Whoosh! Issue 89 - May 2004


By Lee Reams
Content © 2004 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 2004 held by Whoosh!
5507 words

Introduction (and Disclaimer) (01)
Six Degrees of . . . (02-04)
Two Degrees of Lucy Lawless (05-11)
The Sequel: Three Degrees of Lucy Lawless (12-22)
Three Degrees of Renée O'Connor (23-29)
Conclusion (30-31)


Introduction (and Disclaimer)

Hi, I'm Gabrielle, and I'm a Xena addict

Gabrielle was always into introductions and disclaimers

[01] The following article contains some pieces of information that were recently scraped from near the bottom of Argo's bottomless saddlebag -- and perhaps should have stayed there.

Six Degrees of . . .

Xena gives the cold shoulder to the nth degree

It was probably six degrees when they filmed this scene

[02] ATTENTION ALL XENAFANS! Here's some information that you should all know, for it can save your life, or your sanity, but maybe not both. After all, next to the heartbreak of psoriasis, one of the worse things that can happen to anyone is to fall into a time warp and be forced to play a certain game that a few years ago was all the rage -- for week or two, anyway. I refer, of course, to "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." Should that dread event occur, take heart from the vital information provided below and nowhere else, for it will not only allow you to triumph in that game but also permit you to display your allegiance to Xena: Warrior Princess. As if that were not enough, we must all bear in mind that none less than the idiot semi-savant of the Xenaverse, Joxer the Mighty, invented the original version of the game. It was first publicized in while he was cooling his heels in the dungeon of the Hestian temple in WARRIOR…PRIESTESS…TRAMP, a dungeon being an amenity that no Greek temple could be without, especially a Hestian one.

[03] Before going on, a caveat: please note that following connections all involve actors and actors only. There are no directors, producers, screenwriters, camera operators, best boys, continuity girls, key grips, catering-truck drivers, talent agents, civil or criminal attorneys, spouses (ex or current), domestic partners (ditto), one-night stands, hairdressers and their cousins, drug connections, [Note 01] rehab therapists, gofers, hangers-on, and other non-actors who are nevertheless essential to the film and TV industry.

[04] Here goes:

  1. Kevin Bacon was in Tremors, the Citizen Kane of giant subterranean wormlike monster movies, with Fred Ward;
  2. Fred Ward portrayed Gus Grissom in The Right Stuff, which also starred Jeff Goldblum as a NASA recruiter, general dogsbody and comic-relief provider (in a film that already had too much of that);
  3. Jeff Goldblum starred in Jurassic Park with Sam Neill;
  4. and, here's the interesting part, Sam Neill was in The Rainbow Warrior, whose cast also included none other than Lucy Lawless herself. Admittedly, in much of that made-for-TV epic you would have missed her if you happen to blink a lot, or perhaps even if you don't, and in one scene she is merely a darker spot in a dark cabin, but she is much more visible in the last third or so of the movie. Indeed, in one scene she provides a particularly effective piece of acting that presaged greater things.

Two Degrees of Lucy Lawless

Lucy can freeze entire press corps with a single glance

She can feel the degrees even as you read...

[05] The game gets even more interesting at this point. We could take the obvious route and connect Kevin Bacon, via Lucy Lawless, with every actor who appeared on Xena: Warrior Princess. That, after all, would connect Bacon not only with the likes of Renee O'Connor, Hudson Leick, Kevin Sorbo, Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi (I'm sure KB would be really glad to know about that one (just kidding, Ted!)), and the rest of the usual suspects but also with just about every actor in New Zealand -- many of whom, mind you, could actually (a) act and (b) manage an almost convincing American accent. [Note 02]

[06] The much more interesting course, however, is to hark back to Lawless' breakout role in the Renaissance Pictures blockbuster Hercules and the Amazon Women -- not to be confused with "Hercules and the Amazon Men," by the way. In this epic Lawless was with Anthony Quinn (in more ways than one), who portrayed Zeus in that film -- trust Zeus to find himself with the hottest of the Amazons -- and five other Renaissance Pictures Hercules TV movies. Quinn appeared in some 158 films between 1936 and 2002, some of them great and other considerably less than that (after all, he was in Hercules and the Amazon Women (just kidding again, Rob and Sam {well, sort of}!)). That being so, let's see some of the actors who co-starred with Quinn and who hence are just two degrees from the Warrior Princess' Kiwi alter ego.

