SLIM PICKENS Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Slim Pickens                                                                   
Birth name:  Louis Burton (Bert) Lindley, Jr.                                         
Born: 29 June 1919 Kingsburg, California, U.S.                                       
Died: 8 December 1983 Modesto, California ,U.S.                                       
Slim Pickens (June 29, 1919 - December 8, 1983) was an American rodeo performer,     
and film and television actor, who epitomized the profane, tough, sardonic           
cowboy, but who is best remembered for his comic roles.                               
Pickens was born Louis Burton Lindley, Jr. in Kingsburg, California, the son of       
Louis B. Lindley, Sr. He was an excellent rider from age four and quit school to     
join the rodeo at age twelve. He was told that working in the rodeo would be "slim   
pickings" (very little money), giving him his name, but he did very well,             
eventually rising to become a well known rodeo clown one of the most dangerous       
jobs in show business.                                                               
After twenty years on the rodeo circuit, his distintive Oklahoma-Texas drawl (even   
though he was a lifelong Californian), his wide eyes and moon face, and his           
strong physical presence and grace gained him a role in the western Rocky             
Mountain (1950), starring Errol Flynn. He subsequently appeared in many westerns,     
playing both villains and comic sidekicks to the likes of Rex Allen.                 
His most noted role was as B-52 pilot Major T. J. "King" Kong in Dr. Strangelove.     
Stanley Kubrick cast Pickens after his first choice for the role of Major Kong,       
Peter Sellers, broke his leg and was unable to perform the role. Pickens was         
chosen because his accent and comic sense were perfect for the role of Kong, an       
absurdly patriotic and gung-ho B-52 commander. Pickens was not told that the         
movie was a black comedy, but was instructed to play the role straight. He was       
also not given the script to the entire film, but only those portions in which       
he played a part. Pickens is best remembered for three scenes:                       
Reading aloud to his crew the contents of their survival kits (possibly the           
first mention of condoms in a Hollywood film);                                       
The film ends with Pickens riding a dropped H-bomb to a certain death, as if the     
bomb were a rodeo bronco and waving his ten gallon hat. Its detonation will           
trigger World War III;                                                               
When he receives the definitive inflight order to bomb a strategic target within     
the USSR, he addresses his crew as follows:                                           
"Well, boys, I reckon this is it nuclear combat toe to toe with the Rooskies.         
Now look, boys, I ain't much of a hand at makin' speeches, but I got a pretty         
fair idea that something doggone important is goin' on back there. And I got a       
fair idea the kinda personal emotions that some of you fellas may be thinkin.'       
Heck, I reckon you wouldn't even be human bein's if you didn't have some pretty       
strong personal feelin's about nuclear combat. I want you to remember one thing,     
the folks back home is a-countin' on you and by golly, we ain't about to let 'em     
down. I tell you something else, if this thing turns out to be half as important     
as I figure it just might be, I'd say that you're all in line for some important     
promotions and personal citations when this thing's over with. That goes for         
ever' last one of you regardless of your race, color or your creed. Now let's         
get this thing on the hump we got some flyin' to do."                                 
Pickens credited Dr. Strangelove as a turning point in his career. Before 'Dr.       
Strangelove' he was "HEY YOU" on sets, and after it, he was addressed as "Mr.         
Pickens." "After 'Dr. Strangelove,' the roles, the dressing rooms, and the           
checks all started gettin' bigger." He claimed to be amazed at the difference a       
single movie could make.                                                             
Pickens was offered the part of Dick Hallorann in Stanley Kubrick's 1980             
adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining. He refused, saying that filming with       
Kubrick on Dr. Strangelove was too strenuous. He later relented, saying that he       
would appear in the film as long as Kubrick was contractually required to shoot       
Pickens' scenes in fewer than 100 takes a shot. However, the role eventually         
went to Scatman Crothers.                                                             
Another memorable role was that of Taggart, head of the gang of cowboy thugs in       
Mel Brooks' classic 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles:                                     
"What in the Wide Wide World of Sports is a-goin' on here?! I hired you people       
to try to git a little track laid, not to jump around like a bunch of Kansas         
City faggots!"                                                                       
The next year, Pickens was in another western, playing the evil limping bank         
robber in Walt Disney's The Apple Dumpling Gang. He provided the voice of B.O.B.     
in the late '70's Disney Sci-Fi movie thriller The Black Hole. Pickens also lent     
his voice to the 1938 children's radio show The Cinnamon bear, where he plays a       
singing cowboy.                                                                       
He also lent his voice to the 1975 studio recording of Bobby Bridger's               
collection of Western ballads A Ballad of the West, in which he narrated part 1,     
Seekers of the Fleece, the story of Jim Bridger and the Mountain Man Fur Trade       
Era. Slim's interest in this project blossomed in 1970 when his daughter, Daryle     
Ann, was cast in Max Evans independent film The Wheel. Evans had also hired Jim       
Bridger's great, grand-nephew, Bobby Bridger, to sing the theme song of his film.     
Aware of her father's interest in mountain men, Daryle Ann set up a meeting for       
them, and Slim immediately volunteered to narrate the heroic couplets. In July,       
Bobby, Slim, and the Lost Gonzo Band recorded Seekers of the Fleece outside of       
Denver in a tipi studio, where Slim's old mountain man pal Timberjack Joe had         
decorated with grizzly bear robes and beaver pelts to set the mood. The pair         
kept the musicians entertained with yarns, and everyone was happy when Ramblin       
Jack Elliot showed up and joined in to help with background vocals.                   
Pickens appeared in dozens of films, including, Old Oklahoma Plains (1952), Down     
Laredo Way (1953), One-Eyed Jacks (1961) with Marlon Brando, Major Dundee (1965)     
with Charlton Heston, the remake of Stagecoach (1966; Pickens played the driver,     
portrayed in the 1939 film by Andy Devine), The Cowboys (1972) with John Wayne,       
Ginger in the Morning (1974) with Fred Ward, Blazing Saddles (1974), Poor Pretty     
Eddy (1975), Rancho Deluxe (1975), The Getaway, with Steve McQueen, Tom Horn (1980)   
also with McQueen, An Eye for an Eye (1966) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) 
in a small but memorable and moving role. He also had a small role in Steven         
Spielberg's 1941 (1979) in scenes with Toshiro Mifune and Christopher Lee. In         
1978, Pickens lent his voice to theme park Silver Dollar City as a character         
named Rube Dugan for a ride called "Rube Dugan's Diving Bell". The Diving Bell       
was a simulation ride that took passengers on a journey to the bottom of Lake         
Silver and back. The ride was in operation from 1978 to 1984. He also played         
werewolf sheriff Sam Newfield in The Howling(1981).                                   
He also appeared many times on television, both in guest shots, and in regular       
roles in The Legend of Custer, Bonanza, Hee Haw, B.J. and the Bear, and Filthy       
Rich (1982). He played the owner of station WJM, Wild Jack Monroe, on the Mary       
Tyler Moore Show.                                                                     
In 1982, Pickens was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the         
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.