Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Peter Palmer (1931-2021); played Li'l Abner on stage and screen


Swithin
 Share

Recommended Posts

Li'l Abner (1959) is one of the most enjoyable stage-to-screen movies, ever. The eponymous role, which seemed to be made for him, was played by Peter Palmer, who died yesterday.  Let's hope TCM screens the film on Sadie Hawkins Day (November 13).

"Peter Webster Palmer was offered scholarships to a number of universities; however, he chose the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study voice under Bruce Foote. He was the first music major to letter in football at the university. While at Illinois his team won the Big Ten championships in 1951 and 1953 and the Rose Bowl in 1952. Palmer sang the national anthem at every home game in 1953 before taking the field. In 1956, Palmer was cast in the title role of the musical Li'l Abner, for which he won a Theatre World Award.

In 1959, he was cast in the same role in the movie version. His Li'l Abner role brought him a guest appearance on The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show. In 1967, Palmer had a recurring role as Sergeant James Bustard, a former Confederate soldier in the short-lived series Custer.

Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Palmer appeared on numerous television episodes, including small parts on Dallas and Emergency. He appeared on Broadway with Carol Channing in Lorelei in 1974. In 1977, he had a regular role as part of the cast on the short-lived sitcom The Kallikaks.

 

 

 

 

  • Thanks 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

So why no more movie roles for him?

He seemed to have moved to television, although he did make a few more movies. But what can you do, when your inaugural role is such a signature one? As he said, "I started at the top."

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/peter-palmer-dead-lil-abner-1235018391/

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0658413/

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, Swithin said:

He seemed to have moved to television, although he did make a few more movies. But what can you do, when your inaugural role is such a signature one? As he said, "I started at the top."

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/peter-palmer-dead-lil-abner-1235018391/

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0658413/

At first I thought maybe he had been blacklisted, or had a scandalous personal life, which prevented him from obtaining more screen roles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

At first I thought maybe he had been blacklisted, or had a scandalous personal life, which prevented him from obtaining more screen roles.

Wholesome Abner could never have had a scandalous personal life!  As he sings: "I gets purdy tired of runnin' from Daisy Mae..."  He seems to have lived a happy life.

In the Wikipedia bio, there's a citation for an article in a Milwaukee paper. Palmer was born in Milwaukee.

"Dogpatch Image Stalks Palmer"

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

According to MovieCollector's database, L'IL ABNER has aired four times on TCM...the last time was back in 2009.

Well then, I'd say it's long overdue for  a return.

One of the few musicals I like, but I never knew the guy's name.  I guess 90 is a good run on this marbled bowling ball(apologies to Joni Mitchell) and I do hope he Rests In Peace. 

Sepiatone

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

Well then, I'd say it's long overdue for  a return.

One of the few musicals I like, but I never knew the guy's name.  I guess 90 is a good run on this marbled bowling ball(apologies to Joni Mitchell) and I do hope he Rests In Peace. 

Sepiatone

TCM take note! Please show Li'l Abner on Sadie Hawkins Day (November 13).

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/22/2021 at 10:04 AM, Swithin said:

Wholesome Abner could never have had a scandalous personal life!  As he sings: "I gets purdy tired of runnin' from Daisy Mae..."  He seems to have lived a happy life.

In the Wikipedia bio, there's a citation for an article in a Milwaukee paper. Palmer was born in Milwaukee.

"Dogpatch Image Stalks Palmer"

I'm not surprised it stalked him because it's one of the most perfect pairings of actor and role ever. I love the movie and still laugh out loud at some of the corny jokes and wittily drawn characters, especially William Lanteau as Available Jones, who was Julie Newmar's "wrangler". I like Leslie Parrish very much, but it's a shame Edie Adams couldn't have passed as the teenaged Daisy Mae in front of a movie camera; you can get away with a lot more on stage. The movie eliminated the beautiful duet he had with Edie, "You Can Tell When There's Love in a Home", which was the loss of a very special moment. It was Peter's unflagging sincerity in what was essentially a stylized cartoon of a role which was the buoyancy which kept the whole thing afloat. I understand that Steve Reeves sometimes played the role in summer stock; he was actually a capable actor (don't know about his singing)and probably physically right, but I can't help wondering whether he could have captured the sweet stupidity (and yet instinctual good sense) of Abner. I was so excited when the local high school chose Li'l Abner, but wanted to melt into the floor as the local football hero failed miserably to bring the character to life; it's so much more than a body and Peter Palmer was so much more and then some. Many actors have gone their whole career without a defining role and I'm sure would have wished to have something like Abner as their legacy. And the voice! R.I.P. to a rare talent.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, DougieB said:

