top of page
Clu Gulager - Journeyman Thespian

Interview by David Del Valle

Clu 1.jpg
living dead.jpg

Despite his homespun demeanor, Clu Gulager is a very eccentric, kinky and wildly creative artist. Fans primarily know him for his offbeat performances in

such diverse films as THE KILLERS (63) with Ronald Reagan and in the now-classic horror film RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (85) and the Vincent Price-hosted THE OFFSPRING (86). Clu and his actress- wife Miriam Byrd Nethery, conduct an experimental, to say the least, acting workshop and also produce their own Cassavetes- like home movies.

Clu & Miriam came into my life thanks to actor James Karen who had invited me to visit the set of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, which was Dan O’Bannon’s directorial debut. Clu greeted me as I arrived on the set and devoted himself to my well being during the entire visit. What I was unaware of at the time was the friction between O’Bannon and Clu. I saw none of it that afternoon but Jimmy told me afterwards that the two had squared off on more than one occasion. I would not see Gulager again until the following year when I

would act as the unit publicist for Jeff Burr’s directorial debut in THE OFFSPRING, which at the time was called FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM. Clu’s role had been shot a year or so before in Georgia and when I came to work on the film we were shooting wraparound material with Vincent Price and Susan Tyrrell. Clu would visit the set frequently and posed for publicity photographs. It was during this time that I conducted this interview and also got to know Clu and his wife socially.

I remember liking him almost immediately although I knew he could be “difficult” when pressed. We had a little wrap party at my house for just the crew and a few cast members and I had asked him to autograph a still from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. He gave me one of those famous grins that I recall so well from his films and said, “I’ll give this to you before I leave.” At the end of the evening he handed me the photo that not only contained an inscription but a rather graphic rendition of a cock and balls in neon green drawn on his pants. I guess he thought I didn’t have one like it and to this day he is the only actor to have drawn a dick on a picture for me. My lasting memory of Clu was seeing him a couple of years later at the Beverly Center in West Hollywood conducting his acting workshop. His students were unleashed on the unsuspecting shoppers rehearsing their various psychodramas on a none-too- willing public. I mustn’t leave out Miriam who is dear and strange at the same time. At the wrap party she went into my bathroom and discovered I had a photo of Peter Lorre on display. When she came out she went over to Clu and said, “Honey, did you know David has a picture of Peter Lorre in his bathroom? Isn’t that cute!?! You knew Peter, didn’t you honey?” She reminded me so much of a character out of a Tennessee Williams play and yet this couple is truly a hybrid of Los Angeles.

In the 18th Century, Christian Gulager, from Denmark, was an artist who once did a portrait of George Washington. He later deserted his family, moved South and had children with an Indian woman. Clu Gulager’s father, John Gulager, was a vaudeville and Broadway actor, who was in a musical with George M. Cohan. Clu was born William Martin Gulager in Holdenville, Oklahoma on Nov. 16, 1928. He grew up, an only child, on his (alcoholic) uncle’s large farm near Tahequah.

Clu (the nick-name means “Red Bird”) is part Cherokee, and is a cousin of Will Rogers. He was in the Marines, stationed at Camp Pendleton from '46 to ’48. “I started as an actor when I was 19, right after I got out of the Marine Corps and went to a small school in Oklahoma, then transferred to Baylor University in Texas where I happened to tie up with one of the few geniuses in theater called Paul Baker, he worked there for many years, and then started traveling around the world studying.” While taking college drama programs on the G.I. bill he met and acted with Miriam Byrd Nethery (from Pine Bluff, Arkansas) in a production of One Touch of Venus.

“I used to work in Paris with Jean-Louis Barrault. He said “Clu, you can watch my work but at the same time I’d like for you to go to a theatre called The Grand Guignol and I’d like you to watch them do their horror.” I said ‘What are you talking about?’ and he said ’Go And See.’ I went there many nights and it was all good fun. He was a great advocate of it.” The famous Theatre du Grand Guignol in Pigalle operated from 1897 to 1962. A sanitized version can be seen in MAD LOVE (35) and the theater’s bloody ghoulish spirit was picked up by directors (including Georges Franju, H. G. Lewis and Andy Milligan). Barrault, known for his stage directing and acting, was also in films including CHILDREN OF PARADISE (42), THE TESTAMENT OF DR. CORDELIER (61), and CHAPPAQUA (67).

Clu married Miriam in ’52 and they moved to NYC together. “In New York in order to make a living, in my youth, was to do live television. I did Bang The Drum Slowly from New York, on THE UNITED STATES STEEL HOUR. That was a live production. You work on the stage when you get a job, which is what I did also. There’s no money on the stage. John Houseman said, since 1976, there’s no money, no financing available for any kind of project in New York City. It’s all here. New York City is dead for the theatrical artist, by and large, unless you want to do bathroom theater. This is the place where it’s happening. In my area in downtown L.A. we have 14 new theaters being built, mine being one of them. Out of those theaters I would hope that we get some world class quality and subsequently recognition. Theatre doesn’t have to be so stodgy. You can have people upside down painted white acting.”

The Gulagers moved to Hollywood and were neighbors of Peter Falk, Michael Landon and James Darren. Son John Gulager II was born in ’58. Clu did a lot of TV work. “When Universal (TV) was formed I was part of that thing. I was with MCA. They bought Revue Studios, which in turn bought Universal Studios. At that time they signed me for the first contract for a television studio player in the world. The union and the studio and myself got together and worked out the contract - television stock player. Then they signed a guy named Reed Morgan and that didn’t work out so well, then they signed Doug McClure. His worked out very well. So that started the system. They worked it for many years here - television contractees. It gradually went away. They turned the whole thing loose and the stable went away. An era is gone, I don’t know if it’s good or bad. A lot of us learned a lot about acting. We worked constantly. We learned things that maybe you could never learn otherwise.” Morgan starred on THE DEPUTY (60-61) and the late McClure was on THE OVERLAND TRAIL (60), then CHECKMATE (60-62). The biggest star to (slowly) emerge from Universal TV was RAWHIDE regular Clint Eastwood. When asked if he has tapes of any of his TV programs, Clu says “I don’t save things. I don’t even save things in my mind. I don’t even go to rushes."

Clu acted on many TV shows in ’59, but received the most attention for starring in The Mad Dog Coll Story

on THE UNTOUCHABLES (11/19/59). Within months he was co-starring on a half hour NBC western. He was Billy The Kid on THE TALL MAN (60- 62). Barry Sullivan was top billed as Pat Garrett. Actors who

THE TALL MAS (with Barry Sullivan)

appeared on the series included Leonard Nimoy, Richard Jaeckel, James Coburn, Vic Morrow, Martin Landau, and Nancy Davis (Reagan). While on the show, Clu recorded two tie-in singles and even sang on AMERICAN BANDSTAND! From ’59 to ’62 Clu acted on three ALFRED HITCHCOCK shows. On the last one (Final Vow), he was a hoodlum after a nun (Carol Lynley). “Hitchcock threw me out of his looping rooms many times. I used to go in to study and I wanted to be a filmmaker. He used to throw me out regularly. We were both at Universal. I was there for about ten years. I was never directed by him. He threw me out of one dubbing session after another. I’d always sneak in and I wanted to watch and tried to learn from the fat master. I learned that he

was very protective, very secretive, very argumentative, and very hateful.”

Clu had another opportunity to shine in THE KILLERS (64), a remake of the 1946 Hemingway adaptation. It was produced and directed (as JOHNNY NORTH) by Don Siegel for

Universal and was to open NBC’s new Project 120 series of movies. It was declared too violent for TV, so opened in theaters instead. Charlie (Lee Marvin) and Lee (Clu) are hit men hired to kill former racecar driver Johnny North (John Cassavetes). When he offers no resistance they try to discover why, which leads them to the sadistic crime boss Browning (Ronald Reagan in his very last acting role) and his mistress Sheila (Angie Dickinson). John Williams wrote the score, but the theme was borrowed from TOUCH OF EVIL.

“I remember a lot about THE KILLERS. Our president just about stole the movie from everyone. He was brilliant. I’ve heard that he doesn’t care for [hat film and that’s his prerogative, but I must say I was so impressed by his acting on the screen. His wife, incidentally is a very fine actress, which no one knows. I worked with her a lot before she chose to become a politician’s spouse. She was a very gifted artist and I was sad to see her leave. Nancy’s good. She was a good film actress. My friend Lee Marvin was a little pie eyed during


