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Fearless Fagan

Fearless Fagan(1952)

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The title of the film's original story was "Homer and the Lion." "Fagan's" credit reads: "And introducting Fearless Fagan (Himself)" in the opening credits, but his name does not appear in the end credits. Keenan Wynn, as "Sgt. Kellwin," provides an intermittent narration to the film. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Debbie Reynolds was to have been the female lead in the film. Another Hollywood Reporter news item includes Bob Savage in the cast, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Fearless Fagan marked the motion picture debut of actor Anthony Eisley, who was billed in the film as Fred Eisley.
       According to news items and feature articles, the film was based on actual events that happened to Army Pfc. Floyd C. Humeston. Humeston, whose story was documented in the February 12, 1951 Life magazine article "Fearless Fagan Finds a Home" by Eldon W. Griffiths, was a young animal trainer who bought the six-day-old "Fagan" at the World Jungle Compound in Thousand Oaks, CA. Humeston and his mother, who was also an animal trainer, raised the cub to be gentle, and Humeston eventually included Fagan and several other lions in an act for the Kelly and Moore Bros. Circus. Just like his onscreen alter ego, "Floyd Hilston," when Humeston was drafted, he could not find a suitable home for Fagan and took him with him to Ford Ord, CA. Fagan was eventually placed in the care of the nearby Monterey County Humane Society. According to contemporary information, Humeston received occasional leave from the U.S. Army to work as a technical advisor on the film. The Daily Variety review noted that "longtime cinema lion" "Jackie" stood in for Fagan in some sequences. According to a Hollywood Citizen-News article, by terms of Humeston's agreement with M-G-M, after the film was completed, Fagan remained as a resident of M-G-M's animal compound until Humeston's enlistment was up in October 1952. An item in the Hollywood Reporter column "Rambling Report" announced that M-G-M was planning a sequel to Fearless Fagan, but none was made.