I'm not surprised it stalked him because it's one of the most perfect pairings of actor and role ever. I love the movie and still laugh out loud at some of the corny jokes and wittily drawn characters, especially William Lanteau as Available Jones, who was Julie Newmar's "wrangler". I like Leslie Parrish very much, but it's a shame Edie Adams couldn't have passed as the teenaged Daisy Mae in front of a movie camera; you can get away with a lot more on stage. The movie eliminated the beautiful duet he had with Edie, "You Can Tell When There's Love in a Home", which was the loss of a very special moment. It was Peter's unflagging sincerity in what was essentially a stylized cartoon of a role which was the buoyancy which kept the whole thing afloat. I understand that Steve Reeves sometimes played the role in summer stock; he was actually a capable actor and probably physically right, but I can't help wondering whether he could have captured the sweet stupidity (and yet instinctual good sense) of Abner. I was so excited when the local high school chose L'il Abner, but wanted to melt into the floor as the local football hero failed miserably to bring the character to life; it's so much more than a body and Peter Palmer was so much more and then some. Many actors go their whole career without a defining role and I'm sure would have wished to have had something like Abner as their legacy. And the voice! R.I.P. to a rare talent.

"Love in a Home" is a great song. I used to have both LPs -- stage and screen. Yes, sorry about Edie, but it's nice the way so many of the Broadway cast are in the movie. Even Al Nesor as Evil Eye Fleagle! My mother told me that Nesor used to appear at our local night club in the Bronx. Panama and Frank were involved in most aspects (creative and production) of the Broadway show as well as the film, which probably accounts for their appreciation of the Broadway cast.

Li'l Abner is indeed a popular show with high schools, and there are examples of that online. It's amusing that they sometimes change the lyrics to the opening number. In the song "It's a Typical Day," on stage and screen Carmen Alvarez sings "Howdy boys I'm Moonbeam McSwine, sleeping out with pigs is my line."  That line is often changed in high school productions.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

49 minutes ago, Swithin said:

"Love in a Home" is a great song. I used to have both LPs -- stage and screen. Yes, sorry about Edie, but it's nice the way so many of the Broadway cast are in the movie. Even Al Nesor as Evil Eye Fleagle! My mother told me that Nesor used to appear at our local night club in the Bronx. Panama and Frank were involved in most aspects (creative and production) of the Broadway show as well as the film, which probably accounts for their appreciation of the Broadway cast.

Li'l Abner is indeed a popular show with high schools, and there are examples of that online. It's amusing that they sometimes change the lyrics to the opening number. In the song "It's a Typical Day," on stage and screen Carmen Alvarez sings "Howdy boys I'm Moonbeam McSwine, sleeping out with pigs is my line."  That line is often changed in high school productions.

I wonder how high schools treat General Bullmoose's "secretary", Appassionata Von Climax. Al Capp himself was supposedly amazed he got away with that one.

Just last week I finally digitized my soundtrack LP, as well as a Percy Faith instrumental album of the score from the show. Now I can listen on the go. (Also the soundtrack to There's No Business Like Show Business on Decca Records with Dolores Gray subbing in the Marilyn numbers because Marilyn had a separate recording contract with MGM at that point.)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/22/2021 at 10:14 AM, TopBilled said:

According to MovieCollector's database, L'IL ABNER has aired four times on TCM...the last time was back in 2009.

I recorded it back then.  There was a "notorious" screening of it without masking along the top that revealed studio lights and the rigging of the backdrops. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, NewYorkGuy said:

I recorded it back then.  There was a "notorious" screening of it without masking along the top that revealed studio lights and the rigging of the backdrops. 

interesting. In the early 2010s it was available for streaming on Netflix...that's how I first saw it.

To be honest, I did not like it (sorry Swithin!). I found it riddled with cliches about southern rural types. To me that type of "humor" isn't funny at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, TopBilled said:

interesting. In the early 2010s it was available for streaming on Netflix...that's how I first saw it.

To be honest, I did not like it (sorry Swithin!). I found it riddled with cliches about southern rural types. To me that type of "humor" isn't funny at all.

It's also riddled with cliches about politicians, public officials, the military, scientists, business types, and the male and female sexes, so there's potentially a lot to give offense  Al Capp liked to take cliches, slap them around a little, and kick them to the curb. The comic strips (though I'm no expert and it's been years) had a generally more pointed and sharper edge, but I personally like the way the milieu was distilled for the play and film, particularly through the witty and cheerful musical score. "Funny" is subjective, so I can't and don't expect everyone to see it that way. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, NewYorkGuy said:

I recorded it back then.  There was a "notorious" screening of it without masking along the top that revealed studio lights and the rigging of the backdrops. 

I remember the discussion about that but I don't remember what the conclusion was. Was it some kind of standard Vista-Vision work print before those elements were masked out for a release print? And how did it end up in TCM's hands?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, DougieB said:

It's also riddled with cliches about politicians, public officials, the military, scientists, business types, and the male and female sexes, so there's potentially a lot to give offense  Al Capp liked to take cliches, slap them around a little, and kick them to the curb. The comic strips (though I'm no expert and it's been years) had a generally more pointed and sharper edge, but I personally like the way the milieu was distilled for the play and film, particularly through the witty and cheerful musical score. "Funny" is subjective, so I can't and don't expect everyone to see it that way. 

