Friday, October 11, 2013

Torgo as John Reynolds

This is a continuation of a series of stories I started the beginning of Sept that begin to go deeper behind the scenes of Manos and into the lives of some who were there.  I can only write what I know and will only share what I believe to be true.  Stories, like life evolve as more information is revealed, and as I learn more about John Reynolds, I feel a deeper connection to him and a desire to help you, the reader see him as more than Torgo.

I have been flippant in talking about John Reynolds in the past.  Yes, it's true that he was often high during filming and it's true he committed suicide one month before the 1966 premiere.  You can read that in previous blog stories and interviews I've done, but as I attempt to answer fans questions about him I continue to learn more.

John came from a military background.  His father was  Brigadier General John M. Reynolds who had a very successful and illustrious career. General John M. Reynolds Biography This link about the General certainly gave me pause and insight into some of the difficulties John and his dad may have encountered.  My father has told me how John's dad orchestrated having John buried with a military funeral at Fort Bliss National Cemetery in El Paso even though John himself had not been military  John's gravesite.  John never lived up to his father's expectation of a son and as a sensitive artistic type must have been quite a disappointment.  He would have always felt a failure in his family and in the eyes of the man he would most crave approval.  John lived and died in a little house just 2 blocks from where we lived.  He was small of stature shy and withdrawn.  He loved the theater and found the stage one place where he could be a part of something fulfilling. He took it seriously and would have been considered a method actor.  I imagine the release of becoming another person and having the opportunity to escape his own existence for a time was a drug in itself.  He and my dad knew each other initially through the Festival Theatre and became friends.  My dad recognized how tortured and depressed John was and would often invite him to our house to be with the family even though he rarely came, or would check in on him by stopping by.   John lived alone and was never married and had no children.  He was only 25 when he took his own life by sticking a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger.

On the set of Manos, he was often, if not always, high on something more than pot.  My dad says (and my memories corroborate) that everyone on the set knew things weren't going well.  That this was not going to be a great film and that they should all just get through it and go home.  John may have realized this was far from the opportunity he was hoping for and sadly, my dad says that Manos may have, in some way, contributed to his suicide...or at least the timing of it.  One month after his birthday and one month before the premiere.  One thing that strikes me and I wonder about.  John Reynolds dad retired from a long military career just two weeks after his son's suicide.  What do you think about that timing?  Hmmm.

John Reynolds  September 14th 1941 to October 16th 1966