WILDCAT! THE FILMS OF MARJOE GORTNER (paperback) by John Harrison
FROM REAL-LIFE CHILD EVANGELIST TO ON-SCREEN PSYCHO HIPPY!
Born in sunny Long Beach, California, Marjoe Gortner found early fame as a child evangelist, ordained at the age of four and travelling the revival circuit across America, where his Pentecostal preachings helped bring him to national recognition as something of an infant freakshow. After a period of inactivity throughout his teenage years, Gortner returned to the pulpit in his mid-twenties, using his name and past fame to expose the fraudulent side of preaching, via the Oscar-winning 1972 documentary Marjoe.
Gortner used the publicity and notoriety generated by Marjoe as his springboard to Hollywood, launching a new career as an actor, which saw his charismatic good looks put to work in a string of cult exploitation, disaster, sci-fi, horror and drive-in action films, including Earthquake (1974), Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976), Food of the Gods (1976) and the galvanising psychological thriller When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder (1979), where he excelled in the role of Teddy, an angry Vietnam vet out to show the inhabitants of a small New Mexico diner that not all perceived hippies chose to live by a credo of peace and love.
Filed with rare photos, stunning movie poster art and interviews with those who worked alongside him, Wildcat! The Films of Marjoe Gortner takes the reader on a journey through the celluloid career of a man whose childhood was often as strange and outrageous as the films and television shows he appeared in.
Shock Cinema says:
Bursting onto the showbiz scene in the Oscar-winning 1972 documentary MARJOE, which exposed his lucrative past as a child evangelist, Marjoe Gortner quickly became one of the most oddly charismatic figures in 1970s Hollywood. And this illuminating 250-page book is a welcome celebration of his fascinating life and eclectic acting career. Its opening chapters offer a brief overview of Gortner’s family, childhood and checkered early adulthood — marriage, jobs, drugs, part-time pimping, spiritual barnstorming, as well as the filming and release of MARJOE. But the majority of this book focuses on Gortner’s acting and touches upon every major role, beginning with his supporting gig in the 1973 telefilm THE MARCUS-NELSON MURDERS, made-for-TV outings such as PRAY FOR THE WILDCATS and THE GUN AND THE PULPIT, plus big-screen features ranging from EARTHQUAKE, BOBBIE JO AND THE OUTLAW and THE FOOD OF THE GODS, to Marjoe’s riveting lead role in Mark Medoff’s Texas diner psycho-drama WHEN YOU COMIN’ BACK, RED RYDER? Of course, author John Harrison doesn’t forget about the space opera silliness of STARCRASH or stepping in for a brain-fried Dennis Hopper in JUNGLE WARRIORS. For each project, Harrison details their plot, critiques the overall film and delves into Marjoe’s specific contributions, with an additional chapter devoted to Gortner’s numerous television guest star appearances. Although insights from Marjoe himself would’ve been terrific, that sadly wasn’t in the cards, but it does include a handful of interviews with people who worked with Gortner, including director Luigi Cozzi, actress Belinda Balaski, MARJOE co-director Sarah Kernochan, and actress/stuntwoman Marneen Fields. It’s a long-overdue tribute to this remarkable individual and his on-screen legacy.
"The life story of Marjoe Gortner is extraordinary:
he was ordained as a child evangelist at age four
and travelled the American religious revival circuit
till he was a teen. Years later, Gortner returned to
his preaching roots until he decided to expose
himself and fellow charlatans involved in the
business in 1972’s Academy Award-winning doco
Marjoe. He cleverly parlayed his notoriety into an
acting career — usually portraying charismatic,
psychotic villains — appearing in everything from
big-budget disaster epic Earthquake (1974) to
more cult fi lm fare such as 1976’s The Food Of
The Gods and 1979’s When You Comin’ Back,
Red Ryder. Melbourne movie expert John
Harrison examines Marjoe’s movie and TV roles
in detail in this comprehensive book, which is
packed with rare photographs, poster art and
interviews with actors and directors who worked
with the enigmatic Gortner. Wildcat! The Films of
Marjoe Gortner is available from Amazon and
- Empire Magazine