[07] For starters let's go back to 1993 and the not-terribly-distinguished Last Action Hero. In addition to Quinn, we find none other than the current governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, supported by F. Murray Abraham, Art Carney, and Ian McKellen. Let's go back two more years to the even-less-distinguished Mobsters. Its cast also included Christian Slater, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Michael Gambon (the villain of Open Range and hero of Longitude).

[08] Two of Quinn's lesser films of note were 1980's Lion of the Desert, which also starred Oliver Reed, Rod Steiger and John Gielgud (of all people), and 1965's A High Wind in Jamaica. Also appearing in the latter were James Coburn and Gert "Goldfinger" Fröbe. Also in 1965 Quinn appeared as Kublai Khan in Marco the Magnificent, a film that might charitably be described as a piece of crap, that also starred Orson Welles (for about two minutes) and Horst Buchholz (as Marco Polo). (I don't know about you, but whenever I think of Marco Polo, the image of Horst Buchholz immediately springs to mind.)

[09] Turning mercifully to Quinn's better films, why not start with what is probably the best of them, Lawrence of Arabia (1962)? Its cast also included Peter O'Toole (duh), Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, [Note 03] Omar Sharif, [Note 04] José Ferrer, Arthur Kennedy, and I. S. Johar, the great Indian actor. Another of Quinn's better movies from the same period was The Guns of Navarone (1961), which also starred Gregory Peck, David Niven, Stanley Baker, [Note 05] Anthony Quayle (also in Lawrence), Richard Harris (briefly yet memorably), and James Robertson Justice. [Note 06] A third movie from this period, Barabbas (1962), had its script problems, but Quinn nevertheless gave an excellent performance; it also starred Jack Palance, Ernest Borgnine, Katy Jurado, [Note 07] and about every actor in Italy. Two Quinn films from the 1950s worth noting are Last Train From Gun Hill (1959), which also starred Kirk Douglas and Carolyn Jones, and Viva Zapata! (1952), starring Marlon Brando and Dr No himself, Joseph Wiseman.

[10] Again mercifully, we shall conclude this part of the lesson with four movies. In 1942 Quinn played Crazy Horse in They Died With Their Boots On, a film that had more in common with Xena: Warrior Princess than you might think; they were both wildly historically inaccurate yet were vastly entertaining. It also starred Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Sydney Greenstreet. In 1941 Quinn appeared in Blood and Sand, with Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth, John Carradine, George "Superman" Reeves, J. Carroll Naish -- a character actor who appeared in 191 movies and may have portrayed more members of different nationalities than even Quinn himself -- and Laird Cregar. [Note 08] In 1940 Quinn appeared with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour in the semi-classic Road to Singapore. Finally, in 1937 Quinn had a small role in a piece of wasted celluloid called The Last Train From Madrid that nevertheless had an astonishing cast: Lamour (again), Lew Ayres, Gilbert Roland, Lionel Atwill, and--as an extra in a crowd--Cecil B. DeMille.

[11] That's right, not only are all these people six degrees from Kevin Bacon, but more importantly an as yet not-very-prolific actress from New Zealand is only two degrees removed from the likes of Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Olivia DeHavilland, Marlon Brando, Gregory Peck, Bob Hope, Rita Hayworth, Kirk Douglas, Sydney Greenstreet and Cecil B. DeMille. To that list we may add two of the best Bond villains ever and a world-renowned comic book (and early TV) superhero.

The Sequel: Three Degrees of Lucy Lawless

You're gonna replace the blue screen, right?  My mom won't know I'm in Burbank, will she?

