Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, Nov. 9, 1959
November 9, 2009 | 2:00 pm
Trials and Tribulation of Doodles Weaver
It's an axiom thought up by Sir Isaac Newton and perpetuated by Hollywood:
What goes up must come down.
And its proof sat in front of my desk, in striped shirt and gaudy suit, a shade less subtle than mustard.
His professional, comical name was Doodles Weaver.
"People think I'm important," he was explaining to me. "Everybody's heard of Doodles Weaver. The American public really likes me."
With nervous vigor, he tamped the tip of his burned-out cigar in an ashtray on the edge of the desk.
Then he said, "But I can't get a job. In this town, I can't."
Doodles Weaver gave his age as 44.
"Actually, I'm only 43. I'll be 44 next May," he corrected. "I tell people around Hollywood I'm 44 though," he added, smiling feebly. "Maybe they'll give me some Walter Brennan parts."
Ten years ago, the name Doodles Weaver demanded, and got, $1,000 a week for entertaining the people in Vegas.
Last year, the figure scribbled next to the words "gross earnings" on the comedian's income tax return was $4,200. This year it promised to be even less, he said.
It was a long, painful fall -- the kind where you bounce off ledges on the way down.
But it's nothing new to Hollywood.
There are hundreds in town -- names you know -- who'll tell you that they've read from the same script. They'll tell you that when you're making it, you better hang onto it.
But they, like Doodles, testify with keen hindsight.
"I never invested a cent," Doodles told me. "I never really thought I'd need to. It was just last year that I finally got around to putting a down payment on a house. Two thousand dollars. All my savings."
It's a modest, two-bedroom place in Burbank. There he lives with his wife, Rita, and year-old daughter, Janella. They're expecting another child.
He still drives a Cadillac, but he's not exactly putting on a front with it. The car's 10 years old; and he still owes $400 in payments.
As he talked about himself, I got the impression that Doodles was still in the state of shock.
"The agents. No matter what agent I got, they all tell me the same thing. 'Everybody knows you, Doodles. When something comes along, they'll call you.'
"I used to get tickets to the premieres, invitations to the big parties. Now, nothing.
'Top Ratings . . . Going Great'
"Two years ago, I had a kid show," Doodles sighed. "Top ratings. Going great. The kids love me. But the station did some rescheduling and I was out.
"Now," he went on, "I pay the bills by doing dinners, banquets. Chamber of Commerce. They're people, like everybody else, and they love me. I put them in the aisles."
Doodles Weaver stood up, lit his cigar, which again had died, and pointed at me.
"You tell me," he said. "I've still got good stuff. Real good stuff. The people outside of show business still have faith in me. But in the business, I'm lucky if I get one day's work a month."
Havana in hand, Doodles Weaver left.
He did call me, however, the next day. "Did you hear the news, Paul?" he asked.
"No," I answered.
"I just been promised a new kids' show on TV and got a solid week of good work in a movie," he said. "I told you things would change."
This, also, is Hollywood.