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December 2, 1935
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||September 28, 2006
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Pyke was born Monty Pike in Los Angeles, California, the son of vaudevillian David Pike and his wife Pauline. Pyke majored in theatre at UCLA in the 1960s, appearing in numerous student films, including one for Ray Manzarek, keyboard player of The Doors, called Induction (1965), which also featured The Doors vocalist Jim Morrison in a brief role. During that time period, Pyke was also associated with Del Close.
From UCLA, Pyke went on to have a longish career playing strange, often comic characters in usually out-of-the-ordinary, low-budget, independent features, with some brief appearances in mainstream films. Some of his mainstream appearances, like a small part in the John Milius film Dillinger (1973), ended up cut out of the final film. Although many of his better known films are in the horror genre, Pyke acted in everything from blaxploitation to musical comedies. He had a unique acting style best described as "manic", which some might call overacting, with a penchant for physical, exaggerated comedy. He also had an extremely distinctive, raspy voice, which could be called a crossing of Aldo Ray with Krusty the Clown from The Simpsons.
In the 1970s, Pyke's physical appearance was equally distinctive. Very short, slightly overweight, with a moustache and heavily balding head of wild black hair, he looked like the archetypal Mexican bandit of B-westerns or Sancho Panza (a role he played in The Erotic Adventures Of Don Quixote, 1976) come to life. Besides his film work, Pyke acted in theater, musical revues, etc.
During the 1970s, Pyke delivered a number of bizarre performances in equally extraordinary films. His most memorable role was as a creepy bus driver in the 1975 horror film Lemora: A Child's Tale Of The Supernatural. Other notable 1970s Pyke appearances were in Dolemite, (1975), The First Nudie Musical, (1976), and in Spawn Of The Slithis, (1978). Pyke played the part of Bebe Rebozo in an unreleased Richard Nixon satire called The Way He Was.
Pyke may be best known for his role as the bar owner Taffey Lewis in the science fiction movie Blade Runner (1982). Other noteworthy 1980s appearances include the teen comedy film Bad Manners (aka: Growing Pains) (1984), starring Martin Mull and Karen Black, and the horror comedy film Vamp (1986), starring Grace Jones. Towards the end of the 1980s, Pyke's acting career slowed down and he moved over to television commercials. His last larger movie role to date was in the low-budget, very minor 1990 horror film Hack-O-Lantern.
Pyke last lived in Los Angeles performing as a nightclub comedian after surviving quadruple by-pass surgery. In 2004, he contributed to a book about obscure 1970s genre films, Gods in Polyester, reminiscing on Lemora, Dolemite and others, in a style very much in tune with his persona on the big screen. Pyke has been namechecked twice in reviews of the book, in passing on the website of the British Headpress publishing house, and in detail in the Dutch horror magazine Schokkend Nieuws, where his stories were referred to as "insane adventures". Pyke also contributed pieces on Blade Runner and Hack-O-Lantern to the book Gods In Spandex, A Survivor's Account of 80's Cinema Obscura (2007), a sequel to Polyester. He was also interviewed for an E! True Hollywood Story episode on David Carradine in 2000. Pyke has recently appeared in The Secret Pursuit of Happiness, which premiered in 2006. The Internet Movie Database lists his last film, Dealing, being in post production as of January 2009.
- Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural AKA Legendary Curse of Lemora (1975)
- The best-regarded of Pyke's horror films, Lemora is the only film directed by Eating Raoul writer Richard Blackburn, who knew Pyke from UCLA.
- Dolemite (1975)
- The First Nudie Musical (1976)
- Pyke plays the singing and dancing Uncle Benny, one of the financial backers of the First Nudie Musical. He appears in a few key scenes in the beginning of the film, and later makes brief appearances until the end. One of the stars of the film is Cindy Williams of Laverne & Shirley fame.
- The Erotic Adventures of Don Quixote (1976)
- Spawn of the Slithis (1978)
- Nightmare in Blood (1978)
- Ziegfeld: The Man and His Women (1978)
- A TV movie on the life of Florenz Ziegfeld, Pyke's only television acting credit outside of commercials.
- Blade Runner (1982)
- Hack-O-Lantern (1990)
- Gods In Polyester, or, A Survivors' Account of 70's Cinema Obscura (2004/Succubus Press)
- – Pyke contributed pieces on Lemora, The First Nudie Musical, Spawn of the Slithis, Dolemite, The Erotic Adventures of Don Quixote and Nightmare in Blood.
- Gods In Spandex, or, A Survivors' Account of 80's Cinema Obscura (2007/Succubus Press)
- – Pyke contributed pieces on Blade Runner and Hack-O-Lantern.