most of it. He kept making fun of some of the other actors, in his pie-eyed state, he wouldn’t do that normally. Drink changes certain men I’ve seen. When we got to a scene with Reagan, he said to me Watch,’ so he went in front of Reagan and he did the scene in rehearsal a certain way and then we did it again and he said ‘Watch’ and Lee threw him a totally different character. And Ron did exactly the same reaction as the first time. And we did it a third time, and he did it another way and Ron did it exactly the same way he'd done it the first time. He didn’t change anything. Because he didn’t change Lee thought he wasn’t being a good actor. He was doing it his way, with his quality. When the picture came out, Ronald Reagan, with a tiny part, just about knocked Lee and me, Angie Dickinson, and John Cassavetes off the screen because he damn well knew what he was doing - in that role. Lee, in my estimation, was probably wrong there. You don’t do too much ensemble work when you have ten or fifteen minutes to rehearse. It’s every man for himself and god help the king. That’s the way it is in American filmmaking. Not many ideas left when you have ten minutes to rehearse a scene. You just do it. Reagan did it that way and he w'as really good. When we were doing a show' one time, Nancy said that he really hadn’t been interested in acting for years. He was still making his money acting, but she told me that his interest politics. She wasn’t kidding. KINGS ROW (42) was frightening. Charles Coburn, my idol, cut off the president’s legs. Old nice Charles Coburn cut off his legs.”

Clu joined the cast of TV’s first 90-minute western series, THE VIRGINIAN, in the fall of ’64. James Dairy was the star of the title, Lee J. Cobb was Judge Garth, and Clu’s friend Doug McClure played Trampas. Clu was Deputy Emmett Ryker until ’66, was away for a while, and then returned for the ’67/68 season. The popular Wednesday

night NBC series continued until 71. Clu was in two Universal theatrical releases (probably filmed during his VIRGINIAN hiatus) that were both shot for TV. AND NOW MIGUEL (66), filmed at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, stars Pat Cardi as a ten year old son of a Mexican shepherd (Michael Ansara). Guy Stockwell and Clu co-starred. In SULLIVAN’S EMPIRE (67) three sons (Martin Milner was the top billed one) search for their wealthy father in a South American jungle. They discover that revolutionary guerrilla leader Juan Clemente (Clu) is holding him hostage and rescue a boy from Indian headhunters. Clu played a senator in THE SURVIVORS, an ABC series based on Harold Robbins’ novel. Movie star Lana Turner was the main attraction, but it only lasted a few months. More successful was WINNING, a racecar movie starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. The Universal release was rated M.

Near the end of his days on THE VIRGINIAN, Clu, with backing from a Universal executive, was the producer, director and screenwriter of the short A DAY WITH THE BOYS (69). In it, a group of pre teen boys meet a businessman, then bury him in a pit. There was no dialog and the kids (including his son John) were unknowns. The late (black) actor William Elliott co- starred and Laszlo Kovacs (EASY RIDER) was the cine- matographer. DAYS was screened at Cannes. That same year, the Manson murders changed Hollywood. Victim Jay Sebring had been Clu’s hairdresser.

THE HIT TEAM (70) (COMPANY OF KILLERS) was directed by Jerry Thorpe, starred John Saxon and a cast including Ray Milland, Van Johnson, Fritz Weaver, and Clu. “My favorite actor’s director is a man you don’t know and probably never heard of, Jerry Thorpe. He’s the greatest acting director I believe I have ever worked with.” Thorpe, the son of director Richard Thorpe, worked mostly on TV. He was the executive producer and a director of THE UNTOUCHABLES, KUNG FU, and HARRY-O, all shows Clu appeared on.

NBC started a short-lived “Four In One” program with four alternating series. SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (70-71) starred Lloyd Bridges with Clu as the chief of security. Roy Thinnes starred as THE PSYCHIATRIST, which only lasted for five months. Clu was a guest on one episode and was impressed by the

director. “I worked with one young guy, about a 19 year old kid, doing a one hour show on death on American television. This kid knew all about death. And he knew all about every aspect of the technical part of filmmaking. This kid's name was Steven Spielberg and it was called Par For The Course. I have never forgotten that - nor has he ever hired me since, but I was so taken with this guy. He made the loveliest film I’ve ever seen, for American television, about death.

I’ve seen television by Bergman that I liked a lot, about death, but never by an American. He’s gone directly from that and he won’t touch it. He won’t touch what he’s best at I’ve noticed. He plays games with his little youthful parodies of entertain- ment. He won’t touch what’s inside of him for some reason. Someday it’ll come out, and when it does, watch out.” Spielberg directed for TV from 69-72. The classic THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (Columbia, 71), based of Larry McMurtry’s novel, was set in an Oklahoma town, just like the one Clu grew up in. Clu considers this multiple Oscar winner his first real feature. Everyone in the cast was perfect including Clu as Abilene. “My first film was THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. Peter Bogdanovich made a little picture in Texas called THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. I seduced two leading American actresses with great glee. One was Cybill Shepherd and one was a large breasted actress, who was so fine, Ellen Burstyn.” The pool scene with Shepherd and Gulager was restored and expanded for the 1990 Special Edition re- release and laser disc version. Clu received more good reviews for TRUMAN CAPOTE’S “THE GLASS HOUSE” (CBS, 72). He starred as the new prison guard with Vic Morrow, Alan Alda, and Billy Dee Williams. Also in ’72 were MOLLY AND LAWLESS JOHN, considered a feminist western, with Vera Miles as a sheriffs wife, FOOTSTEPS (CBS), a college football story starring James Woods, and MYSTERY

IN DRACULA’S CASTLE, a two part World Of Disney special. In 73 he co-starred in the CBS pilot feature CALL TO DANGER, starring Peter Graves as a federal agent, and went to Sweden where he was the only non Swede in GANGSTERFILMEN.

MCQ (74) starred John Wayne as a detective and SMILE JENNY, YOU’RE DEAD the same year, was an ABC pilot feature with David Janssen as Harry O. ABC TV movies in ’74 were HIT LADY, an Aaron Spelling production starring Yvette Mimieux, and HOUSTON, WE’VE GOT A PROBLEM, the Apollo 13 story, starring Robert Culp. ONCE AN EAGLE was an NBC military mini series (76). starring Sam Elliott and Cliff Potts, and THE KILLER WHO WOULDN’T DIE (ABC 76) was a pilot feature starring Mike Connors as an agent in Hawaii. THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT (77) was based on a Sidney Sheldon best seller. More interesting was THIS MAN STANDS ALONE, an NBC movie based on real characters. Lou Gossett Jr. stars as a civil rights activist who runs for sheriff and Clu is second billed. It was filmed in Kentucky. In the NBC pilot feature CHARLIE COBB: NICE NIGHT FOR A HANGING (NBC) Clu stars as an 1870s private eye. Meanwhile Miriam was busy with small roles in BOUND FOR GLORY, THE BIG BUS, and NICKLEODEON (all 76).

In ’77, nearly ten years after starting his first short, Clu filmed a 35mm demo for Rock Opera, a controversial family project starring Clu’s sons John and Tom and Miriam. It concerned robbery, murder, voyeurism, and characters in drag. The Gulagers lost their house in West Valley (where Clu had been honorary mayor) because it had been used to finance the filming. They moved to downtown L.A.

More TV movies, mini series (notably KING starring Paul Winfield), and pilot features followed and Clu had another shot at starring in a series. In ABC’s THE MACKENZIES OF PARADISE COVE he was top billed as Cuda, a fishing boat operator in Hawaii who cares for five orphans. A FORCE OF ONE (79) starred Chuck Norris. THE INITIATION (83) was his first horror movie. Clu and Vera Miles play the parents of Daphne Zuniga. It was filmed around Fort Worth and released by New World. In LIES, directed by Ken and Jim Wheat, he's behind a plot to hire Ann Dusenberry to play the lead in a movie to be shot in a mental hospital. Wife Miriam was also in the cast. “LIES is a very good picture and has very good directors.”

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (85) was the movie that brought Clu Gulager to the attention of a whole new audience. Burt (Clu) and Frank (James Karen - PV#24) own the Uneeda Medical Supply Company. “Burt owns a warehouse in which he fur- nished medical institutions with various items, he dresses gauche, wears Gucci shoes and a lot of jewelry, he has a slick coiffeur, a deep tan - and is destroyed by a Hydrogen bomb at the end of the film. I think this is off the record. If Dan heard me say it I think he’d slit my throat. The script is brilliant. Dan is one of the most gifted writers in the United States. He wrote the ALIEN script. It was a fantastic script, the literature of it, from a dramatic point. I read it and told my family, this is the best script I’ve read in many many years. He has the opportunity to direct his own work but the money is tight. It is very difficult to make a picture with the technical aspects involved for the amount of money they’re using and I think they’re doing splendidly and I’m tickled to death. But it’s a tough job and we are going very fast.”

