OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Reader looking for film that starred Monty Woolley

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-01-16T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Reader looking for film that starred Monty WoolleyPhilip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Reader Mrs. Megremis of Highland contacted me about her hunt for a favorite film she recalls from her youth starring Monty Woolley.

"It also starred Wanda Hendrix, and was about an inheritance and very funny," she explained.

"However, after seeing it years ago at the movie theater when I lived in Richmond, Ind. in the 1940s, I've never seen it again, not even aired on television. Can you help?"

Thank you for your question.

The "missing movie" you are referring to is called "Miss Tatlock's Millions," produced in 1948 by Paramont Studios an American "screwball comedy" film directed by Richard Haydn.

You are correct that it starred actress Wanda Hendrix. However, I'm betting most readers are likely more familiar with her film costars Monty Woolley, Leif Erickson, a young Robert Stack and Hawaii's claim-to-fame comedic actress Hilo Hattie.

Here's the plot: Tim Burke, played by actor John Lund, is a movie stuntman approached by an employee of eccentric millionaire Schuyler Tatlock (played by the always bearded Woolley) who moved to Hawaii, and has not been seen in public for years. He wants the man to impersonate the rarely seen wealthy public figure in an attempt to fool the heirs to the fortune.

I have passed on your request to Ted Turner's cable networks, who control the vast library of classic films broadcast today.

In the meantime, I've discovered this film was released on VHS format in 2002 and finally, to DVD format in 2008 and both are still available for purchase on Amazon.com for $19.95.

Actor Woolley, who was born and raised in a wealthy family in New York City was good friends with our own Indiana show business claim-to-fame Cole Porter, also born to an affluent family, in Peru, Ind. The two became friends while both attending college at Yale.

Though Woolley made his share of movies, he is probably best known for his portrayal on Broadway of the title character in the Moss Hart comedy "The Man Who Came to Dinner."

Known for his sharp tongue and tart manner with others, the man behind the trademark white beard was anything but grandfatherly.

Our East Chicago actress favorite Betsy Palmer once told me that one of the biggest surprises during her years on the CBS panel game show "I've Got A Secret" came when Woolley appeared with the secret: "He sleeps with his beard under the covers."

After the guessing had finished, and when asked why he did so by host Gary Moore, Woolley replied on live TV: "As a matter of fact I don't. That's the secret they decided for me."

New York Publisher Bennett Cerf, who was also a regular panelist on the CBS sister panel game show "What's My Line?," retold a story about a dinner party he attended, where Woolley was also a guest.

A sudden and unexpected burp by Woolley at the dinner table resulted in the woman sitting next to him shooting Woolley a glare.

Cerf said Woolley glared back and said: "And what did you expect, my good woman? Chimes?"

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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