Where Are They Now - Friday, August 3, 2018
I am currently on vacation so I'm going to run a classic issue...with a very special WATN celebrity - Mr. Burton Gilliam.
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The best part of writing 'Where Are They Now' is discovering more about some of the most beloved and talent stars from the world of entertainment. That was until I had the chance to interview an iconic actor and PulseTV.com customer, Mr. Burton Gilliam. Most of you will remember Mr. Gilliam as Lyle in the Mel Brooks' western comedy Blazing Saddles.
After all of the issues I've done I never thought that I would ever have the unique opportunity to speak with an iconic entertainer that has appeared in so many of classic films and television shows. Mr. Gilliam sent Anisa an email concerning one of products on PulseTV.com and she had the wonderful idea of asking him if he wouldn't mind being interviewed by yours truly. I've never interviewed anyone in my life. I'm not going to lie, I was nervous. But Mr. Gilliam was such a pleasure to speak with, sharing so much about his career, his life, and so many great behind the scenes stories about classic films and shows that so many people love.
I wanted to share some of this experience with you. So today's star of 'Where Are They Now' is the wonderfully talented, Mr. Burton Gilliam.
Sometimes all you have to do is take a chance. That's how actor Burton Gilliam got his start in the motion picture business.
After seeing an ad in a newspaper for a casting call in Dallas, Burton decided to give acting a shot. After his audition for director Peter Bogdanovich, in addition to thunderous applause, Burton was cast in the 1973 film 'Paper Moon,' as Floyd the desk clerk.
'Paper Moon' went on the be a tremendous success and Tatum O'Neal, at the age of 10, won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Burton enjoyed his experienced, but didn't think anything would come of it... that was until one Mr. Mel Brooks saw a rough cut of 'Paper Moon' and personally called Burton to offer him the role of Lyle in the legendary comedy, 'Blazing Saddles.' Mr. Gilliam told me that he hung up on Mel Brooks the first time, as we all would. On the second call, Brooks told him not to hang up and then offered the role to Burton, which he accepted and the rest as they say...is history.
During his time on 'Blazing Saddles,' Mr. Gilliam told me that the first three takes were always a laugh riot; it was hard to keep a straight face. You can't keep a straight face watching it, filming must have been the ultimate test of self-control. Then, take four was all business.
While filming the soon to be classic comedy, Mr. Gilliam said he was having a difficult time directing scripted racial slurs at his fellow actors, especially to his co-star Cleavon Little. After several takes, Cleavon Little took him off to the side and told him it was okay because these weren't his words. They were acting. Everyone was on the same page and saw the humor and what the movie was truly about.
We talk about so many of his experiences in the movies and on television (Fletch, Back to the Future III, Evening Shade) and even lending his voice to video games like Redneck Rampage. It seems like Burton has done it all... and actually he has.
He told me that if he had it to do all over again he wish that he would have had the foresight to learn the entertainment business earlier than he had, but he has no regrets. At 79, he still wants to do more television, movies, video games, but if the entertainment business went belly-up he would be satisfied with the career that he's had for over 45 years. He loves to entertain! It certainly shows in his work and it was undeniable when I spoke with him. It was such a thrill. He even said one of his lines from Fletch, "You know, he's got that look." One of my personal favorites. It was amazing!
With all of our email correspondence Mr. Gilliam would put "Keep smilin'" at the end of every message. When I asked him about that he said that "Keep smilin'" became his motto, both on and off the set, once his acting career took off. Whenever you see Mr. Gilliam in a movie, on television, in commercials, he's always smiling. His distinct smile and voice became his tools of the trade and made Mr. Burton Gilliam one of the most recognizable and enduring actors ever.
Mr. Gilliam, thank you for your time, talent, and sincerity.
