PCA Tribute: Aron Kincaid 1940 – 2011

REMEMBERS

ARON KINCAID

1940 – 2011

The first time I came face to face with actor Aron Kincaid was at the legendary Musso and Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard, a place which Aron, like many stars from Hollywood’s colorful past, frequented for a luxurious meal.  He no longer looked like the beach stud from the AIP beach films I knew him from.  His golden hair had turned dark, his smooth boyish looks were worn with age, and his clean cut face was replaced with a neatly trimmed beard.  However, the expressive eyes that young girls swooned over at Saturday matinees of days gone by were still the same.  The decades had physically changed Aron Kincaid, but the good looking stud of 60’s beach films was still there somewhere.  As I sat down he handed me a DVD – a bootleg of his 1965 film The Girls on the Beach.  A long time fan of beach films, when setting up our interview I had mentioned to him that I had been seeking out a copy of the odd little film, which had never been released on DVD, for years.

“This is my only copy” Aron said, “You can have it.”

“But this is yours.  You’re going to want this” I protested.

Aron Kincaid (seated far right in varsity jacket and shorts) in his opening scene from "The Girls on the Beach" (1966). He gave me his personal copy of the film when we met.

“No I won’t” Aron replied, “One day I’m going to die and nobody is going to want this.  It’s yours.  You take it.”  I wrote his comment off as cynicism but I didn’t argue and I put the gift in my briefcase.  The two of us spent a leisurely two hours at Musso and Franks dining amongst the ghosts of Chaplin, Valentino and D.W. Griffith, basking in the glory of one of the last relics of old Hollywood and sharing stories about our love for classic film.  Yet, as the wine continued to flow, it became very clear that we were not going to be doing an interview that day.  “There is no longer a place called Hollywood.  It’s just a big sign” Aron said, repeating Mickey Rooney’s famous quote.  As the afternoon came to an end, Aron and I decided that would we would continue to keep in touch, and that on another date we would eventually do our interview.  Yet, once back in Canada, as I called Aron on a regular basis, he once again changed his mind.  “I don’t like talking on your speaker phone” he bluntly stated “You sound like you’re in a wind tunnel.  Next time you come out to Los Angeles I’ll have you to my house and I’ll cook a nice meal and we can talk as long as you want.”  I told him it was a deal.  It was a promise that we were never able to keep.  On January 6th, 2011 Aron Kincaid passed away at age 70.

I didn’t know Aron Kincaid very long, and I wouldn’t say that I was a close confident of his by any means.  However, I believe the two of us liked each other well enough and we spoke often throughout the early part of 2010.  An eccentric and incredibly private man, Aron Kincaid seemed to struggle between wanting to be a social butterfly and wanting to be a hermit.  He seemed to hate attention, but loved when he got it.  But if you called him on the right night Aron would be full of stories of Hollywood’s glory days.  “Everybody is connected in this town” Aron would say, and eventually I’d realize that what he said was very true.  Aron had a story about everything and everyone.  I don’t know if all of Aron’s stories were true, or how accurate they all were, but when he was in one of his pleasantly charming moods he had incredible stories to tell.

A life long resident of California, Aron’s grandfather and mother had both flirted with show business themselves, and their love for the golden age of Hollywood was passed down to Aron when he was a young boy“Once we were at a restaurant and my grandfather pointed George Raft out and said ‘There.  That’s George Raft.  Go and ask him for an autograph.’” Aron told me, “’ But I looked at my grandfather and said “Is he anybody?  I’ve never heard of him.’  ‘Of course he’d famous’ my grandfather said, as he pushed me towards Raft.  I still have his autograph today.”

On another occasion Aron told me about how he skipped school and took the long bus ride to go to Grauman’s and watch Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell put their hands into cement.  “It was a different era then” Aron said, “Nobody pushed or shoved or shouted.  Everybody got a chance to see and Marilyn and Jane were so beautiful.  It was a fantastic day.”

Another story too fabulous to be true Aron told me on more then one occasion talked of a chance meeting with two of his screen idols. “One afternoon I swam out to Humphrey Bogart’s yacht and Bogie and Bacall pulled me on board.  We talked a while and they signed an autograph for me.  They had a guest on board and asked if I wanted his autograph too but I declined.  It wasn’t until later that I realized the man in the lounge chair was Marlon Brando.”  It sounded like an unlikely story, but framed above his fireplace mantle was the brittle pieces of paper with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s signatures.

