Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Old Guy: It sounds crazy, I know, but you have to believe me. I'm Xander Harris. I'm you.
Xander: What do you mean, you're me?
Old Guy: I'm you. I'm you from the future.
Xander: Oh! From the future! For a minute I thought you were a nutball. But now that you're from the future...

R.I.P. George D. Wallace (Fake Xander from "Hells Bells")
From Indystar.com - By Dennis Mclellan - 2005-07-27th

Actor George D. Wallace, 88, dies

LOS ANGELES -- George D. Wallace, a versatile actor whose career ranged from starring as Commando Cody in the Republic serial "Radar Men from the Moon" to playing leading roles in Broadway musicals, has died. He was 88.

Wallace died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of complications following injuries when he fell during a vacation in Pisa, Italy, said his wife, actress Jane A. Johnston.

In a more than 50-year acting career, Wallace played character parts in some 80 films, including "Submarine Command," "Lifeguard," "Nurse Betty" and "Minority Report." He also made more than 125 TV guest appearances, ranging from "Hopalong Cassidy" and "Four Star Theater" to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Joan of Arcadia."

An eight-year Navy veteran, Wallace was tending bar in Hollywood in the late 1940s when gossip columnist Jimmy Fidler discovered him singing to the juke box for tips and helped launch his career in show business.

Wallace had made only a few small appearances in films and on TV when he went up for a character part and instead landed the starring role of Commando Cody in the 1952 motion picture serial "Radar Men from the Moon."

Film historian Bob Burns told The Times this week that while "Radar Men from the Moon" is "definitely not one of the better serials," it is a cult favorite among serial fans.

"It’s just a lot of fun," he said.

As Cody, the brilliant scientist, Wallace donned a leather jacket, a bullet-shaped, silver helmet and an atomic-powered rocket pack with an amazingly simple control panel on his chest: One dial said Up and Down; a second dial said Fast and Slow; and a third dial said On and Off.

The plot of the low-budget, 12-part serial had Cody and his two associates flying to the moon to investigate why strategic targets on Earth were being destroyed by an unknown weapon.

The dialogue included this exchange between Cody and his assistant, Joan Gilbert (played by Aline Towne), as they are about to board their rocket ship to the moon.

Cody: "I still think this is no trip for a woman."

Gilbert: "Now don’t start that again. You’ll be very glad to have someone along who can cook your meals."

Wallace was a onetime lumberjack and a bouncer who had been the light heavyweight champion of the Pacific Fleet before World War II.

It wasn’t until 1955 that the beautiful baritone voice that had impressed Fidler led to . a musical stage career for Wallace.

He was filming a small role in the science-fiction film "Forbidden Planet" when a casting director heard him singing between scenes and introduced him to Broadway composer Richard Rodgers.

Wallace made his Broadway debut appearing with opera star Helen Traubel in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s "Pipe Dream."

The singing actor went on to replace John Raitt in "The Pajama Game" when Raitt left to co-star in the 1957 film version of the hit Broadway musical.

Wallace also played the male lead opposite Gwen Verdon in "New Girl in Town" for which he was nominated for a New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award; and he played opposite Mary Martin in the Broadway musical "Jennie."

"He was a first-rate leading man," said Miles Kreuger, president of the Los Angeles-based Institute of the American Musical. "He had a wonderful voice and a wonderful masculine stage presence."

Wallace later appeared as King Arthur in a touring company of "Camelot," and he played the innkeeper in tours of "The Man of La Mancha."

"George was one of the finest actors that I played with in ’Camelot,"’ said Anne Jeffreys, who appeared with Wallace during runs of the musical in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., on Tuesday. "He brought a lot to the role, and he sang terrifically well. And he was such a dear person."

Wallace met Johnston, his wife of 40 years and his sole survivor, when they both appeared in the musical "The Most Happy Fella" at the Long Beach Civic Light Opera in 1963. They performed in numerous other musicals together, including productions of "Company," "Kiss Me Kate" and "Funny Girl."

Born in New York City in 1917, Wallace moved to McMechen, W.Va., where he worked in the coal mines and, while still a teenager, joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1936, he began a four-year stint in the Navy, which he rejoined during World War II.

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