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Memoirs of Lothar Zogg

"Gentlemen! You can't fight in here: this is the War Room!"
-- President Muffley, shortly before the end of the world

Via Professor Bainbridge comes a lead to today's WSJ Opinion Journal in which James Earl Jones recalls his first film role, as a member of the bomber crew in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove:

As the script evolved, Kubrick decided to bring in the renowned 'bad boy' Terry Southern to rework the film as a satire. Among many other changes, an entirely new character was added to the story--the eponymous Dr. Strangelove (initially called Von Klutz). Southern and Kubrick gave all the characters comic-book names. Sterling Hayden's Gen. Quintin became Gen. Jack D. Ripper. Slim Pickens now played Maj. T.J. 'King' Kong. Keenan Wynn was Col. 'Bat' Guano, and George was Gen. 'Buck' Turgidson. Of course, Peter Sellers took on three roles: Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake, a British Exchange Officer; Dr. Strangelove himself; and U.S. President Merkin Muffley.

My character, the B-52's bombardier Lt. Lothar Zogg, took his name from Mandrake the Magician's sidekick, a black and bald-headed man who provided Mandrake with muscle power when prestidigitation failed. In the original script, the bombardier's role included pointed questioning of the authenticity of Gen. Ripper's command-orders to nuke Russia. But as 'Dr. Strangelove' evolved into a satire, Zogg's voice of reason shrank to essentially a single question: 'Sir, do you think this might be some kind of loyalty test or security check?'

There is much more, including anecdotes involving George C. Scott and Paul Robeson (but not simultaneously).

UPDATE: Also involving Terry Southern and Peter Sellers, Arts & Letters Daily leads us to  a Washington Post article pointing out the prophetic qualities of Southern's 1960 novel, The Magic Christian:

As fans of what Southern used to call the 'quality lit game' will no doubt recall, Southern was into sadistic billionaires tormenting money-grubbing weasels back when prime-time TV billionaires Donald Trump and Richard Branson were still schoolboys.

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