V for Van Cleef!
Remember Lee Van Cleef‘? He was a sinister layer of marinara in many a spaghetti Western. In 1963, I was acting in an episode of the anthology program The Dick Powell Theatre, in which I played a Swedish (of course) rancher ﬁghting off a hostile land grab by his bigoted neighbors. I played the part with a thick Swedish accent, and in some scenes I wore a too-small bowler hat with a feather.
Lee was well over six feet tall, a huge man, powerful. And like a wild boar, he had a cold, calculating look. Even when the cameras weren't rolling, he was an intimidating figure. He was missing part of one of his middle fingers, but it didn't matter—his whole body had a way of flipping you the bird.
And he and I had to fight in this show.
A movie fight consists of throwing blows, missing by a foot, and actors snapping their heads back. But I was still kind of new to this whole movie/TV acting business. During filming, Lee and I were throwing punches, while I was predominantly occupied with not knocking off my too-small bowler hat.
And I took one swing and hit the tip of Lee Van Cleef s nose.
Take two! I swing again, and clipped his nose again.
Take three. And my ﬁst once again connected with Van Cleef s snout.
Let's take five!
Even though this was a few years before The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, I could hear the Ennio Morricone music sting as he sauntered over to me. He got right into my face, obscuring the sun and all of my hope for the future, leaned down, and growled, "If you do that again, I will. . . knock. . . you. . . out."
Terrifying, which brings me to one of the most important of Shatner Rules, which is . . .
RULE: Don't Punch Lee Van Cleef!
I could not find a YouTube clip of the scene in question, but I am sure it is out there somewhere!