I received an email from Tom Tuttle from Tacoma. Fans of VOLUNTTERS recognize that as the name of the character John Candy played in the movie. My partner David Isaacs and I wrote the screenplay and are responsible for the name. Who knew there would be a real person, or that anyone would remember VOLUNTEERS? I feel like the father in the Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue”.
So if you ever wondered how we came up with the name or what life has been like for someone saddled with the name, here is my correspondence with Tom (which he graciously allowed me to share).
As the real Tom Tuttle from Tacoma, WA….I have been asked all my life (well since 8th grade or 84’ish) why the name Tom Tuttle for the movie Volunteers? Was I consulted? Did I get royalties? To this day, 24 years later, people still laugh when I introduce myself …Tom Tuttle. They say, from Tacoma, WA? Yes. I was born and raised in Tacoma and still reside here. My question for you is…..how did you come up with Tom Tuttle from Tacoma, WA ?
Tom Tuttle (from Tacoma)
Great to hear from you.
Believe it or not, my partner David and I wrote the very first draft of VOLUNTEERS in 1980. It took five years to get made and released. We honestly pulled the name out of the air. We wanted the character to be real gung ho and for contrast, hail from as far away from the east coast as possible. First we came up with WSU as the college. We wanted the school to be well known (they're in the Pac 10) but still a little offbeat. We checked out a few fight songs, liked WSU's the best and settled on that. Then we figured the character should hail from the state of Washington. Tacoma was sort of a funny sounding name and again, a city that was recognizable. We always pictured that the character was a little wired and whenever he introduced himself would say his name and where he's from. So alliteration was employed to help the name roll off his tongue. Somehow we came up with Tom Tuttle from Tacoma. We just liked the rhythm of it. If we had gone with Spokane it might have been Stan Stodell from Spokane.
So have people been recognizing your name your whole life? I hope ultimately it's been a positive thing.
Again, thanks for writing. Say hi to Lawrence Bourne and Beth for me.
First of all, I just want to thank you for taking the time out to write back; very interesting. Never imagined that I would get the real story from the writer himself. In fact, I (well my mother…because in 8th grade I wanted nothing to do with the attention) mailed off a letter to Hollywood. My Mother has been sticking up for me all along. Shortly after the movie came out, Tom Tuttle (from Sumner) wrote to the Tacoma News Tribune stating that he was the real Tom Tuttle from Tacoma. Well, my Mother would have none of that. So, she wrote back and the next week it was published….that I was the real Tom Tuttle from Tacoma. I will be sure to share this with her! She will get a kick out of it.
Anyway, after college (not WSU….though I visited…my father is an alumnus) I student taught in Puyallup. The day I arrived, I met Tom Tuttle (from Sumner). He was a Math teacher at the school. What are the odds. We had t-shirts made up….”Will the real Tom Tuttle please stand up”. After that, I was a teacher in the Tacoma School District for 10 years and now sell real estate with my brothers. You know, name recognition is everything in this business. I’ve been trying to find a way to use it to my advantage…I might as well. People still recognize the name. In fact, so many movies have character names, but few have had the impact that Tom Tuttle has had. Any ideas?
Tom Tuttle (from Tacoma)
I think we should start at Tom Tuttle from Tacoma International Fan Club. Interested in joining?
Also, while we're on the subject of Washington state (and State), one of my best friends, Howard Hoffman (a.k.a. GREAT BIG RADIO) and his wife Bonnie are moving up to Walla Walla this week. This is very bittersweet for me. On the one hand I'll miss them both terribly, and on the other -- I'm excited for their new adventure and Howard gave me his Dodger bobblehead collection. Best of luck and sign up for internet up there.