A Career In Movies Matched Oceanside Retiree Up With John Wayne, Elvis
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Faulkner, 87, appeared in 30 movies and more than 200 television episodes after an acting career that started in 1958.
"When I started (in the movies), the daily rate was $80 a day," Faulkner said. "That was for TV, movies — whatever. Now, your agent could then arrange and say, 'Hey, OK he's a got a bigger part in this film I want to pay him $500 a week, or $600 or $1,000."
Faulkner grew up riding horses in Kentucky, which he said gave him an edge for westerns.
"That’s how I got started," Faulkner said. "They were doing a lot of western series and you had an advantage if you rode a horse."
Faulkner was in six of John Wayne's movies — "McLintock!," "The Green Berets," "Hell Fighters," "The Undefeated," "Chisum" and "Rio LoBo."
Faulkner said over the years he and Wayne became friends.
"I played hundreds of games of chess with him — and I occasionally let him win," Faulkner said.
Faulkner said when he arrived on set for "The Undefeated" with his family, Wayne — also known as the Duke — wanted Faulkner's kids in (the film), too.
"Duke came up and he says, 'Are these your girls?' I said, 'Yes.' He says, 'Lester!' Lester was wardrobe. He says, 'Put them in wardrobe,' and they came out dressed and it was a period piece," Faulkner said. "That’s how they got in (the movie)."
Faulkner worked alongside Wayne and actors including James Stewart, Jack Lemmon and Maureen O’Hara.
"I was lucky," Faulkner said. "I was very fortunate — I worked with a lot of fine actors."
He also was onscreen with Elvis Presley in two movies, including 1965's "Tickle Me." Faulkner played a spa employee jealous of Presley in the film.
"The lady who was running this health spa — she and I were kind of a number, so to speak. Although we weren’t," Faulkner said. "When (Elvis) came in he kind of swept everyone out the picture and I became a real donkeys backside."
Faulkner said he was usually cast for particular roles that often involved taking punches.
"I never won a fight," he said. "I was always the bad guy."
Faulkner now lives in a retirement home in Oceanside so he can be closer to his youngest daughter, Leslie. At the senior center he enjoys sharing his movies with friends.
"Every three or fourth months I’ll pull out one of my movies and we’ll advertise it and I’ll tell them this movie was made 52 years ago and I was 35 when I made it," Faulkner said.
After the 1970s Faulkner scaled back his acting.
"I didn’t want to pursue it anymore," he said. "I done what I wanted to do, I made some nice money and I was tired of all the travel back and forth and this that and the other."
He hopes when people see the movies he’s been in they appreciate them.
"Oh, I hope they have fun — enjoy the movies," Faulkner said. "We had a good time making the films — I did."
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