“This if my first horror film, unless you count THE VIRGINIAN. As far as horror, genuine horror, this is the first one I’ve done. This is quite an experience. It’s unique. I have never actually been required to saw off a corpse’s head, never, in thirty years of acting and I’m enjoying it because I’m really substituting an old school master of mine into this corpse and I take a great delight in severing his head from his body. I’m doing a three hour production now in a theater that

I’m building, in which eight principals die, and many of them die right on stage. It’s an old play called Hamlet, so we actors are used to violence. We are used to using tools that laymen refer to as violence. That is one of our prime considerations when we try to entertain you. We use violence in all forms in all kinds, murder, in sickness, in all kinds of ways in which journalists object and that’s one of the reasons we use it. It’s in my heritage. I’m a Dane. I guess I get my violence naturally. I fervently believe in using sustained violence in entertainment. It’s always been done. The religious mythology of any religion you can select, any philosophy as a matter of fact, is based on violence. And cruelty and things that are not nice to the human animal. That’s how entertainment has always been done. It (RETURN) has to do very simply with much, much comedy and camp violence and a great deal of really slick ingenious horror. It’s all done in fun. I’d let my children see it at any time. I’m very proud of this film. It’s a valiant and noble attempt at grand guignol.” “If you have no rehearsal in a play or a film, you have to direct yourself. There has been no rehearsal for me in this particular production. There was some rehearsal, which is good, but I wasn’t part of it. So you rely on your own directorial instincts. You rely as much as possible on the skills of the director, and about all he can tell you to do in one day’s time, which is what you have for each scene, is to hit your marks, know your lines and be as realistic as you can under these farcical situations. He has set ups, visual images in mind. He wants us to hit a certain mark so we can see the girl's nose just beyond the post. That makes sense to me. As far as changing you in one fifteen-minute rehearsal, that’s impossible. You’ll get a bad performance if you try and change the actor’s quality, in my judgment. Most directors, being very knowledgeable after a time, they see, that you can’t change directions in one moment. It takes days or weeks sometimes to create a whole character.”

More horror roles followed. In Jack Sholder's NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. 2 (85) he and Hope Lange were the parents and the NBC movie TERROR AT LONDON BRIDGE was about Jack The Ripper in Arizona.

Clu played his most disturbing horror movie role in THE OFFSPRING. He was a

creepy Southern necrophiliac (with Miriam as his wife). The anthology7 was shot in '85 in Dalton, GA, and wraparound scenes with Vincent Price and Susan Tyrrell (PV #6) were shot in 86.

In Roger Corman’s studios in Venice. Producer/ writer Darin Scott later made the similar TALES FROM THE HOOD (95). Miriam was also in Burr’s STEPFATHER 2 (89), also produced by Scott, and LEATHER- FACE - TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III (90) and Clu returned in more Burr movies too.

A major TV role was as Gen. Sheridan in the ABC miniseries THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH, BOOK 2 (85). The next year Fangoria interviewed Clu calling him a “New Horror Star” and footage of him as a convention guest turned up in FANGORIA’S WEEKEND OF HORRORS. They said, “he drives a pick up truck and lives and teaches acting in a loft in downtown Los Angeles.” And he explained why he was doing so many- low budget movies: “I need money to do my Hamlet, then I need money to do Three Penny Opera.” His elaborate planned production of Hamlet featuring a multitiered set of Plexiglas floors never happened though.

’87 brought roles in SUMMER HEAT, set in 1930s North Carolina, Jack Sholder’s THE PIIDDEN, as a police Lt., Greydon Clark’s THE UNINVITED, as an alcoholic hit man, and the Corman produced HUNTER’S BLOOD, a DELIVERANCE type story with a great cast including Bruce Glover, Billy Drago and even Billy Bob Thorton. The next year Clu was in two cult comedies, I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA!, as another police Lt., and TAPEHEADS, as a corrupt politician. Clu, Miriam, son Tom and son John (and his wife Diane) were all living in a rented Venice beach house at the time. They all packed up and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in the sum- mer of ’88. The plan was to film The Secret Life Of A Lawr Enforcement Officer there, to star Tom as a character inspired by Ed Gein.


Meanwhile Clu paid bills by playing a reverend in TEEN VAMP, shot in Shreveport, LA, and a principal in the horror anthology THE WILLIES (90). DAN TURNER, HOLLYWOOD DETECTIVE (90) starred Marc Singer, with Clu and Miriam. MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COWBOYS (91)starred Scott Glenn as a rodeo bull rider and Ben Johnson (from THE LAST PICTURE SHOW) as his father. In ’92 the Gulager family began a new project to be called Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!, then renamed Fucking Tulsa: An Excursion Into Cruelty. Clu wrote the script for what was planned as “the cruelest film ever made” and started directing in an East Tulsa slum. It stars son Tom as a serial killer. Brother John was cinematographer (using Super 8mm), edited and scored. His wife Diane Ayala played the killer’s girl-friend. The Gulagers raised $35,000 from their pensions and social security checks and from private investors, but after three years only finished 20 minutes of footage.

