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Doodles Weaver

Doodles Weaver on The Andy Griffith Show
Born Winstead Sheffield Weaver
May 11, 1911(1911-05-11)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Died January 17, 1983 (aged 71)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Other name(s) Doodles Win Weaver
Winstead Weaver

Winstead Sheffield "Doodles" Weaver (May 11, 1911 – January 17, 1983) was an American comedian on radio and television. He was the brother of NBC-TV executive Sylvester "Pat" Weaver and the uncle of actress Sigourney Weaver. Born in Los Angeles, Weaver attended Stanford University, where he was a contributor to the Stanford Chaparral humor magazine. He committed suicide on January 17, 1983, shooting himself with a gun at the age of 71.[1] Rudy Vallee delivered the eulogy at his funeral.

Contents

Radio and records

After Weaver signed on as a member of Spike Jones's band, the City Slickers, in 1946, he was heard on Jones's 1947-49 radio shows. He 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.[2]

One of Weaver's most enduringly popular recordings is the Spike Jones parody of Rossini's William Tell Overture. Weaver gives a close impression of the gravelly-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 an apparent nag called "Feetlebaum", who begins at long odds, runs almost the entire race a distant last—and yet suddenly emerges as the winner. Weaver also portrayed a character in the Jones troupe called Professor Feetlebaum. 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.

Madness

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

Among the funny stuff: Doodles Weaver's strict copyediting 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." [3]

Films and TV

Appearing on The Colgate Comedy Hour, Weaver did 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, telecast from June to September with Weaver, his wife Lois, vocalist Marion Colby and the comedy team of Dick Dana and Peanuts Mann. The show's premise involved Doodles 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 off for the summer.[4]

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 voiceover narration and minimal sets.[4] 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 (1963) as man helping the Tippi Hedren character with her rental boat, and Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor (1963) and a quick cameo in the 1963 blockbuster It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. His last movie was Under the Rainbow (1981).

In 1966, Weaver recorded a novelty version of "Eleanor Rigby" — singing, mixing up the words, insulting and interrupting, while playing the piano, injuring his hand and getting booed while his doodle hurt.

Weaver's book, Golden Spike, remains unpublished.[5]

The four DVD collector's boxed set, Spike Jones: The Legend, was released October 30, 2007. It features Weaver's appearances on 1951-52 Spike Jones TV specials.[6]

Legacy

Doodles' horse race number has been quoted and parodied by many performers over the years.

  • A children's board game called "Homestrech" featured horses named Cabbage, Banana, Girdle and the misspelled/simplified "Beetle Bohm". The commercial was a direct lift of Weaver's number, with Cabbage "leading by a head", and Beetle Bohm eventually winning the race.

Quotations

  • "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 sixteen tons and what do you get...FILTHY!" (from "Elanor Rigby")

References

  1. ^ "Doodles Weaver, 71". New York Times. 1983-01-18. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40A14FC3A5C0C7B8DDDA80894DB484D81. Retrieved 2008-06-26. "Doodles Weaver, a rubber-faced comedian and musician who helped pioneer improvisational television comedy with his show in 1951, has died of what the police believed were self-inflicted gunshot wounds. He was 71 years old. Mr. Weaver also pioneered comedy recordings in the 50's."  
  2. ^ Dunning, John (1998). On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-507678-8.
  3. ^ Corliss, Richard. "That Old Feeling: Hail, Harvey!" Time, May 5, 2004.
  4. ^ a b TV Party: Lost Kids Shows
  5. ^ Doodles Weaver at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Amazon

External links

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