Tuesday, May 01, 2007

R.I.P.: Tom Poston (1921-2007)

Throughout a stage, screen and TV career than spanned six decades, Tom Poston delighted millions with his self-effacing buffoonery. In the early ‘60s, producer-director William Castle – of all people! – attempted to elevate the affable comic actor to the rarefied realm of movie stardom by casting him as the lead in two black-and-white B-movies I fondly remember from the Saturday matinees of my misspent youth: Zotz! (1962), an amusing fantasy about a professor who obtains a magical coin capable of allowing its owner the ability to freeze time -- I think I still have a plastic replica of that coin, a trinket handed out to ticketbuyers at the Pitt Theatre in New Orleans one long-ago afternoon -- and The Old Dark House (1963), a tongue-in-cheeky remake of the 1932 James Whale comedy-thriller that would later kinda-sorta inspire The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Both films fizzled at the box-office, however. So, gee whiz, Poston had to content himself with being a splendidly adept, steadily employed and widely beloved supporting player in a variety of venues for the rest of his days. He made his mark, and he will be missed.

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