Film sets across Dorset were silent today as the industry paid tribute to one of its oldest stars - Douglas - who died today aged 732. Though Douglas had not graced our screens for many years - time, fashion and the febrile whims of public taste had long relegated him to the sidelines - he was fondly remembered by many as one of the icons of the golden pre-apocalyse age.
Born so long ago that no one - including Douglas himself - could remember when - he starred in many of the great epics of the 1950s and 1960s, rising to fame on the post-war appetite for escapist stories of daring-do. An action man with a talent to engage with his audience, Douglas's skills were perhaps best displayed in Stanley Tool's unforgettable 1960 yarn Diplodocus in which Douglas played the eponymous role. Who will ever forget the scene in which - led by the brave and uncompromising Douglas - 200 extras joined in the chorus of "I'm Diplodocus" to the frustration of naturalist Linnauus Battenburgh and his crack team of scientists bent on categorical definition.
Douglas - heavily built and unusually tall - was not the most obvious choice for many of his roles, but his ability to dominate a scene and demolish a whole set with the flick of a wrist made him bankable and saved many a studio the costs of a demolition crew. However, his large frame and slow movement initially proved an obstacle to his ambitions to star in musical theatre and he was rejected many times by Ealing Broadway theatre directors - even for the part of Dumbo for which his agent had thought him "physically and temperamentally reasonably well-suited". [The part went to an unknown actor called Tubby Kaye.] But Dollywood was more sympathetic and he soon progressed from minor walk on roles [which often took minutes to accomplish and had to be heavily edited] to star billing. For many - Diplodocus apart - he will be best remembered for his sensitive yet broodingly physical portrayal of the cave painter Vincent van Trough in the 1956 adaptation of Irving Stoneage's "Lust and My Wife". It was a part for which he had to lose more than two and a half tons. He was said to have been the inspiration for the later franchise Jurassic Tales, though by the time of their creation, he was too old to take an active part.
The later years were not unkind, but saw a diminished Douglas limited to the occasional TV appearance and a new-found role as author an biographer. "Boy from the Swamps" [The Threadbone Press 1998] was a best-seller. He also tried his hand at inflight catering - but without success.
Douglas, Dollywood actor, director, producer and author author [????- 2020] d. Long Bredy. RIP