LOS ANGELES -- The backstage stories of Of Mice and Men are almost as heartwarming and touching as the play itself. The Grace Players' 60th anniversary tribute to John Steinbeck's classic play about George and Lennie opened Nov. 6, 1997 in Hollywood and has been extended twice, thanks to its warm reception by both critics and public alike.
Among those responsible for the play's success are Bobs Watson and Scott Russell Cheek. The former, who plays the grizzled, one-armed farmhand Candy, is an ex-child movie star who completed more than 125 movies before the age of 10. He will be remembered in his Hollywood heyday as "Bobby" Watson, whose appearance as Pee Wee in Boys Town opposite Spencer Tracy and Pud in On Borrowed Time opposite Lionel Barrymore earned him the nickname "The Cry-Baby of Hollywood."
As an adult, Watson continued to work as an actor, until he became a Methodist minister in 1963, spending the next 34 years in the church. Of Mice and Men marks his return to the stage.
Scott Russell Cheek, who produced, designed and assistant-directed Steinbeck's play--he also helped on the sound design and set construction--also made his showbiz debut before the age of ten, as one of The Kids Next Door. A stage, film and TV career followed, but at the age of seventeen he injured his spinal cord falling through a glass partition on a movie set.
Five weeks later Cheek got a pass from the hospital and went to his first audition in a wheelchair. Still confined to the chair, he has since resumed his acting career and has been featured in plays, films and a TV series pilot. Cheek was recipient of the first "Inspiration to Youth Award" from Youth in Film (an honor bestowed on Christopher Reeve the following year), and has become one of the most sought- after disabled actors and models on the West Coast. -- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent