What to do if you can't remember how you hid a fortune.
When I was working at a part-time job back in the 1970s I knew a fellow named Tom T. (I won't fill in his last name) who told me that when he went to school in the Bronx his principal was the actor John McGiver. McGiver, with his dignity and erudition, strikes me as perfect central casting for a school principal (even better for a prep school headmaster). Apparently he had his hands full - he once was hit in the face during a mini-riot. But while working as a principal he submitted plays and dramatic scenes to radio and early television. Supposedly (if what I heard was correct) that was his start in the entertainment field
and his entry into acting as well.
His first big part, I suspect, was the husband cuckolded by Gary Cooper in LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON at the Ritz Hotel in Paris ("The Ritz...they know us at the Ritz!", he moans to Maurice Chevalier). He graced many films - the alcoholic bird watcher in MR. HOBBS TAKES A VACATION, or the accommodating Tiffany salesman dealing with George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. But the role everyone recalls him from is the liberal Senator who is murdered by the brainwashed Lawrence Harvey in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962). Few actors did so well adding to the productions they appeared in.
In 1964 he appeared in this comedy on THE DUPONT SHOW OF THE WEEK with Gerald Hiken and Meg Miles. Perhaps a slight comedy, it was amusing enough to remain memorable, particularly due to McGiver (and one little piece of shtick he did a few times in the play).
McGiver played G. F. Springer, a wealthy businessman with a young wife named Louise (Meg Miles), who is facing ruin due to income tax fraud that has been uncovered. It is time for him to disappear. But where should he vanish to?
Well it turns out that about twenty five years back or so, while on a small vacation in the mid-west, Springer decided to do what W.C.Fields was supposedly doing in his travels: he opened up a fake named savings account in a small town bank, to run to if he ever had to start again under another name. Unfortunately Springer was half-drunk at the time, so that while he recalls the town he can't remember the name he used. He mentions it to a friend of his at one point, and then we see McGiver start fidgeting. His addled memory is being shaken again by what he can recall, and he starts dancing around the room trying to recall the name (his movements actually symbolically pushing his memory of that forgotten name). He leaves for the town, determined to try to remember that name and reclaim the money - especially as quickly as possible before Louise or the IRS find him.
Springer does not know that his account may still be rich but it has also been active - due to the activities of the bank's chief clerk Lionel Baker (Gerald Hiken). Baker noticed that the account (now worth over $100,000.00) can assist many poor people in the town with mortgage payments they can't make, or purchasing food or clothing. So Baker actually begins doing some benevolent embezzlement for the unfortunate. Of course he does not believe that there will be any real problem - the owner of the account has apparently long forgotten it.
Springer shows up, and checks into the Presidential suite in the run-down hotel of the town (when Baker visits him there he sees it has a stuffed lion on the wall, and Springer thinks Teddy Roosevelt must have shot it). He heads for the bank and asks Baker for some assistance for his account - and proceeds to go into his little dance again - but now he remembers that part of the dance reminds him of camels (i.e. "humps"). Immediately the name springs back to mind: "Rupert X Humperdink". He asks Baker for an accounting of the Humperdink account. A shocked and scared Baker sees he world start to collapse.
The remainder of the comedy was with Baker trying to avoid Springer's demands for an accounting, and the arrival of the determined Louise and the IRS man (Hiram Sherman) looking for Springer and his hidden hoard. In the end, despite leaving his girlfriend and supporter Judy (Sada Thompson), Baker flees with the money, while Springer is caught by the IRS man. Baker is last seen in a foreign country, with Louise showing up - still determined on getting her cut of the fortune. Baker ends with a worried look on his face, the voluptuous Louise in his arms, and his ill gotten money in his possession bemoaning his fate.
It was not the greatest comedy ever put on television, but amusing enough in it's leads and in McGiver's antics and comments. And certainly it remained memorable to at least one viewer, who was only ten when he saw it.
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