20 November 2012

Sterling Hayden: The Men We Are

I was 15 when I first saw Sterling Hayden in Dr Strangelove. His performance as bat shit crazy General Jack Ripper, not to be confused with Keenan Wynn's, Colonel 'Bat' Guano, seemed wildly over the top to me -- Until I went in the Army and met General Hank Emerson but he's another story.

Here's another obscure interview with Hayden on his live aboard barge in Paris. Hayden, like a lot of actors who served in WWII, seemed embarrassed by his success and would drop in and out of Hollywood whenever he needed money or his soul. Stoic about his military service in the OSS, critical of his home land, he was in the end, light years ahead of most.

I once worked with a retired Alaska State Trooper who reminds me of Hayden.  Full of insane stories, he had an independence and insight I respected. He told me, "It's not what a man is born with that makes him a man.  We're all born with more than we need.  It's what we lose and give up in our life that makes us the men we are.

Hayden wrote in his 1964 autobiography, 'Wanderer,' " ...we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.  The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?"


Yankee-Whisky-Papa said...

That quote of his is as relevant today as it was then. Had I not seen that 1964 date, I would have pegged it as a 2012 comment.

Have a good Thanksgiving, TinTin.

Brohammas said...

I was once given a corporate car by my employer. It was a minivan. It was the completion of my soul being completely sold.
Soul resurrection is possible.

Anonymous said...

Sterling Hayden. When he was old and dying of cander he advised buying a Lincoln Town car to cruise the countryside, "when everything is gone and shot to hell" is the way he put it, the Lincolns "therapeutic" he would say/ No one ever saw him, big as he was, getting out of anything but a Karman Ghia! Drinking or drunk he would talk to his cancer, in the abdomen, as if it were a dog that needed scolding. Great post about an interesting man

Main Line Sportsman said...

I have been holding a grudge against Mr. hayden ever since he sucker punched Mikey Corleone!

Wallace Stroby said...

There's a longer version of that interview - and a follow-up - on the Criterion disc of THE KILLING. In the second one he talks frankly about naming names to HUAC and how it haunted him afterward. It's a great film too.