Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Woody gets a job offer on the set of SHALAKO

by Woody Strode and Sam Young

At lunchtime, I walked into the tent. A Mr. Giuseppe Colizzi came up to me, "Woody Strode, my name is Colizzi, please, have a cigar.
"I represent an Italian production company. What you did today I have never seen another actor do. I would like you to come to Italy with me and star in my next picture. I can give you $50,000 for ten weeks' work, first class plane tickets for you and your wife, and $500 a week to live on."
First blood.
I told him, "I'm coming, but don't say anything to my agent!"
I got on the phone and called Sid Gold. He said, "Oh Woody, you'll get a bad script." But for $50,000 I would've played Mickey Mouse.
On SHALAKO, I made $1,000 a week, the same as I made on THE PROFESSIONALS. I had never made any real money in America. I'd been in some classic pictures and never made a dime. I was never in a position to bargain. Where else was I going to go? I was unique doing just what I had been doing: throwing a spear, playing Indians, slanting my eyes, putting on pigtails. They probably thought they were doing me a favor.
When the Italians saw what I could do, they just flat out made me an offer, and they offered me a star's salary. Mr. Colizzi told me, "You see that white actor over there?" - I won't call his name because I don't want to embarrass him - "He cannot ride a horse and we are paying him $350,000 for one picture."

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