Adventures with the Jocko Mahoney Breakfast Club
A Remembrance

One of the greatest periods in fandom of the 20th Century was the Monster Boom Generation (as opposed to the Baby Boom Generation). The Monster Boom years for this writer were from 1956 to 1966. In 1956, this writer got the first taste of full frontal fright on a blissful Sunday afternoon when one of the local Los Angeles television stations reran King Kong. A year later, on a weekday eveing I was terrified and driven under the sofa at a pre-Shock Theater television screening of the 1931 Frankenstein.

Soon after that, I saw a plethora of cinematic shockers - Day The World Ended (which gave me nightmares for months), House on Haunted Hill, House of Usher, Curse of the Werewolf, Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory, and the television airwaves became the terror transmission stations of the Monster Boomers. Los Angeles stations had their version of Shock Theater with imitators Chiller Theater, Jeepers Creeper Theatre, Weird, Weird World, and Science Fiction Theater. By that time, monster magazines were the rage.

August, 1962 - Hollywood, California

I had just returned from the compulsory vacation arranged by parents (to keep them from having nervous breakdowns) called summer camp. The summer of '62 had been a high point of fandom insofar as Warren Publications had released the first Famous Monsters of Filmland Yearbook and the two first issues of Screen Thrills Magazine. These were hot items among kids at camp, and there was nothing more blissful than reading these 'zines with Bobby Boris Pickett's hit song, "The Monster Mash" blasting out of a crackly transistor radio.

While flipping through my Famous Monsters Yearbook, I came upon a make-up photograph of Leo G. Carroll in the advanced stages of acromegaly from the Universal International picture Tarantula. The photograph of a melting man burned an indelible imprint into my juvenile mind. By the age of twelve, I was amassing a collection of what was considered by parents of the day to be deviant material. And I never forgot that photograph from Tarantula. I had to smuggle monster magazines into the house, until my mother decided that Famous Monsters was not turing me into a juvenile delinquent.

Soon we discovered poster exchanges, most notably Theater Poster Exchange of Memphis, Tennessee. One-sheets were 50 cents, half-sheets and inserts were 35 cents. The first two movie posters I had in my collection were Attack of the Puppet People starring John Agar and Donovan's Brain with Lew Ayres. So one could say a John Agar poster was the first piece in my collection.

One Sheet Insert

Chiller Theater showed mostly Allied Artists pictures and other assorted independent production. One Saturday evening at a friend's house, I got my first taste of John Agar. Daughter of Dr. Jekyll was showing that night, and I was hooked. From there on in, I tried to catch every John Agar science fiction film shown. Soon my friends and I began to revel in John's antics as the 20th Century Schizoid Man in The Brain from Planet Aros, traveled to the center of the earth with John as he battled The Mole People, and i finally thrilled to John's entanglements with a fifty=foot Taranrula. We had all died and gone to monster heaven, and John Agar was one of our guides.


MAY 1986

After I left a band of which I was a founding member (Haunted Garage), I had some time on my hands on Saturday monrings, and I began to visit a store that specialized in rare videos, Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee in North Hollywood, California. I had discovered Eddie Brandt's way back at the end of the 60s (1969) when they first opened their furniture store, which had a box of movie photos as a lure for collectors. Forty years and three locations later, Eddie Brandt's is the largest depot for all things cinema, specializing in rare posters, photos, and expansive collection (for rent and sale) of videotapes, DVDs, and other collectibles.

I'd arrive about 8:30 a.m. to quietly go through their vast library of vintage videos. On this Saturday morning, in walked Jocko Mahoney with two friends by the names of John Church and Herb Harris. At first, I didn't recognize Jock Mahoney. Luckily, I was renting some Columbia serials, and struck up a conversation with Jocko's friend, Herb Harris. Hence, by the end of our encounter, I had been introduced to Jocko Mahoney and was invited to breakfast with what has been referred to as the "Jocko Mahoney Breakfast Club." Unfortunately, on that Saturday morning I had to decline the offer. But after several weeks of invitations from Herb Harris, I had one Saturday morning free and attended breakfast at Bob's Big Boy restaurant with Jocko, Herb, and John. There was a promise of an appearance by Richard Webb, known to Baby Boomers and vintage television fans as Captain Midnight.

We all sat down, and most of us were having the Bob's breakfast buffet. But I ordered ala carte, eggs sunnyside up - big mistake! Jocko, after filling his plate with delectable goodies, sat down and asked me, "Hey, watcha got there?" To which I replied "Eggs, sunnyside up." Jocko, grinning from ear to ear, said "You know, I did a couple of pictures with the Three Stooges." Whereupon, Jocko poked the sunny side out my freshly fried eggs. It is a fact that in all the years I ate breakfast with Jocko, I never ordered eggs sunnyside up again - I switched to omelets. Jocko was the ultimate prankster! True to the code of the Secret Squadron, Richard Webb indeed showed up.

