“Pickens,” in the above title, isn’t a typo. Granted, you may deem my blog slim pickins if you’re hoping it delivers posts that make your day….but this ain’t about that. No, friends, the title refers to Slim Pickens, the actor playing the U.S. Air Force Major who went hopping on a delivery that made his day in this film:

Contrary to what some readers may conclude, I wasn’t born yesterday — but Slim Pickens was (June 29, 1919); thus this celebration of the actor and his most iconic role as Major Kong in DR. STRANGELOVE or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb….not just any bomb, but as you saw in the clip, a


Pickens was born Louis Burton Lindley, Jr. in California, the son of a dairy farmer. An excellent horse rider as a boy, he grew bored with dairy farming (according to Wikipedia) and began earning money riding broncos and roping steers in his early teens, which his father learned of and forbid. Nonetheless, he entered a rodeo, despite being told by the dubious rodeo manager that there would be “slim pickin’s” for one so young. To keep his father from finding out, he registered as “Slim Pickens,” won, and pocketed $400. He went on to work as a rodeo clown until landing a role in the 1950 Errol Flynn western Rocky Mountain, beginning a long career in movies and TV.

As for DR. STRANGELOVE, if you’ve seen the film (made in 1963), there’s no need to go into detail, and if you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so. In brief, it’s a brilliant black comedy that provoked much controversy when belatedly released January 29, 1964. The very names of the characters (played by the likes of Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and Pickens) paint a picture of the satire that caused such consternation in those cold war times: President Merkin Muffley, General Buck Turgidson, Gen. Jack D. Ripper, Maj. T.J. ‘King’ Kong, Col. ‘Bat’ Guano, Soviet Premier Dimitri Kissof, Ambassador Desadeski.

The idea that war is madness wasn’t new in 1963-64. Logically, war as madness comes with the territory when IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (another 1963 movie — though the comedy is much broader and more mainstream than DR. STRANGELOVE). So we should have standards, as in this closing classic admonition from President Muffley:

That’s it until July 10 as I go to a post-every-ten-days schedule, or perhaps a post-when-the-spirit-moves-me non-schedule (posting every five days has become a bit of a heavy load lately, so rather than cut corners on quality, I’m cutting back on quantity/frequency).




20 comments on “SLIM PICKENS

  1. Carmen says:

    In other words, we’re gettin’ slim pickins from now on. . . 🙂

    I must confess to not having seen either of these movies. . .I know, I know, cultural deprivation. . . but I have yet to find a movie that hubby stays awake for so I just don’t bother trying to watch ’em. But the above definitely look interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      Carmen, you are such a temptress, tempting me to say that my pickins won’t be as slim as those on your blog! But I hope you’ll forgive me when I add that although your posts are few and far between, I wouldn’t miss them for the (mad, mad, mad, mad) world. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂


  2. linnetmoss says:

    That scene from Strangelove has always haunted me… the stuff of nightmares. But you have to ask what film the same people would make if they could see the bizarre goings-on of today.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ricardo says:

    It is tough to be over-the-top in our current reality-show political age, Sr. Muse. But I try.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      We should all keep trying, Ricardo. The orange guy in the White House is beyond the pale. His sycophants defend his mocking and personal insults with the excuse that he’s a “fighter,” but even fighters must play by the rules (like no hitting below the belt).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. BroadBlogs says:

    In the era of Trump everyone should see “Dr. Strangelove”!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mistermuse says:

    Trump is strange, all right, but where’s the love?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Don Frankel says:

    I was away for a few days and just got back. I noticed that in Slim Pickens early movies he played a character named Slim Pickens.

    Wasn’t this movie sort of based on a serious one Fail Safe? I’m not sure at this stage of the game.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mistermuse says:

    I researched DR. STRANGELOVE in preparing this post, and found that it has often been compared with FAIL SAFE, however the former was not based on the latter. The films were based on different novels and released in 1964, but STRANGELOVE was made in 1963 and released 1/29/64, whereas FAIL SAFE came out in Oct. 1964. Oddly enough, both came out of the same studio (Columbia Pictures).

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Don Frankel says:

    Thanks Muse. They seemed in my memory to have an eerie similarity. Maybe since they were both made by the same studio. It wasn’t uncommon back in those days for those studios to use a lot of same sets and actors or even some of the same scenes. I think a lot of Gone With the Wind and Ben Hur scenes were used in a lot of movies. I’m not sure how many times Atlanta burned but it was definitely more than once.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. mistermuse says:

    Right, Don. I think westerns often used the same settings, both natural and man-made (such as building fronts or even whole towns), back in the day. Studios sometimes even used the same footage to insert into later films — I seem to recall reading that KING KONG was one of those films from which scenes were appropriated for use in a later film (I don’t remember which one).


  10. intrepid8 says:

    This is a good post! I had no idea who this guy was till now.

    Thanks for sharing, mister muse.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. mistermuse says:

    Thank you for commenting.


  12. Mark Scheel says:


    Yes, I’ve seen both movies and remember the great comedy in both, dark though it was. And, yes, we’re entering “strangely” another era of similar threat. Anyway, Slim Pickens, the cowboy. Coincidentally I just posted a blog entry on the Western novel, if you really want to pursue Slim’s milieu.


    Liked by 1 person

  13. RMW says:

    Needless to say, so of course I will anyway… scarier today than ever before. When Strangelove first came out I was scared. But now I’m more scared by real life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      What can I say but “I don’t blame you.” In the past, the world has always somehow muddled through every crisis — but the world has never been this dangerously muddled (in the full and complete sense of the word).

      Liked by 2 people

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