Here Lucy Lawless is one degree from Stonehenge

[12] Let's forget Kevin Bacon at this point and the play the much more interesting game of who's three degrees from Lucy Lawless.

[13] Anthony Quinn was not the only major actor who appeared in the same movie as Lucy Lawless. Remember The Rainbow Warrior? The big-name star in that film was Jon Voight; he played the chief Greenpeace activist, with Lawless portraying his apparent second-in-command--rather like her role in Hercules and the Amazon Women, come to think of it.

[14] Voight's first big role was, of course, in Midnight Cowboy (1969), thereby putting Dustin Hoffman within two degrees of Lucy Lawless, but for our purposes perhaps his most interesting role was in The Odessa File (1974), which also starred Maximilian Schell and Derek Jacobi. Schell's most famous role was in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961); the cast also included Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift, and -- well down the cast list, to be sure -- William Shatner. Schell was also in the TV miniseries Peter the Great. That epic, which had only slightly more historical accuracy than Xena: Warrior Princess, also featured Laurence Olivier, Vanessa Redgrave, Trevor Howard, Elke Sommer, and the original Bond girl, Ursula Andress. Schell also appeared in A Bridge Too Far (1977) with Lawrence Olivier (again), Liv Uhlman, Ryan O'Neal, James Caan, Robert Redford, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Edward Fox, Sean Connery, Dirk Bogarde, and Michael Caine.

[15] Two years later, Schell was one of those unfortunate actors trapped aboard The Avalanche Express; his fellow victims included Robert Shaw (another Bond villain in From Russia With Love), Lee Marvin, Linda Evans, (Messer Marco Polo himself) Horst Bucholz, and Joe Namath. That's right, Lucy Lawless is only three degrees removed from Broadway Joe -- almost close enough to smell the alcohol fumes.

[16] So much for Maximilian Schell; let's see what Derek Jacobi, arguably the greatest living stage actor, can do for us when it comes to film. His most famous role, as Claudius in I, Claudius, brings us into Xena territory since Claudius was the successor of Caligula. It also starred Brian Blessed as Augustus, [Note 09] George Baker, [Note 10] as Tiberius, John Hurt as Caligula, Patrick Stewart (another connection with the Star Trek franchise) as Sejanus, and John Rhys-Davies as Macro. The last has been in some 119 films, most recently in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, most famously as Sallah in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in addition to playing General Pushkin in the Bond film The Living Daylights and appearing in the James Clavell-based miniseries Noble House and Shogun. Jacobi also had a small role in a 1978 film I rather liked, yet which everyone else apparently despised, The Medusa Touch, starring Richard Burton (produced by Sir Lew Grade, often maligned as "Sir Low Grade"). To give one final example, Jacobi portrayed Hitler in Inside the Third Reich (1982). This starred Rutger Hauer, briefly escaping from the series of dreadful films that has plagued his career (which is what you get when you take on movie roles rejected by Bruce Campbell), Trevor Howard (again), John Gielgud [Note 11] (again), and two more refugees from bad movies, Randy Quaid and Robert Vaughan. The last, of course, starred in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a series that, like XWP, was largely destroyed by its own producers (and their contempt for its fans).

[17] Returning to Jon Voight once more, one of his best-known roles was in The Runaway Train (1985); it also starred Eric Roberts, the great character actor John P. Ryan, and Rebecca De Mornay. The last also appeared in a made-for-TV epic called By Dawn's Early Light (1990); its cast also included James Earl Jones, Martin Landau, Darren McGaven, Rip Torn, and Powers Boothe. The last gave perhaps his best performance going up against an enemy that Xena might have opposed had the show lasted another season or two when he played the Roman general Flavius Aetius in the miniseries Attila (2001). [Note 12]Powers Boothe actually brings this paragraph in full circle because in Tombstone he memorably played Curly Bill Brocious; back in 1967 a young actor in his first movie portrayed that same Curly Bill in Hour of the Gun; that young actor's name was Jon Voight. We shall have a bit more to say about that movie later.

