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Thread: Richard Towers, aka Gaylord St. James, etc.

  1. #1
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    Richard Towers, aka Gaylord St. James, etc.

    Apparently, 2016 claimed yet another actor victim, though the news was not widely noised about except inn cult film fan circles. Indeed, I can't find a real obituary for this chap, except for his daughter's Twitter feed and, as I said, cult film fans.

    Richard Towers, who used a myriad of professional names (mainly for his profession as a frequent porn actor back in the 1970s; his last such outing was only a few years ago) and an interesting array of careers (soap and porn actor, and in his later years, "talent agent") is best known to the world as "Dr. John Collingwood", vengeful father of the doomed "Mari", in the 1972 cult classic, Wes Craven's directorial debut LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. ("Keep repeating to yourself, 'It's only a movie'!")

    Though this was a rare (for Towers) foray into "legitimate" cinema, he chose the exotically aristocratic pseudonym "Gaylord St. James", which became his most famous. This kept fans of the handsome, then-45-year-old actor searching for him for decades, since "Gaylord" never again appeared in anything mainstream. He was such a sought-after mystery, that a satirical blog and then Twitter page about "The World of Gaylord St. James" ran for years, which included rants about "Gaylord's" rocky friendship with Wes Craven, until the latter died several years ago. As the final Tweet put it, "Wes, it's me. I told you I'd find you."

    Since little else can be found (maybe someone has a link), I can tell only so much that I have gleaned. Towers, or Richard Deutsch (another name that may be his birth one) was born 05/20/1927, and passed away (after a stay in a nursing home, judging by his final photograph) on 02/27/2016. According to his daughter's website, he was at one time married to a dancer, and the daughter, Joline, has also had a varied career as an actress and model.

    Some links (You'll need to scroll down Joline's Twitter page for the announcement and photos of old Richard, and a very nice one taken when he was about 30):

    https://twitter.com/JolineTowers?lang=en

    https://twitter.com/gaylordstjames?lang=en


    Here's an older article about some of Towers's/ St. James's porn roles and assumed names:

    https://hubpages.com/entertainment/The-Illustrious-Career-of-Actor-Richard-Towers



    Fan mentions the death (again you have to scroll way down, since this was last year):

    https://twitter.com/MattWeinhold

    Joline Towers website bio: http://jolinetowers.com/bio.html
    Last edited by Linnie; 03-17-2017 at 11:07 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Linnie View Post
    Apparently, 2016 claimed yet another actor victim, though the news was not widely noised about except inn cult film fan circles. Indeed, I can't find a real obituary for this chap, except for his daughter's Twitter feed and, as I said, cult film fans.

    Richard Towers, who used a myriad of professional names (mainly for his profession as a frequent porn actor back in the 1970s; his last such outing was only a few years ago) and an interesting array of careers (soap and porn actor, and in his later years, "talent agent") is best known to the world as "Dr. John Collingwood", vengeful father of the doomed "Mari", in the 1972 cult classic, Wes Craven's directorial debut LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. ("Keep repeating to yourself, 'It's only a movie'!")

    Though this was a rare (for Towers) foray into "legitimate" cinema, he chose the exotically aristocratic pseudonym "Gaylord St. James", which became his most famous. This kept fans of the handsome, then-45-year-old actor searching for him for decades, since "Gaylord" never again appeared in anything mainstream. He was such a sought-after mystery, that a satirical blog and then Twitter page about "The World of Gaylord St. James" ran for years, which included rants about "Gaylord's" rocky friendship with Wes Craven, until the latter died several years ago. As the final Tweet put it, "Wes, it's me. I told you I'd find you."

    Since little else can be found (maybe someone has a link), I can tell only so much that I have gleaned. Towers, or Richard Deutsch (another name that may be his birth one) was born 05/20/1927, and passed away (after a stay in a nursing home, judging by his final photograph) on 02/27/2016. According to his daughter's website, he was at one time married to a dancer, and the daughter, Joline, has also had a varied career as an actress and model.

    Some links (You'll need to scroll down Joline's Twitter page for the announcement and photos of old Richard, and a very nice one taken when he was about 30):

    https://twitter.com/JolineTowers?lang=en

    https://twitter.com/gaylordstjames?lang=en


    Here's an older article about some of Towers's/ St. James's porn roles and assumed names:

    https://hubpages.com/entertainment/The-Illustrious-Career-of-Actor-Richard-Towers



    Fan mentions the death (again you have to scroll way down, since this was last year):

    https://twitter.com/MattWeinhold

    Joline Towers website bio: http://jolinetowers.com/bio.html
    I have to admit, I have no idea who this is, but after ALL the work you did (definitely a labor of love) there was no way I could let your post go without a comment!
    By my troth, I care not; a man can die but once; we owe God a death.... He that dies this year is quit for the next.
    --William Shakespeare!

  3. #3
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    Thank you! I was a teen in the 1970s, when they used to play certain "cultish" films for several years at a time at late-night showings (how ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW got its start.) This didn't get serious review consideration in the papers, so it depended on word-of-mouth. I knew some kids who had seen it, but they didn't give a synopsis-- all I could gather was that it seemed to be a mash-up loosely based on Charles Manson (the fact that the savage female villain was named "Sadie", like Susan Atkins's nickname, was a big honking hint.) In short, not something I cared to see, until it came out on video in the 1990s.

    I didn't exactly LIKE it (the transfer was murky and the excruciatingly stupid comedic sequences about the sheriff and deputy struggling to get to the besieged Collingwood home before nightfall could have been left out) but the basic story and the way it was played out was pretty good and (sans the sheriff business) made good paranoid sense given the general nihilistic tone of this genre of movies. And unlike the usual unstoppable villains of teen slasher fims, it's still a plausible scenario. (Plus some of it was filmed up around Wilton, CT, which gave me the warm fuzzies as I recognized the cemetery, etc.)

    It wasn't until years later and using the internet, that it became widely known that most of the actors, including Tower/St. James, came from the world of porn (including the girl who played "Mari") and hied back to it soon afterward. It's a pity, since they did a good job with the dismal material, belying whatever one thinks about porn actors. (Possibly 1970s porn stars had more real acting chops and just got sidetracked? I knew people who made an indie film with Georgina Spelvin, from THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES, and found her good to work with, as she had many mainstream credits besides her most memorable role.)

  4. #4
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    I was also a teen in the 70's, and I remember very well the tagline "Keep repeating to yourself, 'It's only a movie'!" on the radio! (we didn't have a TV in my bedroom, but I heard a LOT of movie taglines while listening to KTSA San Antonio) I also remember thinking porn was a "bad thing" back in those days, my my my... Even though I didn't know who Richard Towers was, it was a nice trip down memory lane to read your posts!
    By my troth, I care not; a man can die but once; we owe God a death.... He that dies this year is quit for the next.
    --William Shakespeare!

  5. #5
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    Great post Linnie ! I was also a teen in the 70's, those were the days ! LOL. I think I found the obit for him in the New York Times, I'll post that link. What a strange, yet fascinating career he had. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nyt...?pid=177893317
    To really know people is to be able to read between the lines on their faces.

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