In last week's "MORE GLIB ThAN PROFOUND," entitled, "THERE'S TWO MICHIGANS?" I casually mentioned seeing a passerby who reminded me of character actor Woody Strode. Three hours after that blog was published, I received a nice E-Mail and web-page comment from Kalai Strode, who is Woody's daughter.
I was not only happy that she took the time to write a note of encouragement and thanks, but I was also impressed at how quickly...through word of mouth, that she got word that someone (me) had written about her dad, Woody Strode.
My bubble was slightly burst when HJ informed me that there is a computer application commonly used by lawyers, called "GOOGLE-ALERT." Like its name suggests, google-alert will E-Mail its subscriber to identify whenever a specific name, place, social security number etc., is used on the worldwide-web.
If indeed Kalai used google-alert to find me I'm happy with the results. But if she found out that I mentioned her dad by word-of-mouth, then the global reach of "MORE GLIB ThAN PROFOUND" humbles me to the core.
If you missed her exact comment, please use my blog's archives and find her statement at the bottom of the May 25, 2009 edition. While you are there, click on all five of the links she provided at:
Check-out her impressive set of clips that exhibit Woody Strode's accomplishments as well as his (and other African-Americans) struggles as pioneers breaking the color-barrier in Hollywood, sports and other forms of entertainment. Those links are called:
"LEST WE FORGET"
"JUNGLE FILM DECLINES"
"AN ACTOR IS BORN."
Woody Strode was born on July 25, 1914 in Los Angeles, California. He died of lung cancer on December 31, 1994.
His first major impact was in collegiate sports. At a time when few black athletes were playing major college football, Woody starred on UCLA along side Jackie Robinson and All-American Kenny Washington. Together, they made up the backfield that helped develop UCLA into a perennial powerhouse.
Together with Kenny Washington, Strode went on to become one of the first blacks in the NFL. He played for the Los Angeles Rams in 1946.
AUGUST 1946 WITH THE LOS ANGELES RAMS: WOODY STRODE #34, KENNY WASHINGTON #13, NFL HALL-OF-FAMER BOB WATERFIELD #10.
Later in 1948 and 1949, he played two seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Calgary Stampeders. Also, because of his buff, six-foot four 210 pound physique, when he stopped playing football, he became a pro-wrestler.
PRACTICING WITH THE STAMPEDERS
When I mentioned Strode last week, I only remembered him from these films:
"THE TEN COMMANDMENTS" as the Ethiopian King (1956) "PORK CHOP HILL" as Private Franklin (1959) "SPARTACUS" as Draba (1960)
"SERGEANT RUTLEDGE" as 1st Sgt Braxton Rutledge (1960)
"THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE" as Pompey (1962)
FAMOUS GLADIATOR SCENE WITH KIRK DOUGLAS IN SPARTACUS
MY FAVORITE WOODY STRODE ROLE, AS SERGEANT RUTLEDGE.
IN, "THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE," IT IS A MYSTERY WHO ACTUALLY KILLED THE VILLIAN. JAMES STEWART WAS OVER-MATCHED IN HIS DUEL WITH LEE MARVIN (LIBERTY VALANCE). THEREFORE MOST PEOPLE BELIEVE HE WAS GUNNED-DOWN (OFF-CAMERA) BY NEUTRALIST JOHN WAYNE. HOWEVER IT IS ENTIRELY POSSIBLE THAT WOODY STRODE AS POMPEY PULLED THE TRIGGER TO SAVE STEWART.
The reality is, Woody Strode was a veteran of 89 movies. His first film appearance was in 1941's, "SUNDOWN." But his Hollywood prominence started in the late 50's. Nationally, at a time when the civil rights movement was gaining momentum, Strode bravely stood in the forefront by accepting controversial roles for a black man. While its true he also portrayed stereotypical characters...I remember him best as being soulful and intuitive while bringing forth a profound, intelligent leadership quality to the screen.
Anyone with more information on "Google-Alerts" or anything else that might clear-up the situation is encouraged to contact me.
I thank Kalai for motivating me to research more deeply into her father's multi-level career and I hope you take the time to do the same.