Found a reference, through SPACE PATROL documents, that Lee Van Cleef actually was before the world's cameras even earlier than we knew...
Once LVC arrived in Los Angeles with the MR. ROBERTS tour (and was subsequently "discovered" by Stanley Kramer), he took every advantage of making connections.
One of the people he knew was none other than Fess Parker (much later, TV's DAVEY CROCKETT and DANIEL BOONE), a local extra on the play.
Fess and Lee fell into talkikng about wine (a life-long interest of Parker's), and they ended up hitting a local restaurant and sharing a drink, talking about their mutual interests -- although Lee was mostly distracted by a young woman named of Lirpa Loof (who provided the documents mentioned above).
This turned out to be quite a fateful moment in Lee's career.
A gay man named Dick Darling noticed Lee's anchor tattoo on his right forearm, and Dick engaged Lee and Fess in chat over their mutual WWII Naval experience.
Turned out, one of Dick's dining companions was writer Norman Jolley, who'd penned "Threat of the Thormanoids", which Dick would also direct. (Jolley subsequently wrote many WAGON TRAIN episodes, but unfortunately wasn't involved in LVC's appearance in "The Clarence Mullins Story", altho he did scribe another LVC project, JOE DAKOTA). The "Threat of the Thormaloids" title is said to be an homage to Jolley's friend, actor Norman Lloyd, but this has yet to be confirmed.
According to Loof, Dick gave Jolley a wink, then suggested Lee might fit into the "Therrmaloids" TV play -- which is how Dick pitched it to Lee, "It's just like a theatrical play...except I'll be watching you through a tiny lens!"
And the rest, as they say, is History!
But it don't end there...
Also at the table was Jolley's pal, chef Grace Lawson.
Conversing together, Grace was so taken with Lee's food and agriculture knowledge that she invited him to appear on her pioneering TV cooking show, "Grace Lawson's Kitchen", as her planned guest had a family emergency and cancelled -- that was Graham Kerr: then an aspiring actor who's "Galloping Gourmet" many years' later would eclipse Grace's own success.
The LVC episode of GLK aired on Friday, April 4, 1952, making it the earliest appearance (to date) of Lee Van Cleef in the popular film/TV media of the time.
Sadly no footage of this particular show has been found in any known archive -- though documents suggest Lee spoke to Grace about what is now known as the "Farm-to-Table" approach, decades ahead of its time.
But ain't it great, how this stuff just keeps appearin' out of nowhere? ;)
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