The Great One, Tricky Dick, some aliens…

I was inspired to read up on The Hustler (1961), after seeing it today for the first time.   Paul Newman plays young pool shark Fast Eddie Felson, and Jackie Gleason is Felson’s “white whale” Minnesota Fats.  Gleason really didn’t do a heck of a lot of acting in the movie, yet still got an Academy Award nomination for his effort.  (Did you know the real pool champion known as Minnesota Fats named himself AFTER GLEASON’S CHARACTER, not the other way around?  True story.)

Anyhoo, I was intrigued to find out Gleason had an abiding interest in UFOs, and according to Wikipedia:

He even had a house built in the shape of a UFO which he named “The Mothership“.[3] Gleason was a good friend of U.S. President Richard Nixon and, one day, while the two were playing golf together, the subject of UFOs came up. Nixon said little at the time but, later that day; he took Gleason with him on a special visit to Homestead Air Force Base. There, Gleason allegedly witnessed dead extra-terrestrials. Gleason’s wife told the full story in an interview with Esquire magazine.

BTW, I really want to see Gigot, one of Gleason’s pet projects (and a legendary flop).  Gleason wrote the story and starred (as a deaf mute), and though he wanted his friend Orson Welles to direct, the studio rejected Welles, and instead it was helmed by dance legend Gene Kelly.

One last word on Gleason.  Modern Drunkard magazine named him “the greatest boozer of all time”.

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