From the Mountain Democrat--Placerville,
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
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
I won't salute him, though.
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