Wednesday, January 30, 2019

I Will Talk to You of Dick Miller, for there is nothing else to talk about

The immortal Dick Miller in his signature role, Walter Paisley in A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959).

This was news I was hoping I wouldn’t have to report, but actor Dick Miller - who turned 90 years old last Christmas Day - has passed away, one week after suffering a heart attack while being treated for pneumonia.

How to explain the singular phenomenon of Dick Miller? He was truly the Everyman of the Seventh Art. In his first movie, Roger Corman’s APACHE WOMAN (1955), he was literally the Cowboy and the Indian he shot! He contained multitudes, as the saying goes. He was everybody who had ever been around the block, who had been through the school of hard knocks, who ever dreamed of going to Hollywood and having a career in the movies. We could recognized ourselves in him, and some of the people we loved. He's often thought of as a character actor, maybe America's greatest, but he was actually a character who acted. Because he was leading man material; he could carry a movie, and did a few times: A BUCKET OF BLOOD, ROCK ALL NIGHT, Joe Dante’s Showtime remake of RUNAWAY DAUGHTERS. He made bad movies fun, good movies better, and great movies... great movies with Dick Miller in them! Simply put, he was somebody we were always happy to see.

Dick meeting Robby the Robot in a Joe Dante-directed scene for HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD (1976).

I’m sorry I never had the chance to meet him, but I couldn't be more proud of my Associate Producer credit on Elijah Drenner's documentary THAT GUY DICK MILLER (2014), a fine tribute I’m glad he was around to see. There was actually a very warm sense of closure around his last birthday, which coincided with the publication of Caelum Vatnsdal's aptly-titled biography YOU DON'T KNOW ME, BUT YOU LOVE ME and two signings at Dark Delicacies, and a birthday celebration attended by some friends of mine who sneaked out some touching photos of Dick (in true sartorial splendor) dancing with with wife Laine, not far from his senior nonagenarian Roger Corman and his wife Julie. 

Richard Miller, 1928-2019.
My deepest sympathies to Lainie Miller and everyone in their family; also to Roger Corman, who gave him so many classic roles; to my friend Joe Dante, who kept a place for Dick in all his works and did much to extend the lifetime of his fame; and to Dick's many friends, fans, and collaborators, in and out of the business, the met and the unmet. 

There goes Dick Miller. There goes greatness. 

(c) 2019 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.

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