[18] Since Sydney Greenstreet is only two degrees removed from Lucy Lawless, this means that all his co-stars in Casablanca--Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Conrad Veldt, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson--are only three degrees away from her (Gee, Joxer would have needed all of two seconds to figure out one).

[19] Greenstreet also appeared in The Hucksters (1947), with Clark Gable, Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner, Adolphe Menjou, Edward Arnold, and Keenan Wynn. One of Greenstreet's best roles was in Flamingo Road (1949), which also starred Joan Crawford and Zachary Scott. His last role, also in 1949, was Malaya, with Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, and Lionel Barrymore.

[20] Before kicking this section in the head, let's see what we can dig up about four actors mentioned in the previous section: I. S. Johar, Gert Fröbe, Lionel Atwill, and Gilbert Roland. I. S. Johar was in Death on the Nile (1978), with Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, Jane Birkin, Lois Chiles (the Bond girl in the worst Bond film ever made, Moonraker), Bette Davis, David Niven, George Kennedy, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, Olivia Hussey, Maggie Smith, and Jack Warden.

[21] Gert Fröbe, before playing Auric Goldfinger, appeared as a rather Joxer-like German sergeant in The Longest Day (1962). That film's enormous cast also included John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Curt Jürgens (another Bond villain in The Spy Who Loved Me), Robert Ryan, Robert Wagner, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Sal Mineo, Roddy McDowell, Edmond O'Brien, Richard Todd, George Segal, and--from the music world--Fabian and Paul Anka (why not? Lucy Lawless also played a character named Diana, after all). As for Lionel Atwill, his most memorable performance was as the one-armed police inspector in Son of Frankenstein, which also starred Basil Rathbone as Wolf Frankenstein, Boris Karloff [Note 13] as the Monster and Bela Lugosi as Ygor. Atwill encountered the third of Universal's 1940's big horror stars, Lon Chaney, Jr., in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. Previously Atwill had co-starred with Randolph Scott in The Murders at the Zoo, an often-excellent movie that, like some Xena episodes, was almost wrecked by excessive comic relief, except that the jokes in XWP actually tended to be funny (generally speaking).

[22] Gilbert Roland's associates are even more interesting. In 1979 he was in The Sacketts, a two-part TV movie whose cast included Glenn Ford, Mercedes McCambridge, John Vernon (the dean in Animal House), and such cowboy stars as Sam Elliott, Ben Johnson, Jack Elam, L. Q. Jones, Pat Buttram, and Slim Pickens. In 1977 Roland co-starred with George C. Scott, Claire Bloom, and David Hemmings in Island in the Stream. Two years earlier, he was the narrator in an excellent made-for-TV movie, The Deadly Tower, which starred Kurt Russell, Ned Beatty, John Forsyth, Pernell Roberts, and Clifton James (comic relief in two Bond movies). Back in 1966 Roland appeared a noble if semi-disastrous experiment, a United Nations anti-drug film called in the U.S. The Poppy Is Also a Flower. This also starred, among too many others, Yul Brenner, Grace Kelly, Eli Wallach, Marcello Mastroianni, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith, Angie Dickinson, and Harold "Oddjob" Sakata. Ten years earlier, Roland appeared Around the World in 80 Days with David Niven, Cantinflas, Shirley MacLaine, Robert Newton, and practically everyone who ever got in front of a camera, including Charles Boyer, Evelyn Keyes, Cesar Romero, Cedric Hardwicke, Ronald Coleman, Peter Lorre, George Raft, Frank Sinatra, Buster Keaton, Andy Devine, Victor McLaglen, Jack Oakie, and John Mills. In Crisis (1950), Roland co-starred with Cary Grant, José Ferrer and Ramon Novarro, the one-time silent movie star whose career began in 1917. Speaking of silent films, let's jump all the way back to Roland's very screen part as an uncredited extra in the 1925 classic The Lost World. Its cast included Wallace Beery as Professor Challenger, Lewis Stone (best known for playing Andy Hardy's father), and as himself Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of both Professor Challenger and Sherlock Holmes. (Also as himself, we dare not forget, was Jocko the Monkey.)

