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'Superman' Is Just Quiet Fellow From Ashland

Herald-Advisor, January 1, 1956

Almost everyday at the message boards, Richard Potter brings attention to various moments from the calendar featuring the events of George Reeves' life. One interesting entry he brought to our attention was of the title you see above. The entry initiated the inquisitive mind of Colete Morlock and the diligent search investigation to find the article by Serena Enger. You'll note the article shown below lists George's birthplace as Ashland, Kentucky. We know from many years of knowledge that George was born in Woolstock, Iowa. Immediately after Helen divorced Mr. Don Brewer she stayed with relatives for a very short time in Ashland before venturing on to Pasadena, California.

Unfortunately, this copy is not the best quality, but I'm sure that is hardly a concern. As for the article itself and the information it contains, I've my own reasons for why it refers to George being from Ashland, since by this time George was well aware of his Iowa roots. I also have speculations as to who contributed information to Mrs. Ray Anderson's article. Regarding other aspects, Colete kicked off some research regarding an entry directly realated to Fred Crane. As for other portions, I'll leave it up to you good folks to wonder and speculate on your own and should you wish to do so, fell free to e-mail me at looper56@aol.com your comments. I can post your words to the Readers Response page. If you prefer it not be listed please be sure to let me know. For now, enjoy the article, courtesy of and thanks to Colete and Serena.

 

George studying his library in his Devon Street apartment, circa, 1953.

 

I'm sure by this point you found several interesting statements. One stand out is George being called to perform a "dual role" as both Tarleton Twins in Gone With the Wind. Colete took a moment to write to Fred Crane's wife Terry to get the "skinny" on the subject. Fred as we all know played George's twin brother, Brent, or is it Stuart? Well, which ever it is Fred and Terry have a real eye-opener response with the "dual role" issue. Terry also gives a logical explanation of which of the two, regardless of screen credit played Brent.

Hi, Colete.

I'm not sure I understand what the article means by "the second Tarleton, incidentally, retired from the stage after the fall of Atlanta..." I am assuming that they mean after GONE WITH THE WIND was filmed.

Right after GWTW, Fred was cast in the role of President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the Hollywood Theatre Alliance, cast by J. Edward Bromberg, a famous character actor. George Bessolo Reeves and then girlfriend, Ellanore, were actors at the Pasadena Community Playhouse.

In 1940, Fred married his first wife, Marcelle. (George was Fred's best man.) Shortly thereafter, they discovered that his wife, Marcelle, was with child, so he began looking for a steady job in order to provide security for his new family. (The sporadic work of an actor made one rich one day and then poor for a month.) A friend of Marcelle's, Jack O'Fearna, nephew of director, John Ford, recommended Fred to the machine shop at Criterion Machine in Beverly Hills. He began his new steady job burring parts for aircraft. It was certainly timely because World War II broke out a year or so later. On the day "that will live in infamy" (President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 7, 1941), all those who supplied parts for the Armed Forces were locked on their jobs by the Draft Board. Otherwise, Fred's bones may have been bleaching on the beach in some faraway land during World War II.

Later, Fred recorded a great many radio dramas for Armed Forces Radio as well as appeared in numerous television shows and a few movies. He also narrated some cartoons. Fred also dubbed in foreign languages for many original English-speaking movies and television programs. Fred has a natural ear for foreign accents since he speaks several languages. He also spent many years as a program director and classical music announcer at a large classical radio station in Los Angeles during this time. Basically, Fred is a Renaissance Man. During his lifetime, (besides working in television, movies and radio broadcasting) Fred was a burr hand for aircraft, machinist, toolmaker, supplier for WWII, settler of contracts for the Audit Staff of Douglas Aircraft, worked with industrial engineers, built houses, was a graduate from Cal Institute of Medical Technology, ran a laboratory for a hospital, worked as a pit boss at a gambling club, taught "Fundamentals of Broadcasting" at Speare School of Radio, traveled extensively to many countries, lectured on numerous cruise ships, colleges, etc., spokesman for the Clark Gable Foundation, Motts Military Museum, narrated the Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro, Georgia, ran a GWTW-themed bed and breakfast and museum in Georgia, and more.. Whew!

