Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lines & Fines & Sid Melton

Beloved character actor Sid Melton died on Nov. 2 at the age of 94.  I heard about Sid's death a few weeks ago while listening to the "Alex Bennett" radio show.  Alex mentioned that celebrities always seem to die in 3s, and the current deaths were Andy Rooney, Joe Frazier and Sid Melton.  Who doesn't fit in this group?  The first two!

Yup, that's Sid on the left.  If you ever enjoyed 1950s TV, then you often spotted Sid and said something like, "Oh, there's that guy again!"  I first knew him as sidekick "Ikky" on the Jet Jackson show.  Sid can be spotted unbilled from 1941's "Shadow of the Thin Man" to "White Heat," "Knock On Any Door" and "On the Town."  Features in which he did have a part were Sam Fuller's war classic "Steel Helmets," the sci-fi clunker "Lost Continent" and "Lemon Drop Kid" with Bob Hope.  His salary in all three of these was $140 per week.

"For years I auditioned for producers and directors who would fall on the floor laughing, but then I'd never hear from them again. Go ask them why I'm not working. Believe me, there's a lot more to working steadily than being a name and delivering the laughs. There's a certain--let's call it kowtowing--that I'm not prepared to do." -- Sid Melton

Sid was short at only 5-4, and remarkably ... remarkable looking, but we loved him anyways.  He provided long-standing comic relief for Danny Thomas on his classic TV show as Charlie Halper, owner of the Copa Club where Danny performed. Eventually Pat Carroll was added to the cast playing Halper's wife Bunny. Frequently kidding with the press, he told reporters he got the part of Charlie because Sid was the only person Thomas could find that was homelier than he was.

So Sid has passed on.  Name another character actor from the 1950s who is still with us.  OK, how about Frank Cady at age 96.  Frank played Doc Williams on Ozzie and Harriet and had numerous appearances   on Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres and Petticoat Junction.  But I defy you to recall the image of Frank Cady as easily as Sid's unforgettable kisser, so back to Sid...

I have a pretty incredible TV show called "Lines and Fines" thanks to my friend Derek Myers.  At first glance it seems to be a game show similar to "I've Got a Secret."  Then you think it's a spoof when they say at the very start, "The greatest brains in show business" which turn out to be Sid Melton, Mike Mazurki, Gretchen Wyler, George Tobias and quiz mistress Pat Tillman.  But no, it's really the world's first infomercial.  Every single question is about Admiral Refrigerators.  The inane questions and fake answers will leave your mouth agape.  Here is a short sample:

We sold the one and only episode of "Lines and Fines" to Alpha video some time ago, so look for it to someday appear as a bonus on some release or other.

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