The Unsung Heroes of Hollywood: Dick Miller

While we all adore and root for the stars and starlets of tinseltown, there is a treasure-trove of good men and women who have been integral to the success of all our favorite films. Bona fide, hard working and talented people who may never star in a film or see their name on a poster hanging in the local cineplex but will never escape our minds and imaginations when it comes to some good iconic and funny roles they play. This column is a tribute to the “Oh, That Guy” types, the common actor and the B-listers. They are the…

UnsungHeroesofHollywood

Dick Miller

Dick MillerAge: 85

Number of Film & TV Roles: 174

Notable Roles: Gremlins; Gremlins 2: The New Batch; Piranha; A Bucket of Blood; Truck Turner; Big Bad Mama; Night Call Nurses; The Young Nurses; Candy Stripe Nurses; The Student Teachers; Summer School Teachers; Game Show Models; Rock ‘n’ Roll High School; 1941; The Howling; Chopping Mall; Twilight Zone: The Movie; The Terminator; Night of the Creeps; Amazon Women on the Moon; Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight; Small Soldiers; and anything else Joe Dante ever directed

Typical Role: Grizzled worker (cop, garbage man, cab driver, plow driver, owner of some sleazy store, etc.)

Why He’s Great: Dick Miller is awesome. He’s been in so many cool movies over the years, whenever you see him pop up on screen you have to point and shout, “Dick Miller!!” No matter what his role, his voice and demeanor are almost always basically the same. And that’s how you grow to love a character actor like him. Where is that kind of guy now? We need a guy with a cool voice that can just pop in and out of a movie and make you happy. They just don’t make actors like Dick Miller anymore.

Biography (via Wikipedia): Miller was born in The Bronx, New York and attended the City College of New York as well as Columbia University. He performed on Broadway and also worked at the Bellevue Hospital Mental Hygiene Clinic and the psychiatric department of Queens General Hospital.In 1952, he moved to California seeking work as a writer. One of his earliest acting roles was in Apache Woman (1955). He played one of the town’s people and also a separate role as an Indian. In an action scene his town person character shot his Indian character, as related in the documentary Corman’s World.

Richard Miller is also credited for being in a Sega CD video game called Prize Fighter in which he plays the role of a corner man for the main character.

His roles in movies include White Line Fever, The Terminator, All The Right Moves, Night of the Creeps, Small Soldiers, It Conquered the World, A Bucket of Blood, The Little Shop of Horrors, the Tales from the Crypt movie Demon Knight, Amazon Women on the Moon, Chopping Mall, The Howling, Piranha and I Wanna Hold Your Hand. His best known role was in the movies Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch as Murray Futterman. He appeared in Pulp Fiction as Monster Joe, but his scene and a few others were deleted because of the length of the film. He also appeared in Rod Stewart’s music video for the song “Infatuation” in 1984, with Mike Mazurki and Kay Lenz.

His television credits include V: The Final Battle as Dan Pascal, and appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation in the season 1 episode “The Big Goodbye” as the newspaper stand man in the holodeck, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the season 3 two-part episode “Past Tense” as Vin, Time of Your Life, as a prison guard in Soap (1979) and he voiced the gangster Chuckie Sol in the animated feature film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Miller has also directed television shows, including “The Fix” a 1986 episode of the series Miami Vice.

In 2000, Miller was featured alongside former collaborators including Roger Corman, Sam Arkoff and Peter Bogdanovich in the documentary SCHLOCK! The Secret History of American Movies, a film about the rise and fall of American exploitation cinema.


Walter Paisley
Miller has portrayed several fictional characters named Walter Paisley. As Miller notes, “I’ve played Walter Paisley five times now, I think.” As of 2011, the character name has actually appeared seven times on film and once in a theatrical production, with Miller providing six of these portrayals.

The name first appeared in the Roger Corman film A Bucket of Blood. In that film, Paisley is a busboy who becomes an artist of sorts by killing his subjects and covering them in clay.[4] In 1976, Miller once again played a character named Walter Paisley—this time a talent agent—in another Corman production, Hollywood Boulevard, directed by Allan Arkush and Joe Dante.

Dante cast Miller as another character named Walter Paisley in the 1981 film The Howling. This time, Paisley is the owner of an occult bookshop. Two years later, the name popped up again for another Miller character, the owner of a diner in the third segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie.[6] 1986’s Chopping Mall featured a janitor named Walter Paisley, and the 1994 made-for-TV remake of Shake, Rattle and Rock! had Miller playing a character named Officer Paisley.

Additionally, two other actors have portrayed the A Bucket of Blood character. Anthony Michael Hall played the character in the 1995 television remake, while James Stanton portrayed the character in a musical produced by Chicago’s Annoyance Theatre.

Dick Clips:


(Part 2 got taken down)

10 thoughts on “The Unsung Heroes of Hollywood: Dick Miller

  1. Reblogged this on Gremlins Online! and commented:
    This is a wonderful tribute full of details on the man behind everyone’s favorite “W W EYE EYE” veteran, Mr. Futterman, who should be better known as Dick Miller.

    I loved him in Little Shop Of Horrors (also featuring the incomparable Mrs. Futterman, Jackie Joseph) and A Bucket Of Blood, not to mention his many other roles that seem to exist solely for Dick Miller. Of course that might be because when it comes to Joe Dante films, roles do exist solely for Dick.

    As I said on Pinterest:
    I love bad movies, but no matter how bad a movie is, it is always elevated by Dick Miller, even when electrocuted in Chopping Mall. From A Bucket Of Blood to Terminator to Gremlins (and almost everything Joe Dante) his performances always are exactly what that moment in the film needs. He has always been on a short list of actors I’ve wanted shake their hands and say simply “Thank you”. Sadly I doubt I will ever get the chance, so here is a great tribute to you Mr. Miller!

    Like

  2. Pingback: Night Of The Creeps (1986) Review | Cinema Parrot Disco

  3. Pingback: Schlocktoberfest IV – Day 29: Night of the Creeps | Hard Ticket to Home Video

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