July 27, 2011

"Being rich changes surprisingly little... You still have to have an absorbing interest in life, something to do to make you feel alive."

Said G.D. Spradlin, who "made a fortune, retired in 1960 and spent a year and a half sailing in the Bahamas with his family," before deciding to become an actor. After a 30-year career playing many roles in movies and on TV, he has died at the age of 90. 

On TV, he played, on different occasions, 2 Presidents: Andrew Jackson and Lyndon Johnson:
Newsweek lauded his “sheer orneriness” in portraying Johnson, especially when putting down Kennedy. “That boy,” he growls to an aide, “is all hat and no cattle.”
In real life, he ran Senator John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in Oklahoma.

52 comments:

Joe said...

Says the man who had enough money to do whatever he damn well pleased.

One of the most annoying creatures on earth are the rich who tell everyone that being rich changes nothing.

Ann Althouse said...

It's great to find out the value of work unconnected to money.

Just because you need to work for the money doesn't make this useless information. On the contrary, it is useful.

Stop and take the time to think of the good that work does for you. And also, the quote isn't even about work. It's that you need something.

Many people are retired, but they still, perhaps, need something to do to "feel alive." Without it, you might feel that you are drifting along and the days lack definition.

I contemplate retiring and I could retire, so I think a lot about what work gives me, aside from the money.

edutcher said...

A very good, distinctive, and easily recognizable character actor.

He was never a Central Casting redneck or hillbilly, but played his parts with strength and dignity, not just going for the Hollyweird stereotypical. I always enjoyed his work.

Sorry to hear he's gone.

PS See he served in the CBI.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

Stop and take the time to think of the good that work does for you. And also, the quote isn't even about work. It's that you need something.

Many people are retired, but they still, perhaps, need something to do to "feel alive." Without it, you might feel that you are drifting along and the days lack definition.

I contemplate retiring and I could retire, so I think a lot about what work gives me, aside from the money.


As The Blonde nears retirement (maybe sooner than she'd like), I keep thinking along those lines; that she needs something to interest her and try to suggest things.

What Ann says is very apt.

Palladian said...

"Being rich changes surprisingly little... You still have to have an absorbing interest in life, something to do to make you feel alive."

For those of us with many absorbing interests in life, who feel alive all the time, being rich would be an enormous change because we wouldn't have to worry constantly and dreadfully about scraping together enough money to survive. It's easy to say being rich doesn't change things when you're rich.

Palladian said...

"It's great to find out the value of work unconnected to money."

I think artists of all kinds have a good understanding of that value.

Pogo said...

The absence of meaning, i.e. a reason to get up in the morning, is a source of unhappiness, ennui, fatigue, pain, and depression.

Being rich is better than being poor, but it solves only one problem, creates a few of its own, and cannot provide meaning itself.

P.S.
G.D. Spradlin played the mean basketball coach in One On One, which I loved in high school. It also starred, I am embarrassed to say, Robbie Benson, and included a cheesy song by Seals and Crofts.

My fair share.

And yes, I am ashamed I know all that.

traditionalguy said...

This is deep stuff!

Men feel the need for a purpose in life.

Work is a purpose.
The will of God is a purpose.
Raising children is a purpose.

Being depressed is the obvious symptom of having no purpose. Then suicide can seem to be a purpose.

Pogo said...

Palladian is also correct, in that the problem sufficient income solves is a massive one, one that has consumed the entire life of most people on the earth for most of its history until very recently.

I still remember sleeping under bridges when I ran out of dough 30 years ago, in the last recession.

Being not-poor changes quite a lot, but it doesn't solve everything, especially meaning.

bagoh20 said...

If you don't have to show up it's not work, it's a hobby.


Money is like intelligence - it's an amplifier. If you are an asshole, either one just makes it worse.

ricpic said...

Watching the sun go down from the deck of a yacht is swell,
It sure beats the help getting drinks in their hands, "Mach Schnell!"
So when the rich say being rich changes surprisingly little
It's like the sidewalk gallery sweating with the slob on the griddle.

