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Matt Weinstock

October 12, 2007 |  4:01 pm
Oct. 12, 1957

Matt_weinstockd_2 Burl Ives, who took off more than 40 pounds to play the part of the viciously righteous father in "Desire Under the Elms,' was putting some of it back on the other day at Frascati's and between bites took up the slack on the three years since we last saw each other.

The word from Paramount is that Burl does a masterful job in the Eugene O'Neill play. "I'm a heck of a villain," he confided with a booming laugh.

Furthermore, it appears he'll be doing considerably more acting. He has been offered three important roles.

Despite his switch of emphasis from folk music to acting, Burl remains the same hearty, uninhibited gentleman who gets a great kick out of life.

His private passion is still boats. When he's in the East he lives aboard the one that was reported this week as having gone aground in New Jersey. "There was a 70-mile wind," he said, "but the men aboard were all blue-water sailors." He can't figure what happened, not having yet received a full account.

Since coming to Hollywood, Burl has acquired a shiny black 1934 Packard phaeton Straight 8, a beautifully restored job with white leather upholstery, red trim and pinstriping. You can't hardly get them like that any more. I was curious about the name "Fosdick" neatly painted on one door. Just a whim, he explained, then added, "Harry Emerson--not Fearless."

1957_1012_no_down_payment What about folk music? It's as big as ever, he said, but in a different way. It's no longer the sort of intellectual cult it used to be. It's now accepted by people in all categories of society: businessmen, professional men, housewives as well as devotees of pure Americana. In a recent concert in Texas, he said, he broke the attendance record.

What's his feeling about being a big actor? It's nice work if you can get it, he said, but it hasn't changed his way of life. He's still a troubadour. For instance, he likes to go out at night and do a little singing with friendly strangers.

And this is our thought for today--bearded Burl Ives, all 300 pounds of him, guitar in hand, lumbering along the elegant Sunset Strip, where he lives, looking in one bistro after another for convivial folk who might like to join him in "Blue Tail Fly," "Barbara Allen" or "Jimmy Cracked Corn"--and finding them.

KID STUFF -- Timmy Deans, 3, is fascinated by all policemen. While his mother waited for a signal to change, a motorcycle officer stopped alongside and Timmy, enchanted, called out, "Hey, police, my mommy drive too fast. Give her a tick!" The officer frowned fiercely, then smiled... A woman with two little girls got on a bus on Catalina Island and the  driver asked, "Are they under 6?" The woman retorted menacingly, "Did you ask if my girls are undersexed?"

THE PERIPATETIC publicists are with us today. Al Hix, en route to Tripoli to do the movie "No Time to Die," postcards from the island of Malta that he asked for a Malta milk and the barmaid had to be dissuaded from taking a poke at him... Jack Hirshberg writes from Munich, where Kirk Douglas is making "The Vikings," that he forgot to put his pfennigs in a parking meter and found a ticket under the windshield wiper. Seemed like old times in Beverly Hills. But when he asked a nearby policeman what to do about it, the officer wrote out a receipt, Jack handed him 2 marks--about 50 cents--and that was that.

ONLY IN L.A. -- A man named Scotty gives his Pekingese half a Miltown when it has nervous fits. Brings the Peke right out of it, he says... Civic Center cynics were saying yesterday that it was very inconsiderate of Columbus to have his birthday come this year on Saturday, already a holiday from work.

FOOTNOTES -- An attorney delivering an eloquent oration in an accident case in court the other day had a distressing interruption. The bailiff fell asleep and loudly snored... Agnes Moorehead, who created the classic role 14 years ago, will be doing "Sorry, Wrong Number" for the seventh time on CBS radio's "Suspense" tomorrow... George T. Oussen, supervising the smooth inaugural of Flying Tiger's nonstop freight service with a 43,000 payload, recalled the time in 1931 when another line started a cargo service in Chicago and a live, crated pig got loose during the loading and speaking ceremony, creating havoc, as the saying goes... Mickey Grayson, maitre d' at the Park Wilshire Hotel, has a piece of a $7 pool on which day of the week Sputnik will sputter out and disappear.