His favorite souvenir was a telephone from the office of his idol – filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille.  Aron often claimed to have met DeMille during his youth, but I was unable to ever keep the details straight.  But what I do know was that as a boy Aron would write the famed movie mogul, and DeMille would, from time to time, write him back on personal stationary.  Eventually, although how it happened was never clear to me, Aron acquired his telephone which he cherished the rest of his life.

After finding his niche as "stud of the week" on TV, Aron found his footing his film as a surf dude in a number of 60's beach films including "Beach Ball" and "The Girls on the Beach"

But by the time that Aron found his way into pictures the classic days of Hollywood were coming to an end.  An art prodigy, winning awards for his portraits and landscapes as early as the age of twelve, Aron was studying at UCLA when he met fabled B movie director Roger Corman who cast Aron as the uncredited bee keeper in the opening scenes to his classic horror cheapie The Wasp Woman.  His next film would be of a different caliber, when he appeared, once again unbilled, in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus.  However, growing into a good looking lad of the beefcake variety, Aron got his first regular gig in the role of Warren Dawson in the final season of Bachelor Father alongside John Forsythe.  More television appearances would follow on programs such as The Beverly Hillbillies, The Donna Reed Show, Family Affair, The Patty Duke Show, My Three Sons and Get Smart, with Aron often being typecast as the “young stud of the week.”  But sometimes television roles came out of odd circumstances.

”When Bonita Granville’s son Jack ran off and eloped with sixteen year old Lana Wood, for some reason it was left to me to call his mother and tell her what he had done” Aron told me when learning that I was a Bonita Granville fan.  “She listened to the news in silence and after I had finished she thanked me and then told me ‘If you would like, we will have you on an episode of Lassie.’”  When Granville and her husband, oil man Jack Wrather Sr caught up to the young lovers they forced the marriage to be annulled, and sure enough Aron made an appearance on Lassie not long afterwards.

Aron Kincaid makes his AIP debut as snotty playboy Freddie in "Ski Party"

With his rigid jaw, his jocular good looks, his sun bleached hair and big grin, Aron eventually found his own place in Hollywood appearing in the popular beach films of the era.  However, while Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello’s beach party films were hits, Aron’s films, such as Beach Ball and The Girls on the Beach were second string stinkers in comparison.  Eventually Aron signed up with AIP pictures, the company behind the definitive beach party films, where he was quickly cast as Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman’s rival Freddie in Ski Party.  Just a bit beefcakier, a bit hunkier and a bit smoother then Avalon and Hickman, Aron Kincaid played the ultimate foil for the duo as he upstaged them time and time again.

Although engaged to be married four times, Aron Kincaid never married, but not without having a few unconventional "romances"

But in real life Aron never married and never had a family of his own, despite being engaged on four different occasions.  But that didn’t stop Aron from having some interesting and off beat affairs of his own.  During the 60’s he often would accompany pop singer Lesley Gore, whom appeared with him in Ski Party and The Girls on the Beach, to Hollywood premiers and parties.  “She was one of the smartest girls I ever met” Aron reminisced, “but she told me very early on that she was a lesbian.  She wasn’t at all into guys, but that was okay with me.  I kept her secret as long as she did.”  Meanwhile, Aron also often became the much younger companion of some of Hollywood’s legendary glamour queens of the golden era, including Rita Hayworth and Maureen O’Hara.  When Maureen O’Hara came back to America to attend the Oscars in 2002 Aron accompanied her as her date.  “At one point during the ceremony Richard Gere came flying from the stage and fell to Maureen’s feet, kissing her hands and exclaiming her a legend” Aron told me once laughing, “As he pranced away Maureen turned to me and said ‘Who in the world was that?’  ‘That’s Richard Gere’ I told her.  ‘And who is Richard Gere?’ Maureen exclaimed.  ‘Why he’s one of the biggest actors in the world’ I told her.  ‘That man is insane’ Maureen replied and she said nothing more of the incident.”

Aron Kincaid and Nancy Sinatra ham it up in "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini"

Yet as the 1960’s came to an end, Aron began to grow tired of Hollywood and the silly pictures that AIP was putting him in, including a bit part in Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine and the dismal flop The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini.  Entering a legal dispute with AIP over the terms of his contract, Aron  rented out his Beverly Hills home and turned his back on Hollywood for the hills of San Francisco where he put his focus into his art once again, painting under the name of N.N Williams II.  Not long after his move to San Francisco Aron began a lucrative career as a male model which eventually relocated him to New York City.  Due to his eternal good looks, Aron was able to remain in the modeling industry well into his 50’s in the role of the elegant older man.

