Sunday, October 19, 2008

White Hats

House Peters, Jr died last week of pneumonia. He was 92 years old.

Probably best known as the original Mr. Clean form the 50's and 60's,
House was a character actor who shared the screen with Gene Autry and
Roy Rogers in numerous westerns, as well as roles in such shows as
Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, Lassie, and Gunsmoke.

I met him two years ago where, at ninety years old he was appearing in
a charity event with other actors from the old Gene Autry and Roy
Rogers TV shows and movies. He signed autographs and stood for photos
with anybody who asked. Not content to sit behind a table in the
shade, House walked around on the uneven dirt of the event grounds and
spoke with people wherever he found them. He told humorous anecdotes
about old Hollywood, and of working with Gene and Roy on the old cowboy
pictures he loved so much.

The thermometer hovered near one hundred degrees and the crowds were
light that day, and for a stretch of about two hours we talked about
all manner of things. Here was a man who had enjoyed a lifelong career
in a business known as much for its ugliness as for its glamour and had
somehow remained untouched by it.

As the day drew to a close, House sought me out to shake my hand.
"Hope to see you again sometime down the trail," he said.

In the old days he was usually cast as a heavy, a bad guy. It used to
bother him, being the black hat, he wanted to be a good guy. I'm
writing this to set the record straight. House Peters, Jr. was one of
the good guys. Believe it.

No comments: