Monday 29 June 2015


Well, we can't let the birthday of Slim Pickens (1919) go unmarked. Born Louis Burton Lindley Jr, Slim adopted his stage name when he was a teenage rodeo rider - an activity of which his father strongly disapproved. When the manager of a rodeo told young Louis that there would be 'slim pickings' for him that day, he entered the competition as 'Slim Pickens' (and won himself $400). He was a rodeo rider for 20 years before his film career began, and he immediately became a ubiquitous support actor in westerns - one who could do his own horse-riding stunts. As the archetypal cowboy sidekick (with a Texan-Oklahoman drawl that belied his Californian origins), he appeared in countless horse operas and oaters - but he is chiefly remembered for two comic roles: in Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove, as Major T.J. 'King' Kong, riding a falling atom bomb, whooping and waving his hat rodeo-style - and in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles, literally breaking the fourth wall in this classic scene.  On close examination some might detect an element of political incorrectness in Brooks' portrayal of the French Mistake dance troupe and its director (the great Dom DeLuise)...

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