Harold and Maude (and Lillian)

The Sisters of Charity and Christian Brothers of Ireland would have been horrified that one of their own would co-star in Harold and Maude, a tender, if not bizarre comedy about the romance between a death-obsessed 20-year-old, and a joyriding 79-year-old. It’s likely Bud Cort, himself (“Harold”) would have been surprised since he was headed for the priesthood, not Hollywood. A series of nightclub comedy gigs threw a serious detour in Cort’s life: Robert Altman gave him a bit part in M*A*S*H* and later, he’d win the lead in the comedy, Brewster McCloud. Harold and Maude, however, would become “a blessing and a curse:” Cort was typecast and subsequently offered only roles for weirdos.

It’s doubtful that had Cort become a priest, he would have had Ringo Starr as his dog’s godfather, or that he would even have owned a dog, but who knows. In the 80s, Cort was owner to “Lillian,” a Boston Terrier he once smuggled onto a plane in a large carry on camera bag. As one story goes, the plane was late making Cort late for the theatre where he was appearing in a play. Exhausted from the flight, Lillian was left in the camera bag and put under an empty seat. The play had begun by then, a cast member delivering what should have been a quietly spoken monologue, only Lillian’s loud snoring punctuated the lines. Sneaking back to the seat, Cort attempted to retrieve Lillian and salvage the performance, only Lillian was gone, presumably hving rolled forward towards the audience on the inclined theatre floor. Crawling on hands and knees to find her, Cort made his way through the audience as discreetly as he could, but the jig was up when he found her and stood up. Both dog and actor got a standing ovation.


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