Winstead Sheffield Glenndenning Dixon Weaver
May 11, 1911
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||January 17, 1983 (aged 71)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Suicide|
|Resting place||Avalon Cemetery|
|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)
(m. 1949; div. 1954)
(m. 1957; div. 1968)
|Relatives||Sylvester "Pat" Weaver (brother)|
Sigourney Weaver (niece)
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.
Born in Los Angeles, Weaver was one of four children born to Sylvester Laflin Weaver, a wealthy roofing contractor, and Annabel (née Dixon) Weaver. His older brother was Sylvester "Pat" Weaver who served as the President of NBC in the 1950s. Weaver's niece is actress Sigourney Weaver. He was of English and Scottish ancestry, including roots in New England. Weaver's mother gave him the nickname "Doodlebug" as a child because of his freckles and big ears.
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.
Radio and recordings
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), a character who spoke in Spoonerisms. Part of the Professor's shtick was mixing up words and sentences in various songs and recitations as if he were suffering from myopia and/or dyslexia. 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.
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. That same horse was the winner in a parody of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race—narrated by Doodles—which appeared in the City Slickers' raucous 1949 recording of Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours". The horse is often referred to as “Beetle Bomb”.
In 1966, Weaver recorded a novelty version of "Eleanor Rigby"—singing, mixing up the words, insulting, and interrupting, while playing the piano.
- 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."
Films and television
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 television shows away for the summer. The series ended in July 1951.
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 series. 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. The ending credits would invariably list "Doodles... Doodles Weaver" and "Everybody Else... Doodles Weaver."
He portrayed eccentric characters in guest appearances on such television series 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 (1963) (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 (1975). His last movie was Earthbound (1981).
Weaver was married four times and had three children. His first marriage was to Beverly Masterman in 1939. 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, who had the marriage annulled in 1954.
Weaver's fourth and final marriage was to actress Reita Anne Green in October 1957. They had two children before divorcing in 1969.
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. 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.
Weaver's memoirs, Golden Spike, remain unpublished.
|1936||My American Wife||Cowhand||Uncredited|
|1936||Come and Get It||Sourdough Barfly||Uncredited|
|1937||The Woman I Love||'Chopin' pianist||Uncredited|
|1937||Behind the Headlines||Duggan|
|1937||Double Wedding||Bass Fiddle Player||Uncredited|
|1937||Our Gang Follies of 1938||Winstead (piano player)||Short film|
|1938||A Yank at Oxford||Bill||Uncredited|
|1938||Swiss Miss||Taxicab Driver||Uncredited|
|1938||Hold That Co-ed||Gilks||Uncredited|
|1938||Swing That Cheer||Bennett|
|1939||Boy Trouble||Ralph, the Stockboy||Uncredited|
|1939||Invitation to Happiness||Band Leader / Emcee at Harry's||Uncredited|
|1939||Flight at Midnight||Uncredited|
|1939||Thunder Afloat||Sailor Getting Cigar||Uncredited|
|1939||Another Thin Man||Gatekeeper, MacFay Estate||Uncredited|
|1939||The Night of Nights||Flower Delivery Man||Uncredited|
|1940||Li'l Abner||Hannibal Hoops|
|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||Salute for Three||First Sailor at Canteen Sailors' Table||Uncredited|
|1943||This Is the Army||Soldier||Uncredited|
|1943||Thank Your Lucky Stars||Doodles Weaver||Uncredited|
|1944||Shine on Harvest Moon||Elevator Man||Uncredited|
|1944||Two Girls and a Sailor||Soldier Playing Ocarina||Uncredited|
|1944||The Story of Dr. Wassell||Harold Hunter||Uncredited|
|1944||Since You Went Away||Convalescent Wishing for Watermelon||Uncredited|
|1944||Kansas City Kitty||Joe||Uncredited|
|1944||The Singing Sheriff||Ivory||Uncredited|