Growing homesick for California Aron eventually returned to Beverly Hills and took up another career in voice acting on cult cartoons such as Transformers, The Smurfs, Johnny Quest and Batman: The Animated Series, acquiring a cult fandom that he never really understood.  “I don’t know who these people are” he would say of fans who wrote him for autograph requests on Killer Croc and Sky Lynx memorabilia.  Yet his love for classic Hollywood would carry over to his voice acting work.  “Killer Croc is just my own impersonation of Richard Widmark” he once explained.

Well into his 50's, Aron worked as a male model, as well as a voice actor and painted under the name N.N Williams II

But like all people there was a dark side to Aron Kincaid too.  He wasn’t always a happy man.  He would often get angry, and could be vile.  He feared that his legacy would be forgotten.  He often seemed lonely, and could become very bitter.  Calling him soon after attending a funeral of a friend Aron said to me “Nobody cares anymore.  One day we’ll all be dead and nobody is going to remember any of us.”

By the summer of 2010 Aron Kincaid and I began to communicate less and less, but I tried to keep the lines open with him as much as I could.  The last time I spoke to him was on Christmas Eve.  When Aron said hello he did not sound like the animated eccentric I knew from the beginning of the year.  His deep voice sounded muted and tired and he sounded out of breath.  He did not sound at all well.  “It’s Sam Tweedle” I said to Aron after his initial greeting.  “Oh Sam.  How are you?”  Aron said .  “I’m fine.  How have you been” I replied.  “I haven’t been well,” Aron confessed, but he did not give me further details.  “Well I just called to check in on you and let you know that I was thinking of you and to wish you a happy Christmas” I said.  “Well thank you” Aron said.  “Merry Christmas to you too.”  Somehow I knew that Aron was not in the mood to talk anymore.  “Well…take care of yourself” I said.  “You too Sam.  Goodbye” Aron replied and he hung up the phone.  It was the shortest conversation we ever shared.  Three weeks later Aron would be gone forever.

As I searched through the internet today looking for information on Aron’s death, and attempting to find tributes, it became very clear that Aron’s fears of the loss of his legacy may have been more real then I ever believed.  For the exception of one decent obituary from the Los Angeles Times, it became very clear to me that very few people really knew Aron Kincaid.  A few Transformers fans made quick tributes to him, but clearly they had no understanding of the full extent of Aron’s career in the same way that Aron had no real understanding of Transformers fandom.  But once when Aron questioned the strength of his legacy to me I told him “That’s why I want to do an interview with you Aron.  I want to preserve your story.  I want to make sure that people will remember.”  I never did the interview, but I hope that by telling just small portions of the stories he told me that I will do justice to his memory.  Tonight I will pull out his DVD copy of The Girls on the Beach, open a bottle of red wine, and drink a toast to my friend Aron Kincaid.  Even if everyone else forgets, I’ll make sure to remember you forever Aron.  Your legacy will always remain alive in my mind and my heart.  To me you were as big a star as your personal icons were to you, and you gave me a world of stories to share with the next generation of film fans.

  1. Doro Johnson’s avatar

    Thanks so much for your write-up. I only knew Aron for a short time, but visited with him in his home and talked on the phone occasionally. I only learned today of his death and am so sad. I had a letter all written and ready to send to him because I am including a couple of pages about him in a book I am writing about the artist, Henry Clive. Aron was a very big Henry Clive fan and had a massive collection of American Weekly covers done by Clive. He is going to be a two page chapter in my book, “Collecting Clive” under the chapter title of “Consummate Clive Collector.”

  2. Delores’s avatar

    I once wrote Aron a fan letter. He wrote me back with autographed pics of himself. Not all celebs are that thoughtful. I really liked Aron. It’s a shame he did not become a bigger star. I think his talents in Ski Party showed he certainly could act and had the looks to be a leading man.

  3. Chris D’s avatar

    I always Aron from the very first time I saw “The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini”. When I got my first ‘internet computer’ back in 1996, he was one of the first searches I did. Now I find it shameful that the ‘celebrity sites’ didn’t even mention of his passing. Thank you for providing the nicely written tribute to him. I also have a copy of “The Girls on The Beach”. But your copy is blessed with Aron’s touch.

