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Carl Sagan
Archie Savage
William Schallert
Roy Scheider
Thelma Schnee
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ARCHIE SAVAGE
(1914–2003). American actor, dancer, and choreographer.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in: Tales of Manhattan (uncredited) (Julien Duvivier 1942); Cabin in the Sky (uncredited) (Vincent Minnelli and Busby Berkeley, uncredited) (1943); "Curse of the Devil Doll," "White Man's Magic" (1953), episodes of Ramar of the JunglePanther Girl of the Kongo (serial) (Franklin Adreon 1955); "White Magic" (1955), episode of Jungle JimThe Ten Commandments (uncredited) (Cecil B. DeMille 1956); La Dolce Vita (uncredited) (Federico FELLINI 1959); Space Men (Antonio MARGHERITI 1960); The Thief of Baghdad (Arthur Lubin and Bruno Vailiti 1961); Ape Man of the Jungle (Carlo Veo 1965); War of the Planets (uncredited) (Margheriti 1966); Virgin of the Jungle (Romano Ferrera 1967).

Choreographed: The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah (Robert Aldrich 1962); Hercules Against the Sons of the Sun (Osvaldo Civirani 1964); The Wild, Wild Planet (Margheriti 1965); War of the Planets (Margheriti 1966); Il Pianeta Errante (Margheriti 1966).

 
Few individuals took as convoluted a path to science fiction film as Archie Savage. He had originally distinguished himself as a dancer on Broadway, a talent which led to a few uncredited film roles. But as he approached the age of forty and could no longer handle the rigors of professional dancing, he moved to Hollywood and actively pursued a film career. Unfortunately, the only sorts of roles a distinguished-looking African-American could generally garner at the time were as grunting Africans in loincloths serving as foils or second fiddles to white adventurers in the jungle like Phyllis COATES' Panther Girl of the Kongo. It was surely in search of more stimulating assignments that Savage, like other African-Americans of that era, relocated to Europe in the late 1950s and, with Rome as his home base, looked for jobs in the Italian film industry.

While he can be seen as a dancer in Federico FELLINI's La Dolce Vita, the turning point in Savage's life came when he met up with Antonio MARGHERITI, and that underrated director recognized that he would be an ideal addition to the science fiction film he was making, Space Men (also known as Assignment Outer Space). With his athletic build, striking gray hair, and commanding presence, Savage was instantly persuasive as an older astronaut assigned to escort a novice space traveler to a space station; clearly, unlike others in his position, he hadn't received the news that actors in Italian science fiction films didn't really have to act. Although he is given less and less to do as the film progresses, and eventually is called upon to sacrifice his own life in a battle against an out-of-control spaceship computer, he was by far the film's most credible and memorable performer. Believe me, as part of my latest research project, I have watched almost all of the cinematic astronauts of the 1950s and 1960s, from Bowman and Poole to Abbott and Costello, but Savage's Al and William LUNDIGAN's Colonel McCauley are the only ones I would actually get into a spaceship with.

But after this one choice part, Savage again struggled to obtain palatable work, and he must have been particularly displeased  to find himself cast in Italy's own cheapskate versions of the cheapskate American jungle movies of the 1950s. And so, he reinvented himself as a choreographer for films that would not normally employ a choreographer, such as The Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah and Hercules Against the Sons of the Sun. It was in this capacity that Margheriti rehired him to add some futuristic dances to the first three films in his "Gamma Quadrilogy." Of course, modern dance had previously been employed for a touch of strangeness in travesties like Cat-Women of the Moon (1953) and Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956), but Savage really thought about what he was doing, so that after watching The Wild, Wild Planet, one remembers the butterfly dancers observed in two performances as well as the odd dance moves executed by everyday people in the background of one scene, a device picked up and regularly used in the German series Space Patrol. Yet Margheriti could have profited from also giving him acting roles as well, since his gravitas would have provided needed support to all the handsome hunks and beautiful models who starred in those films and perpetually seemed overmatched in facing the hazards of mad scientists, sinister aliens, and misbehaving planets. However, except for a fleeting cameo in War of the Planets (one voice cries out "Archie!"), he remained behind the camera for all three films.

Approaching sixty, Savage retired from all film work and spent the last thirty years of his life primarily as a teacher to younger dancers, one hopes only minimally tormented by the might-have-beens of his underutilized life. Since he was an obscure performer even to experts in the genre, it is understandable, but lamentable, that he was never summoned back to join other veterans in a science fiction film, where he could have given helpful pointers to some young actors as well.

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