We all knew Ted's health was declining for the past few years, but when news finally came that he had passed away this December 18 it still came as a shock. A true actor, he carried his pain inside. Standing before you his commanding presence and energy would squash even the slightest suspicion that he was suffering. And even if you knew, because you were told, his sharp blue eyes would dare you to bring it up.
I first met Ted in his hometown of Yucca Valley, up the incline from Palm Springs, from where the vast Mojave Desert spreads North. It is a place of Dust-Devils, scorching dry heat and piercing cold winter storms and above it all is the brilliant sky showing off the Milky Way from horizon to horizon. It is a magic place for larger than life men and women, who prefer solitude, dust-caked cowboy boots, and rugged individualism.
We were casting "locals" for our film "Cyxork 7" and even if I had not known that Ted would drop by, I would have had no difficulty in recognizing someone extraordinary had entered the room. It wasn't so much his height of 6 feet 4, his cowboy hat, but his presence. He could and did make people slow down, turn around, look up, take notice. He was aware of his effect on people, that he could seem intimidating, even menacing--often exploited in many films Ted starred in--and then would disarm himself quickly with a broad, inviting smile. He was a gentleman at heart, caring, quick to help, generous with his advice, and lifting everyone's boat with his tide of boundless enthusiasm for life and movies.
And two movies connected me with Ted. First, the one I produced and co-wrote, "Cyxork 7," in which Ted co-starred as Jake Sternoff, the rough and tough, gay veteran producer of trashy B-Movies. It was a role Ted reveled in, as he could act out decades of experience in dealing with misery-masters of the cheap thrill and the grotesque kill.
The second movie that tied us, and we both marveled at this coincidence, was "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," in which Ted played a patient alongside Jack Nicholson. After a long career mostly in TV that began in 1958, Ted was in a film that won 5 Academy Awards. As he told me, it was a life-changing event for him.
I happened to watch "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," as a young man in a small movie theatre in Germany during a time when I was undecided what to do with my life after school. And as I was watching this very film, it struck me that what I really wanted to do in life was somehow be involved in movies. Not long after, I was in a plane heading West for Los Angeles, where I would go to film school.
With Ted goes one of the mentors who helped inspire, I am sure, not only me, but generations of film lovers to turn it into a profession and a life's journey. As long as we are around, Ted will not be forgotten.
TED MARKLAND (in "Cyxork 7")
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Last Man Standing (1996)
Another 48 Hrs. (1990)
Play It Again, Sam (1972)
and many, many more:
List of Credits
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