I returned to California after being in Europe for nearly two years, which is where I filmed No, My Darling Daughter. Upon my return, it was tough to find parts after such a long absence from Hollywood, so I took the part of the detective in, the now cult status movie, “The Undertaker and His Pals“.
“The Undertaker and His Pals” was not the title of the film or the story when I was hired to play the lead as a private detective. The film was shot in 1966 and what I remembered about the film is I was hired to find what had happened to several women who had disappeared and later found dead, and one of them was a secretary of mine, played by the lovely Warrene Ott.
I first saw “The Undertaker and His Pals” a few days ago, (August 18, 2011). I do remember it was to be a four-week production, which is one of the few things I remember about the making of this film. The following story over shadowed all else of that picture for me.
We had been filming for about three-weeks and I had tickets to the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants baseball game for that Friday evening. I had invited the Producer, David Graham to join me, my dad, and a buddy of mine, to go to the game.
Sandy Koufax was pitching and the stadium was packed with fans for both sides. Koufax pitched a two hitter and the Dodgers won. You can imagine what it was like with fifty thousand happy and unhappy fans trying to find their cars in the over crowded parking area. When we finally found my car it was blocked with several other parked cars. I asked my dad to drive so I could help guide him out of our spot. I noticed a car with four boys in it and the driver decided to try and run over me. I bounced off of the front bumper, got up and took off my brand new Alpaca sweater and tossed it toward my car.
I walked over to the driver and said, are you crazy? He came back with a couple of words I didn’t like, picking a fight, so I grabbed him by his tie and twisted it and yanked him halfway out of the car. My dad was on the other side of the car with my friend Mike. My dad said, “boy’s stay in the car”. They said “f**k you” to my dad, and dad pushed Mike to the side, and the three came at my dad. Approximately ten seconds later, all three of those boys were on the ground holding their bloody mouths. While all of this action was going on the Producer, David Graham was screaming “STOP! STOP!” Dad and Mike got back into my car and I shoved the guy I had by the throat, back inside of his car and I picked up my sweater and drove out of the stadium.
While driving David started yelling at me for causing a fight and I was jeopardizing the film we were shooting, and he continued, “what if you got hurt you dumb son of a bitch.” I just said, “Hey, watch your mouth. We’re all fine and no one was hurt, so lighten up.”
When I appeared on the set Monday morning he told me I was fired. I said, “Are you serious?” He replied, “Get off of my set.” He moved closer to me and I said, “I don’t know what you’re thinking, but if I were you I’d get your ass in your office and make out a check for two weeks pay.” He said, “f**k you”, and I answered, “if I were you I’d dummy up or I’ll shut this picture down.” He knew all I had to do was call SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and the picture would be shut down for non-payment. He changed his tune and made out a check to me and I left the sound stage.
I do give them a lot of credit for turning the picture around to a humorous, outrageous, comedy/horror movie. I had many laugh out loud moments while finally viewing, “The Undertaker and His Pals“.
*Due to the overwhelming amount of requests for information, Jim has decided to devote a page to this film, “The Undertaker and His Pals“. If you have any information, pictures, posters, etc., that you would like posted here, please be sure to contact Jim and he will send you an email address were you can send your digital items. You will be credited with your name and a link to your website, blog, or site of your choice.