St. John was a practiced farceur who appeared in an innumerable amount of the early Keystone comedies and later achieved a bit of success on his own as a solo comedian at Educational; I know of at least two examples of his work that appear on the sadly discontinued DVD set The Forgotten Films of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle: Curses (1925), a funny parody of Western serials (this film was restored in 2004/2005 by many familiar names in silent comedy preservation: Paul E. Gierucki, Cole Johnson, Steve Massa, David B. Pearson and Richard M. Roberts) and the sound short Bridge Wives (1932) that casts St. John as a hapless husband whose wife (Fern Emmett) has fallen under the spell of the national card-game craze at that time.
The other major part of
In my reply to Bob, I asked him for permission to post a photo he sent me in which he resurrects the spirit of “Fuzzy”—honest to my grandma, the resemblance is uncanny:
He later replied in a second e-mail that he’s part of a group of stunt theatrical western performers, headed up by a man named Bill Holden (no, not the guy from Stalag 17) who has appeared in bit parts in a number of movies filmed in the Peach State (My Cousin Vinny , Fried Green Tomatoes ) and the TV version of In the Heat of the Night. These fine people are scheduled to play a benefit at a hospital in Buckhead soon, and I for pleased as punch to see that there are still individuals out there dedicated to reproducing the sense of fun and wonder from those great B-westerns and for a worthy cause as well. Again, a generous doff of the TDOY ten-gallon hat to Bob for allowing me to post the picture.