Back in L.A. Miriam was diagnosed with a brain tumor and lost the sight of her left eye. Clu and Miriam were both in the TV movie IN THE LINE OF DUTY: AMBUSH IN WACO (93). Jeff Burr’s barely released EDDIE PRESLEY (93) stars Duane Whitaker from Texas, with Roscoe Lee Browne, John Lazar, Kitten Natividad, Ian Ogilvy, Ted Raimi, Tim Thomerson, Daniel Roebuck, Quentin Tarantino, Lawrence Tierney, and Clu, who was also in Burr’s PUPPET MASTER 5 (94). In Tulsa, the Gulagers gave acting lessons and taught “monster classes” in their garage at Halloween. Eventually some neighbors turned against them and accused them of practicing satanic animal sacrifices (Miriam was caring for 10 cats and 5 dogs). In ’93 somebody hung a dead dog in front of their home.

In ’96 the family went to NYC with their 20 minutes of Fucking Tulsa, and showed it to any and all potential backers, hoping to find completion funds. Those who saw it were impressed and horrified - or just horrified. Nothing was held back in the intense, gory, explicit footage. If made into a feature, it would be lucky to get an NCI7 rating. They moved back to Los Angeles, where The L.A. Weekly did a very extensive warts and all cover article in ’97 about Clu and his family and their artistic endeavors. Asked about what he had learned from spending years trying to finish his uncompromised, unfinished feature, Clu said “Those with obsessions never learn. Those with a compulsion to make films are fucked in the beginning, fucked in the middle, and fucked in the end. You can call it madness, you can call it being an artist, or you can call it ruining your life. But we have not learned one God damned thing.”

Clu was in two features for director/writer Chris Coppola. Both star Robert Carradine and both also feature Tom Gulager. Clu plays Uncle Buck Peters, owner of the Bar 20 Ranch in (BALLAD OF A) GUNFIGHTER, and is the telegraph operator in PALMER’S PICK UP (99), a comedy, also with Grace Jones, Soupy Sales, and the late Morton Downey Jr. He also starred in VIC, a short directed, written and edited by Sage Stallone. It features Miriam, son Tom and Carol Lynley. The serious script, about aging and suicide, was written by Will Huston, who had acted in THE OFFSPRING and EDDIF. PRESLEY. Meanwhile Clu was busy on a new screenplay for a planned new feature - The Woman Who Would Be Jesus.

Over the years Clu Gulager has worked with many low budgets on rushed productions. “You never get used to it. A little bit of your soul is torn away each time you do it and pretty soon you become something other than whole and this is too bad because we have some great American acting artists. But we are somewhat limited at times by the speed that the financial community has chosen to exhibit our art with and it's very sad to people like me who teach hundreds of young artists. I know I'm putting them out and about a fourth of their capacity will be used. The great art that I try and help them bring out of themselves generally will never even be half realized, because of the need for more and more profit, and it becomes disheartening and sad and unfit for people


who care. Actors are encouraged not to stretch. This city (L.A.) for instance is the pits. The bathroom theater anywhere is the pits. The economists encourage bathroom theater. They don’t want anything beyond that. We’re all to blame for that. Our leading playwright happens to be Neil Simon. He writes some good material, but for Neil Simon to be our leading playwright really hurts. We deserve a William Shakespeare.”

"I don’t have fun acting. 1 don’t enjoy acting. I think acting is very' painful. There may be those joy boys and joy girls who claim that acting is the stuff of life but I think most artists find that their art is very painful and very laborsome and very difficult under the best of circumstances, almost a killing kind of process. You can have fun during a picture but there’s also a great deal of creative pain involved in something like this for me. There’s not much happiness in the creative process.”

In the years since the article above was published, Clu subsequently starred in his son, John’s, FEAST, FEAST II and FEAST III. He also acted in John’s PIRANHA 3DD with Gary Busey. He even appeared in Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s PROJECT GREENLIGHT 3, again with his son John.

Clu Gulager

 Clu Gulager will live on in the hearts and minds of not only those who were moved by his great film work, but also those whose lives he touched with his love and support of actors. In a world where so many deride and undermine our work and our dreams, he encouraged us to believe in the value of what we do, to delve in and to explore our craft, and claim our rightful and important place in the world as artists.

bottom of page