So last night I rewatched Attack of the The Eye Creatures and I realized what a recurring presence John Ashley has been in the world of riffed movies. For MST, he was of course also a star (and producer) of Beyond Atlantis. Cinematic Titanic took shots at his movie Danger on Tiki Island (aka Brides of Blood). Rifftrax has done his movies Beast of the Yellow Night and Frankenstein’s Daughter. So it seemed like he deserved a bit of recognition and discussion here.
It looks like he had about a 20 year acting career, from 1957 to 1977. His early career found him starring in such cinematic gems as Dragstrip Girl and Hot Rod Gang. He appeared alongside Frankie and Annette in a number of Beach Party movies in the 1960s. Probably the most enduring film he appeared in was 1963’s Hud.
He also had a side career as “singer”. Here’s a sample of his work in that area.
From How To Make a Monster –
From Hot Rod Gang –
While still an actor, he moved into the role of producer on several of his movies. It was as a producer that he spent most of the last 20 years of his life. Highlights from this era included being an associate producer on Apocalypse Now and serving as executive producer on The A-Team and Walker Texas Ranger. He was also a producer on Lawless, a TV series apparently so awful Fox cancelled it after its first and only show aired.
So what are your thoughts about John Ashley, especially regarding his “acting” in the selected movies which have been riffed? Love him or loathe him? Are any of his other movies particularly worthy of attention?
EDIT: Oops, sorry about that—duaniac had already mentioned it and I missed it.
I always thought he had a voice for radio.
Bridget mentioned not liking him (his character not him personally) on a Mads after show, the way his characters were condescending and would dismiss whatever the leading lady would say. (I can’t remember exactly how she worded it)
And I really disliked him, which means he was effectively good, as the B-movie equivalent to Bogart (from Treasure of Sierra Madre) in Atlantis.
And hey, he was in Hud. I always like spotting riffed actors (who were not exactly a-listers) in good/great movies - like Pumaman’s Vadinho in Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo.
Oh, and while I’m not beach movie guy, I am a Buster Keaton completest, so I’d see him in a couple of those flicks. I don’t know if it was a big deal for John, but that’d be a highlight for me. “Sweet! I’m working with Keaton!”
BTW - His first wife, Deborah Walley, co-starred in The Bubble.
He also did the opening narration for The A-Team. I always enjoyed seeing him in a movie.
John Ashley is one of those people I usually hear before I see. Some old movie will be on, I won’t be looking at the screen, and it’s unmistakably him.
But then I still get weirded out when Commando Cody is on and I hear the Lone Ranger’s voice. Somehow I always forget Clayton Moore is in those.
Before he worked with Buster Keaton, he’d actually been to Harold Lloyd’s house. From the Wikipedia entry about Frankenstein’s Daughter:
Ashley later said he remembered two things about the film: “the monster, which was a man because the makeup artist didn’t know it was supposed to be a woman, and that we shot the ending at Harold Lloyd’s estate, because Harold Lloyd Jr. played a teenager in it”.
I also liked this description of John Ashley’s performance in that movie: “His deadpan delivery and immobile countenance are so stiff you could light a match on them”.
Now we just need to find a Charlie Chaplin connection.
Is John Ashley a clone of Patrick Wayne or the other way around?