As I told you previously, Fred was cast first as both Tarleton Twins. Selznick had been looking for Tarleton Twins for a couple of years. When Fred was cast, he didn't even know he was a contender for a part in the movie. He was only at the Selznick Studios as a "tagalong" with a cousin, silent film actress, Leatrice Joy, and her daughter, Little Leatrice Joy Gilbert, who was going to audition for the part of Suellen O'Hara. Fred certainly had no Hollywood agent at the time. When GWTW director, George Cukor, heard Fred's southern accent and asked him to read some lines from the opening scene of GONE WITH THE WIND, Cukor brought Fred by the hand up to Selznick's office. Also in Selznick's office was Vivien Leigh who was negotiating for how much money she would take for playing the part of Scarlett. David Selznick asked Fred to read the opening lines with Vivien. They read them so naturally, as if they had been rehearsing the scene a hundred times together. Selznick smiled at Cukor. Selznick asked his assistant, Marcella, to bring in a stock contract and said to Fred, "Sign here." The rest is history. He was cast originally as both Tarleton Twins. Selznick was planning to do process shots in the scenes that required the Tarleton Twins, but this would have limited the movement in the scenes. George had an agent who presented him to Selznick a couple of weeks later. George was the same height as Fred (both were 6' 1/2") and they could pass as brothers, so George was cast. Fred and George became the "Tarleton Boys" in the film, GONE WITH THE WIND, eliminating the need for complicated process shots. By the way, neither of them were red heads. That's Hollywood!

Just remember, Colete, don't take newspaper articles, magazine articles, or books as "the Gospel" as quite a few of them contain flaws. It's like you tell one person a story. That person tells another...and on and on. By the time, it gets back to the one that told the original story, the story is so changed that you don't even recognize it! One said, "One Tarleton Twin went on to become Superman and the other sadly committed suicide."

One thing is for sure, many people confused Fred and George constantly during the filming of GONE WITH THE WIND. Even Sue Myrick, Technical Director on GWTW, remarked, "I went over to Stage 11 where some test shots were under way. Two boys whose hair had been dyed red were being tested for the Tarleton twins. One of them, George Bessolo, is from New Orleans; the other, Fred Crane, is from Kentucky and they both are born Tarletons! They act like screwballs all the time they aren't working." (Taken from the book, WHITE COLUMNS IN HOLLYWOOD, which are Susan Myrick's notes compiled into a book.) There were several things incorrect about this excerpt. 1) Fred is from New Orleans, not George. 2) George is from Kentucky, not New Orleans. By the time their hair was dyed red, they both had been officially cast in their respective roles as Brent and Stuart Tarleton. There were some stills taken of them in costume and make-up when Sue Myrick thought that they were being tested for the roles.

In GONE WITH THE WIND Fred is the first to speak in the movie (left side of the film holding the mint julep); however, the movie credits (in some versions of the movie) list George first as Brent Tarleton, when in actuality, George was Stuart Tarleton. Since Fred spoke the first lines, Fred's name should be listed at the top because the credits are listed in order of appearance. In the opening scene of GWTW, George (who is Stuart) says to Scarlett (Vivien Leigh), "You ARE going to dance with us...first Brent, then me, then Brent, then me..." So, see, George HAS to be Stuart.

Another excerpt from that same book, WHITE COLUMNS IN HOLLYWOOD, stated "George Bessolo is one twin and Fred Crane is the other, but nobody knows which is who. They both have mops of red hair and though they are not exactly alike, they are both so funny that we didn't bother to remember one from t'other."

By the way, the cover of the aforementioned book has a picture of Sue Myrick with Fred and George on each arm. Both Fred and George are in costume and Sue has the Cecil B. deMille look. All are grinning. It's a cute picture. A copy of this photo, as well as a lot of other "skinny" will be in our book, FROM TARA TO TARLETON OAKS...A GONE WITH THE WIND SCRAPBOOK.

Thanks for writing, Colete. Hope this clears up the descrepancies.

Sincerely, Terry

 

Thank you Colete. Please extend our best wishes to both Terry and Fred for giving us their precious time.

Thanks for Watching.

Lou (January 18, 2008)   

 


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