Sunday, October 14, 2012

The REAL Tom Tuttle from Tacoma

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)

Tom,

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.

Cheers,

Ken Levine

Ken,

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?

Thank you,
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. 

22 comments:

LouOCNY said...

Your friends should change their names to Walt and Wendy Wallace...

Say THAT a couple of times fast - 'Walt and Wendy Wallace from Walla Walla'

LouOCNY said...

I wonder also if you and David channeled the name Tuttle from the M*A*S*H episode of the same name? That is one of my favorite early M*A*S*H episodes. I have also talked to a couple of Army/Navy lifers who said that what Hawkeye and Trapper did there could POSSIBLY be done - if enough of the right paper work was filled out!

Mike said...

Ten years as a teacher and he becomes a real estate agent. There's a lesson there.

benson said...

Dear God, don't scare me. They better have internet in Wash. state. Great Big Radio is the best. He better not be retiring.

Ane said...

Possible friday question. I just started watching the final season of House, a show I used to love and still liked a lot up until last year. I was so dissapointed when I realized that not only would Lisa Edelstein not return for the final season but Olivia Wilde was pretty much gone too... With Jennifer Morrison quitting a season and a half ago, that's all the women on this show. I don't get why they didn't just end the whole thing, rather than hiring two new girls that had never been seen before, that the audience didn't have a connection with. Also seeing how last season was all about House's relationship with Cuddy and her family, it seems so strange that they'd wrap the whole thing up without that part of the story in. What would you do in a situation where you can either replace all the females in the show or just let it die? Considering that Laurie is so brilliant it might have seemed like a good idea to let him have one more year at the time, but from what I've seen so far I'm not so sure...

VincentS said...

Very interesting. Tom's story about meeting the other Tom Tuttle reminds me of the corrrespondence between the American author Winston Churchill and the (more famous) British author/politician of the same name. But why would you be surprised that anybody still remembers VOLUNTEERS, Ken? I think that's one of the funniest movies of all-time. Kudos to you and Mr. Isaacs for writing a brilliant script as well as to the (unfortunately) Late Great John Candy for bringing that character to hilarious life, Tom Hanks for trutting his considerable comic acting chopps proving he can be much more than America's Nice Guy, Rita Wilson (any surprise Tom fell for her off-screen as well?), and the rest of the brilliant cast (GREAT cameo by George "Peckerhead" Plimpton!). I had the pleasure of meeting Nicholas Meyer at a book signing. Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in the general STAR TREK discussion (which was what the book was primarily about) and our personal Sherlock Holmes discussion that I forgot to tell him how much I love that movie.

Julie Kistler said...

I went to high school with a guy named Ned Ryerson (in the Chicago suburbs) and I always wondered where Harold Ramis got the name for the character in "Groundhog Day." It's the same kind of memorable name as Tom Tuttle, and I hope it's the same kind of random coincidence story.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

One of the great joys of living here was meeting the guy who I stole from frequently while we were both doing radio in the 70s. The best joy was becoming best friends with him. And hardly a day goes by when I don't ask him, "Have you ever met Ken Levine?" (Rimshot)

Ken, you know you're that guy, and Bonnie and I will always treasure the friendship and generosity your family has given us. And if you ever need a name with illiteration for a character from Hohokus, you have my permission to abuse mine.

Howard Hoffman

Biggus Dickus said...

Ken, you're being had. This is obviously a hoax. No one would actually be named Tom Tuttle - it's a joke name. You know, like Col. Griffith J. Griffith.

Ken Levine said...

Tom Tuttle from Tacoma appears in our very first draft, dated 1980. Tom wasn't cast until 1984.

Cap'n Bob said...

I'm also from Tacoma, but my name lacks alliteration. I guess I could be Boss Bob from Brooklyn. And no, Tom, I don't have any real estate needs. Good luck with that job in this economy.

Breadbaker said...

It's a shame that Howard Hoffman isn't moving to Humptulips.

The Tom Tuttle story is wonderful; he sounds like a great guy.

billmac said...

LouOCNY said...
Your friends should change their names to Walt and Wendy Wallace...
Say THAT a couple of times fast - 'Walt and Wendy Wallace from Walla Walla'

To be complete:

"Walt and Wendy Wallace from Walla Walla WA"

Al in Oregon said...

Thanks for the interesting story on Tom Tuttle's background. As a WSU alum, I can assure you that we all take delight in Volunteers.
I would take exception to the school being described as "a little offbeat." We've always tried to be way offbeat ... as well as a bit out of the way (30 miles from a town named Dusty).
I would also reassure "benson" that there is internet in Washington. Some fella up there named Bill Gates practically insists upon it.

LouOCNY said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LouOCNY said...

How about Paul and Pam Peters from Poughkeepsie?

Not to mention the infamous
'Peter Percivals' Pet Pig Named Porky'

One of my Word Verifications? 'analloc' :O

benson said...

@Al in Oregon:

Bill Who?

Jerry Krull said...

Your friend will have to move East. "Howard Hoffman from Hoboken" is the money line.

iain said...

billmac said...
LouOCNY said...
Your friends should change their names to Walt and Wendy Wallace...
Say THAT a couple of times fast - 'Walt and Wendy Wallace from Walla Walla'

To be complete:

"Walt and Wendy Wallace from Walla Walla WA"


Do Walt & Wendy Wallace listen to Wonderful WINO in Western Walla Walla?

iconoclast59 said...

@Julie Kistler:

Harold Ramis was raised in Chicago. In the northern suburbs, there's a forest preserve called the Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area, or "Ryerson Woods" for short. I think Edward's nickname was "Ned," because the conservation area includes Ned Ryerson Trail. You can find it at LCFPD.org.

iconoclast59 said...

An addendum/correction to my previous post:

Ned Ryerson was Edward Ryerson's son. From his 1992 obituary: (Thanks be to Google!)

"Ned Ryerson, retired headmaster, teacher and writer who grew up in Chicago as the son of the late Inland Steel chairman and Chicago community leader Edward L. Ryerson Jr.; he also was noted for the breadth of activities he started or continued after becoming blind 13 years ago; he was the great-grandson of Joseph T. Ryerson, who founded a steel-and-iron business in Chicago in 1842; the firm merged with Inland in 1935; he taught at several elementary and high schools in the Boston area before founding the Palfrey Street School in Watertown, Mass., in 1965; he served as its director and a teacher for 11 years."

Solaca said...

If I was Tom Tuttle of Tacoma and was looking for a way to generate a publicity I would take this blog post to the local tv station and invite them to do a human interest story about it. Even better, get video of Ken and David meeting Tom and giving him a autographed copy of the script. (And don't forget to promote Ken's new book)