Questions? Comments? Email Steve
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--DEAD OR ALIVE?--
See if you know if the following celebrities have had a visit from the "Grim Reaper":
Jack Warden: He starred or appeared in many, many movies, including "Heaven Can Wait", "Shampoo", "Run Silent Run Deep", "All the President's Men" and "The Verdict"
Simone Signoret: French actress, starred in "Diabolique" and "Ship of Fools"
Broderick Crawford: Gruff, tough-talking actor who appeared in movies for forty years, starred in "All the King's Men" and "Born Yesterday"
(Answer at the bottom)
Learn More About Burton Gilliam on Celebrity Nooz
August 9, 1938 in Dallas, Texas, USA
CLAIM TO FAME:
Burton Gilliam is an American actor most famous for his appearances in Blazing Saddles, Paper Moon, Honeymoon in Vegas, Fletch and much more.
Burton now resides with wife, Susan, in Allen, Texas. They have 2 children, 5 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.
Was a Golden Gloves boxer '59-'67; competed in 217 fights.
Before pursing acting, Gilliam was a fireman for 14 years.
Was assigned to Engine Co. 39 at the time of his resignation in 1972 from the Dallas Fire Department.
He was a Golden Gloves referee in Dallas, Texas, before he was an actor.
Professional boxing referee and judge in the State of California.
Lived in Hollywood from 1973-1996.
Met Madeline Kahn for the first time while making the film Paper Moon. She predicted that the two of them would work together again. Within three months, both of them had been cast in Blazing Saddles.
After seeing a rough cut of Paper Moon, director Mel Brooks called Gilliam personally to offer him the role of Lyle in Blazing Saddles.
Burton Gilliam has the distinction of being the first person in cinematic history to break wind in a feature film. See Blazing Saddles' campfire/beans scene if you haven't already.
In 1986 comedy Fletch, Chevy Chase invited Gilliam to lunch to go over the their scene together, the scene when the character of Fletch inspects an airplane. Gilliam said that the entire scene was improv-ed, except for the very first and last line, which were said as scripted. (One of the best scenes in the movie.)
During his time on the sitcom Evening Shade, Gilliam became a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences thanks to his friends and co-stars Burt Reynolds and Charles Durning.
Granddaughter HOLLIE VISE won the gold medal at the World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, 2004 (Uneven Bars). She's in the Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Dated future 'Wonder Woman' Lynda Carter for 6-months.
WHERE IS HE NOW:
Gilliam currently resides Allen, Texas. He spends the majority of his time on the golf course and making 50 television commericals, for auto dealers and the like, a year.
2018 The Lucky Man...Pawn Broker's Dad
2013-2016 Bail Out (TV Series)...Bubba Jack Jones
- I am Lorenzo Lamas (2016) ... Bubba Jack Jones
- Heist or Hit (2014) ... Bubba Jack Jones
- You Shootin' at Me? (2013) ... Bubba Jack Jones
2014 The Wisdom to Know the Difference...Jesse
2013 Off Her Meds (TV Series)...Dr. Duke
2012 The Painted Woman (Short)...Jim
2012 Return to Vengeance...Leonard
2010 The Good Guys (TV Series)...Locksmith
- Dan on the Run (2010) ... Locksmith
2010 Breaking the Press
2009 Fire from Below...Bubba
2007 Retribution Road (Video)...Allie
2007 Cake: A Wedding Story...Judge
2006 Inspector Mom (TV Movie)...Ralph Zender
2006 Killing Down...Turner
2005 City of Justice (TV Series)
- Family Values (2005)
