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The Montclair Dead-Star Comedy Revue

by Michael Mallory

About the Author: Michael Mallory is the Derringer-winning author of the Amelia Watson series, the Dave Beauchamp mystery series, the horror novel The Mural, and more than 125 short stories. He has also written six nonfiction books on pop culture and more than 600 newspaper and magazine articles. Mike lives in greater Los Angeles where he also occasionally acts on television.


The sudden sound of a gunshot shattered the working calm of the television studio, bringing everything and everybody to a halt. That week’s guest star on the Montclair All-Star Comedy Revue, the Hollywood leading lady Maisie De Loren, visibly jumped. But everyone else had become used to it.

“For Christ’s sake, people!” Jackie Plumm shouted, sticking the eight-shot revolver back into his belt. “If you’d pay attention and do it right, then I won’t have to be the bad guy!”

The television audiences who had made Jackie Plumm the hottest on-air personality of 1950 saw only a tall, limber, smiling, rubber-faced man who looked like the kind of guy you could invite over for dinner. His co-workers, however, saw more of the one-time middle-heavyweight Johnny Palumbo, a man filled with huge ego, restless, intimidating energy, and the physical strength of a Kodiak bear.

Firing off a blank cartridge to get attention was simply one of the control techniques Jackie Plumm employed, and despite the fact that the show had a director and an experienced producer, everybody understood who was the boss.

“Buddy!” Plumm shouted, and a diminutive, plump man stepped toward him. Taking the little man by the shoulders, Plumm screamed, “What the hell were you doing over there? How can the audience see you over there? You’re supposed to be here, in front of the camera! Do I have to explain this to you every goddamned week?”

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