MY SOUTHERN BROTHER
A Remembrance of Fred Crane
I'm talking to my friend John Norris about a proposed project on George Reeves that would eventually become the magazine edition of Speeding Bullet. I mention to John that maybe I've gotten myself in over my head, as new information on George is hard to come by. John replies, "Would you like to speak with Fred Carne, George's Tarleton twin brother in Gone With the Wind?" "Would I!" I gasped. "You bet I would!" John was kind enough to provide me with Fred's phone number, and a few days later I was sitting in Fred's Spanish style duplex, as he regaled me with tales of his adventures with George on and off the set of Gone With the Wind.
There was a bond forged between us that resulted in a fourteen year friendship that has only now been interrupted by the Grim Reaper. While most interviews are a one time only affairs, the friendship Fred and I embarked on was one of mutual admiration, and a genuine love for one another. That afternoon Fred told me that he met George while he was having his hair dyed for Gone With the Wind, and he put it, "They struck it off right away."
Well, that's what happened with Fred and me 55 years later. Fred was fiercely loyal to George and his memory, and told me during our interview that "George didn't kill himself. I had too much intimate knowledge of the gentleman. I think George met his end in a struggle for the gun. To my mind, that's the only logical explanation. I know George's sense of humor, and he probably would have made a joke about his own demise. 'I wasn't content with being a mighty Tarleton twin, I had to go and be Superman, and I OD'd on Kryptonite, and went clean out of this world.' That was the kind of humor George had. I can't give the suicide verdict any credit. He had too much going for him. Needless to say, it's just a pity George left. I was very, very much saddened at his death. We must joyfully accept life's sorrows. There is no other way."
About a year after our interview, Cult Movies No. 14 hit the news stands and was a great selling book-a-zine with Speeding Bullet as half the issue. I met Fred at his new apartment, which was located right across the street from his former abode. I gave Fred twenty or so copies of the magazine, and he gave me a tape a freind of his called Mark Mercury, a glorious collection of electronica, which showed me how diverse Fred's musical tastes were/ I knew that Fred had a long distinguished career as a classical music disc jockey on L.A.'s premier classical station KFAC AM and FM, but until that day I had no idea that he was so interested in other types of music. Fred was well aware of the importance of the Beatles, and viewed Sergeant Pepper as high art. He was also into blues showtunes, and even liked the CDs I was making.
For years Fred and I were in contact on the phone, with many hours of stimulating conversations, poetry, and Fred playing me a Bach composition on the mouth organ (perfectly, I might add, and all by ear). Fred was a raconteur, a Renaissance man and a philosopher. On many of these phone calls, which are so dear to me now, he and I used to laugh ourselves silly almost into sickness. Fred was also a great philosopher. We often discussed the meaning of life, and things that concerned us like man's inhumanity to man, the mistreatment of animals, and the mistreatment of the planet. Of those things, we were in total agreement.
I know I'm going to miss those phone conversations, far beyond the description of words.
In a land reserved for slumber, I had a vision. It was the old Don the Beachcomber's. I walked through the well familiar doors (it was one of my haunts, too, until the restaurant was closed down and turned into a parking lot) and I see Fred and George Reeves at the bar, reminiscing. They're toasting one another, and catching up on the latest news, past and present. The Tarleton Twins, together again. I blink, and I know that Fred is in God's hands.
Good night, Southern brother. I shall miss you always.