Ann Althouse said...

"The absence of meaning, i.e. a reason to get up in the morning, is a source of unhappiness, ennui, fatigue, pain, and depression."

When you are poor, you have at least the meaning that comes from dealing with that. It takes your mind off what might be emptiness. I think there are, for example, many couples who break up after they achieve the economic rewards they'd been working for together.

elmo iscariot said...

For those of us with many absorbing interests in life, who feel alive all the time, being rich would be an enormous change because we wouldn't have to worry constantly and dreadfully about scraping together enough money to survive.

There's an enormous spectrum of possibilities between "rich" and "worrying constantly and dreadfully about scraping together enough money to survive".

The step from not knowing where your next meal is coming from to having reliable food and shelter is a huge one as far as happiness is concerned. From there on, adding wealth brings rapidly diminishing returns. Most of the people in the US who complain about the unfairness of the gap between "rich" and "poor" are living better than most of the world's middle classes.

virgil xenophon said...

F.Scott Fitzgerald: "The rich are different from you and me."

Hemingway: "Yes, they have more money."

chickenlittle said...

Spradlin was unforgettable in "Apocalypse Now" this scene as the intel officer briefing Martin Sheen.

Such a young Harrison Ford too!

__________
wv = "inest" Inest is irrelative.

Palladian said...

"If you don't have to show up it's not work, it's a hobby."

What a depressingly pedestrian view of life.

ricpic said...

Once you've found something you love to do, you have to do, the meaning question is out the window. That most don't find that something ain't my problem. Of course you still have to do what you have to do. Damn laziness.

pbAndj said...

Tax the rich!

Er.....my bad, wrong context. You know libs see the word "rich" and....

SunnyJ said...

I prefer the scientific approach to defining "work", and keep my compensation package in it's own place on the shelf.

On our farm, we have all kinds of work that defies dollar value or roles by sex or size!

My compensation package contains currency, trade, in-kind and pro-bono.

It's like what we've done to food, making it into reward, punishment and control...when all it is, is fuel.

GD Spradlin, he oozed that rotten from the inside out, bad tomato creeper...loved him!

rhhardin said...

Adopt a dog.

Fred4Pres said...

I agree you do have to have an interest in life to appreciate it. And I know plenty of people with money who are absolutely miserable. It can be a curse.

That said, I am pretty sure I would not be cursed!

A. Shmendrik said...

He was superb in "The Godfather", I think he appeared mostly in what was initially released as Part II. The Senator from Nevada who didn't like the greasy characters in the silk suits who came out from New York and wanted his help in obtaining a gaming license.

I knew he had practiced law before going into acting, but did not know the rest of the story until pointed to this. Thanks.

Fred4Pres said...

Time to cue that Howard Hughes dinner scene with the Hepburns again (you know the one, the Connecticut house that looks like it is somewhere in British Columbia/Pacific Northwest).

I hate bad locations. Connecticut has a look that is different than British Columbia.

Fred4Pres said...

I love this scene.

traditionalguy said...

My hope is that the Rich Americans decide to create Businesses that employ Americans instead of employing Chinese and Indians.

That is a great Purpose.

King Obama I has a single minded purpose. He wants to destroy the USA.

caplight said...

Alright, Corleone (Cor-lee-o-nee).I'm going to be very frank with you. Maybe more
frank than any man in my position
has ever spoken to you before.

Michael nods, indicating that he should do so.

SENATOR GEARY
The Corleone family controls two
major hotels in Vegas; one in Reno.
The licenses were grandfathered in,
so you had no difficulties with the
Gaming Commission. But I have the idea from sources...
(takes the water from
Neri and swallows his pills)
...that you're planning to move in
on the Tropicana. In another week
or so you'll move Klingman out,
which leaves you with only one technicality. The license, which is now in Klingman's name.

MICHAEL
Turnbull is a good man.

