Actor Enjoyed Brush With Hollywood Bombshells

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Hold your horses. We'll get to the story of how Duke Spencer came to be hugged, repeatedly, by Hollywood bombshell Raquel Welch in just a few minutes.

First, there's considerable background information you need to know about this 73-year-old Payson resident.

Like how he was once a movie, television and theatrical actor who swapped lines of dialogue with the likes of John Wayne, John Carradine, Hugh O'Brian, Howard Keel, Jack Cassidy, James Whitmore and Burt Reynolds.

And how his other careers have included stints as an ambulance driver in Israel and a weapons expert with the Egyptian Air Force.

And how he came full circle, returning to the stage in Payson, where his old-fashioned Western melodrama "The Dastard" written, directed and produced by Duke Spencer, who also co-starred was a highpoint of the town's first Western Heritage Festival.

"I was born in Rockford, Ill., of mixed parents: a male and a female," Spencer likes to say. He grew up in Elgin, Ill., and went on to attend high school and college in Seattle, Wash.

The Pacific Northwest, in fact, is where he first got involved in theater so seriously that, in his third production, Spencer was cast as the love interest opposite Diana Barrymore of the legendary Barrymores.

"The play was called 'The Master's Chair,'" says Spencer, gearing up for an anecdote. "She was a good actress, but she was a boozer. The only time I ever saw her sober was at a reception when she first came up to do the show. From then on, she was bombed all the time.

"Since I was supposed to be her lover, we had some pretty tight scenes. During rehearsals, she'd do her lines and blow her boozy breath in my face. I finally started turning my head away from her whenever she said a line ...

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