Wally Campo dead at 99: Actor narrated the original Little Shop Of Horrors film and appeared in string of Burt Topper and Roger Corman movies
Actor Wally Campo, who was in a string of movies by the directors Burt Topper and Roger Corman, has died of natural causes at the age of 99.
His musician son Tony Campodonico broke the news to The Hollywood Reporter this week, revealing that the death occurred on January 14.
One of Campo’s best known gigs was a dual role in Corman’s original 1960 film The Little Shop Of Horrors, which was later adapted into the better-known musical.
Throwback: Actor Wally Campo, pictured in Roger Corman’s original 1960 film of The Little Shop Of Horrors, has died of natural causes at the age of 99
He both narrated the picture and appeared in it as Sergeant Joe Fink, one of the cops who tries to uncover the murderous secret at the heart of the storyline.
Campo, who died just three months shy of his centenary, was born in Stockton, California in April 1923 and christened Wallace Joseph Campodonico.
After America entered World War II, he served in the United States Army and over the course of hostilities wound up at Iwo Jima.
He returned to Stockton after the war and went to the College Of The Pacific – as well as embarking on an acting career in the local theater scene.
Legendary: The Little Shop Of Horrors was one of a series of movies Campo made with the ‘Pope Of Pop Cinema’ Roger Corman, a pioneering indie filmmaker
Campo was still known as ‘Wallace Campodonico’ when he acted in Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness! for the Stockton Community Players, per the local press.
As the 1950s took off, he struck out to Los Angeles and met his future wife in an actress called Geraldine Matthews, whom he worked with onstage.
In the 1950s and 1960s he acted in a series of pictures by the ‘Pope Of Pop Cinema’ Roger Corman, a pioneering indie filmmaker.
Known for his inventiveness with a shoestring budget, Corman made a stunning array of cult movies and in doing so helped kick-start the careers ranging from Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper to Sylvester Stallone.
Heartthrob: Campo’s association with him began at the 1958 film Machine-Gun Kelly, starring a smoldering Charles Bronson in his first lead role
Campo’s association with him began at the 1958 film Machine-Gun Kelly, starring a smoldering Charles Bronson in his first lead role.
After that picture, Campo went onto act for Corman in the 1960 movie Ski Troop Attack and the 1962 Edgar Allan Poe anthology Tales Of Terror.
The year he made his first picture with Corman, 1958, was also the year Campo began his professional association with another cult filmmaker, Burt Topper.
Campo led the cast of Topper’s debut Hell Squad, a World War II movie about American servicemen who get lost in Tunisia and fall prey to the Nazi Afrika Korps.
What a cast: After that picture, Campo went onto act for Corman in the 1960 movie Ski Troop Attack and the 1962 Edgar Allan Poe adaptation Tales Of Terror
He continued working with Topper, first in Tank Commando about the war in Italy and then 1961 the Korean War picture War Is Hell!.
In 1964 he had a supporting role in Topper’s serial killer film The Strangler, led by Victor Buono as the doll-collecting title character.
Campo also worked with the legendary pulp director Sam Fuller in Shock Corridor, a 1963 psychological thriller set in a mental hospital.
In 1969 Campo made his own directorial debut with Mark Of The Gun working with cinematographer László Kovács, who that year also lent his talents to Easy Rider.
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