SENATOR GEARY
Let's forget the bullshit, I don't
want to stay here any longer than I
have to. You can have the license
for two hundred and fifty thousand
in cash, plus a monthly fee equal
to five percent of the gross...

Michael is taken aback; he looks at Hagen.

SENATOR GEARY
...of all three Corleone hotels.

Hagen is frustrated; all his information was wrong.

MICHAEL
Senator Geary, I speak to you as a
businessman who has made a large
investment in your state. I have
made that state my home; plan to
raise my children here. The
license fee from the Gambling
Commission costs one thousand
dollars; why would I ever consider
paying more?

SENATOR GEARY
I'm going to squeeze you, Corleone,
because I don't like you; I don't
like the kind of man you are. I
despise your masquerade, and the
dishonest way you pose yourself and
your fucking family.

VIEW ON HAGEN
glances at Michael.

VIEW ON MICHAEL
makes no outward reaction.

MICHAEL
(quietly)
We're all part of the same hypocrisy, Senator. But never
think it applies to my family.

SENATOR GEARY
All right, then let me say you'll
pay me because it's in your
interests to pay me.

VIEW ON GEARY
rising.

SENATOR GEARY
I'll expect your answer, with
payment, by tomorrow morning. Only
don't contact me...from now on,
deal only through Turnbull.

He is almost out the door.

MICHAEL
Senator...
(cold and calm)
...you can have my answer now if
you'd like.

Geary turns back.

MICHAEL
My offer is this. Nothing...not
even the thousand dollars for the
Gaming Commission, which I'd
appreciate if you would put up
personally.

Phil 3:14 said...

Always liked Spradlin; great skill at portraying the evil, controlling adversary. "Godfather II" portrayal was great. I love the parallel to "Godfather I" with him waking up in a blood-soaked bed (but without the Ah..Ahhh...AAAAHHHHHHHH!)

I'm racking my brain trying to remember a movie where he played a good guy. Time to visit IMDB.

PS Cattle ranch in SLO.....Nice!

edutcher said...

He did good guys on TV, occasionally the sheriff, stuff like that.

jamboree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heart_Collector said...

Rich has everything to do with ones self satisfaction with their life.

It has nothing to do with money.

Continue replacing the plight of your souls with your... greed

Michael said...

I am one of Obama's filthy millionairesandbillionaires and i show up at work every day. I am always aware that the wolf prowls near the door so i work for money, not fame , not some difficult to explain ego reason. I work for money. As it happens, when i raise capital for people it generally creates lots of new jobs. But i do not work to create jobs, i work for money. That said, i enjoy very much the personal interactions and problem solving and negotiating that goes along with work. I suppose as well that it is useful for my spiritual life to closely observe the actions of the odd scumbags that cross all our paths, a reminder that there is evil afoot in the world. Work also gives me a reason to remember the words of Philo of Alexandria who said something along these lines. Be kind for they too are engaged in a great struggle

Trooper York said...

He was great in Godfather 2 playing Harry Reid.

Phil 3:14 said...

He did good guys on TV, occasionally the sheriff, stuff like that.

Now there's an interesting question:

"What actors are known as mainly playing good guys in one media (i.e. TV) and bad guys in another media (i.e. movies?"

Carol_Herman said...

Robert was Hamlet.

Goldwater was never likable enough to be president. And, the stupid party, as per usual ... had no use for Ronald Reagan.

Even though, when you go back in time, to 1964, you'd see that it was Ronald Reagan who gave the best political speech. And, was the sharpest knife in the drawer.

By the time 1968 rolls around, the democrapic party explodes in the streets of Chicago. And, Norman Mailer wrote a blockbuster non-fiction account of those events. ARMIES IN THE NIGHT.

Before Glenn Reynolds wrote AN ARMY OF DAVIDS.

What's ahead? We can't get rid of all the crap that is in DC! And, one reason is that the stupid party has worse leadership than the "other" party ...

And, right now they're fighting over who lands first into the gutter.

In Europe? They're fighting over the make-believe Euro. Which got there without votes. As if Belgium was the belly button of the world.

