Song:Those Were The Good Old Days
Album:Damn Yankees: An Original Cast Recording
Ray Walston is probably best known as the star of the 60s sitcom My Favorite Martian. But before his long career in movies and TV, Walston was successful on Broadway. He won a Tony award for his role as The Devil in the musical Damn Yankees and he also starred in the film version. He was born Dec. 2, 1914 in Laurel, MS and he grew up in New Orleans. The acting bug bit Walston at a very early age as he was in local theater in New Orleans and then in Margo Jones' repertory company after his family moved to Dallas. He spent three years at the Cleveland Play House and then he moved to New York to study at the famed Actors Studio. In 1949, Walston appeared in the short lived Broadway show Mrs. Gibbons' Boys. But the show was produced by George Abbott who would remember Walston when he was casting Damn Yankees. Walston appeared in the musicals Me and Juliet and House of Flowers before Damn Yankees. Damn Yankees was written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross as the follow up to The Pajama Game. Damn Yankees is about Joe Hardy of the New York Yankees who is tempted by Mr. Applegate and his accomplice Lola to sell his soul to the devil. When film star Mitzi Gaynor turned down the role of Lola, the producers settled on the inexperienced Gwen Verdon as Lola and Stephen Douglass as Joe. He appeared in The Pajama Game. Abbott remembered Walston and cast him as The Devil. Those Were The Good Old Days was Walston's big solo number. Damn Yankees was a big hit on Broadway and the show won seven Tonys including awards for Walston and Verdon. When Damn Yankees was turned into a film, Douglass was replaced by Tab Hunter but Walston and Verdon remained. They had great chemistry. The original Broadway cast of Damn Yankees is available as a budget CD. The movie soundtrack is out of print. Walston moved to Hollywood and appeared in the film version of the musical South Pacific. Walston had a long career in films and TV. His best known role was as Martin the Martian in the 60s sitcom My Favorite Martian. It typecast him so he went back to character roles in the 70s. Then Walston became popular with a new generation when he appeared as the teacher Mr. Hand in the 1982 film Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Walston was grateful when fans greeted him on the street as Mr. Hand because it got away from Martin the Martian. After he appeared as a judge on the series LA Law, producer David E. Kelley hired Walston to play the same character on his series Picket Fances. Walston was nominated for three Emmys. In 1994, Walston was diagnosed with lupus and he started winding down his career. He appeared in a few things including the 1999 movie remake of My Favorite Martian. Ray Walston died on Jan. 1, 2001 at age 86. Here's Ray Walston performing Those Were The Good Old Days in the 1958 film Damn Yankees.