“The man ate bacon at every meal… you just can’t do that!”
I ended up completely missing the news that the great Jack Palance had passed away on Friday. Amazingly enough, the rugged old cowboy lived another 15 years past making the hilarious “City Slickers“…even outliving Bruno Kirby, who played one of the yuppies having a mid-life crisis.
I mainly knew Palance from his hosting “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.” That was a great show (nothing like the new one hosted by Dean Cain). The main thing I remember about watching it was that it was on around dinnertime on Sundays, so my family would watch it during Sunday dinner. Before the food arrived, there’d be stories about how much gold there in the world or how long a football game takes if ; as soon as there was something hot and ready to eat, without fail the program would run a segment that was really gross. I’d be biting into my fried chicken while a tribesman cuts his lip open and sticks a disk in it, eating mashed potatoes when they show the victim of a face-removing accident, or spooning up the pudding just as a praying mantis begins chewing the head off her mate while they’re mating. It became a running gag in my house.
However, I began to realize that Palance wasn’t just some host with a cool voice when I saw one of the all-time great westerns, “Shane“.
My only other exposure to Palance (aside from his part in “Batman”…no, no Amazon link, you all own a copy) was in this odd TV movie, “The Ivory Ape,” that kept popping up on ABC again and again in the 1980s. I must have seen the same part of the movie five times, but I’ve never seen the whole thing. Fortunately, the part I did see was a great monologue by Palance’s big game hunter character about shooting a kid. (No, no, by accident.)