Doodles Weaver

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Doodles Weaver
Doodlesweaverframe.jpg
Born Winstead Sheffield Glenndenning Dixon Weaver
(1911-05-11)May 11, 1911
Los Angeles
Died January 17, 1983(1983-01-17) (aged 71)
Los Angeles
Cause of death
Suicide
Resting place
Avalon Cemetery
Nationality American
Other names Doodles Weaver
Education Los Angeles High School
Alma mater Stanford University
Occupation Actor, comedian, singer, musician
Spouse(s) Beverly Masterman (m.1939; div. ?)
Evelyn Irene Paulsen (m. 1946; div. 1948)
Lois Frisell (m. 1946; div. 1954)
Reita Green (m. 1957; div. 1968)
Children 2
Relatives Sylvester "Pat" Weaver (brother)
Sigourney Weaver (niece)

Winstead Sheffield Glenndenning Dixon Weaver (May 11, 1911 – January 17, 1983),[1] known professionally as Doodles Weaver, was an American character actor, comedian and musician.

Born into a wealthy West Coast family, Weaver began his career in radio. In the late 1930s, he performed on Rudy Vallée's radio programs and Kraft Music Hall. He later joined Spike Jones' City Slickers. In 1957, Weaver hosted his own variety show The Doodles Weaver Show, which aired on NBC. In addition to his radio work, he also recorded a number of comedy records, appeared in films, and guest starred on numerous television series from the 1950s through the 1970s. Weaver made his last onscreen appearance in 1981.

Weaver was married four times, with all his marriages ending in divorce. He had two sons from his last marriage to actress Reita Green. Despondent over poor health, Weaver fatally shot himself in January 1983.

Early life[edit]

Born in Los Angeles, Weaver was one of four children born to Sylvester Laflin, a wealthy roofing contractor, and Annabel (née Dixon) Weaver.[2][3] His older brother was Sylvester "Pat" Weaver who served as the President of NBC in the 1950s.[4] Weaver's niece is actress Sigourney Weaver.[5] He was of English, Scottish, and Ulster-Scots ancestry, including roots in New England.[6][7] Weaver was given the nickname "Doodlebug" by his mother when he was a child because of his big ears and freckles.[8][9]

He attended Los Angeles High School and Stanford University. At Stanford, Weaver was a contributor to the Stanford Chaparral humor magazine. He was also known to engage in numerous pranks and practical jokes and earned the nickname "The Mad Monk". He was reportedly suspended from Stanford in 1937 (the year he graduated) for pulling a prank on the train home from the Rose Bowl.[4][10]

Career[edit]

Radio and recordings[edit]

On radio during the late 1930s and early 1940s, he was heard as an occasional guest on Rudy Vallée's program and on the Kraft Music Hall.

In 1946, Weaver signed on as a member of Spike Jones's City Slickers band. Weaver was heard on Jones's 1947–49 radio shows, where he introduced his comedic Professor Feetlebaum (which Weaver sometimes spelled as Feitlebaum),[1] a character who spoke in Spoonerisms. Part of the Professor's schtick was mixing up words and sentences in various songs and recitations as if he were suffering from myopia and/or dyslexia.[11] Weaver toured the country with the Spike Jones Music Depreciation Revue until 1951. The radio programs were often broadcast from cities where the Revue was staged.[12]

One of Weaver's most popular recordings is the Spike Jones parody of Rossini's "William Tell Overture". Weaver gives a close impression of the gravel-voiced sports announcer Clem McCarthy in a satire of a horse race announcer who forgets whether he's covering a horse race or a boxing match ("It's Girdle in the stretch! Locomotive is on the rail! Apartment House is second with plenty of room! It's Cabbage by a head!"). The race features a nag named Feitlebaum, who begins at long odds, runs the race a distant last—and yet suddenly emerges as the winner.

In 1966, Weaver recorded a novelty version of "Eleanor Rigby"—singing, mixing up the words, insulting, and interrupting, while playing the piano.

