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None Such Notables ...

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Tiny Town, USA – People -- strangers -- are never quite who we think they are. Unless you're very good at reading people, that is. Certain poker players have developed this skill into an art. 

Anyway. This is Alex.  

He's a familiar figure on the downtown scene, knocking about here and there with a western-style kerchief or a scarf around his neck, showing up at public meetings, outdoor protests, musical gatherings.

We never bothered to engage him in conversation, writing him off as just another local eccentric; light in the loafers: heavy on the meds.

Recently that changed. We ran into him in Buffalo Street Books as he insinuated himself into a conversation about Peter Lorre, the actor.

Turns out Alex once sat next to Peter Lorre, in New York. Alex said he didn't want bother Mr. Lorre so he just sat there quietly.

We thought that was the end of it and we waited for him to move it along.

But, as turns out, this was just an introductory story.

For Alex had a far more intimate brush with Hollywood when he worked with Robert Downey Sr. on a film in New York, he told us. (Baby Downey, Jr., was there as well, says Alex, but he was just a wee sprat then, hardly big enough to tip a jigger of rock n' rye).

The film was called "Greaser's Palace" a vulgar B-movie send-up of the Life of Christ. The New York Times panned it in a review  on Aug. 1, 1972.

At the time, Downey Sr., was best known for the  movie "Putney Swope"; but Downey also was a master of the offbeat super low budget film. That makes "Greaser's Palace" an unusual flick. Shot in New Mexico, the film cost $1 million at the time, an extraordinary chunk of change for Downey to blow on a production. Detractors say he used it to poor ends, but "Greaser's Palace" is a cult classic today, according to Prof. Wiki.

Alex asked us if we could guess what role he played in the movie. We were stumped: A cross-dressing Pontius Pilate perhaps?

He gave me his screen name and we searched online -- there it was: Alex Hitchcock.

He played The Nun. We weren't that far off. Maybe we should take up poker. 

– C. Penbroke Handy 

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 October 2009 04:40  

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