HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer recalls working on a whole array of Classic Hollywood pictures and a friendship with Bret Lahr.
When I first arrived in Hollywood I thought the streets were paved with gold. By ‘first arrived’ I mean ‘woke up one morning on the set of The Wizard of Oz’. It took me a few minutes to work out my situation, but a swift hair of the lion with Bert Lahr and I was more than ready for a day’s work. I did Apache Chaps Say Hail Mary in the morning, two Mr Motos and The Road to Milton Keynes in the afternoon, and I was in the bar by 5pm sharp. You had to get there early or the only seat left would be next to David Niven, and to be honest with you I’d heard them all before.
The contract I’d signed with Sammy Goldwyn demanded a fairly stiff work rate, but that’s what it was like in those days. No sooner had I put pen to paper then Sam let go of my throat, put the gun down, and said ‘get to it Limey!’ I was now obliged to do no less than 17 pictures a week, and if I wanted to finish early on a Friday that meant I had to go some. But like Johnny Gielgud used to say, it was better than rep! The studio promoted me as Edwin Fluffer the Talking Typewriter because I was known for the speed with which I said my lines.
The truth is I had to be pretty nippy as with so many scenes to shoot I just didn’t have the time to say them any slower. Gone With The Wind is a very long film, but I did all my scenes in less than four minutes, including hair and make up. My personal record was twelve seconds on The Big Sleep. I only had time to doff my hat to Lauren Bacall, and that was it, on to the next one!
The problem was that I was meant to be playing a lead character who got up to all sorts of blackmail and shooting people and other nasty business so they had to rewrite the rest of the script and fill in my gaps as they went along. That said the picture is still an absolute masterpiece, probably due in no short measure to me hardly being in it at all. Of course it was all good training for these telly things I do these days where there’s no money and you just have to crack on with it. I’ve just been cast in the new series of Twin Peaks, playing the grandfather of the Lady with the Log.
I’ll be appearing as the Twit with the Twig, but that’s another story…