Bud Cort born
In New Rochelle, New York, on this day in 1948, the strange and unique life of Bud Cort began. Born Walter Edward Cox, Cort – the son of a former bandleader father and a mother who once worked for MGM – found himself drawn to acting from an incredibly young age: “I had no choice. I had to act,” he said once. “I could memorize anything plus I only felt comfortable and safe on stage.” A talented artist who spent numerous hours in his teens painting people’s portraits at county fairs, Cort went to study Design at New York University in the late 60s, but in the Big Apple the smell of greasepaint proved irresistible to him. He started taking acting lessons, getting work in commercials and small TV and movie parts, and quit NYU in 1969. That coincided with him being cast as Private Boone in the classic anti-war farce M*A*S*H, after director Robert Altman had discovered Cort performing in a comedy revue. Altman was so impressed that he made Cort the eponymous lead in his next movie, Brewster McCloud, about a boy who dreams of being able to fly. Cort then won the career-defining role of death-obsessed Harold in Hal Ashby's cult hit Harold and Maude. A critical failure which was discovered and brought back from the dead by avid fans at double bills and midnight movies, the film proved a double edged sword for Cort: he was so good as Harold that casting directors never saw him as anyone else. "I've had my moments where I just cursed that movie and wished I'd never done it," he once said.