It’s strange how things turn out in life. In case you didn’t know, these Turkey Day marathons that I’ve been doing since 2003, were started in tribute to Mystery Science Theater 3000 back when they were on Comedy Central, and used to show 24-hours of their shows non-stop the day after Thanksgiving, which they would call their Turkey Day Marathons. I loved that show and had most of them on VHS at one point. I loved that they brought a new audience to some of the films that I loved as a kid. But then a few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Frank Conniff’s (TV’s Frank) book on his years on MST3K, called Twenty Five Mystery Science Theater 3000 Films that Changed my Life in No Way Whatsoever. It’s a little book, barely 100 pages, but as I paged through it, reading his thoughts on some of the titles were my favorites, it was almost like my childhood crashing down.
Born Nov. 4th, 1920 – Died Apr. 13th, 1995
While Thurman had appearances in notable films like Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) or Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show (1971), as well as Hollywood films like Places in the Heart (1984) and Silverado (1985), he really is more known to cult fans that love films that are more off the beaten path. Thurman appeared in films like Creature from Black Lake (1976), The Evictors (1979) and the cult title Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1986). But digging even deeper into the cult history, Thurman also appeared in over a dozen films of Texas filmmaker Larry Buchanan, most notably in titles as The Eye Creatures (1965), Curse of the Swamp Creature (1965), Zontar: The Thing from Venus (1966), Mars Needs Women (1967), and It’s Alive (1969).
Now the thing about Thurman that is memorable were his performances. Was he Oscar winning caliber? Not even close. But more importantly, he was always enjoyable to watch on screen. When I see his name in the title, I know that he is going to try his best and presenting a interesting character on screen, and usually does. Thurman is one of these actors that truly deserves to be remembered since most people are not even familiar with the movies that he’s in, let alone the actor himself. So the next time you’re watching a low budget film that might have been made in Texas, keep an eye out for this large man, most likely with southern drawl to his speech. Most likely, that will be Bill Thurman.