Three Degrees of Renée O'Connor

Budget cuts forced the XWP staff to borrow the miniature Stonehenge set from Spinal Tap. They were really glad they'd invested in 6-inch Xena and Gabrielle action figures!

Gabrielle never did like Stonehenge much

[23] Renée O'Connor so far has not had as prolific a career as she deserves; nevertheless, we can find her linked to some interesting, if not bizarre, actors even if we ignore her connection with Lucy Lawless. [Note 14] Critics first took notice of her in A Blessing in Disguise, the second and perhaps the best of the various Rockford Files TV movies made in the 1990s. [Note 15] The Rockford Files, of course, are synonymous with James Garner. Even more synonymous with James Garner is Maverick, whose guest stars included Clint Eastwood, Roger Moore (James Bond yet again) and Jack Kelly. Kelly also played Leslie Nielsen's executive officer and romantic rival in Forbidden Planet (1956); which also starred Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and a thoroughly embarrassing Earl Holloman. I have not seen any of Garner's comedies with Doris Day -- as I am proud if not even eager to say -- but perhaps his best movie role was in The Great Escape (1963). This also starred Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, David McCallum, Gordon Jackson, Donald Pleasance, and James Donald. The last of these kept landing in enemy POW camps, being also in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and King Rat (1965). When not in captivity, he was in the third Quatermass film, Five Million Years to Earth, AKA Quatermass and the Pit, (1967), with Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley and Julian Glover (the chief villain in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), as well as The Vikings (1958), with Kirk Douglas, Ernest Borgnine, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Donald Pleasance was in some 190 films, too many of which had "Halloween" in their titles, but he also played Blofeld in the Bond film You Only Live Twice (in which he was saddled with the ridiculous line "Stop that astronaut!"), meaning that ROC is only three degrees away from Sean Connery. Pleasance was also in The Night of the Generals (1967), which starred Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole, Tom Courtenay (imprisoned in the same POW camp as James Donald in King Rat), and Charles Grey (another Bond villain as Blofeld in Diamonds are Forever).

[24] To raise only one point regarding Charles Bronson, he was in Vera Cruz (1954) with Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Cesar Romero, George Macready, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, and Morris Ankrum. The last frequently appeared as an American general in 1950's science fiction movies; in Vera Cruz, he played a Mexican general.

[25] Renée O'Connor has two links to the aforementioned Hour of the Gun: one with James Garner, as with we have seen, and the other with Jason Robards, with whom she appeared in The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993). (Also starring in The Adventures of Huck Finn was Anne Heche, but let's not go there.) Robards also starred in All the President's Men (1976) with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. (He also played Brutus in Julius Caesar -- and we know what Gabrielle did to Brutus [Note 16]). Robards also appeared with Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, and Charles Bronson in the great spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West. Another actor in Hour of the Gun was William Windom. He is linked with two of the best all-time TV crime-solvers, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury (duh!)) and Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk (double duh!)), the latter in the episode "Short Fuse." In addition, Windom was an especially effective guest star in the original Star Trek episode "The Doomsday Machine" as Commodore Decker, partly because he appeared unshaved in a series that did not normally bother with such realistic details. Strangely enough, the producers' first choice for that role was another actor in Hour of the Gun--Robert Ryan.

