Mr Tompkins' Follies
Veteran Hollywood actor Walter Purves - famous for his portrayal of Mr Tompkins in the eponymous children's TV series - Mr Thompson's Follies - is to be honoured with a posthumous flagstone in the pavement entrance to Gussage St Michael's famous Chinese Theatre. Long a recognition of particular fame, the honour has been withheld until now pending unsubstantiated allegations that, at the height of his fame, the actor's conduct was not all it might have been. "Kids, animals and adult males can be a toxic mixture" says California-born "Not just me" Campaigner Mee Too. "The hours were long, the supervision slack and the disarming promise of quick peep* overwhelmingly irresistible" , she says.
* HISTORICAL NOTE: Peeps were a popular confectionary in the USA in 1950s. In 1953, the Just Born company purchased the Rodda Candy Co. Rodda had been locally making Peeps by hand and the little suckers took about a day to pipe out and cool. Just Born machinated the process, vastly reducing production time and turning the marshmallow birds into a national phenomenon. At first, Peeps had wings and were a way to tickle any child's fancy! [US Advertising Museum Note. Reproduced without permission of the copyright holder.]
Walter Purves - who was born in Dorset in 1902 but emigrated to the US with his parents when only 3 years old - was a jobbing actor who thrived in the Hollywood system. Contracted to Warner Brothers [not then part of the thrupiecefilm conglomerate] he appeared as a young man in a number of "B" movies before the studio decided that television might be more his metier. Mr Tompkin's Follies [1953-1961] was the apogee of his career and more than a 100 episodes were aired by CBS. It made it over to the UK in 1964 and was a popular success, briefly knocking "Rag, Tag and Bobtail" off the number one spot. However in 1990, when the actor was 88, former child star and later society girl Rosalita Ramusovten disclosed to journalists that she "had a vague recollection" of Purves asking her to "give him a Twirl"** in 1955 and that she thought it might have made her feel uncomfortable at the time. She was only speaking out now, she said, to encourage others to rake through their faulty memories to see if they could come up with something plausible to hold against the widely respected star and which she could include in her forthcoming autobiography ["Flat On My Back: Hollywood, Men and Me"  [Not-the-Threadbone Press].
** HISTORICAL NOTE: There is a confectionary thread here. Twirl is a type of chocolate bar currently manufactured by the brand Cadbury in the United Kingdom. Introduced by Cadbury [United Kingdom] as a single bar in the early 1970s, it was repackaged in 1984 as a twin bar. Although still produced in the United Kingdom it has been marketed internationally since the 1990s and is now one of the best-selling chocolate bars that Cadbury owns. It consists of two Flake-style bars covered in milk chocolate. It's rumoured that the Twirl concept evolved from an over-spill flaw in the Flake manufacturing process.
As a result of the publication of Ms Ramusovten's allegations, Mr Purves - who died in 1995 - was not honoured in his lifetime and fans of the actor - Agnes and Percy Starstruck - are pleased that justice is finally being served today in Gussage St Michael. "To have his lovely hands preserved in this way is just marvellous - I always wanted that and today I feel very moved", Agnes said, "It's almost as though he's reaching out over the years and touching me in a very special place".