Again, I owe Alamo Drafthouse big-time. The theater chain has been advertising its Oscar Night parties, which will include embarassing clips of Oscar-nominated actors from their early days. The clip they show in their ad is a spoof of the old Mazola commercials where a lovely Native American woman extols the virtues of maize. In the spoof, however, it's a Native American man ... played by David Strathairn. And when he says "maize," Willie Mays runs out of the nearby cornfield. It's a far cry from Strathairn's Oscar-nominated performance in Good Night and Good Luck.
Where in the world did Alamo dig up this clip? An in-depth look at Strathairn's filmography provided some clues, and I figured out the rest. Strathairn played an Indian guide named Weejun in the 1985 comedy When Nature Calls, made in the days when the Zucker brothers had a heavy influence on comedies. It's a Troma film, which should tell you all you need to know. The site David Strathairn Online has a summary of the movie along with many more photos. (The movie is in color but the only photo I could find, sadly, was black-and-white.)
Over the next week, I'll try to find more early, interesting photos from Oscar-nominated folks and share them on Vintage Image of the Day. But I am not sure I can top Strathairn as a member of the tribe Ka-O-Pec-Tate. He's definitely paid his dues.