From the Mountain Democrat--Placerville, California
Thursday, November 19, 1990
Peabody's Place by Richard Peabody

One of Them Didn't

Working as a member of the cast of a television series can be a joyful experience or a nightmare. It all depends on how well the actors like each other.

I spent five years during the '60s on a TV show called "Combat!" It was about an infantry squad in World War II and starred the late Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders and Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley. The co-stars were Jack Hogan (Kirby), Pierre Jalbert (Caje), Conlan Carter (Doc) and myself as Littlejohn.

We were widely known in the industry as a "happy" show. The guest stars liked to work with us because playing soldier is a lot of fun and they were under no pressure to take sides in intramural disputes. There were no disputes.

Although none of us in the cast of "Combat!" were acquainted before the shooting started, we developed a genuine regard for each other in a short time. That affection has lasted almost 30 years.

Vic is no longer with us and Conlan Carter drifted away--changed careers and, the last we heard, was piloting commercial jets. But the rest of us stay in touch.

My wife, Tina, and I moved to Placerville recently from North Hollywood and last week two of my "Combat!" buddies checked in. Rick Jason called from Los Angeles to find out how we liked our new home and Jack Hogan called from Hawaii where he has a recurring role as a judge in the CBS-TV show "Jake and the Fatman." Each is planning to visit us soon.

In the '60s, San Francisco Chronicler Herb Caen was perceptive enough to sense the chemistry of the cast and in a column largely devoted to "Combat!" attributed much of the success of the show to that extra dimension.

Later, in his Aug. 3, 1980 column, Caen wrote: "Reruns of the ancient TV series "Combat!" shown on San Jose's Channel 36 these Saturdays, tell you a lot more than Sam does (referring to Sam Fuller's movie "The Big Red One" starring Lee Marvin) about the dogfaces of World War II and star Vic Morrow is superb in every sequence. I don't know what ever became of ol' Vic, but it's a shame. Nor do I know why they don't make series like this any longer." (Vic was accidentally killed in July 1982.)

The following incident demostrates that part of getting along with others is not taking yourself too seriously and never losing your sense of humor.

On a lunch break at one of MGM's back lots, I had just passed through the chow line and was headed for my dressing room, tray in hand, when Rick Jason (Lt. Hanley) invited me to join him in his trailer. He and guest star Telly Savalas were playing gin rummy. Neither was having lunch since both were dieting.

I gorged myself while they continued to play cards, casting occasional wistful looks at the food I was attacking. Soon, Rick reached into a brown paper bag and withdrew two hard boiled eggs, offering one to Telly who declined. Rick was between wives then and, having no one to boil his eggs for him, had boiled them himself that morning. He cracked the first one on the table, peeled it and ate it. A few minutes later, he cracked the second one and raw egg spread over the playing cards and oozed onto Rick's lap. He jumped up and shouted, "One of them didn't cook!" Laughter could be heard from a small group of extras, stuntmen, and bit players outside the trailer.

To this day, Rick thinks I switched the eggs. Actually, I was as surprised as he was. The culprit was an extra named Phil Altman. But what was so funny was not the practical joke itself but Rick's reaction to it: "One of them didn't cook." How could two eggs boiled in the same water turn out differently?

Rick will go on believing I was responsible and I will continue to protest my innocence, but we will always be friends; after all we've known each other for almost 30 years.

I won't salute him, though.

Dick Peabody's columns about Combat!:
Dick Peabody writes about Rick Jason
Dick Peabody writes about Vic Morrow
Dick Peabody writes about Robert Goulet
Dick Peabody writes about Vic Morrow's death
Combat Guest Stars
Dick Peabody writes about Jack Hogan
Dick Peabody writes about Rick Jason on The Dangerous Robin

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