"Big as life and twice as
ugly!" That's the way Leo Gordon introduces himself.
Midway through a lengthy interview he sneers, "What
are you gonna do with this stuff?" He seems surprised
that anyone would be interested in the career of one
of the screen's most recognizable and intimidating tough
guys. When informed that there are many devoted fans
who want to know what Leo Gordon is up to these days,
he quips, "No good, as usual." For years,
Leo was one of the most believably imposing heavies
on the Hollywood scene, inciting a big house rebellion
in Riot in Cell Block 13 or engendering the wrath
of John Wayne in films like Hondo and McClintock.
Few actors can match Gordon's gallery of toughs, a string
of solid performances too numerous for the actor himself
to recall. "Somebody sent me a list of credits,
and there are things on there I have not the faintest
remembrance of. It's ridiculous, really."
How did you get into show business?
Like most people, just by circumstance; I stumbled into
it. I was in New York after the war with a friend of
mine, standing in front of Carnegie Hall one day watching
all the girls with their pony tails bounce in. I said
"How's your G.I. Bill?" -- "I haven't
used it yet" -- "Neither have I" -- "Well,
let's find out what the hell's goin' on here."
We went in and signed up for dramatic school on the
G.I. Bill. The government had what they call a 52-20
Program. They paid you 20 bucks a week to go to school
for 52 weeks.