Montgomery Pittman

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Montgomery Pittman
Born (1917-03-01)March 1, 1917
Louisiana (parish unknown)
Died June 26, 1962(1962-06-26) (aged 45)
Cause of death Cancer
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California
Residence Los Angeles, California
Occupation Screenwriter, director, actor

Montgomery Pittman (March 1, 1917 – June 26, 1962) was a television writer, director, and actor. Among his notable credits are his work writing and directing various episodes of The Twilight Zone, Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.

Pittman was born in Louisiana and reared in Arkansas.[1]:138 [2] He left home and joined a carnival as a snake oil salesman.[1]:139 He made his way to New York City, hoping for at least a small Broadway role. There he met actor Steve Cochran, who hired him as caretaker of his Los Angeles home around 1950.[1]:139

In Los Angeles he tried to break into acting, getting small, mostly uncredited film and TV roles through 1951 and '52. Around this time, Cochran introduced Pittman to Maurita Gilbert Jackson, the widowed mother of three child actors: Curtis, Gary and Sherry Jackson.[3] A romance developed, and in 1952 Pittman married Maurita Jackson in a small ceremony on June 4 in Torrance, California, with Sherry serving as flower girl and younger brother Gary as ring-bearer; Cochran himself was Pittman's best man.[4] Approximately a year later, stepdaughter Sherry would land the role of Terry Williams on the sitcom Make Room For Daddy, which would last for five years and give her a measure of stardom.

By 1954, Pittman had turned from acting to screenwriting, sometimes writing material in which he could play small guest roles. He began with anthology shows such as Four Star Playhouse and Schlitz Playhouse, and at that time was billed as Monte Pittman.

In 1955 Cochran hired Pittman to write his next film, Come Next Spring, the first that Cochran produced himself.[5] Sherry played the part of Cochran's mute daughter Annie Ballot,[6] a role Pittman wrote specifically for his step-daughter.[7]

By this point, Pittman's writing career moved into higher gear, as he started working as a writer for ABC/Warner Brothers TV shows such as 77 Sunset Strip, Sugarfoot, Maverick, Cheyenne, Surfside 6, and Colt .45. He also wrote for NBC's The Deputy, and CBS's The Twilight Zone.

By 1958 (and now consistently billed as Montgomery Pittman) he had also branched into directing for television, in addition to continuing his work as a writer and actor. Pittman often directed his own scripts, as well as scripts by other writers.

Pittman frequently cast his stepdaughter Sherry Jackson in television episodes he wrote and/or directed. Jackson appeared in episodes of 77 Sunset Strip, The Rifleman, Surfside 6 and The Twilight Zone that were both written and directed by Pittman, as well as episodes of Maverick and Riverboat that Pittman wrote but did not direct.

Montgomery and Maurita's son, Robert John Pittman, was born in 1956. Robert John also had a brief career as a child actor, debuting on a Montgomery Pittman directed episode of 77 Sunset Strip in 1960 before settling into a recurring role on Dennis The Menace as Dennis' friend Seymour Williams.

Although he continued his occasional acting career, Pittman himself never appeared as an actor in a TV episode he directed.

Regarding Pittman's sudden illness and death, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., lead star of 77 Sunset Strip recalled that his friend Pittman became ill at forty-five with "a tumor on the side of his neck that grew rapidly to grapefruit-size. He had it excised, but it left a gaping hole, which he covered with a kerchief". The tumor was treated as cancer but did not go into remission, and Pittman soon died. Zimbalist delivered a eulogy at Pittman's funeral. Will Hutchins, another friend of Pittman's whom he attributed to having saved the Sugarfoot series for its two final seasons, was asked to be a pallbearer but declined because as a teenager Hutchins had dropped the casket of a relative and feared he might do so again.[8]

Pittman is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Zimbalist, Efrem (2003). My Dinner of Herbs. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 138–144. ISBN 9780879109882. Retrieved 2015-02-02. 
  2. ^ Doubtful; see Talk. The name was probably a pseudonym, and he probably wasn't born in Louisiana or in 1917. There is no Montgomery Pittman in either the 1920 or 1930 census, and no white male Pittmans born in Louisiana in 1917 and living in Arkansas or Oklahoma in 1920 or 1930.
  3. ^ "Human Interest Story Is Behind Fox Lodi Film". Lodi News-Sentinel. Lodi, California. June 14, 1956. p. 2. Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Writer, Starlet Wed in Torrance" (PDF). Torrance Herald. Torrance, California. 12 June 1952. p. 17. Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Will Hutchins on Montgomery Pittman". Western Clippings. January 2013. Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  6. ^ "CMBA Blogathon: Come Next Spring (1956)". Jim Lane's Cinemadrome. May 22, 2014. Retrieved February 1, 2015. Matt assures her that he's been sober for three years, then he asks about Annie. "Is she...Did she ever get over...?" "Nope," says Bess, "still mute. Cain't utter a sound." 
  7. ^ "A Happy Family Affair Inspires a Screen Hit". The News and Eastern Townships Advocate. St. Johns, Quebec. September 6, 1956. p. 17. Retrieved February 1, 2015. Her dad, Montgomery Pittman, wrote the screenplay and he built the script around little Sherry. ... [I]t turned out to be one of the most dramatic roles ever offered a youngster and was planned as such. ... [F]or her work in this show [she] received the "Gold Star Award" from Mars, Inc. 
  8. ^ "Somewhat Forgotten Figure to Some Extent Remembered: Notes on Television Director, Script Writer, and Occasional Actor Montgomery Pittman". brightlightsfilm.com. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Montgomery Pittman". findagrave.com. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  • Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1989 (third edition)

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