2005 Drop Dead Sexy...Big Tex
2004 The Fanglys (Video)...Sheriff Pete
2003 Shtickmen...Ray Sellers
2003 88 Hits...Victor Bordeaux
2003 Sweet Hideaway...Det. Dick Johnson
2002 An Eye for Detail...Professor William Seymore
2002 Mi Amigo...Older Pal Grisham
2001 The Journeyman...Silas Bishop
1999 Walker, Texas Ranger (TV Series)...Frank
- The Lynn Sisters
1999 Sliders (TV Series)...Stage Driver
- Way Out West
1999 Soccer Dog: The Movie...The Mail Man
1998 Redneck Rampage Rides Again (Video Game)...Leonard (voice)
1997 The Wonderful World of Disney (TV Series)...Mecanic Race Announcer
- The Love Bug
1997 Redneck Rampage (Video Game)...Leonard (voice)
1995 Wild Bill...Bartender
1995 Weird Science (TV Series)...Snake
- The Legend of Red Brick Wallace
1995 Born to Be Wild...Dwayne
1995 Victim of Desire...Lynch
1990-1994 Evening Shade (TV Series)...Virgil
- The Odder Couple (1994) ... Virgil
- Wood Climbs to New Heights (1994) ... Virgil
- Mr. Newton Goes to Hot Springs (1994) ... Virgil
- The Fabulous Frazier Girls (1994) ... Virgil
- Paint the Town Nude (1994) ... Virgil
Show all 60 episodes
1994 The Getaway...Gollie
1992 Honeymoon in Vegas...Roy Bacon, Elvis Impersonator
1992 Quake (Video)...Willie
1991 The Terror Within II...Dewitt (as Burton 'Bubba' Gilliam)
1990 Back to the Future Part III...Colt Gun Salesman
1990 Out of This World (TV Series)
- Cowboy Kyle, Man of Granite
1988 Red River (TV Movie)...Buster
1987 The Under Achievers...Red
1987 Mama's Family (TV Series)...Bud
- Workman's Holiday
1987 Houston Knights (TV Series)
- Single in Heaven (1987)
1986 Convicted (TV Movie)...Lieutenant Nance
1986 North and South, Book II (TV Mini-Series)...Cpl. Strock
1986 Dream West (TV Mini-Series)...Martineau
- Episode #1.2 (1986) ... Martineau
- Dream West (1986) ... Martineau
1986 Uphill All the Way...Corporal
1985 Hail to the Chief (TV Series)...Clovis Montgomery
- Episode #1.6
- Episode #1.5
- Episode #1.4
1984 The Master (TV Series)...Deputy Landen
1983 The Fall Guy (TV Series)...Sheriff
- Baker's Dozen
1983 The A-Team (TV Series)...Sheriff Jeff Lewis
- A Nice Place to Visit
1983 Gun Shy (TV Series)...Jeremiah Jones
- What Do You Mean 'We' Amigo?
1983 Knight Rider (TV Series)...Trucker Gene
- Knight Moves
1982 Foxfire Light...Deke
1979-1982 The Dukes of Hazzard (TV Series)...Heep / Tom Colt
- The Sound of Music - Hazzard Style (1982) ... Heep
- Double Sting (1979) ... Tom Colt
1981 Best of the West (TV Series)...Ringo
- The Calico Kid Returns
1981 The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite (TV Movie)...Hoover Hess III
1981 Thirsty Workers (TV Series) (voice)
1980 Flo (TV Series)...J.J. Castleberry
- A Castleberry Thanksgiving: Part 2
- A Castleberry Thanksgiving: Part 1
1980 The Georgia Peaches (TV Movie)...Delbert Huggins
1980 The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything (TV Movie)...Hoover Hess
1980 Where the Ladies Go (TV Movie)...Stotts
1980 The $5.20 an Hour Dream (TV Movie)...Turnvil
1979 B.J. and the Bear (TV Series)...Lacy
- Fly a Wild Horse
1979 Young Maverick (TV Series)...Barbary Kid
1979 The Jericho Mile (TV Movie)...Jimmy-Jack
1979 Soap (TV Series)...Buck
- Episode #2.17
- Episode #2.16
1976-1979 How the West Was Won (TV Series)...Woodley / Cory Nealson
- The Gunfighter (1979) ... Cory Nealson
- Interlude (1978) ... Woodley
- Mormon Story (1978) ... Woodley
- Buffalo Story (1978) ... Woodley
- Pilot (1976) ... Woodley
1978 Lawman Without a Gun (TV Movie)...Rev. Farrell
1978 Big Bob Johnson and His Fantastic Speed Circus (TV Movie)...Half-Moon Muldoon