In late 1986, John Agar was brought into the group after being discovered hitting a round of golf balls at the Whittset Driving Range in Studio City. The group bounced around from Bob's Big Boy to the Sportsment's Lodge, and finally settled at Charlie's Restaurant, a bar and grill in Studio City where actors of Hollywood's Golden Age hung out and reminisced about the glory days. I was not bouncing with the group at this time, but I received a call from John Church telling me the group had settled in at Charlie's.

One tranquil Saturday morning, the whole gang was ensconced at Charlie's sipping coffee and catching up on the week's events, when in walks John Agar! Suddenly my mind was transported back to those monster boom days of old, where John Agar was the crown prince of monsterdom - Dr. Matthew Hastings battling with the screen's first giant spider invasion; Stever March, a victim of interplanetary brain possession; Major Jay trapped in Bronson Caves due to an infestation of recently deceased corpses (in the first and foremost Night of the Living Dead flix); an archeologist Roger Bentley, who journeyed to the Earth's core, only to run afoul of the mole people. And here he was, sipping coffee and swapping stories with his old friends Jocko and Dick Webb.

JAH, Herb Harris, Sharon Carter, Jocko Mahoney

Upon being introduced to John, I learned two things up front. I extended my hand and said, "Nice to meet you, Mr. Agar." "First of all, my name is John. Mr. Agar was my father," he replied. With that, he shook my hand with what can only be described as the 'hand of death' - the man had to have had the most powerful handshake on the planet (Aros or otherwise).

Soon John Agar was a regular of the Jock Mahoney Breakfast Club, along with his wife, Loretta. I remember one breakfast conversation where John was telling all of us at the table how on one of the John Ford Westerns, that John Wayne and Ward Bond would drink themselves into oblivion before scenes were shot. When the legendary director John Ford called them before the camera, Agar marveled how his two toasted friends could shake off their stupor and perform letter perfect scenes without betraying their over-inebriated state.

Another morning during breakfast, John had to use eye drops and we began discussing eye injuries, as this writer had recently recovered from one. He told me that the drops were to ease chronic glaucoma that was caused by the silver spray painted contact lenses he was forced to wear in The Brain From Planet Aros. John also told me that he was glad that he had interests outside the world of show business, such as bowling and golf, to occupy his time when he wasn't acting. He became so adept at bowling that he was a representative for the Brunswick Bowling Equipment Company. But make no mistake, John's first love was acting.

John told us a hilarious golfing story about him and veteran character actor Tristram Coffin trying to have a quiet game. John related that Tris, preparing to drive a ball, went into his swing and flatulated loud enough for all to hear. He turned to John and friends and smiled, and remarked upon missing the ball, "I lost compression!" The visual of the star of King of the Rocket Men losing compression to uncontrollable flatulence on the golf course quite literally kept us laughing for weeks. My question to John was, "Was he wearing the rocket packs?"

JAH, Denver Pyle, Richard Webb

One of my favorite ongoing jokes with John was me feigning great annoyance over a night of lost sleep due to the fact that John had left the brain from planet Aros under my bed, and the damn thing talked in its sleep (probably a caffeine-induced hallucination). Every time I would feign this annoyance, John would start howling like a cross between the wolf man and Tarantula, to which I dubbed him the Wildebeest of Burbank. I only wish I had photographs of the faces of the other patrons when John would let out these war whoops. The looks of horror would have been priceless. John and I loved being the pranksters.

Jock Mahoney's Breakfast Club continued its meetings until early in 1989. Jocko and his wife Autumn decided to move to Washington state. There was a huge Breakfast Club going away party for Jocko, and friends and fans turned out to give Jocko a grand farewell. Unfortunately, by the end of 1989 we lost Jocko, but the Breakfast Club continued on in his memory. Jocko's friends and fans continued to attend out of respect for Jocko. Of course, John Agar was no exception.

Cynthia Patrick, John Agar, Jan at Charlies in the 1980s

By the early 90s, Jocko Mahoney's Memorial Breakfast Club was gaining quite a reputation, and drawing many celebrity guests and friends of Jocko, including Terry Frost, Marion Callahan, Denver Pyle, Michael Berryman, Dana Andrews, Pierce Lyden, Robert Quarry, Sid Melton, Don Durant, Valda Hansen, Linda Blair, Ruth Buzzi, David White, Eddie Fontaine, and many more. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending upon your point of view, this attracted a variety of fans, most of whom were decent people. But on a couple of occasions, the fandom got the better of the fans.

Richard Webb, JAH, Sid Melton at Charlie's

I remember one Saturday morning where a young lady who had obviously just discovered Shirley Temple movies, began heavy questioning of John regarding Shirley Temple. It was apparent that she was unaware of the trials and tribulations of the Agar/Temple union. John answered every question politely and thoughtfully, even though one would think this would be a source of great irritation. In the sixteen years I knew John, he never uttered an unkind word about his ex, or anyone else for that matter. In fact, in all the years I knew him he did everything within his power on a daily basis to make amends for any of his past transgressions.