Now, you want to laugh? Lyndon Johnson, who knew enough to run home to Texas, and NOT run in 1968 ... Lives on. Until the first day of Nixon's second inauguration?

So what you say? Well, no big deal. But LBJ didn't see what was coming! While I think Truman did live long enough. Does it matter?

EDH said...

And don't forget when Sen. Geary "found himself" in bed with the literal "dead girl" in a whore house, and he eventually lauded the Italian community in the Senate committee!

William said...

I never figured out any real advantages to being poor. The smallest problem from a toothache to a hole in my shoe seemed like an insurmountable hurdle.... When poor, one never gets lost in any existential quandaries about the meaning of one's life and work. I suppose that's an advantage. Some people choose occupations like they were some kind of luxury consumer product. "I think investment banking or perhaps dealing in art would give full rein to my interests and talents." Well, more power to you if life gives you these choices. Others choose occupations because the money is good, and life's primary purpose is to make money....I made my two commas in my mid fifties. I'm ashamed that I continued working for a couple of years after that. For a man who has known heavy toil, there is no pleasure or satisfaction greater than sleeping late. Nothing makes me feel more alive than a great deal of sleep.

Paddy O said...

"For those of us with many absorbing interests in life, who feel alive all the time, being rich would be an enormous change because we wouldn't have to worry constantly and dreadfully about scraping together enough money to survive. It's easy to say being rich doesn't change things when you're rich."

Very well said.

Money doesn't provide character, it magnifies the character that is already there.

Paddy O said...

"I never figured out any real advantages to being poor."

I realize of course, it's no shame to be poor, but it's no great honor either.

Paddy O said...

"What actors are known as mainly playing good guys in one media (i.e. TV) and bad guys in another media (i.e. movies?"

I'm always still saddened to see how evil ground-breaking paramedic Roy DeSoto became in his later years.

Also, Craig T. Nelson is a lovable father on television, even an impressive SR71 pilot for a little bit, but tends to play evil characters in the movies.

bagoh20 said...

""If you don't have to show up it's not work, it's a hobby."

What a depressingly pedestrian view of life."



What is your problem lately Palladian? If your panties are too tight, why is that my fault.

Chill out.

Michael K said...

He was great in the Godfather. I just watched Casino again last night.

One nice thing about medicine is that you can work until you are 100 if you want to and most of us want to. Medicare and the HMOs have taken such advantage of this enthusiasm that doctors can no longer get disability insurance. Too many have taken this exit. It used to be easy.

My uncle was a GP in South Dakota and, when he was in his 70s and broke his hip, the nuns fixed up his hospital room in MIlbank so he could see his patients from his bed.

bagoh20 said...

I loved my work for many years, but after making millions for someone else all that time, I eventually lost enthusiasm and interest. At the beginning of 2011 I bough out my boss, and it makes all the difference in the world. I still do exactly the same thing I did before (run a design and manufacturing company) but now I love going to work, where before I eventually dreaded it.

I used to wake up and dread having to go, but now I have to force myself to stay away. Of course I get to keep as much of the profits as I want now, but that's not it. There is simply nothing like working for yourself, to motivate, and bring joy.

I'm trying my best to create a workplace where employees feel that too. I'm trying be creative and imagine what I would want from the perfect job if I was them. I'm trying all kinds of new things and my people (65 of them) seem to be really responding with enthusiasm and productivity. I want to make it as fun as possible for them, and that's the funnest part for me. Mostly it's about letting go and letting them run with it. They really are too. It's amazing.

There simply is no comparison between a job you must attend and one you want to, even if that's the only difference, but I'm determined to erase that difference as much as I can for those who now work for me.

ricpic said...

I made my two commas in my mid fifties.

Gotta remember that way of putting it.

rcocean said...

Spradlin was a great character actor. And I admire that once he got a certain amount of money, he stopped and did something he loved.

The Greedheads that spend their lives whining about taxes and trying to turn $10 million into $100 million aren't admirable - they are pathetic.