|1944||That's My Baby!||Butler||Uncredited|
|1944||The Merry Monahans||Farmer||Uncredited|
|1944||San Fernando Valley||Hot Dog Salesman||Uncredited|
|1944||National Barn Dance||Musical Team Member||Uncredited|
|1944||And Now Tomorrow||Charlie||Uncredited|
|1945||Hockey Homicide||Narrator||Voice role|
|1948||Superman||Admin Bldg Guard at Metropolis University||Chapter 9|
|1949||Tennis Racquet||Radio Commentator||Voice role|
|1952||Because of You||Toy Dealer||Uncredited|
|1958||Hot Rod Gang||Wesley Cavendish|
|1958||The Tunnel of Love||Escort|
|1958||Frontier Gun||Eph Loveman|
|1959||The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock||Booster||Uncredited|
|1961||The Great Impostor||Farmer Hauling Fertilizer|
|1961||Ring of Fire||Mr. Hobart||Uncredited|
|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||Zebra in the Kitchen||Nearsighted Man|
|1967||The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin||Man in Bathtub||Uncredited|
|1967||The Spirit Is Willing||Booper Mellish|
|1967||Road to Nashville||Colonel Feetlebaum|
|1970||Which Way to the Front?||Van Koch||Uncredited|
|1971||The Zodiac Killer||Doc||Credited as Doddles Weaver|
|1972||Cancel My Reservation||Cactus, Deputy Sheriff|
|1972||A Ton of Grass Goes to Pot|
|1974||Macon County Line||Augie|
|1975||Trucker's Woman||Ben Turner||Alternative title: Truckin' Man|
|1975||The Wild McCullochs||Pop Holson|
|1975||White House Madness||Supreme Court Justice|
|1975||Fugitive Lovers||Roy Dibbs|
|1976||Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood||Man in Mexican Film|
|1976||Cat Murkil and the Silks||Kelso|
|1977||The Great Gundown||Baggage Man||Alternative title: Savage Red, Outlaw White|
|1977||Mule Feathers||Hotel Manager|
|1981||Earthbound||Sterling||(final film role)|
|1956||Sheriff of Cochise||Joe Heap||Episode: "Caine and Abel"|
|1957||The Pied Piper of Hamelin||First Counselor||Television film|
|1958||Club Oasis||Sea Captain||2 episodes|
|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"|
|1962||"The Joey Bishop Show"||Mr. Johnson||Episode: The Big Date|
|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"|
|1971||The Jimmy Stewart Show||Halsted||Episode: "Pro Bono Publico"|
|1976||Banjo Hackett: Roamin' Free||Old Turkey||Television film|
|1976||Starsky and Hutch||Eddie Hoyle|
|1979||Fantasy Island||Blindman||Episode: "Spending Spree/The Hunted"|
In popular culture
- Weaver's horse race routine has been quoted and parodied by many performers over the years.
- 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.
- Young, Jordan R. (2004). Spike Jones off the record: the man who murdered music. BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-012-7.
- Current Biography Yearbook. H. W. Wilson Co. 1956. p. 634.
- Lueck, Thomas J. (March 18, 2002). "Sylvester Weaver, 93, Dies; Created 'Today' and 'Tonight'". nytimes.com. p. 1. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- "The Life and Times of Doodles Weaver". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. August 17, 1957. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Kleiner, Dick (July 12, 1979). "Sigourney Weaver: A misfit". Sarasota Journal. pp. 7–B. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Interview by Sigourney Weaver, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, 8/25/08
- Sigourney Weaver – Weaver's Scottish Ancestry Mix-Up
- Joe Franklin's Encyclopedia of Comedians. Bell Pub. Co. 1985. p. 327. ISBN 0-517-46765-8.
- "Doodles Weaver makes a comeback". Boca Raton News. September 7, 1975. p. 9C. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
- "DOODLES WEAVER AT TIMES DINNER". The Los Angeles Times. December 17, 1950. p. B11.
- Spike Jones Murders Them All
- Dunning, John (1998). On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-507678-8.
- Corliss, Richard. "That Old Feeling: Hail, Harvey!" Time, May 5, 2004. Archived January 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- TV Party: Lost Kids Shows
- "BEAU PEEP WHISPERS". The Los Angeles Times. October 22, 1939. p. D4.
- "Comic Doodles Weaver's Wife Gets Decree". The Los Angeles Times. April 8, 1954. p. 2.
- "Doodles Weaver Marries". The New York Times. October 8, 1957.
- "'Doodles' Weaver death ruled suicide". The Modesto Bee. January 19, 1983. pp. A–12. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- "Weaver Buried". The Press-Courier. January 24, 1983. p. 3. Retrieved December 30, 2012.