HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the actor everyone called the ‘Matthau’s arse’: Jack Lemmon.
Barely a day goes by without someone congratulating me on my performance in The Odd Couple. I haven’t the heart to tell them it wasn’t me and so I don’t. It very nearly was me though, and would’ve been if it wasn’t for Walter Matthau.
He’d had the idea that we could reduce our not inconsiderable bar bill by drilling for gin in his back garden. No-one had ever tried it before, and after only a few attempts we found out why: it’s just impossible to find an extension cable that’ll reach from the plug socket in Wally’s kitchen out as far as the yard.
We drove around every single hardware store in the Hollywood hills trying to find one, but it was a fruitless task. Much like Claudette Colbert if you know what I mean!
In the end I cut the lead off his toaster and tried to attach that to the drill, but the resulting explosion caused me third degree burns and my best pair of eyebrows.
It didn’t help that Walter tried to extinguish the flames with a bottle of rum that he won in a tombola. We were due to start filming the very next day, but after a brief chat with the producer we decided that it would be best all round if I went to hospital instead and dear old Jack Lemmon agreed to step in at the last minute.
The Academy threatened to give him another Oscar for it, but he already had one in his shed left over from Mister Roberts.
Years later I bumped into Jack at a party and he very kindly passed me the Pringles.
But that’s another story…
One never forgets the first time one met Orson Welles, or Orson Cart as he didn’t like me to call him.
I was fast asleep at the time, but suddenly awoke when I heard the unmistakable sound of my garbage can being knocked over. Armed only with a torch, and with little concern for my own safety, I went out to see what had happened. It was rather a chilly night so I went indoors and put on a suitable pair of pyjamas, picked up the torch again, headed back outside, and there was Orson Welles. He was picking through the trash looking for food, and the driveway was in a terrible state.
I was furious!
Not with dear Orson of course, but with Burt Lancaster. He’d been leaving out scraps for Claudette Colbert and Academy Award winner Walter Huston had warned him this would happen.
I chased Orson away and swept up the mess, but I knew he’d return before long, and probably not alone.
I’d been back in bed for less than an hour before my slumbers were disturbed again. Orson was back and this time he had Gary Cooper with him! Over the next few nights I tried everything to keep them away; Spencer Tracy helped me put out some barbed wire, I lay bear traps, but nothing would stop them. My next door neighbour, Greta Garbo, caught them trying to burrow under her fence. In the end I had to stop leaving the trash outside and kept the bags in my garage, but they still got in. My son kept his sledge there and one night I saw Orson running off with it under his arm. We never got it back again!
I really was at the end of my tether, so we had no choice but to get a Harpo Marx. I used to chain him to a tree a in the yard, and although he wouldn’t bark, he looked jolly fierce. After a couple of nights it seemed to have done the trick and they stopped bothering us. The family loved Harpo and we would take him for walks and get him to chase a ball or fetch a stick. There was an unfortunate incident in the park one day when he started humping Debbie Reynolds who was being taken for a walk by darling Katherine Hepburn, but that’s another story.