Winstead Sheffield Glenndenning Dixon Weaver (May 11, 1911 – January 17, 1983), who used the professional name Doodles Weaver, was an American character actor, comedian and musician.
Born into a wealthy West Coast family, Weaver began his career in radio. In the late 1930s, he performed on Rudy Vallée's radio programs and Kraft Music Hall. He later joined Spike Jones' City Slickers. In 1957, Weaver hosted his own variety show The Doodles Weaver Show, which aired on NBC. In addition to his radio work, he also recorded a number of comedy records, appeared in films, and guest starred on numerous television series from the 1950s through the 1970s. Weaver made his last onscreen appearance in 1981.
Weaver was married four times with all his marriages ending in divorce. He had two sons from his last marriage to actress Reita Green. Despondent over poor health, Weaver fatally shot himself in January 1983.
Born in Los Angeles, Weaver was one of four children born to Sylvester Laflin, a wealthy roofing contractor, and Annabel (nee Dixon) Weaver. His older brother was Sylvester "Pat" Weaver who served as the President of NBC in the 1950s. Weaver's niece was actress Sigourney Weaver. Weaver was given the nickname "Doodlebug" by his mother when he was a child because of his big ears and freckles.
He attended Los Angeles High School and Stanford University. At Stanford, Weaver was a contributor to the Stanford Chaparral humor magazine. He was also known to engage in numerous pranks and practical jokes and earned the nickname "The Mad Monk". He was reportedly suspended from Stanford in 1937 (the year he graduated) for pulling a prank on the train home from the Rose Bowl.
Radio and recordings
On radio during the late 1930s and early 1940s, he was heard as an occasional guest on Rudy Vallée's program and on the Kraft Music Hall.
In 1946, Weaver signed on as a member of Spike Jones's City Slickers band. Weaver was heard on Jones's 1947-49 radio shows, where he introduced his comedic Professor Feetlebaum (which Weaver sometimes spelled as Feitlebaum), a character who spoke in Spoonerisms. Part of the Professor's schtick was mixing up words and sentences in various songs and recitations as if he were suffering from myopia and/or dyslexia. Weaver toured the country with the Spike Jones Music Depreciation Revue until 1951. The radio programs were often broadcast from cities where the Revue was staged.
One of Weaver's most popular recordings is the Spike Jones parody of Rossini's "William Tell Overture". Weaver gives a close impression of the gravel-voiced sports announcerClem McCarthy in a satire of a horse race announcer who forgets whether he's covering a horse race or a boxing match ("It's Girdle in the stretch! Locomotive is on the rail! Apartment House is second with plenty of room! It's Cabbage by a head!"). The race features a nag named Feitlebaum, who begins at long odds, runs the race a distant last—and yet suddenly emerges as the winner.
In 1966, Weaver recorded a novelty version of "Eleanor Rigby"—singing, mixing up the words, insulting, and interrupting, while playing the piano.
Weaver was a contributor to the early Mad, as described by Time's Richard Corliss:
- Among the funny stuff: Doodles Weaver's strict copy editing of the Gettysburg Address, advising Lincoln to change "fourscore and seven" to eighty-seven ("Be specific"), noting that there are six "dedicates" ("Study your Roget"), wondering if "proposition" isn't misspelled and, finally exasperated, urging the writer to omit "of the people, by the people, and for the people" as "superfluous."
Films and television
Weaver made his television debut on The Colgate Comedy Hour in 1951. He performed an Ajax cleanser commercial with a pig, and the audience reaction prompted the network to give him his own series. In 1951, The Doodles Weaver Show was NBC's summer replacement for Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows; it was telecast from June to September with Weaver, his wife Lois, vocalist Marian Colby, and the comedy team of Dick Dana and Peanuts Mann. The show's premise involved Weaver dealing with an assignment to stage a no-budget television series using only the discarded costumes, sets, and props left behind by more popular network TV shows away for the summer. The series ended in July 1951.
Doodles Weaver on The Andy Griffith Show
Weaver went on to guest star on numerous television shows including The Spike Jones Show, The Donna Reed Show, Dennis the Menace, and The Tab Hunter Show. He also hosted several children's television shows. In 1965, he starred in A Day with Doodles, a series of six-minute shorts sold as alternative fare to cartoons for locally hosted kiddie television programs. Each episode featured Weaver in a first-person plural adventure (e.g., "Today we are a movie actor"), portraying himself and, behind false mustaches and costume hats, all the other characters in slapstick comedy situations with a voice over narration and minimal sets. The ending credits would invariably list "Doodles... Doodles Weaver" and "Everybody Else... Doodles Weaver."
He portrayed eccentric characters in guest appearances on such TV shows as Batman (where he played The Archer's henchman Crier Tuck), Land of the Giants, Dragnet 1967, and The Monkees. He appeared in more than 90 films, including The Great Imposter (1961), Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (as the man helping Tippi Hedren's character with her rental boat), Jerry Lewis's The Nutty Professor (1963), Pocketful of Miracles (1961) and, in a cameo, It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). He appeared in Six Pack Annie in 1975. His last movie was Earthbound in 1981.
Weaver was married four times and had two children. His first marriage was to Beverly Masterman in 1939. They later divorced. His second marriage was to Evelyn Irene Paulsen from 1946 to 1949. In 1949, Weaver married for a third time to nightclub dancer Lois Frisell. Frisell had the marriage annulled in 1954.
Weaver's fourth and final marriage was to actress Reita Anne Green in October 1957. They had two sons before divorcing in 1969.
On January 17, 1983, Weaver died of two self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the chest. His death was ruled a suicide. Weaver's son later said that Weaver was depressed over health problems. His funeral was held on January 22 at Forest Lawn mortuary in the Hollywood Hills. He was buried in Avalon Cemetery in Santa Catalina Island, California.
Weaver's book, Golden Spike, remains unpublished.