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Hey, somebody crazy stole my bus!

~~ Remembering Lester Dorr ~~

Dianne Dorr Tuckerman
Barb Paulk
Jim Nolt

The stars of television series quite naturally receive top billing and garner most of the attention, but quite often the supporting players deserve more credit than they are given. And so it was with Lester Dorr in “The Mind Machine,” one of the most action-packed episodes in Superman's first season.

Briefly, Dr. Stanton's hypnotherapy transmitter, a machine designed to treat minor nervous disorders from a distance, is stolen by Lou Cranek, the kingpin of organized crime in Metropolis, and subsequently used against witnesses appearing before Senator Taylor's crime committee. With the machine, Cranek imposes his will on the witnesses... forcing them to change their testimony. When Carl Wagoner, head bookkeeper for Cranek's Playtime Syndicate, is subjected to the machine's “beam,” his mind is first damaged... eventually destroyed.

Leaving the committee room in a daze, Wagoner steals a car and heads out of town. Lois Lane and Clark Kent follow in their car. When a flat tire brings his Wagoner's car to a halt, he spies a school bus with faulty brakes parked along the road. Not able to think straight, Wagoner commandeers the bus with three kids inside and careens down a winding road. Lois and the bus driver give pursuit while Clark makes an excuse to stay behind so he can change to Superman and finally bring the bus to a halt.

(Click image for video)

So exciting and important was this sequence to some of us that we made it a point to visit the site where it was filmed. On July 1, 2018 a group of us drove to Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook to imagine what it was like those many years ago where once stood Harry Hayden, Phyllis Coates, George Reeves, and Lester Dorr.

A few weeks after this trip to Baldwin Hills I had the pleasure of meeting (via Facebook) Dianne Tuckerman Dorr and Barb Paulk. Dianne and Barb, Lester Dorr's nieces.

Although Lester was the oldest of eleven children, they were not close. One of the sisters became a professional dancer, Barb's father, Edward was a trapeze artist for a time and then an iron worker; Dianne's father, Vincent was menagerie superintendent at Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus; and Lester, of course, became an actor.

Lester Dorr was born in born in Boston on May 8, 1893 and appeared in more than five hundred productions between 1917 and 1975. Among his many credits are two appearances on the Adventures of Superman, four on Lawman with John Russell, three on Perry Mason, and thirteen on The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp with Hugh O'Brien. In 1966 he appeared on Green Acres.

Lester Dorr passed away at the age of 87 on August 25, 1980 in Los Angeles.

Photos provided by Dianne Dorr Tuckerman

The Many Faces of Lester Dorr

Family Pictures

Left – Lester's brother, Vincent
Center – Vincent and Lester
Right – Vincent and Lester
Below left – early Dorr family portrait (Lester on the right)
Below right – Grace Painter, Lester's wife

Below – Lester's younger sister, Dorothy (not yet born when the portrait above was taken), was a professional dancer.
Using the name Dorethea La-Dorr, she and her partner, Enrico Pasquale, enjoyed a beautiful career.
Tragically, Dorothy died from the effects of rheumatic fever in 1942 at the age of 38.

And More...

One additional note: The name Dorr was originally the French surname, Drouin. It was changed to Dore and then to Dorr after Joseph Drouin emigrated to Maine in 1846. Lester’s father was of French Canadian descent and his mother was Irish.

Posted: August 14, 2018
Updated: August 16, 2018

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