It has been in the planning for a little while, but I can now officially announce that I am currently in the midst of writing a book on the films of Marjoe Gortner, which aims to be completed by the end of this year and published by Bear Manor Media. A former child preacher and charismatic evangelist, Marjoe has long been one of my favourite actors, and a personality I have been intrigued by ever since I was mesmerised by his potent performance in 1979's When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder (though I had seen and enjoyed him in exploitation films like Food of the Gods and Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw for some years prior).
Wildcat! The Films of Marjoe Gortner will not be a biography of Marjoe Gortner per se (though sections of the book will obviously touch on his childhood and upbringing), but rather an examination and celebration of his varied film and television career, which began in 1972 with the Oscar-winning documentary Marjoe and culminated in 1995 with a role as - appropriately enough - a preacher in Walter Hill's Wild Bill.
Below is the first publicity blurb for Wildcat! The Films of Marjoe Gortner, as well as a promotional draft cover design.
FROM REAL-LIFE CHILD EVANGELIST TO ON-SCREEN PSYCHO HIPPY!
Born in sunny Long Beach, California, Marjoe Gortner found early fame as a child evangelist, ordained at the age of four and travelling the revival circuit across America, where his Pentecostal preachings helped bring him to national recognition as something of an infant freakshow. After a period of inactivity throughout his teenage years, Gortner returned to the pulpit in his mid-twenties, using his name and past fame to expose the fraudulent side of preaching, via the Oscar-winning 1972 documentary MARJOE.
Gortner used the publicity and notoriety generated by MARJOE as his springboard to Hollywood, launching a new career as an actor, which saw his charismatic good looks put to work in a string of cult exploitation, disaster, sci-fi, horror and drive-in action films, including EARTHQUAKE(1974), BOBBIE JO AND THE OUTLAW (1976), FOOD OF THE GODS (1976) and the galvanising psychological thriller WHEN YOU COMIN' BACK, RED RYDER (1976), where he excelled in the role of Teddy, an angry Vietnam vet out to show the inhabitants of a small New Mexico diner that not all perceived hippies chose to live by a credo of peace and love.
Filed with rare photos, stunning movie poster art and interviews with those who worked alongside him, WILDCAT! THE FILMS OF MARJOE GORTNER takes the reader on a celluloid journey through the career of a man whose childhood was often as strange and outrageous as the films he appeared in.