Sunday, August 30, 2015

In Memoriam: William Talman and Wesley Lau

So today is the anniversary of both William Talman and Wesley Lau’s deaths, albeit in different years. I never like to combine their tribute posts, but I’m afraid that this year I will have to. It has been extremely, unpleasantly hectic the last couple of weeks and with it already evening in my time zone, I just don’t think I’ll have the chance to write two posts today.

I have to admit that I’m running into that same dilemma of not knowing what to say for either one of them that I haven’t already said before. And yet I still want to try; I can’t just go past this day without doing something in their honor.

I started looking through posts from past years to see how I handled it. On one of William’s, I noticed that I mentioned a Wild Wild West fanfiction story I was writing about William’s episode, The Night of the Man-Eating House. His character dies in the main part of the episode, but since it was a dream of Artemus Gordon’s, in reality he was still alive. But the episode ended with them really finding the house from the dream, so there’s the chance that the same events would play out. I decided to write my story having things turn out differently in reality than in the dream. When I talked of it in that first post, I was stalled and could not think how to continue or finish the story. This year, I finally succeeded in doing so, and I am quite pleased with the results. If anyone would like to read that story, which is definitely a tribute to William Talman and his awesomely played character, it’s here:

The community of William Talman fans on Facebook was hoping that MeTV would finally put up part 2 of that interview they did with Tim Talman a year and a half ago. I and others tried to convince them to do so. It would seem they have not. Had they done so, that would have been a very timely and exciting thing to bring to the readers here on this sobering day.

It is such a strange coincidence to have lost two of our Perry cast members on this day, albeit in different years. I am grateful it wasn’t the same year, as Wesley brought so much to people between 1968 and 1984. I am sorrowed, as always, that William Talman died so young, in 1968. I wonder sometimes what things he might have appeared in and what he could have shared with his family had he been able to keep living. But I also always think of his heroic act of speaking out on the dangers of smoking and wonder how many lives he changed with those powerful, first anti-smoking messages. I have come across people who have talked of how those messages changed their lives and how they decided to stop smoking because of them. It’s a beautiful legacy to leave. Although it doesn’t change the sadness of him leaving us so soon, it surely is a great comfort to know that he made such an important difference.

I greatly enjoyed writing for Hamilton, Andy, and Amory Fallon in The Malevolent Mugging, which I have finally finished at last. They and Mr. Sampson were definitely the stars of the tale and I loved devoting it to them. Of course, the actors’ amazing performances are by and large why I adore writing for their characters. All of them were brought to life in the series so expertly.

Wesley was so wonderful as Amory Fallon in The Impatient Partner, even capturing the attention of the executive producer and directly leading to him being cast as Andy for four seasons. It’s so interesting how one little decision, positive or negative, can affect things for years to come. What if someone else had been chosen as Amory? What if they had decided to use Med Flory or someone else as the Lieutenant? What if we had never come to know Lieutenant Anderson?

Wesley was an amazing character actor and very widely appreciated for his skills, which was why he appeared on so many shows. But Lieutenant Anderson was his only role as a steady cast member and that is undoubtedly the role for which he is most remembered. I am very glad that he was the one chosen for the part and that we got to know his great character from seasons 5 through 8. Of course, had someone else been picked instead, we wouldn’t have known any different, but it certainly wouldn’t have been the same as it was with Wesley there.

I’m always delighted to receive comments from people who fondly remember Wesley as Andy. It pleases me that he was so well-received by many viewers, since often it is difficult for a replacement cast member to be accepted by long-time viewers who remember and love the original cast member. I myself took a little bit of time to warm up to him (and Steve) when I started watching again, but it didn’t take long and I loved them.

I always take August 30th to remember the passing of these two great actors and human beings, but I think of them in general every day. There are many lessons we can take from them about acting and playing good characters, but there are also important lessons from their personal lives. They were both devoted to family and friends and stood by them no matter what. They were also both very courageous and believed in saying and doing what had to be done. Those are great examples to take into our lives.


  1. Dear Lucky Ladybug, I've recently discovered your fine blog, and am so enjoying reading through some of the posts. I've recently re-discovered the Perry Mason show, and have been TiVO-ing the episodes from MeTV. Like many people, I resented the Anderson character at first, then grew very fond of him as the episodes went by. (I'm a great fan of Ray Collins, and was saddened as his role diminished and was taken over by this young whipper snapper!)

    As a kid who grew up in the 60s and 70s, I saw Wesley Lau in probably hundreds of TV shows (I read somewhere he was in over 900 different TV episodes), but never knew his name until about 2 months ago, from the PM credits. What a handsome and refined gentleman he must have been. I so enjoy his work as an adult that I'm looking to work through all the available material. Researching that material brought me to your blog!

    Several years ago I re-watched the original Columbo series on Netflix, and became very interested in the Homicide Lt. of Detectives, and how he is portrayed in various media. I would have dearly loved to see Lts. Anderson and Tragg discuss their new, younger colleague on the LAPD, Frank Columbo. They would probably be quite exasperated by him, but would have seen his great talent and potential. Or maybe Anderson and Columbo would meet for a quick lunch at Barney's Beanery, and discuss one of Columbo's cases. Perhaps by 1971, Anderson would have been promoted to Captain. I sometimes think he left the LAPD to go to law school. (Perhaps I'll try my hand at some fan fiction!) These characters and more, such as Kojak and others present an image of the detective that is most compelling and admirable; a man so driven, he will never, ever stop.

    I sought out your blog today because of a movie I saw last night for the first time: '...And Justice For All'. There is a scene in which a man goes crazy and starts throwing dinner plates at people. There's a man in the crowd who I am *sure* is Wesley Lau. If I could have seen a close up of his chin, there would be no lingering doubts, but alas, that was not provided by the director. If you get a chance to watch this movie, I'd love your opinion. It was a broadcast version, so I can't give you a time stamp, but it was about 2/3rds of the way through the movie. He was not in the credits, and this movie doesn't appear in his filmography; if it isn't him, then it's someone quite similar in appearance.

    Best regards, and I'll read your fictional works with great interest!


    1. Thank you so much for your comments! I'm glad you came to enjoy Wesley Lau's character. And I'm honored that you're enjoying my blog! I've had a lot of fun working with it.

      That is an interesting idea. I don't get to watch Columbo as much as I would like, but it would be fun to set it in the same universe as Perry Mason and have the characters interact. And it would be interesting if Andy decided to go into law. I never thought of that twist. Good luck if you decide to try your hand at a fan fiction or two! I definitely agree about the fictional detectives being portrayed very admirably. Kojak is another of my favorites.

      That is very intriguing. I'll have to see if I can find that movie and take a look!

      Thank you! I hope you will enjoy. Some of them get ... a little weird!