Walcott's mostly respectable acting career will be best remembered for a major
blip: starring in Plan 9 from Outer Space
His film career began in 1952, with a minor role in the Richard Widmark film Red
Skies of Montana
. His appearance in the film was panned, but instead
of backing out of a film career, he used this poor reception as motivation to
put better effort into future roles. 1955's Battle Cry
directed by Raoul Walsh, put Walcott on the map as a respectable actor.
His respectability was such that businessman Ed Reynolds thought that Walcott
could lend credibility to Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space
figured right away that the film was an incoherent mess, both from the script
and from the premise of Bela Lugosi, already dead for several years, appearing
in it, but thought that Reynolds seemed sincere and assumed that Plan
would remain obscure. Not even Walcott's agent knew he appeared in
it. Needless to say, Walcott failed to anticipate Plan 9
's future infamy.
To Walcott's credit, Plan 9
didn't torpedo his acting career, even if it caused it to stall for a brief
period. In the years after Plan 9
, he appeared frequently in
TV westerns and had a role in Steven Spielberg's directorial debut, Sugarland
. Yet starring in Plan 9
ended up his best-remembered role.
Unsurprisingly, Walcott was initially chagrined that Plan 9
would be his legacy, joking in
a 1998 interview, "It's enough to drive a puritan to drink!" Yet he
later admitted that he never thought he'd have been perceived as a star, and that
he'd come to terms with knowing all of his obituaries would mention said film
in the headline.
Certainly, if not for Plan 9, Walcott wouldn't have been
picked by anyone in the AODP. I wondered, a few years back, if anyone of note
from the film was still with us and discovered that the lead was, and used this
knowledge to my advantage. Therefore I, Jefferson Survives, receive 10 points
(5 for age + 5 for solo).
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