Monday, March 14, 2016
In Memory of Robert Horton
I woke up this morning to the news that actor Robert Horton passed away at the age of 91. Whether you knew him as Flint McCullough on Wagon Train or as Jack Rankin in The Green Slime (1968), Robert Horton filled his roles with a commanding presence that few actors could match.
I had the distinct privilege of interviewing Mr. Horton about The Green Slime in mid-2008. He had a wonderful sense of humor about the film and was completely honest with how he felt about it. (More on that a bit later.) When I finished transcribing the interview, I mailed him a hard copy of the transcript, and he made a few notes on it about some changes that needed to be made. Working with Mr. Horton on the interview was a lot of fun all around.
In late 2009, I got word about an upcoming Green Slime reunion at an L.A.-based comic book convention. Luciana Paluzzi and Robert Horton were scheduled to attend, and The Green Slime itself would be screened! I immediately made plans to attend.
I spent the early part of the show at Luciana Paluzzi's table, talking with and assisting her. But, when it was time for The Green Slime to screen, I joined the audience. Robert Horton himself was in the audience, and I was surprised to see him watching the film with a big smile on his face. Even though I was sitting a bit far away, I could tell he was having a blast watching the film with the rest of us. During the Q&A, he confirmed that he had a change of heart and specifically praised the first third of the film as having been well done. What a pleasant surprise that was!
Over the years, and even after I moved to Japan, we kept in touch. Mr. Horton never used e-mail or the Internet, so whenever I wanted to speak with him, I called him. I remember one instance, in October 2011, I phoned him from Japan in the morning, just before leaving for work. We had a nice conversation, and when it was finished, I walked to the Japanese kindergarten (where I was scheduled to teach the kids that morning) with high spirits.
In the summer of 2012, I stayed in Los Angeles for about a week at the home of Ib and Cleo Melchior. During that stay, I made an appointment to visit Mr. Horton at his home. I brought my laptop to show him the photos of the Great Buddha statue in Kamakura (which he visited in Japan during the making of The Green Slime). We had a great time chatting. I only wish I could have stayed longer.
I'd always send him a Christmas and birthday card, and I'd give him a call every so often. I enjoyed his dry sense of humor (he reminded me a lot of Rhodes Reason in that way), and the kindness he showed me is something I'll always appreciate.
In his memory, I have posted my 2008 interview with Mr. Horton on Vantage Point Interviews. If you enjoy The Green Slime, it's certainly well worth a read.
Thank you for everything, Mr. Horton. Your friends and fans will always remember you.