[26] Ryan is perhaps best known nowadays for going after William Holden and the rest of The Wild Bunch (1969), but he was especially outstanding in playing particularly nasty villains. Perhaps his nastiest character was in Billy Budd (1962), which co-starred Peter Ustinov, Terence Stamp, Melvyn Douglas, and Robert Brown (M in four James Bond films). His second nastiest was in Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), which also starred Spencer Tracy, Walter Brennan, Lee Marvin, Dean Jagger, and Anne Francis (again). Other of his evil roles of note included The Naked Spur (1953), co-starring James Stewart, Janet Leigh and Ralph Meeker; Caught (1949), with James Mason and Barbara Bel Geddes; and Crossfire (1947), with Robert Mitchum and Robert Young. Also starring in The Adventures of Huck Finn was Robbie Coltrane, best known as Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, though his best role was as the incredibly messed-up police psychologist in the British TV series Cracker. He was also in the Jack the Ripper film From Hell (2001) with Johnny Depp and On the Nose (2001) with Dan Aykroyd. He also co-starred with Pierce Brosnan in two Bond films, Goldeneye (1995) and The World Is Not Enough (1999).

[27] In 1990 Renée O'Connor had a role in False Identity, which starred Stacy Keach. Keach [Note 17] has been in some good films, yet Xena might have wiped away many of his movies with leaves--or with a piece from one of Gabrielle's scrolls without that much writing on it. A case in point is Butterfly (1982), a Pia Zadora vehicle that belongs in a car crusher. It also starred Orson Welles (how many dreadful movies was he in?), Stuart Whitman (ditto)[Note 18], June Lockhart (Lassie's "Mom"), and Ed McMahon (comment unnecessary). Keach had a very weird role in a very weird film, The Ninth Configuration (1980); trapped in the same labyrinth of cinematic madness were Jason Miller, Ed Flanders, Neville Brand, Robert Loggia, and (Xena guest star in TIES THAT BIND) Tom Atkins. Keach also had a very weird role in a only slightly less weird film, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), which starred Paul Newman, Roddy McDowell, Victoria Principal, Anthony Perkins, Tab Hunter, Ava Gardner, and Jacqueline Bisset.

[28] Keach did an excellent job in a not-so-excellent miniseries, Mistral's Daughter (1984); its cast also included Timothy Dalton (James Bond # 4), Lee Remick, Stefanie Powers, Robert Ulrich, and Ian Richardson. In 1975 Keach appeared in Conduct Unbecoming, which also starred Michael York, Richard Attenborough (again), Trevor Howard (yet again), Christopher Plummer, Susannah York, and our favorite ex-POW James Donald. One of Keach's best roles was in the miniseries The Blue and the Gray (1982); it also starred Lloyd Bridges, Rory Calhoun, Warren Oates, Rip Torn, Sterling Hayden, and Gregory Peck. Keach gave another good performance in That Championship Season (1982), with Robert Mitchum (again), Martin Sheen, Paul Sorvino, Bruce Dern, and Arthur Franz.

[29] Let's finish off this section by taking a closer look at Arthur Franz, a reliable character actor in many good movies in the 1950s and an effective second banana in some not-so-good films of that same period. In the first category he was in The Caine Mutiny (1954), along with Humphrey Bogart, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, E.G. Marshall, and José Ferrer. A somewhat lesser film, The Young Lions (1958), saw Franz appear with Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Dean Martin, Lee Van Cleef, Hope Lange, and our old friend Maximilian Schell. Franz did an excellent job in Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951)--guess who played the Invisible Man--which was one of the best A & C vehicles. In the second category, he was in the so-awful-it's-good The Atomic Submarine (1959), with Tom Conway, George Sanders' less-talented brother and the star of two Jacques Tourneur 1940s horror movies, I Walked With a Zombie (1943, though he played neither the zombie nor the walker) and Cat People (1942, though he wasn't the one with the fur balls). Franz also co-starred with General Morris Ankrum in Invaders From Mars and Flight to Mars; Ankrum was demoted to colonel in the first, but in the second he may have played a Martian general (he was certainly a Martian villain). Franz's most astonishing co-stars, however, are to be found in Hellcats of the Navy (1957)--none other than Ronald and Nancy Reagan.