  4. R. Chris Haley’s avatar

    Various friends in the entertainment business, myself, and everyone who knew Aron said he was a “jewel” of a guy. With a passion for art ant the arts, he always had a definite opinion about everything.
    No, my friend, you are not forgotten. With your chisseled good looks and homespun “boy next doot” image planted in our hearts and minds over the decades of your career–you will always be remembered. Thanks for entertaining me and the rest of the world. Isn’t it ironic how we return to the things that are considered our first loves before we cross over–in Aron’s case, his art. I always liked that scene of Aron on the bus with Leslie Gore singing Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows while rubbing his head. You will be missed and Aron’s unforgetable smile.

  5. Neil’s avatar

    I knew Aron in the 70s, both through a mutual friend and through Peter Ford. He was also a brief fling of mine. He had a feature in the LA Times about his grooming regimen, which caused him endless embarrassment. It showed him with a towel wrapped around his head, “so the conditioners can work.” I believe he also acted in a TV space pilot that Peter Ford starred in. I don’t remember watching it. Peter went on to become a right-wing radio pest and our friendship died. I emailed him last year when I rediscovered him, but it didn’t develop.
    Aron was always a wonderful guy; he just wanted more.

  6. Neil’s avatar

    Oh, I left out that Aron was a clue today in the Yahoo! Crossword Puzzle with Hints- that’s how I got the news.

  7. Jan’s avatar

    Hi, I am Aron’s cousin. Our mothers were sisters. I reconnected with Aron (to me he will forever be Norman) in August of last year. We spoke twice on the phone and traded letters and photos. He sent me a copy of “In My Father’s Footsteps” a personal journey he made to France to visit a place his father accidentally landed and spent the night when he and his copilot became lost after a mission. Citizens of the town still remembered his father. He also sent me a copy of “The Proud and The Damned”. Sadly he passed away before we could visit and trade more stories and photos in person. However, my husband I live in the San Francisco Bay area. They have a new Walt Disney Family Musuem about 20 minutes away. We visited it Memorial Weekend. Lo and behold, in the museum store they are selling DVDs of “The Happiest Millionaire”. Although Aron had but a small part in this movie it was fun to see him. I am now in persuit of other movies. I am happy to tell you that he will not be forgotten. He still has family out here and we will keep him close to our hearts.

  8. Marina Anderson’s avatar

    I was one of those four women who was engaged to Aron. Or rather he would tell people I was his fiance at one point…I don’t remember him proposing, just declaring it as if it was a given. I loved him very much. Met while doing a show at the Masquers Club in Hollywood when I was 19 and one of the dearest people in my life since. Unlike what Aron said, people will remember him and still care. Thanks for writing such a lovely article about him.

  9. Marina Anderson’s avatar

    One other thing… I had my book signing at Barnes & Noble at the Grove November 2010. Aron missed my intitlal book launch that summer and in spite of being in the hospital just the day before because of his heart condition, he attended this one. He wanted to be there for me. He didn’t want to let me down. THAT IS LOVE.

  10. richard’s avatar

    I was a great fan of aron and thoght him a fine actor; i am so glad people are remembering him; what a handsome fellow! I had hoped to meet him some day but his early death prevented that; what a guy!
    richard in WV

  11. Robert’s avatar

    Aron was always doing things for my mother (Sally Blane) and never asking anything in return.
    You knew his introductions to Mystery, but he would recite every line from the most obscure sword and sandal picture, the entire movie with all the insane dialogue. A very funny man with tremendous depth.
    Here’s to you, Aron. Now you know how many people loved you.

  12. Nathan’s avatar

    I never met Aron in person, but corresponded with him for about five years. He always signed his handwritten letters as Norman, and used full caps. I wrote a book on film, and although none of his films are in the book, the beach movie “Beach Blanket Bingo” is. I was happy to hear his thoughts on the genre. He was witty, but I sensed that he had regrets. I asked him why he never went to celebrity conventions, and he said they scared him. My book came out, but I didn’t get it to him in time, which was one of my big regrets. I did send it to the folks who were his caretaker and trustee, and I transcribed it in his honor. I’m not sure it’s important to be remembered for being handsome or for appearing in grade B films. But he will be remembered by me for being a good person, one who shares, and one who was enthusiastic about what he liked to do – which was to paint landscapes.

  13. Nomad’s avatar

    You garbled that story about Bogie and Lauren. It wasn’t Marlon Brando on the boat with them. It was somebody else. ;)

Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>