Tom Neyman became the one and only Master of Manos: The Hands of Fate when he immortalized the iconic role in an unforgettable film, and seared his image into the minds of fans and detractors alike.
In a recent interview for Ben Solovey's Manos Restoration, I learned of a previously unknown Tom Neyman contribution to the film. But first, a little background.
My dad began his professional career in Fort Worth, Texas as a young Christian Minister after graduating from Texas Christian University. Go Horned Toads!! He discovered a love of theater in school and participated in University and Church productions until moving to El Paso in 1963 where he became involved with The Festival Theater. At The Festival he often had lead roles that included notable Characters like Henry the Eighth, The Stage Manager in Our Town, R.P McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
The Festival is also where Hal Warren found much of the cast and crew for his film. Tom Neyman ~ The Master, John Reynolds ~ Torgo, William Bryan Jennings ~ Sheriff, Bob Guidry ~ Cinematographer, Bernie Rosenblum ~ Stunt Coordinator / Kissing Boy in Car and me, Debbie.
The role of The Master was my dad's only film appearance, and the part he became known for. He played an evil polygamist struggling to remain in control of his world. An almost Anti Minister, as it were. I had always felt his previous calling gave him practical experience to playing a Godly man's counterpart and that, as The Master, he sounded as though he were delivering a sermon. I then learned something new that expanded that impression. In the interview with Ben, he casually mentioned that he had written his own "Praise be to Manos" speech. "Holy Art Thou, Holy Art Thou..." My head whipped around "Wha?" He then went on to say that he wrote it to give himself something to do for all that time rather than just stand with his arms out displaying the robe, since there had been no dialogue in the original script, and Hal's instruction was to just stand and look imposing. It does make sense now. Many of you fans have watched and studied Manos much more than me but if I'm not mistaken, that speech it the longest continuing dialogue in the movie and the most comfortably delivered.
As a side note* Yesterday, October 16th was the 47th anniversary of John Reynolds death. He would be 72 years old and I would like to think if he were here now, he would revel in the attention Manos has garnered over the years since MST3K brought it back into the light. Rest in Peace, dear John.
Coming soon: Learn about Manos: Rock Opera of Fate