Pepe Serna +Karl Swenson


Do you recognize the man next to Al Pacino?  (see above)  Yes, the Movie is Scarface starring Mr. Pacino and his “little friend.” His larger friend, standing behind him, had a birthday on July 23rd  and has been in more than double the films Al has.  His name is Pepe Serna and he has appeared in over 150 films and television programs.  During his career, which began in 1971, whenever a Latin male role needed to be filled, his name had to be considered.  On TV, he has been in Miami Vice (with a magnificent Edward James Olmos), Kojak, The Rockford Files, Hill Street Blues, and many other programs.  And films?  Besides Scarface, you may have seen him in Silverado, The Jerk, and, my favorite, Buckaroo Bonzai. Never heard of it?!  Oh, my.  I must digress.



It is my favorite unusual/weird film.  Its full name is: The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension.”  Mr. Bonzai ( played by Peter Weller who in 3 years would star as “Robocop”) was a brain surgeon, rock musician (with his own band), and a crime fighter battling evil aliens who are attempting to invade Earth. Members of the band/crime fighters included, in addition to Mr. Serna (whose name in the film was Reno Nevada), were: Ellen Barkin (AKA Penny Priddy), Jeff Goldblum (AKA New Jersey), Clancy Brown (AKA Rawhide), (see above band members)plus the Bad Guys/evil aliens Christopher Lloyd, Dan Hedaya, and  baddest of all John Lithgow (AKA Lord John Whorfin and, also, Dr. Emilio Lizardo). And, yes, the film was played for laughs and every character actor had a payday.  (Whatever happened to  Jeff Goldblum?  Is he living in a “park” somewhere?)  And, now, back to reality.



In addition to Mr. Serna’s birthday, July 23 marks the birthday another character actor you may recognize (see above).  His name: Karl  Swenson.  He had 173 appearances in television and films.  They were  preceded by decades on radio where his radio voice alone kept him in work.  But eventually, he made it to television.  A guest spot on Bonanza lead to a roll in Little House on the Prairie (he impressed Michael Landon).  But there was more.  Bonanza was far from the only cowboy show on the tube.  Mr. Swenson appeared in many of them(eg, Gunsmoke, Maverick, Wagon Train, The Big Valley, etc.).

Why do I mention these men (and their birthday)?  Because it’s actors like these that I remember from TV and films –often more than higher paid stars.  If you find you have similar fond memories of lesser known entertainers, you can know when their birthdays come around at  Your salute to them will bring wonderful memories to yourself.


PS regarding Mr. Serna: He was commissioned  by the  Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project and the Mark Taper Foundation to paint an inspirational  canvas on the subject of reading.  It was turned into a poster and given to students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.




About rcarmean

Two things... First, why have I decided to establish this blog? I like to put essays together. I research an idea or topic looking for information, statistics, stories, quotes, pictures, etc. I enjoy the process and seeing a finished product. I’m told that as I get older, new activities can help maintain energy and keep my brain alert. In other words, I am not doing this for money or fame. Second, regarding the gentleman in the collage of pictures's not me. Those are photos of Christy Mathewson. Why him? When I was young, my primary activity was being sick. It took up much of my time. Eczema (a case so bad I was written up in a medical journal showing doctors what their patients COULD look like), asthma, and allergies. You know allergies: don’t eat this, don’t wear that, and, for Heaven’s sake, don’t touch any of these things (eg, dogs, cats, horses --I only saw horses in cowboy movies and TV shows, dust, swimming pools, my brother --OK, that’s an exaggeration, Rick was a fine brother). In my spare time between doctors' appointments, pills, and ointments, baseball kept me sane. In the 1940s and 1950s, when I grew up, pro footballI and basketball had not yet become extremely popular. Baseball truly was “the national pastime.” I listened to games on the radio (remember it? TV without the picture). I read magazines, books, and newspaper accounts of games. I collected baseball cards. I learned about the game’s history, as well as present. The same with its stars. One man stood out: Christy Mathewson. He was a great pitcher for the New York Giants in the early 20th century. But there was much more to him. At a time when professional athletes made little money (yes, there was such a time) and ball players were considered on the same level as actors, artists, and prostitutes, Mathewson stood out. One of his nicknames was: “The Christian Gentleman.” Most men is baseball drank, smoked, cursed, and fought —with other players, umpires, and fans. The fights were physical, not just verbal. Mathewson did none of these things. But he earned the respect of other players who did them all. Even Ty Cobb and John McGraw. There’s more. He was a college graduate (Bucknell University) when most men were lucky to have a high school diploma. He played other sports, including pro football which you wouldn’t recognize. He was handsome. He played in New York City, then as now, the largest city in the country. Excellence and popularity there meant fame and money. He dressed well. Today, his commercials would rival LeBron’s. And, finally, a hero’s life must have tragedy. After his playing career ended, WWI arrived. He suffered from influenza and was exposed to mustard gas. Chemical warfare. His lungs were damaged and he required treatment for the rest of his life. (Like my Grandfather who also fought in The Great War.) He died in 1925. He was 45 years old. I have his picture here because you need to know more about him than me. He was what an athlete could be. Players like him and their accomplishments got me through a sickly, painful childhood and can still sustain me in difficult times. *****
This entry was posted in Entertainment, Movies, People, Pop Culture, The Arts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s