Mere money making wasn't always admired in America.

AJ Lynch said...

A steady job and a good paycheck can be the greatest gift a man could have. And getting laid and getting drunk run neck and neck to it.

Carol_Herman said...

Rich or poor, you sleep better if you don't owe anyone money.

And, yes. Poor people pay their bills. Sometimes, rich people gamble so far ahead of their wealth that when the lose it all, they have far to fall.

If I had to guess? I think Mr. Spauldin was an alpha male. He required less sleep than anyone else. And, he understood the "CON." Which is to dress SPIFFY.

That he chose acting after being a successful lawyer, rancher, and oil man? Why not? He had more than enough time on his hands!

And, when he knocked on doors, people listened.

Yes, I bet selling Fuller. Or Avon. Or Encyclopedias. Or insurance. Door to door is a horrific experience. But back in the 40's ... when you rang a doorbell, the lady of the house answered. And, ya know what? SHE WAS BORED.

This was before we became a nation of two car families.

Oh. And, to be a salesman. AND, be successful at it ... you take the NO's you hear in stride. And, you keep on fishing.

Palladian said...

"I made my two commas in my mid fifties.

Gotta remember that way of putting it."

I'm still trying to make it to the left of my first decimal point.

bagoh20 said...

"when you rang a doorbell, the lady of the house answered. And, ya know what? SHE WAS BORED."

Oh Carol, you tempting little trollop. I would have sold you the whole set, A through ZZZ

Methadras said...

I hope Johnson is getting perpetually pissed on in whatever hell has been reserved for that piece of shit.

n.n said...

Wealth is only an incidental cause of a progressive distortion some people experience with their perception of reality. While he is right that individuals must remain engaged, and especially with other sentient beings, in order to remain sane, it is also an incomplete characterization of what defines life.

The greatest challenge faced by humans without access to the fundamental knowledge of their true nature is attaining peace of mind. The path to this enlightened state is ultimately universal. Material wealth (i.e., accumulation of limited and negotiable resources), as Spradlin discovered, is a circumstantial consideration. The underlying phenomenon is our acknowledgement and acceptance of individual dignity. Our motive is to preserve it against infringement by competing interests, which for most people are other people and cooperatives.

Unfortunately, there are also individuals who reject life, fear death, and choose to run amuck. And what greater thrill can they experience than manipulating and exploiting other sentient beings. In the exercise of their totalitarian (i.e., egoistical) impulses they "feel" truly alive (or at least not dead) at the expense of other individuals of dignity.

The distortion of the culture in Western societies has been extreme and progressive. In their long-running effort to persuade individuals to support and fund them, the oldest human faith -- the secular cult -- has managed to pervert the perception of reality for an extraordinary number of people. It's realization in progressive totalitarian ideologies has lead to the denigration of individual dignity and devaluation of human life.

Once people admit what they know, don't know, and are incapable of knowing, maybe people will respect the dignity of others and their own. Maybe they will stop seeking to escape reality by ingesting psychotropic drugs and other reality distorting behaviors.

In short, a progressive number of people are confused.

Spradlin is fortunate that he had the opportunity to find himself. His material wealth, if nothing else, afforded him the time he needed to accomplish that fundamental task.

The assertion by some philosophers that we lack a freewill, and by others that we are no more important than the collective we form, are all articles of their faith and perception of reality. With enlightenment, humans rejected these articles (and superior or exceptional dignity) in favor of individual dignity.

Anyway, we will all die eventually. So, why not accept individual dignity on faith (yours and others), and make the best of your short time on Earth. At the very least, do not denigrate the dignity of others. Ultimately, we will either simply cease to exist or experience some kind of conscious afterlife. Only time will reveal which faith has merit.

harkin said...

When I was in college, he would frequent the movie theatre in San Luis, which it was rumored he owned. Nice man who had some good stories. RIP

ken in sc said...

Money is like sex. It's more important when you don't have it than when you do.