Here’s an interesting fact for you: my original name
is Archibald. I told my agent Archie is a natural name
for cartoons, but you know how it is with alliteration
in this industry, so Woody I became and Woody I am.
I loved the theatre from the start. It’s taken me
a lot of time and therapy to realize that was to replace
the love I never received at home. I hear some
woodpeckers have a normal home life, you know,
loving mother, sober Dad. I wouldn’t know.
It’s not something I care to talk about, but that’s
because I am a shallow boor with all kind of
defences, hypocrisy and vanity that I am trying to
finally accept, and by doing so, start again.
That I had a difficult childhood is something
I have to acknowledge. All I know is when I was
that age the theatre loved me and I loved it.

I broke into vaudeville as a member of a troupe
called The Peckers. I was a stilt walker attacked
by a group of malicious woodpeckers. You can see
where this is going, can’t you? The “woodpeckers”
were really clowns dressed as woodpeckers,
and as they chewed away at my stilts, I kept
getting closer and closer to them, until finally
I’d jump off the stilts, a real woodpecker
and chase them all off the stage. Audiences
loved it. It’s how I made it to Broadway,
and that’s what led to Hollywood.

I appreciate this isn’t what you had in mind
when you said you wanted to understand me.
I have to admit your request is what led me to agree
to this, because I need to know, more than you,
who am I? Am I the unloved child, lost,
or am I the movie star, found? I don’t have
that answer, nor do you. Isn’t that it? The answer
escapes us. You can pound your head all you like
against that truth but it just doesn’t crack, does it?
I’ve had to learn to accept who I am, that where
I came from had its hand in determining who
I am today, but I can change. I can be more
that I was taught to expect. There’s no reason
for me to live in the past. After all, today’s
a beautiful day isn’t it?
(The hardest head in Hollywood got his start with Walter Lanz in 1940. GG)