Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Shelly Duvall’s Hips

So there’s three things going on here: my fascination with bad 80s pop music, a childhood fondness for Dr. Demento and my fascination with horrible, strange things that defied plausibility and happened. The three may well be related.

First, the soundtrack to a neon sweatband generation. I have a complicated relationship with “Bette Davis Eyes.” If I hear it, it plays in my head over and over to the point that the experience verges on post-traumatic stress disorder. However, I can’t completely hate the song, possibly because there’s value in a pop culture relic that builds upon an even older pop culture relic, possibly because the song actually has a few neat turns of phrase, like “She knows what it takes to make a pro blush,” which is funny once you realize what it’s talking about. (Answer: whores.)

Today, Spencer sent me a link to the lyrics to a parody version that came out shortly after Kim Carnes’s cover of “Bette Davis Eyes” became a hit: “Marty Feldman Eyes.” Yes, between the respective reigns of Peter Lorre and Steve Buscemi, Feldman was Hollywood’s go-to man with the googly eyes. See?

People would probably most often recognize Feldman as Igor in Young Frankenstein, but he found success in a few other roles, at least to the point that he was famous enough that people would understand what a song titled “Marty Feldman Eyes” was funny.
Her head is growing bald
Her feet are twice her size
She says it’s not her fault
She's got Marty Feldman eyes

She’ll turn the sprinklers on you
And dry you off with her thighs
She'll confuse the hell out of you
She’s got Marty Feldman eyes

And she’ll woo you
Then she’ll moon you
And forget to pull her pants up
She’s obnoxious
And she knows it
And she knows how to blow her nose up
All the boys think she’s fried
She’s got Marty Feldman eyes

She’s ferocious
All the boys think she’s a guy
She's got Marty Feldman eyes

And Jimmy Walker’s lips
Liberace’s clothes
Shelly Duvall’s hips
She’s got Willie Nelson legs
And Nancy Reagan’s spleen
Dolly Parton’s lungs
She’s got Leon Spinks’s teeth
Bob Seger’s pancreas
All the boys think she's some kind of guy
She’s got Marty Feldman eyes
So maybe Bruce Baum isn’t for everyone, and even at the time the song came out it wouldn’t have exactly been incisive comedy, but I had a laugh reading the lyrics. But it got me thinking: Why the hell did Marty Feldman’s eyes look like that, anyway? (Answer: whores. Wait, no. Graves’ disease. But whores would have been funnier.) But, as I learned by reading about him, it wasn’t the disease that killed him. No, it’s much more interesting that that.

And here’s where I get to the third part of today’s post: the strange death of Marty Fedlman. I could try to put tin my own words, but there’s really nothing more I could add than what Wikipedia has, so here are the two paragraphs verbatim:
Feldman died from a heart attack in a hotel room in Mexico City on 2 December 1982, during the making of the film Yellowbeard. Cartoonist Sergio Aragonés was filming nearby, and dressed for his role as an armed policeman. Aragonés abruptly encountered Feldman while introducing himself, frightening Feldman, and possibly inducing his heart attack. Aragonés has recounted the story with the punchline “I killed Marty Feldman.” The story was converted into a strip in Aragonés’s issue of DC Comics’ Solo.

On the DVD commentary of Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks cites additional factors that may have contributed to Feldman's death: He smoked sometimes six packs of cigarettes daily, drank copious amounts of coffee, and ate a diet rich in eggs and dairy products. Michael Mileham, who made the behind-the-scenes movie Group Madness about the making of Yellowbeard, said he and Feldman swam to an island where a local was selling lobster and coconuts. Mileham and Feldman used the same knife on their lobsters. Mileham said he got shellfish poisoning the next day, and theorized that since Feldman used the same knife he also could have been poisoned.
Rest in peace, Googly Eyes. Now, the next time I watch Young Frankenstein, I’ll be thinking about that instead of “Why the hell do Marty Feldman’s eyes look like that?”

No comments:

Post a Comment