Lance Rock R.I.P.
Disclaimer–as my homie Vera points out, I should say that this is NOT the obituary of DJ Lance Rock, who has been hosting episodes of an amazing kids’ program for over six months now! That guy has been on the L.A. scene for a while, deserves all the acclaim he’s getting, and deserves his own blog from me at some point in the near future.
Michael Blodgett died today of a heart attack. He was only in a couple movies, but some of them were my favorites–he played the phantom lover that Peter Fonda imagines to be seducing his ex-wife (Susan Strasberg) in The Trip, and he had a role in Catalina Caper, ridiculed in one of my favorite episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
But more than anything (amongst my friends, anyway), he will be remembered for his role as Lance Rock, aka “Jungle Lad” in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. He’s got the “bedroom eyes” that seduce the singer of the Carrie Nations, but ends up getting “a head” of himself in the end. I couldn’t find the “blade goes snicker snack” scene on YouTube, but here’s one of the most memorable quotes in a film full of memorable quotes:
Seriously, this movie has better one-liners than Groucho Marx!
Anyway, besides putting in some awesome appearances in groovy films, apparently the dude hosted a teen beach/dance party show in 1967 called “Groovy” that had local bands on (as told by newsfromme.com):
The show went through several versions but its first and most notable period was when it was done from the beach and hosted by [this gent]… His name was Michael Blodgett and he had a nice little acting career, which included the unforgettable Beyond the Valley of the Dolls before he moved on to considerable success as a novelist. He was a pretty good host on the Groovy show but I suspect even he would admit that he wasn’t the main appeal of the show. The main appeal was young ladies in very tiny bikinis — and by “young,” I mean sometimes fifteen or sixteen years of age, if that old.
Much of the show was, of course, teens dancing to records. There was one real musical act each day…usually a group that would come on to pantomime/lip sync to their current record, which made for an odd sight. There would be these musicians acting like they were playing on the beach…with their amps and electric guitars plugged into absolutely nothing. Most records of that era ended with the track fading out and I guess the acoustics out there weren’t great insofar as hearing the playback was concerned. As a song drew to its close, you could see the performers become unsure if it was through so they’d keep “playing” and then one guy would stop and maybe another. And then you could tell someone had yelled, “It’s not over! Keep playing!” And they’d scurry back into mime mode. Very odd stuff.
I’d love to see some clips of this show–it sounds very “Back to the Beach!” No wonder he was seen as a suitable addition to Catalina Caper.
You gotta give it up for a man with this much pivotal sixties and seventies film stuff under his belt (he was even in an episode of Night Gallery!). Suffice to say that this dude is the American Nicky Henson, and this fan mourns his passing.
P.S. Thanks to my girlfriend for the heads-up on this! I’m still so stunned by Ike Turner’s death, I haven’t been checking the obituary columns with my normal ghoulish zeal.
P.P.S. For some reason, today I’m loving! the! exclamation! points!!!