Friday, February 5, 2010

Woody gets an offer for SHALAKO

by Woody Strode and Sam Young

[After ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, Woody returned to the United States.]

While I was home, Euan Lloyd, an English producer, contacted me about being in SHALAKO, a $5 million production for Palomar Pictures International, a subsidiary of the American Broadcasting Company. He'd lined up Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot to play the starring roles. Lloyd wanted me to play the Indian chief. I said, "No, you've got to get a full-blood Indian to play the role" - because I was fresh off the boat and a little sensitive to the racial situation in America - "There's too much racial stuff going on, and I don't want to get the Indians mad at me."
He said, "Let's try to work something out. I really want you to play the part."
I said, "I'll tell you want I'll do. If you'll hire my Sioux friend, Tug Smith, to play alongside me, then I'll play the chief."
"Woody, Eddie Dmytryk has an Indian who has played in all his pictures. This is Eddie's special person, and he would like this Indian to play your right-hand man."
Eddie Dmytryk has made over forty films, including THE YOUNG LIONS and THE CAINE MUTINY. He also directed westerns and made some great ones like BROKEN LANCE and WARLOCK. Eddie had a lot of pull and his special Indian was Rod Redwing, who had the fastest draw in Hollywood. He taught the fast draw to everyone you ever saw. Cecil B. DeMille brought im into the movie business.
So when Euan Lloyd told me Rod Redwing was going to play my right-hand man, I said, "I'm not going to be able to do the job. Every Indian in Los Angeles is looking forward to seeing Tug go overseas with me. If I accept the job, I just don't know how I'll be able to face them."
The Englishman said, "Okay, bring Tug down here and let me take a look at him."
I told Tug, "Put on your Indian outfit because Euan Lloyd's never seen a real Indian."
We went down and met Lloyd at the Copper Skillet, which was right across the street from the studio. Euan Lloyd was wide-eyed as he looked Tug over. Tug was wearing his deerskin suit with the beads and the fringe, a headdress with eagle feathers and moccasins.
I said, "You know, Tug speaks five languages, Cheyenne, Arapaho, everything. Speak some Indian languages, Tug,"
The Englishman fell apart, "Oh my God, Woody, he's perfect. He can play your sub-chief, your muscle, and we can take Rod Redwing and let him play your father." So I got the job like that, and I put my wig on.

[Photo of Tug Smith found on -]

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