January 8, 2004

Walter Tetley

Brian

Some additional information, on Walter Tetley

I first met Walter in 1955 or 1956. He was living in a trailer park and was a friend and neighbor of my aunt and uncle. The trailer park still exists and is part of Paradise Cove. This is a private beach in southern California about 5-7 miles north of Malibu Beach. This was a popular film location as many of the Beach Blanket movies and the Rockford Files were filmed there.

I have two vivid memories of Walter. The first and earliest was sometime after our first meeting. He had a small sports car, I have no idea what kind, as I was only 7 or 8, but he liked to drive fast as I learned first hand on Pacific Coast Highway when riding with him. We were doing something like 75 in a 50 mile zone. He said not to worry he knew all the local police officers.

The second was actually the last time I remember seeing him. My aunt and uncle were coming over to our house for Christmas and asked my parents if it would be ok if Walter came along. Since they liked him they were fine with this idea. Well Walter not only came over but brought me and my brother presents. I don't know what my brother got, but I received a toy tommy gun (he knew that I loved to play army). Later that afternoon, a couple of my friends came over to play and we started playing army and Walter joined right in. We ran around the neighborhood for an hour or so yelling and shooting the bad guys. Walter seemed to enjoy it as much as my friends and I. This would have been shortly before he became the voice of Sherman.

Sometime later my aunt thought it necessary to explain Walter's childlike enthusiasm. She said that he had been a child actor and that he had never had a normal childhood where he had the freedom to fantasize and play. So when he had the chance he was trying to catch up. I didn't care why he wanted to play with a small group kids on Christmas when he could be in talking with the adults. I just thought it was great.

If you take the pictures you have on the web page and simply add some age lines you had Walter during the short time I knew him. He was short, probably around 5 ft and this body like his face was round thought not obese. He had a high voice though not quite as high as Sherman's as I didn't recognize it when Rocky and Bullwinkle first came on the air. My aunt was over one night when the show was on and mentioned that Walter was Sherman's voice which made Walter even cooler in my book.

Sometime in the early 60's Walter moved to a trailer park in Northridge California just a few miles from our house but I never saw him again. I did stop at the park on my way home from junior high in 1965 but he had moved elsewhere. I'm not sure whether my aunt was able to keep in touch with him as my uncle was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx in early 1959 and most of her time was taken up with caring for him until he died in 1961.

I hope this is at least interesting to you. I think of Walter around Christmas time every year and that is why I looked for him on the web. Thank you for some additional information that I was too young to care about when I knew him.

Regards

Bob Berry

Bob

I don't believe I ever replied to your email. I was out of the country, when you wrote me. Very interesting stuff. Especially interesting the mention of the trailer park, since Paul Frees mentioned that he thought that Walter spent his last days in a trailer. Maybe Paul got the time frame mixed up (and was thinking about this earlier time that you cite.

Also interesting about his erratic speeding (and cavalier attitude about the cops). In Ben Ohmart's book about Walter: "Walter Tetley, For Corn's Sake", however, he does blames the other driver for causing Walter's motorcycle accident, however. He said that the motorist failed to stop at a light, and hit Walter head on.

Also interesting about how Tetley looked, as he had aged a bit, by the time you knew him. I have some interesting photos of him, in his 50s, from Ben's book. This was when he was doing a clown act (he has clown makeup on, in these photos, but you can still see that he is no longer a young man). If I get a chance, I will scan some of those photos for you (unless you've already seen them).

Brian