The origin of women's mud wrestling began oh, so innocently

Here's Xena and Gabrielle connecting in a way Lawless and O'Connor never did

[30] We have connected to the two stars of Xena to some astonishing actors, including a President of the United States and one of his successors as Governor of California but also to some astounding cultural icons, including Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Indana Jones, Frankenstein, Abbot and Costello, Professor Quatermass, Hercule Poirot, and Jack the Ripper (to say nothing of Jocko the Monkey).

[31] In short, forget "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" (assuming you haven't already); an even better game is "Six Degrees of the Warrior Princess and the Bard." I've only scratched the surface here; those who are interested (all two of you) can follow many odd paths using the Internet Movie Database. I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.


What, me read? Huh?

Virgil was quite the note taker in his youth

Note 01:
It is interesting to note that Hollywood had an enormous cocaine problem in the 1920s. One its most notorious addicts of that time was the comic actress Mabel Normand. Her connection had a front as a peanut vendor. Normand went to him so frequently that she became hooked on peanuts as well as coke.
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Note 02:
One actor who managed an excellent accent yet whose acting otherwise left something to be desired was the fellow who played the evil priest Balius in WARRIOR…PRIESTESS…TRAMP. To put it mildly, he was a bit over the top -- rather like William Shatner on speed imitating Robert Newton in Blackbeard the Pirate.
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Note 03:
Jack Hawkins is best known to fans of sword-and-sandals movies for playing King Khufu in The Land of the Pharaohs (1954), opposite the young Joan Collins, who gives a deliciously over-the-top performance as the pharaoh's evil second wife (she could have taught Callisto a trick or two in villainy) who comes to a wonderfully bad end. The movie was allegedly co-written by none other than William Faulkner. In reality, Faulkner spent most of his time on the film drunk in a Cairo hotel room.
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Note 04:
Omar Sharif has a Xena connection of his own, having played Genghis Khan in the movie of the same name, and of course Xena went up against Genghis Khan in BACK IN THE BOTTLE. In terms of historical accuracy, that episode wasn't all that much worse than the film, since the former at least featured genuine Asian actors, whereas the film used such stalwarts from the Far East as Robert Morley (as the emperor of China), James Mason, and Telly Savalas. As if that were not enough, at least one of the Mongols in the movie had blond hair. Blondism, of course, is notoriously rife in Mongolia today.
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Note 05:
Stanley Baker has a Xena: Warrior Princess connection inasmuch as he was the star of Zulu, the film based on the 1879 siege of Rorke's Drift that is known to have inspired what I consider to have been the best Xena: Warrior Princess episode of all time, THE PRICE.
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Note 06:
James Robertson Justice played the architect who designed Jack Hawkins' pyramid in Land of the Pharaohs (see note 3 above). He was also involved in a certain scene in that movie that caused President Nasser to ban Land of the Pharaohs in Egypt since (to Nasser at least) it suggested that Jews had built the pyramids. The film itself implies that the people involved were Kushites, however. Unfortunately, the Kushites were black but the people in the movie were white (cf. note 4 above).
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Note 07:
Katy Jurado is best known for playing Helen Ramirez, Gary Cooper's ex-girlfriend in High Noon, but in Arrowhead (1953), she was also the object of one of the best lines that Charlton Heston ever uttered: "There's a dead Apache in there. Get it out!" (Heston was at his best playing edgy semi-SOB characters in the early and mid 1950s.)
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Note 08:
Laird Cregar was a 300-pound character actor active between 1940 and 1944 who may have been the most talented man in Hollywood in his day. He is best known for his chilling performance in the title role of The Lodger (1944), but he also gave an outstanding, humorous performance as Sir Henry Morgan in The Black Swan (1942), which also starred Quinn and Power, along with George Sanders. Most unusually for the period, Cregar played the Welsh pirate Morgan with an impeccable Welsh accent. Cregar hoped to become a leading man and so lost 100 pounds in a very short period, thereby bringing about a fatal heart attack.
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Note 09:
Brian Blessed, a big burly man with a notoriously loud voice, looked nothing like the thin sickly Augustus, yet nevertheless captured his personality almost perfectly. He also appeared in two of my favorite episodes of The Avengers, "The Superlative Seven", and "The Morning After." The latter is my favorite episode of the Tara King series because Tara is unconscious through most of it.
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Note 10:
George Baker has three connections with the James Bond movies. He had small roles in two, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and The Spy Who Loved Me, and in The Ship That Died of Shame (1955) he played a smuggler who aroused the suspicions of a customs officer played by Bernard Lee, the original M.
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Note 11:
John Gielgud also serves to link Lucy Lawless with another of my favorite actors, the late John Thaw, the star of Inspector Morse and Kavanagh, Q.C. Gielgud guest-starred as the pompous, foolish chancellor of Oxford University in the Morse episode "Twilight of the Gods." Morse and Xena were superficially entirely different characters, yet both had dour personalities that verged on arrogance and their treatment of their respective sidekicks left much to be desired. John Thaw died in the same month as Kevin Smith.
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Note 12:
Aetius, "the last of the Romans", is best known for defeating Attila and the Huns at the battle of Châlons in 451, yet this is one of the ironies of history. For most of his career Aetius was politically and militarily allied with the Huns, having spent much of his youth as a hostage among the Huns and probably learning their language. The worthless emperor Valentinian III eventually murdered Aetius; two of Aetius' officers then slew Valentinian. Both those officers had suspiciously Hun-looking names.
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Note 13:
Kevin Bacon (remember him?) is also surprisingly close to Boris Karloff. Bacon co-starred with Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men; an alarmingly youthful Nicholson starred with Karloff in Roger Corman's The Terror (1963).
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Note 14:
We're also ignoring the fact that Renée O'Connor also co-starred with Anthony Quinn in Hercules and the Lost Kingdom.
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Note 15:
Her character in this film was Laura Sue Dean, a name that for many long-time fans of Whoosh! might trigger a fond memory.
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Note 16:
Charlton Heston probably wanted to do the same thing to Robards; in his autobiography In the Arena, Heston blames Robards' tired, lackluster performance as Brutus for the failure of this movie.
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Note 17:
Stacy Keach is connected to Renée O'Connor in another way. O'Connor was of course born in Texas, while Keach played the greatest of the heroes of Texan independence (and the one way too smart to trap himself uselessly in the Alamo), General Sam Houston, in Texas (1995).
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Note 18:
To be fair, Stuart Whitman gave an outstanding, indeed unforgettable, performance in Sands of the Kalahari (1965), an unusual gem of a film that co-starred Stanley Baker, Susannah York, Harry Andrews, Theodore Bikel, and a pack of very nasty baboons. Another Whitman film, Murder, Inc. (1960), also featured a marvelous performance; unfortunately not by Whitman but rather by Peter Falk, who gave a chilling portrayal of the notorious hit man and stool pigeon Abe Reles. When Falk is on the screen, this black and white film suddenly seems to be in color.
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Beo, Sensitive Viking

English got a definite article from the Danes, and Beowolf no doubt knew his share of Danes

Lee Reams, "A Price Second to None." Whoosh #64 (January 2002)

Lee Reams, "A (Semi-) Defense of Ulysses." Whoosh #68 (May 2002)

Lee Reams, "A Woman of Deception: Gabrielle???!" Whoosh #79 (July 2003)


an author of mystery Lee Reams
Born on an Army base in Washington State, Lee has spent most of his life in California. He holds a Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Southern California and has taught that subject and other history courses at various universities in California, Utah and Wisconsin. He has also published scholarly articles on ancient history, specifically the Late Roman Republic. Lee is currently seeking a publisher for a book on Ancient Egypt.

Favorite episode: THE PRICE
Favorite line: Xena: "Do? We're GONNA KILL THEM ALL!" THE PRICE; Meg to Gabrielle: "You kinda look like her, but Gabrielle wasn't so butch". LIVIA
First episode seen: DEVI
Least favorite episode: MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS



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