Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In memoriam
Bruce Watson
Professional Expendable

We lost a favorite, and our only, uncle, last week. After a long, hard fought, and tragic struggle with mental illness, Bruce took his own life in a horrific act of self violence. He died in his little unfinished house on the foothills of the Manzano Mountains south of Albuquerque New Mexico. It was an impulsive act in a fit of pain and rage. As such, it comes as a shock to us few surviving relatives. The incident has created pause for a lot of reflection. Both along the lines of what we did not do enough of, and along the lines of what we have lost. Bruce had fascinating life and there are aspects to it that take me in many different directions. But today I am thinking about his life as one of Hollywood’s professional expendables. Bruce was an actor. He was a member of the actors guild and there is a huge portion of his life that was devoted to this endeavor. Bruce, an extremely bright and capable person, worked at odd jobs scratching out a living in order to be available for the phone call. You know, that call from the agent that would launch the career he really wanted. What his efforts amounted to was a string of appearances on TV shows in which he was the expendable. That’s the person you pull up from the hull of the ship, or out of the western town, or off the side of the road when the plot requires a sacrificial death. Not a main character, but someone, well, expendable. As a result, Bruce’s appearances on shows were, by necessity, limited. The list is impressive. Charlie’s Angles, Bonanza, Mission Impossible, Adam 12, Mannix, The Mod Squad, Gun Smoke, Dragnet, My Three Sons, and the one we most treasure, Star Trek. Bruce also did voices for The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. He had a tallent for voices, and employed this skill later on as a professional book on tape reader. Bruce’s career as an actor never took of. It strung him along and he couldn’t let go. It got ugly in the way a horribly lopsided football game gets ugly. There is a point at which it is painfully obvious to everyone that it isn’t gona happen. Acting was Bruce’s soul. That is what he was. He could have been a success in any thing he wanted to. Even acting, in some other venue. In Hollywood, Bruce was expendable. Bruce’s dream was expendable. It’s the kind of dream you pull up when the plot line requires a dreamer and a tragedy.


John J. Franks IV said...

I am so Sorry for your Loss I thought of Bruce as a good friend.

He had what I term as Good Karma, and a kind heart.


John Hayes said...

Such sad news for you I'm sure. For what it's worth you told his story well-- a good combination of candor & compassion.

Shalom said...

This truly captures the Bruce that I knew and loved as my other father. I have to think I have been blessed to have had not one, but two men as a father throughout most of my life, my birth father and Bruce.

Thank you for posting these words. I hope to talk soon.


Linda Pendleton said...

I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

Charles said...


My condolences to you and all of Mr. Watson's friends and families.

Charles a.k.a. Shran

Charles said...


My condolences to you and the rest of Mr. Watson's friends and family.

Charles a.k.a. Shran

Truebuilder said...

I met Bruce, reader for some of the Roger Zelazny Amber-on-cassette, over the phone years ago, then later visited his house in Los Lunas. I grew to like him and his three pets, was occasionally honored to share troubles over the phone, and thought that his plans for a live-in friend would be good for the both of them. We all need others, need to be needed.

That's why this was such a shock to learn yesterday that he was gone; I can read the words here, but I don't really understand. I'll miss him.

And I echo what John Hayes said; your story was beautiful, let me see a side of Crewman Green that I had not known, a glimpse into the collision of personal dreams with the ugliness of winner-take-all systems like Hollywood.

Dave said...

My girlfriend and I watched The Man Trap last night. I've seen it plenty of times, but it was the first time she had seen it. We both thought that Bruce Watson's portayal of the creature-as-Crewman Green was fantastic. He really holds the narrative together in a very selfless performance. I'm sorry to hear about your loss.

Dave Wrote This