I usually check Snopes.com when something on the interwebs sounds either too good to be true or bogus. It’s usually the latter. I try not to go down the Snopes rabbit hole too often because one could spend days there. It’s better when one of my friends does it for me. My old pal, fellow OG NOLA blogger, and Spank krewemate, Lisa Palumbo linked to this intriguing and surprisingly true Snopes item about a fifties teevee con man:
The television series Trackdown really did produce an episode featuring a “Trump” character who came to town claiming that only he could prevent the end of the world by building a wall (and also sold special force propelling umbrellas to deflect meteorites). The episode (S1, E30) aired on CBS in 1958 and was titled “The End of the World,” featuring actor Lawrence Dobkin playing the role of “Walter Trump.”
We even have a snippet of dialogue from the episode in question:
Narrator: The people were ready to believe. Like sheep they ran to the slaughterhouse. And waiting for them was the high priest of fraud.
Trump: I am the only one. Trust me. I can build a wall around your homes that nothing will penetrate.
Townperson: What do we do? How can we save ourselves?
Trump: You ask how do you build that wall. You ask, and I’m here to tell you.
While it’s highly unlikely that Trump was inspired by an episode of a long-forgotten teevee oater, it’s a startling coincidence. Like Donald, Walter Trump is a flim flam man selling a cure to a non-existent problem. He also claimed to be the “only one” as did the president* in his apocalyptic acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican Convention. Holy Messianic Complex, Batman.
The guy who wrote the teleplay, John Robinson, died in 1999 without revealing any Nostradamus-like qualities. He’s best-known for producing the Steve McQueen western Wanted: Dead or Alive and for writing for Dragnet. That means that, like Joe Friday, he presumably stuck to “the facts, m’am, just the facts.” Nobody would have predicted the rise of the Insult Comedian in 1958 back when candidates were usually qualified to be president. Imagine that.
There’s another difference between Real Trump and the character actor who played Reel Trump, Lawrence Dobkin. The latter was an honest bald man as you can see in the featured image above whereas Donald wears a dead nutria atop his head.
It’s gobsmacking that there was a flim flamming, wall building fictional character named Trump in 1958. It’s equally gobsmacking that I hadn’t heard about it until this morning. I only know because of my pal Lisa Pal. I’ll be a pal and post the whole damn episode of Trackdown:
I *have* written about life imitating The Sopranos but I never expected to write about life imitating Trackdown. Hell, I’d never heard of Trackdown until today. It’s a funny old world.