Sorry no amount of apologizing or explaining is going to make me find it enjoyable. If someone used cliches about poor blacks (Amos and Andy comes to mind), it would be considered inappropriate. So why is it always fashionable for urban whites to make fun of rural whites. I just find these tropes and types offensive and not very funny. Not witty at all.

In fact I see it as a project promulgated by upper class whites (producers, writers and performers) who think they are witty-- at the expense of their lower-class counterparts. To me that is disrespect and bad manners wrapped up in "art."

When I look at the film I can admire the musical performances. But that is about all I find to be of value. The rest is tosh.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

37 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Sorry no amount of apologizing or explaining is going to make me find it enjoyable. If someone used cliches about poor blacks (Amos and Andy comes to mind), it would be considered inappropriate. So why is it always fashionable for urban whites to make fun of rural whites. I just find these tropes and types offensive and not very funny. Not witty at all.

In fact I see it as a project promulgated by upper class whites (producers, writers and performers) who think they are witty-- at the expense of their lower-class counterparts. To me that is disrespect and bad manners wrapped up in "art."

When I look at the film I can admire the musical performances. But that is about all I find to be of value. The rest is tosh.

I wasn't apologizing. I was making allowances. It wasn't my intention to make you find it enjoyable, but neither am I letting your perceived problem with "upper class whites" interfere with my pleasure in watching the performances of Peter Palmer and all the others who make Li'l Abner so enjoyable to me. R.I.P., Mr. Palmer, and I regret that this has turned into a squabble.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

39 minutes ago, DougieB said:

I wasn't apologizing. I was making allowances. It wasn't my intention to make you find it enjoyable, but neither am I letting your perceived problem with "upper class whites" interfere with my pleasure in watching the performances of Peter Palmer and all the others who make Li'l Abner so enjoyable to me. R.I.P., Mr. Palmer, and I regret that this has turned into a squabble.

I don't see it as a squabble. I think someone can voice dislike of a movie but still admire the lead actor and the musical performances in said film. It would not be genuine to pretend to like a film just because the star has passed away. And I am sure Mr. Palmer would understand...even if some of the readers on this thread do not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

I don't see it as a squabble. I think someone can voice dislike of a movie but still admire the lead actor and the musical performances in said film. It would not be genuine to pretend to like a film just because the star has passed away. And I am sure Mr. Palmer would understand...even if some of the readers on this thread do not.

Of  course. Someone could even voice dislike of a movie and the lead actor and the musical performances. All options are open. General Discussions, right?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Sorry no amount of apologizing or explaining is going to make me find it enjoyable. If someone used cliches about poor blacks (Amos and Andy comes to mind), it would be considered inappropriate. So why is it always fashionable for urban whites to make fun of rural whites. I just find these tropes and types offensive and not very funny. Not witty at all.

In fact I see it as a project promulgated by upper class whites (producers, writers and performers) who think they are witty-- at the expense of their lower-class counterparts. To me that is disrespect and bad manners wrapped up in "art."

When I look at the film I can admire the musical performances. But that is about all I find to be of value. The rest is tosh.

TB: Though I disagree with you about Li'l Abner, I understand your point, up to a point.  This urban NYC white can be offended by all the movies based on Damon Runyon stories/films, including Guys and Dolls, which depict NYC stereotypes in such a way as to make it fashionable for rural whites to make fun of.  As someone who has been involved with theater in New York, I can also be offended by All About Eve, which, despite the great talents of its creators, also depicts urban theater types, in such a way that rural whites (and others) can laugh at.

Sadly, I think, we live in an age in which offending anyone, even in jest, is a capital crime.  

But I hope we can agree on this: Mammy Yokum as played by the recently departed Billie Hayes (1924-2021) is one of cinema's great feminists!

"I have spoken!"

120240_full.jpg

  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, Swithin said:

TB: Though I disagree with you about Li'l Abner, I understand your point, up to a point.  This urban NYC white can be offended by all the movies based on Damon Runyon stories/films, including Guys and Dolls, which depict NYC stereotypes in such a way as to make it fashionable for rural whites to make fun of.  As someone who has been involved with theater in New York, I can also be offended by All About Eve, which, despite the great talents of its creators, also depicts urban theater types, in such a way that rural whites (and others) can laugh at.

Sadly, I think, we live in an age in which offending anyone, even in jest, is a capital crime.  

But I hope we can agree on this: Mammy Yokum as played by the recently departed Billie Hayes (1924-2021) is one of cinema's great feminists!

"I have spoken!"

billie-hayes-signed-photo-mammy-lil-abne

I sincerely doubt Runyon was trying to uplift the spirits of rural whites when he wrote his stories. He was probably taking jabs at the nearest targets and writing what he knew. 

But I do get your argument that we can always reverse a situation and look at "offensive" material from the opposite point of view. 

As a moderate, a problem I have is the hypocrisy of liberals, particularly liberal producers, writers, performers and artists who want to show blacks as more educated and respectable but fail to make the same allowances for lower-class whites. It's a double standard that proves liberals are often not as enlightened as they pretend to be. And on so many levels I do not find L'IL ABNER to be enlightened so it is an easy target for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...