Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 23rd, 2007
Doctor, I was thinking… just the work that you’ve done with the crocodiles and taking them back along the evolutionary path and making them into fish would be enough to win you world acclaim.“Tom,” Curse of the Swamp Creature
Yes, but acclaim… that’s nothing. To create life, to move it up and down the evolutionary path… that’s something. Something I don’t think you quite appreciate, Tom.“Dr. Simond Trent,” Curse of the Swamp Creature
The plot to Curse of the Swamp Creature is about as simple as the movie. Deep in the rural swamps of east Texas the mad Dr. Simond Trent is conducting experiments on the local swamp people in an attempt to discover the secret of evolution. When a party of oil surveyors comes upon Dr. Trent’s isolated laboratory the mad scientist decides to take the final step and turn one of them into a grotesque amphibious creature.
The producer of Curse of the Swamp Creature, Edwin Tobolowsky, 86, died on July 29, 2006, and he was remembered here. Now comes news that one of the film’s actor’s, Bill McGhee has passed away.
McGHEE, WILLIAM “BILL” Pioneer actor, William “Bill” McGhee aka Bill McGhee, 76, died of breast cancer February 17th  at his home. Mr. Mc Ghee, born in Mexia, Texas (Limestone County), lived in Dallas his entire life. His love for the arts began at age 12 while tap dancing in the streets of Dallas. Those endeavors led to participating in local community theatre activities and landing leading roles at Lincoln H.S. In June 1947, McGhee held an elevator operator job at the popular Baker Hotel (downtown Dallas), where the infamous bombing occurred and was reported as “dead” in the media. Miraculously, he survived, in spite of the harsh segregation climate at Parkland Hospital and ambulatory services during that time. He suffered amnesia, but was fully restored to health. He resumed his quest for the theatre and his unique odyssey of life continued. He served his country as Army Corporal in the 31st Unit division in the Korean War, and performed for the troops at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. While serving in Yucca Flats, Nevada, he was the unfortunate victim of secret Atmospheric Radiation testing experiment conducted there. Upon an honorable discharge, he resumed acting. He performed for Black troupes, such as the Dallas Theater Center’s Janus Players with actors such as Irma P. Hall and Ted Mitchell. In 1954, Bill broke racial barriers and was the first Black to make a professional debut on the Dallas stage performing roles both written for Blacks and roles without racial requirements. Now coined William “Bill” McGhee, he would perform for companies like, Round-up Theatre and Courtyard Theatre. The young thespian joined the production company at Theater Three, affording him several lead roles. His move to integrate the stage impacted the community and he was given many more opportunities in the theater circuit. His life as an actor was planted and Bill reaped the benefits by being one of the first union Black actors in Dallas with SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). He acted in over 35 theater productions and stage plays, [...and in] over 15 films including [...] Curse of the Swamp Creature,…Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald….- extract, Dallas Morning News on Feb. 22, 2007
Unfortunately, despite the fact Bill McGhee (pictured above from one of his horror film performances) broke racial barriers, some of his roles called for McGhee to play stereotyped characterizations of AfricanAmericans in 1950s’ Texas.
Loren Coleman – has written 5489 posts on this site.
Loren Coleman no longer writes for Cryptomundo. His archived posts remain here at Cryptomundo.