Writing[edit]

Weaver was a contributor to the early Mad, as described by Time's Richard Corliss:

Among the funny stuff: Doodles Weaver's strict copy editing of the Gettysburg Address, advising Lincoln to change "fourscore and seven" to eighty-seven ("Be specific"), noting that there are six "dedicates" ("Study your Roget"), wondering if "proposition" isn't misspelled and, finally exasperated, urging the writer to omit "of the people, by the people, and for the people" as "superfluous."[13]

Films and television[edit]

Weaver made his television debut on The Colgate Comedy Hour in 1951. He performed an Ajax cleanser commercial with a pig, and the audience reaction prompted the network to give him his own series. In 1951, The Doodles Weaver Show was NBC's summer replacement for Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows; it was telecast from June to September with Weaver, his wife Lois, vocalist Marian Colby, and the comedy team of Dick Dana and Peanuts Mann. The show's premise involved Weaver dealing with an assignment to stage a no-budget television series using only the discarded costumes, sets, and props left behind by more popular network TV shows away for the summer.[14] The series ended in July 1951.

Doodles Weaver on The Andy Griffith Show

Weaver went on to guest star on numerous television shows including The Spike Jones Show, The Donna Reed Show, Dennis the Menace, and The Tab Hunter Show. He also hosted several children's television shows. In 1965, he starred in A Day With Doodles, a series of six-minute shorts sold as alternative fare to cartoons for locally hosted kiddie television programs. Each episode featured Weaver in a first-person plural adventure (e.g., "Today we are a movie actor"), portraying himself and, behind false mustaches and costume hats, all the other characters in slapstick comedy situations with a voice over narration and minimal sets.[14] The ending credits would invariably list "Doodles... Doodles Weaver" and "Everybody Else... Doodles Weaver."

He portrayed eccentric characters in guest appearances on such TV shows as Batman (where he played The Archer's henchman Crier Tuck), Land of the Giants, Dragnet 1967, and The Monkees. He appeared in more than 90 films, including The Great Imposter (1961), Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (as the man helping Tippi Hedren's character with her rental boat), Jerry Lewis's The Nutty Professor (1963), Pocketful of Miracles (1961) and, in a cameo, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). He appeared in Six Pack Annie in 1975. His last movie was Earthbound in 1981.

Personal life[edit]

Weaver was married four times and had three children. His first marriage was to Beverly Masterman in 1939.[15] They had one child. They later divorced. His second marriage was to Evelyn Irene Paulsen from 1946 to 1949. In 1949, Weaver married for a third time to nightclub dancer Lois Frisell. Frisell had the marriage annulled in 1954.[16]

Weaver's fourth and final marriage was to actress Reita Anne Green in October 1957.[17] They had two children before divorcing in 1969.

Death[edit]

On January 17, 1983, Weaver died of two self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the chest. His death was ruled a suicide. Weaver's son later said that his father had been despondent over his failing health.[18] His funeral was held on January 22 at Forest Lawn mortuary in the Hollywood Hills. He was buried in Avalon Cemetery in Santa Catalina Island, California.[19]

Weaver's memoirs, Golden Spike, remain unpublished.

Selected filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1936 My American Wife Cowhand Uncredited
1936 Come and Get It Sourdough Barfly Uncredited
1937 Topper Rustic
1937 Our Gang Follies of 1938 Winstead (piano player) Short film
1938 A Yank at Oxford Bill Uncredited
1938 Swing That Cheer Bennett
1939 Another Thin Man Gatekeeper, MacFay Estate Uncredited
1939 The Night of Nights Flower Delivery Man Uncredited
1940 Li'l Abner Hannibal Hoops
1940 Kitty Foyle Pianist Uncredited
1941 A Girl, a Guy, and a Gob Eddie 'Ed'
1941 Mitt Me Tonight
1942 The Spirit of Stanford Student Uncredited
1942 Girl Trouble Ticket Taker Uncredited
1943 Reveille with Beverly Elmer Uncredited
1943 Thank Your Lucky Stars Doodles Weaver Uncredited
1944 The Story of Dr. Wassell Harold Hunter Uncredited
1944 Since You Went Away Convalescent Wishing for Watermelon Uncredited
1945 Hockey Homicide Narrator Voice role
1948 Superman Admin Bldg Guard at Metropolis University Chapter 9
Uncredited
1949 Tennis Racquet Radio Commentator Voice role
Uncredited
1952 Because of You Toy Dealer Uncredited
1953 Powder River Barfly Uncredited
1958 Hot Rod Gang Wesley Cavendish
1958 The Tunnel of Love Escort
1959 The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock Booster Uncredited
1959 The Rookie Winchell Uncredited
1961 The Great Impostor Farmer Hauling Fertilizer
1961 The Ladies Man Soundman
1961 The Errand Boy Weaver
1961 Pocketful of Miracles Pool Player
1963 The Birds Fisherman Helping with Rental Boat
1963 Tammy and the Doctor Traction Patient
1963 The Nutty Professor Rube Uncredited
1963 It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Hardware Store Clerk Uncredited
1964 Mail Order Bride Charlie Mary
1964 A Tiger Walks Bob Evans Uncredited
1964 Quick, Before It Melts Ham Operator
1964 Kitten with a Whip Salty Sam
1965 The Rounders Arlee
1965 Zebra in the Kitchen Nearsighted Man
1966 The Plainsman Bartender Uncredited
1967 The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin Man in Bathtub Uncredited
1967 Rosie! Florist
1967 Road to Nashville Talent Scout
1970 Bigfoot Forest Ranger
1971 The Zodiac Killer Doc Credited as Doddles Weaver
1972 Cancel My Reservation Cactus, Deputy Sheriff
1974 Macon County Line Augie
1975 White House Madness Supreme Court Justice
1975 Trucker's Woman Ben Turner Alternative title: Truckin' Man
1975 Sixpack Annie Hank
1976 Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood Man in Mexican Film
1977 Mule Feathers Hotel Manager
1977 The Great Gundown Baggage Man Alternative title: Savage Red, Outlaw White
1981 Earthbound Sterling
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1956 Sheriff of Cochise Joe Heap Episode: "Caine and Abel"
1957 The Pied Piper of Hamelin First Counselor Television film
Uncredited
1958 Club Oasis Sea Captain 2 episodes
1959 Maverick Lem Episode: "Gun-Shy"
1960 Sugarfoot Simon Miller Episode: "Journey to Provision"
1960 Fury Jake Episode: "Packy's Dilemma"
1960 Lawman Jack Stiles 4 episodes
1961 Wagon Train Efen Dirkin Episode: "The Joe Muharich Story"
1961 Shannon Shoes Malone Episode: "The King Leal Report"
1961 Laramie George Episode: "Handful of Fire"
1962 The Dick Van Dyke Show Bailiff Episode: "One Angry Man"
1962 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Peavey Simpson Episode: "The Country Sculptor"
1962 Dennis the Menace Needy Man #2 Episode: "Poor Mr. Wilson"
1963 Have Gun – Will Travel Hildreth – General Store Prop. Episode: "Shootout at Hogtooth"
1963 The Wide Country Jones Episode: "The Judas Goat"
1963 The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet Janitor Episode: "Dave's Law Office"
1961–1963 The Andy Griffith Show Various roles 2 episodes
1964 The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters Pettigrew Episode: " The Day of the Tin Trumpet"
1964 The Virginian Stationmaster Episode: "Rope of Lies"
1964 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Gregg Episode: "Body In the Barn"
1965 Petticoat Junction Chester Farnsworth Episode: "The Curse of Chester Farnsworth"
1965 Laredo Various roles 2 episodes
1966 Batman Crier Tuck 2 episodes
1967 My Three Sons Jesse Prouty Episode: "The Good Earth"
1967 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Stationmaster Episode: "The Pieces of Fate Affair"
1967 The Monkees Butler Episode: "Monkees Manhattan Style"
1967–70 Dragnet Numerous episodes
1971 The Jimmy Stewart Show Halsted Episode: "Pro Bono Publico"
1976 Banjo Hackett: Roamin' Free Old Turkey Television film
1979 Fantasy Island Blindman Episode: "Spending Spree/The Hunted"

