Disappointed, the Ossifers retooled. Festival
organizer Ray Nielsen still wanted a radio script
performance, so Tim Hollis took two vintage Lum and
Abner scripts, finding references to both the Lone
Ranger and Superman, and wove them into one. This
writer assisted with a few gags and a topical
commercial or two and before long we had a script in
which Lum, Abner, Dick Huddleston, Squire Skimp
and Cedric Weehunt are struggling to drive to
Memphis (actually the event was held just outside of
Memphis in Olive Branch, Mississippi) in Cedric's old
jalopy. Lum and Abner listeners will likely remember
the source script in which the boys have been forced
to pawn poor Cedric's pinball machine to pay their
expenses in returning home from a failed search for
buried treasure! In the 2008 adaptation, they're
driving the other direction, and the pinball machine
was pawned to raise funds to pay for the four dollar
per gallon gasoline!
While it's a fact that there hasn't been a National
Lum and Abner Society Convention since 2005,
June 2008 seemed as if the time had come for one.
The old "ossifers" and several of the NLAS members
did gather for a convention, but it was not in Mena,
Arkansas. Instead, there was a Lum and Abner
element added to the annual Memphis Film Festival.
The theme for the 2008 MFF was a dual one. 2008
marked both the 70th anniversary of the first
appearance of Superman (in Action Comics #1) and
the 75th anniversary of the first radio broadcast of
The Lone Ranger (WXYZ Radio in Detroit,
Michigan). But wait a minute, what do a comic
book and a radio show about a masked man have to
do with films? And what do they all have to do with
Lum and Abner? Well, friends, all these characters
made the transition to motion pictures. The
connections between The Lone Ranger and Lum
and Abner are numerous, but to keep things simple,
I'll explain the fact that both Dick Beals and Fred Foy
(The Lone Ranger actor and announcer respectively)
were invited to be guests of honor at the MFF. Since
both gentlemen had been NLAS Convention guests
(Mr. Foy in 1999, Mr. Beals in 2001), and since author
Tim Hollis was already signed up for a table in the
MFF dealers room to hawk his many books like a
poor man's Squire Skimp (just kidding Tim), Sam
Brown and this writer decided this would be the
perfect time to "Come to Memphis" (as old Phinus
Peabody's beaded handbags suggested).
Right away, the NLAS Ossifers decided this would
be a great time to pull the 1999 script, "Lum and
Abner Meet the Lone Ranger," from mothballs and
star Fred Foy as the narrator and Masked Man, plus
a healthy revision would create a co-starring part for
Dick Beals. Unfortunately, neither of these
gentleman was able to attend as the time grew
at the 1999
at the 2001
Even though the NLAS was a small facet of the 2008
Memphis Film Festival, it was nice to see the effect
our smaller NLAS Conventions have had in the area
of "Old Time Radio" script recreations. Fred Foy
was invited to the MFF the year following his
appearance at the NLAS Convention, and his
performance with us inspired an ongoing series of
scripts performed in Memphis. Mr. Foy was the first
OTR celebrity to perform in a script for the MFF. We
are happy to have established the trend. It was
entertaining to sit back and enjoy the work of others
performing radio scripts and (with the exception of
our own Lum and Abner script) not have to do all the
work! Our hats are off to the fine folks who staged
the performances of scripts from The Lone Ranger,
Superman and Challenge of the Yukon! Hopefully
this will continue in future Memphis Film Festivals.
In many ways, it seemed like "old times" (1985-2005)
again. It was good to see various NLAS members
and to meet new friends who are fans of Lum and
Abner. The stars of the event were various actors
who were associated with the Superman and The
Lone Ranger television programs, chief among them
Miss Noel Neill, the actress most identified with the
role of Lois Lane, ace reporter for that great
metropolitan newspaper, The Daily Planet.
I must share an anecdote. As my wife Laura and I
were checking out of the hotel, we were pleasantly
surprised to see Miss Neill ahead of us at the
registration counter. I had the following
conversation which seemed rather surreal:
DP: Miss Neill, I hope you had a good time at the
NN: Oh yes... It was very nice.
DP: We stayed over with our friends the Anders to
do some sightseeing in Memphis.
NN: I see. We have another trip to make, so it didn't
make sense to go all the way back to Los Angeles. It
was easier to stay here, and then drive up.
DP: Where are you headed?
NN: We're on our way to Metropolis.
My expression must have been one of goofy-eyed
wonder. Imagine, watching this lovely lady on
television as a kid, seeing her face peril and being
rescued by our hero Superman (either Kirk Alyn in
the two movie serials or George Reeves in the TV
series), and here she is in 2008 telling me she's
going to Metropolis! Well, where else would Lois
Lane be going? I almost asked if she was flying, but
I'm not sure what I would have said if I saw her
"flight" land in the parking lot and he'd been a
handsome fellow in blue tights with a red cape...
For more information concerning the Memphis Film
Festival of 2008 (and MFF events past and future), I
invite you to click the Memphis Film Festival logo
immediately following. Congratulations and thanks
again to Ray Nielsen for a job well done!
- "Uncle Donnie" Pitchford
|"Take a deep breath, fellers!" Left-to-right: Tim Hollis,
Donnie Pitchford and Sam Brown pose for Memphis
Film Festival organizer Ray Nielsen's camera.
Something tells us there were more attractive
subjects to be photographed, but maybe Ray needed
to finish a roll of film and resh his Kodak over ta Ed
Beckley's Drug Store ta git it deeveloped!
|"Memphis er Bust" is performed, with Tim Hollis as
Lum and Cedric, Donnie Pitchford as Abner and
Squire Skimp, and Sam Brown as Dick Huddleston
and the live sound effects feller. Special thanks to
MFF audio engineer Bart Curtis!
|Lum and Abner is a registered trademark of Lum and Abner Associates.
It is used by permission.