Tuesday, July 19, 2016

DOODLES WEAVER - Give a Horse a Man He Can Ride!

Unlike his brother Pat (president of NBC and father to Sigourney Weaver), Winstead Weaver looked like a "doodlebug" (his own mother's opinion!). He acted like one, being a cornball comic/singer all his life.

The dude gained fame with a manic "William Tell Overture" horse race routine on a Spike Jones novelty single. A sequel, music based on "Dance of the Hours" offered a car race. Doodles also loved spoonerisms, mispronouncing song lyrics in frantic gibberish till he'd clear his mind with a bellowing "OOOOH!" That, along with deliberately awful jokes, made a hit out of "Man on the Flying Trapeze," also while a member of the Spike Jones band. On that single you can hear Spike ask "Are you in voice, Winstead?" at the beginning.

After many years with Spike Jones, Doodles was fired for a lethal combo of alcoholism and natural nutsiness. He had bit parts in movies, notably the 1940 version of "Li'l Abner," and in 1951 prevailed upon brother Pat to help him land a summer TV show on NBC. He turned up on an episode of Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" (photo above, right). After Doodles admitted his profession was a comedian, and that he was looking for work, Groucho sympathetically wished him luck. In 1965 Weaver briefly starred in the goofy "Day with Doodles" each episode just six minutes long, ready to be slotted anywhere in a daytime line-up, or used to give a bathroom break to some local kiddie show host.

Throughout the 60's The Dood took minor roles in sitcoms, from "Dick Van Dyke Show" to "The Monkees" to "Batman" (as "Crier Tuck). His curly hair, tubular head and large eyes helped the comic ambience of any scene, even if his lines were few.

The older he got, the more bitter and disillusioned he became. Friends and fans knew that he was unhappy with his health, and despite of or because of alcohol and pills, be simply couldn't stand to live more than a few weeks into 1983.

Not too many years before his suicide, Doodles went into the studio one last time to make a solo disc. He offered some updated Spooner routines (Dr. Demento enjoyed the somewhat appalling version of "Eleanor Rigby") and he even tried to work his dentures through his classic Feetlebaum routine...which was now more of a trotter than a horse race.

Here's a double dose of Doodles, rare radio transcriptions, including, of course, his Spoonerized "Man on the Flying Trapeze."

All Weaver wanted was to get some laughs, and even if you're not a corn-comedy buff, you'll listen to these things and admit, he Dood it.


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