In popular culture[edit]

  • Weaver's horse race routine has been quoted and parodied by many performers over the years.[citation needed]
  • A children's board game called Homestretch featured horses named Cabbage, Banana, Girdle, and the misspelled/simplified "Beetle Bohm." This was a direct lift of Weaver's number, with Cabbage "leading by a head" and Beetle Bohm eventually winning the race.
  • Mike Kazaleh's comic The Adventures of Captain Jack took place on the planet Pootwattle and featured a character who used many of Weaver's jokes and catchphrases, such as "That's a killer!"
  • A one-page Weaver contribution to Mad magazine #25, September 1955, had him as Professor Feetlebaum grading student Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, complete with grammatical corrections and encouraging note despite the C minus.

Quotes[edit]

  • "On the radio this year I hope to score / With some funny jokes you've never heard before / I resolve not to tell a corny joke / [phone rings] Hello, what's that? The church burned down? Holy smoke!" (From "Happy New Year," available on various Christmas novelty CDs)
  • "A man came up to me today and said, 'Doodles, your hair is getting thin," and I said, "Well, who wants fat hair?" (From "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" on the CD The Best of Spike Jones, RCA, 1967. The antics of Doodles and "Feitlebaum" are also to be found on this Best of... album.)
  • "(A man said) 'Doodles... did you put the cat out?' I said, 'I didn't know he was on fire.'" (From "The Man on the flying Trapeze").
  • (In a motor race at Indianapolis): "Every eye is glued onto that car. It looks very funny with all those eyes glued on it." (From "Dance of the Hours," ibid).
  • "You dig 16 tons and what do you get... filthy!" (from "Eleanor Rigby")

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Young, Jordan R. (2004). Spike Jones off the record: the man who murdered music. BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-012-7. 
  2. ^ Current Biography Yearbook. H. W. Wilson Co. 1956. p. 634. 
  3. ^ Lueck, Thomas J. (March 18, 2002). "Sylvester Weaver, 93, Dies; Created 'Today' and 'Tonight'". nytimes.com. p. 1. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "The Life and Times of Doodles Weaver". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. August 17, 1957. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  5. ^ Kleiner, Dick (July 12, 1979). "Sigourney Weaver: A misfit". Sarasota Journal. pp. 7–B. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  6. ^ Interview by Sigourney Weaver, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, 8/25/08
  7. ^ Sigourney Weaver – Weaver's Scottish Ancestry Mix-Up
  8. ^ Joe Franklin's Encyclopedia of Comedians. Bell Pub. Co. 1985. p. 327. ISBN 0-517-46765-8. 
  9. ^ "Doodles Weaver makes a comeback". Boca Raton News. September 7, 1975. p. 9C. Retrieved November 2, 2014. 
  10. ^ "DOODLES WEAVER AT TIMES DINNER". The Los Angeles Times. December 17, 1950. p. B11. 
  11. ^ Spike Jones Murders Them All
  12. ^ Dunning, John (1998). On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-507678-8.
  13. ^ Corliss, Richard. "That Old Feeling: Hail, Harvey!" Time, May 5, 2004.
  14. ^ a b TV Party: Lost Kids Shows
  15. ^ "BEAU PEEP WHISPERS". The Los Angeles Times. October 22, 1939. p. D4. 
  16. ^ "Comic Doodles Weaver's Wife Gets Decree". The Los Angeles Times. April 8, 1954. p. 2. 
  17. ^ "Doodles Weaver Marries". The New York Times. October 8, 1957. 
  18. ^ "'Doodles' Weaver death ruled suicide". The Modesto Bee. January 19, 1983. pp. A–12. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Weaver Buried". The Press-Courier. January 24, 1983. p. 3. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 

External links[edit]