1978 The Beasts Are on the Streets (TV Movie)...Al Loring
1976-1978 Alice (TV Series)...Buford Baker / Jimmie Joe Castleberry
- Love Me, Love My Horse (1978) ... Jimmie Joe Castleberry
- Mel's Happy Burger (1977) ... Buford Baker
- Vera's Mortician (1976) ... Buford Baker
1977 Bunco (TV Movie)...Cashier
1977 Telefon...Gas Station Attendant
1977 Another Man, Another Chance...Sheriff Murphy
1977 Charlie's Angels (TV Series)...Ulmer
- Pretty Angels All in a Row
1975 The Waltons (TV Series)...J.D. Paulsen
- The Estrangement
1975 The Night That Panicked America (TV Movie)...Tex
1975 Hearts of the West...Lester
1975 Farewell, My Lovely...Cowboy
1975 Home Cookin' (TV Movie)...Jammer
1975 At Long Last Love...Man at Racetrack
1974 Thunderbolt and Lightfoot...Welder
1974 Remember When (TV Movie)...Zack
1974 Blazing Saddles...Lyle
1973 Cannon (TV Series)...Deputy
- Perfect Alibi
1973 Love, American Style (TV Series)...Jasper (segment "Love and the Hoodwinked Honey")
- Love and the Cozy Comrades/Love and the Flunky/Love and the Hoodwinked Honey/Love and the Secret Spouse
1973 Paper Moon...Floyd (Desk Clerk)
To see Then & Now pictures of Burton Gilliam, visit: Celebrity Nooz
--Answers to DEAD OR ALIVE--
Jack Warden - DEAD
Born: 09/18/1920 Died: 07/19/2006
Simone Signoret - DEAD (Cancer)
Born: 03/25/1921 Died: 09/30/1985
Broderick Crawford - DEAD (Stroke)
Born: 12/09/1911 Died: 04/26/1986
WHO PASSED ON THIS WEEK...
Vakhtang Balavadze, 90, Georgian freestyle wrestler, world champion (1954, 1957).
Kalparanjan Chakma, 100, Bangladeshi politician.
Jimmy Collins, 80, Scottish footballer (Brighton & Hove Albion, Tottenham Hotspur).
Vaughn Eshelman, 49, American baseball player (Boston Red Sox).
Corinne Gallant, 96, Canadian academic and feminist, professor emeritus (Université de Moncton).
Alexander Isakov, 39, Russian actor, complications from pneumonia.
Delwin Jones, 94, American politician, member of the Texas House of Representatives (1964-1972, 1989-2011).
Sergio Marchionne, 66, Italian-Canadian automotive executive (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ferrari, Maserati), complications from surgery.
Guy Molinari, 89, American politician, member of the U.S. House of Representatives for New York's 14th (1983-1989) and 17th districts (1981-1983) and State Assembly (1975-1980).
Ricardo C. Puno, 95, Filipino lawyer and politician, Minister of Justice (1979-1984).
György Szepesi, 96, Hungarian radio sportscaster and football executive, Executive Committee Chairman of FIFA (1982-1994).
Rudi Thomaes, 65, Belgian businessman, CEO of the Federation of Belgian Enterprises.
Líber Vespa, 46, Uruguayan football player (Rosario Central, national team) and coach (C.A. Cerro), aneurism.
Giancarlo Vitali, 88, Italian painter and engraver.
Patrick Williams, 79, American film and television composer (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Breaking Away, Cry-Baby), cancer.
Mary Ellis, 101, British aviator.
Florindo Fabrizio, 73, American politician, member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (since 2003), cancer.
Walter Hirrlinger, 92, German politician.
Weniamin Fjodorowitsch Jakowlew (de), 86, Russian politician.
John Murray, 83, English cricketer (Middlesex, national team).
Delroy Scott, 71, Jamaican footballer (Atlanta Chiefs).
Murray Watson Jr., 86, American politician, member of the Texas Senate (1963-1973) and House of Representatives (1957-1963).
Phail Wynn, 70, American educator and banker (SunTrust Banks), president of Durham Tech (1980-2007).