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12/20/2009

Jack Zilly's days in Hollywood

December 20, 2009 | 10:36 am

Zilly Hollywood apparently saw stars when Jack Zilly came to town to play for the Rams.

Zilly, who died Friday at age 88, was in several Times stories during his professional football career in Southern California from 1947 to 1951. But not all of the mentions were about sports.

A 1949 story headlined "Rams Turn Hams During Off Season" explained how Zilly had been bitten by the acting bug.

"Zilly, the blond giant from Notre Dame, is the only Ram yet to attain the status of a bit player and he has his pals pea-green with envy," the paper reported.

"Jack's lines in 'War Bride' [actually the 1949 film 'I Was a Male War Bride'] hardly rank with Hamlet's soliloquy, either in length or content, but he did get to speak 14 lines as a sailor. Zilly spent one whole night practicing how to say 'Ship ahoy!' and he was letter perfect before the cameras the next day."

His first speaking part, according to the paper, was in 1949's "Twelve O'Clock High." He also was in (but not credited for) "Yes Sir, That's My Baby," a 1949 movie that included Jim Thorpe as an assistant football coach.

Not all of Zilly's headlines were about acting, however.

In 1948, Zilly caught a touchdown pass from Bob Waterfield with only 30 seconds to play, helping the Rams finish a furious rally to tie Philadelphia, 28-28. The copy editor writing the headlines for the story couldn't resist having some fun with the Ram hero's name:

"Zilly Dilly Against Philly."

You can find Zilly's obituary here.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Jack Zilly in an undated photo. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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