I remember being annoyed at this young person's barrage of questioning, and cracking off a blistering remark to the young lady, "What the hell do you want to talk about Shirley Temple for when you have the star of Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Sands of Iwa Jima, and Revenge of the Creature right here in front of you!" But John was the ultimate gentleman to this young person.

Later that morning he told me that at that time in his life maybe he hadn't been the nicest person, which I found incredibly refreshing in an era of superstars who have a revolving door to rehab and moan on all the tabloid television shows about how rotten their lives are, and who was to blame. No matter how bad things got for John, he never complained. In fact, one of the most alarming things about John is, in his later years when he was with the gang and was not feeling well, he would never complain. Hence we would not know if he needed help. That was tough.

One member of the Breakfast Club, Mike Mancini, worked security for Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion. It seemed that even in the hallowed bunny halls, word of Jock Mahoney's band of merry pranksters had gotten to Mr. H. In spite of the fact that Jocko was gone four years, a tour of the Playboy Mansion was arranged by Mr. Mancini for the Breakfast Club. Mr. Hefner wanted to meet Mr. Agar and Richard Webb. Needless to say, the day at the Playboy Mansion was not only memorable but most eventful.

At the Playboy Mansion, 1990

The group arrived somewhere around 10 in the morning, and we were treated to a brunch of coffee and croissants, followed by a full tour of the mansion. Mr. Hefner had assembled an amazing collection of exotic animals, which included a monkey who was on a chain, most probaby to keep him from visiting Mr. Hefner's neighbors. In 1967 when this writer was a fledgling enthusiastic young teenager, he had a neighbor who had a similar monkey attached in his yard to a chain. One tranquil Sunday morning, the lady of the abode was attempting to feed the monkey when the monkey went berserk and sent her to the emergency room, ripping her shoulder to shreds. Well, here we are at Hef's mansion, and John is admiring a monkey on a chain. I quickly and briefly related the story of the benevolent lady who was mutilated by the monkey and cautioned John that these monkeyshines could get a little weird. Several other members of the Breakfast Club nodded in acknowledgment, and expressed concern about John's safety, but it was too late. John and the monkey had made eyecontact, and before we knew it John went over and began scratching the monkey's head. Once again, John Agar of the jungle reigned supreme. Within a couple of minutes, John and the monkey were the best of friends.

Not long after John's simian serenades, Hugh Hefner appeared and greeted the group with great warmth. he extended our tour to the upstairs hallway, which featured framed photographs of guests of the mansion. I do remember at this point John and I having a wonderful discussion with Mr. Hefner about English actor Christopher Lee, who portrayed Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Mummy for Hammer Films in the late 50s. The entire visit was a highlight for all members of the Breakfast Club.

Charlie's went out of business a short time later, and the group moved to the Sportsman's Lodge a few miles away. We had lost people like Terry Frost, Pierce Lyden, Dana Andrews, and Eddie Fontaine while we were still at Charlie's, but the Sportsman's had its own in-house celebrities. Soon we were breakfasting with such Hollywood luminaries as Burr Middleton, Chuck McCann, Gregg Palmer, and William Campbell. John was pleased to be reunited with his old friends, and this routine went on for a number of years.

Then the Grim Reaper paid the club another visit. This time it was the light of John's life - his wife of five decades, Loretta, passed away in their home on January 27th, 2000. The previous weekend John and Loretta had attended a Ray and Sharon Courts Hollywood Collectibles show at the Beverly Garland Hotel in Studio City. Loretta was in fine health, and they greeted their fans with great enthusiasm. This was a devastating blow for John, but he carried on like the trooper that he was. A birthday party had been scheduled months in advance to celebrate John's 79th birthday. The seldom seen John Agar film, Hand of Death was to be screened at this birthday celebration, which was scheduled to take place at Aaron Rosenberg's house in Burbank, California. When most people would have cancelled a birthday party and gone into mourning, Johninsisted the party be held, telling us Loretta would have wanted it this way. Needless to say, the party ran high with emotion, and drew a heavy turnout from John's family and friends. John stood up and gave a speech about how he had recently lost Loretta, and how this party was not only his birthday but also a tribute to his late wife.

John survived Loretta by two years, and continued to attend breakfast at the Sportsman's Lodge when health permitted. I know that he enjoyed seeing us as much as we enoyed seeing him, but sadly he passed away on April 7th, 2002. On Friday, April 12th at 1:00 p.m., John and Loretta were laid to rest (their ashes mixed in the same urn). John and Loretta were given a 21 gun salute at Riverside Memorial Cemetery. The eulogy was delivered by veteran Parmount producer and friend, A.C. Lyles. John and Loretta were now together forever, two souls that I shall never forget.

The other Breakfast Club members still ride the heavenly range on cable television on a nightly basis. Let's hope future generations will appreciate the contributions of these fine players, and will preserve their work for all to enjoy.

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