Remember Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr.?

This is how time gets wasted. And consequently, why I post so seldom, among other derelictions of duty.

The other day I had an earworm, and I was trying to figure out what it was. You know how those torment me. Rather than a pop song, it was an instrumental piece, of the grandiose sort. I decided it was the theme music from one of those blockbuster war movies from the 1960s or ’70s, with every actor from the A list, but apparently no writers, and no directors capable of demanding decent acting. You know, like “The Longest Day.”

But it wasn’t that one. No play on Beethoven’s 5th. For a moment, I reached into the ’70s, deciding it might be “A Bridge Too Far.” I went to YouTube to check the theory, but before the first notes sounded, I stopped the video. I had realized it was from “The Battle of the Bulge.” And, as I clicked around trying to confirm, I became unsure it was actually the theme. It was an instrumental version of the “Panzerlied” — which does crop up in the theme, briefly (go to the 29-second mark in this), and is the only memorable tune that emerges. It’s the song those young officers sing while stamping their feet to prove to Robert Shaw vat gut little Nazis zey all vere.

That made me start thinking about what an abominably disappointing film it was. It wasn’t quite the greatest insult Hollywood has ever flung at my late father-in-law’s war service. That distinction belongs to “Hogan’s Heroes.” (My father-in-law was captured in the Ardennes, and spent the rest of the war in a German POW camp. A real one. There was nothing cute or amusing about it.)

But it was pretty bad. I got to pondering what made it so bad. Was it Henry Fonda? Of course not. How could I be critical of Mister Roberts (although don’t get me started on how he was more than 20 years too old for that role)? Although the prig colonel played by Dana Andrews, whose job it was to scoff at Henry’s premonitions, was pretty insufferable. Telly Savalas? Well, the cuteness of the black marketeer’s relationship with the impossibly pretty Belgian girl (yeah, like she’d go for Kojak) was utterly absurd. Both he and Robert Ryan were more fun in “The Dirty Dozen” (of course, as much as I loved that one as a kid, I assure you it didn’t hold up well over the years, either).

As I ran through the cast, trying to thing of the scene or role or actor that best exemplified how little the filmmakers cared, I settled on the guy who played the leader of one of Otto Skorzeny’s units of German soldiers disguised as Americans during the battle. The guy who looked like he’d be equally at home playing one of the non-speaking surfers standing behind Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in one of those beach movies with Eric Von Zipper. I seemed to recall the same guy appearing in “P.T. 109,” with his hair dyed blond, as JFK’s XO Leonard Thom.

Yep. Ty Hardin. He had also starred in one of the less-well-remembered Warner Brothers TV westerns. To check this (as I do everything, all day long), I looked to Wikipedia. Yep, he starred in “Bronco.”

But that’s not the good part of what I read in Wikipedia. The good part was that his real name (you already realize it wasn’t really “Ty Hardin,” of course) was Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr.

No, not making it up.

I’ve always taken something of a dim view of people changing their names, which I see as sort of disrespectful to their parents — especially if they are “juniors.”

But I think I might give ol’ Ty a pass on this one. He had a career to think of, such as it was.

OK, I’ll go do some work now…

One thought on “Remember Orison Whipple Hungerford Jr.?

  1. Barry

    May 9, 2023

    ‘Trump was great at this’:
    How conservatives transformed a Colorado school district

    A new school board quickly enacted its agenda in Woodland Park. Now teachers are leaving and the board faces growing opposition, including from lifelong GOP voters.

    ‘A very important step’

    At the Woodland Park school board’s most recent meeting on April 12, only a handful of the 50 people packed into a conference room under fluorescent lights voiced support for the board.

    One was a man who’d brought a red leather-bound Bible with him. He gave a short speech during the public comment session in which he called teachers “insurrectionists” and implored the board to stand up to them to “stop the next Reichstag that is bound to happen in the Woodland Park school district” — referring to an arson attack on the German parliamentary building in 1933 that Nazis blamed on Communists.

    But the hot topic that evening was students’ mental health. The board had proposed a resolution declaring opposition to a bill in the Colorado Legislature to offer voluntary annual mental health screenings of students in sixth grade and above.

    Craig Johnson, a father who describes himself as a “pro-life, gun loving native of Woodland Park,” transferred three of his children to a neighboring district in Manitou Springs. That district said 47 students from Woodland Park are transferring in the fall.

    Johnson said he was particularly bothered that the district’s leaders thought mental health was best left for parents to address at home.

    “There are lots of kids for whom home is a problem place, unfortunately,” Johnson said. “So don’t tell me mental health starts at home when we have examples of parents murdering at home.”

    Zehan Rogers, a Woodland Park sophomore, said he’s had a friend die by suicide and others who have had depression. He said he doesn’t think the board understands how important having mental health staff available is for the 2,000 students in the district.

    “It can save their lives,” he said. “There’s so many unforeseen consequences that will come from this.”

    Amber Hemingson, a sixth-grade teacher and mother, described how supportive colleagues and previous administrators were when her husband died of cancer in 2020, and her family struggled with depression in the aftermath.

    Standing at a podium a few feet away from the board members, Hemingson said the district had provided vital counseling services so she could continue working and her children could function in class. She recalled how Lee, the teacher who recently left the district, once found Hemingson’s suicidal daughter crying in the bathroom and comforted her.

    “Selfless WPSD employees cared for orphans and a widow in their distress,” she said, trying not to cry. “Will you look after orphans and widows in their distress, or will Christ say to you, as he said in Matthew 25:45, whatever you did not do for the least of thee, you did not do for me.”

    Fifteen minutes later, the board read the resolution, which vowed that the district would opt out of the mental health screenings if the bill passed. Rusterholtz said he was proud to support the resolution because parents should be in charge of their children’s education and mental health.

    “This is a very important step,” Rusterholtz said. “This is one more standing in the way of big government taking charge of your children.”

    The board passed the resolution unanimously. The man who’d earlier called teachers “insurrectionists” stood and applauded.


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