ELMER SHAW & CLARENCE FOX
Clarence Fox - Robert H. Harris
Elmer Shaw - John Qualen
AS SEEN IN:
'Alfred Hitchcock Presents'
("Shopping For Death")
"Touched With Fire"
Recastaways (The Originals)
Two retired insurance salesmen research the methods of death. One of them proposes a theory that most murders occur in hot weather. They see a potential murder victim in the nagging wife of a longshoreman, Mrs. Shrike.
This episode is based on the short story "Touched by Fire" by Ray Bradbury. This story (as "Shopping for Death") was first published in Maclean's (June 1, 1954.)
The story on which this episode is based was also adapted for an episode, "Touched With Fire" of 'The Ray Bradbury Theater'.
There's a reason why I didn't run this during my tribute to Ray Bradbury. If for no other reason, it might have been welcomed by my readers as a break from all of the characters from 'The Martian Chronicles' who were seen day after day.
But I wanted to save it specifically for today as the country celebrates Gay Pride. That's because I think Elmer Shaw and Clarence Fox may have been one of the first depictions of a gay couple in Toobworld. (It was broadcast on January 29, 1956.)
Mr. Bradbury probably didn't have that intent when he created these two men; I may be the only one who actually thought they were partnered homosexuals on first seeing the episode. If that's the case, so be it. My perceptions are usually what drives the Toobworld Concept anyway, and this interpretation doesn't have to be applied anywhere else... just in my own little sandbox.
But it's hard not to consider them as being homosexuals (the term of the day back then). After years of working together in the same business, they're still together in their retirement years. And it would appear that they live together as they spend so much time together from early morning until late at night. No other mentions of families to whom they have to return at the end of the day.
Who but a committed partner like Elmer would put up with Clarence's obsession with his actuarial statistics about murders taking place when the temperature hitting 92 degrees? (After the heat wave of this last week here in the Big Apple, I wonder if that theory played out in the real world?)
That would take real love on Elmer's part.
And there's just this sense of tenderness and care shown by Elmer for Clarence. They even walk hand in hand - well, hand on arm, to be precise - that doesn't leave that much room for other interpretations. (There is one - Perhaps Elmer knows Clarence has an inner ear problem with his balance.....)
Like I said, this is my interpretation and Mr. Bradbury probably never meant for that impression to be made. But the inroads toward acceptance had to begin somewhere and I think Clarence and Elmer serve as worthy members of the vanguard.
It's also the contention of Toobworld Central that Elmer Shaw had a twin brother named Samuel. And Samuel was probably also gay, in a VERY long relationship with another old man named Max.
Sam and Max can be found in an episode of 'The Odd Couple' called "A Taste For Money". John Qualen played Sam and Peter Brocco played Max. (He could be Max Stone, just to make a connection with another NYC-based sitcom, 'That Girl'. Brocco played "Mr. Stone" in the "Soot Yourself" episode.....)