Lou Cutell, the actor who played The Amazing Larry in “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” passed away on Sunday. During a career that spanned well over fifty years, he acted in an extraordinary number of diverse movies and television shows. Besides my own film, my favorite thing Lou acted in was when he played an alien doctor in 1965’s “Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster.” In real life, he was wonderful—sweet, caring and unassuming. He was also slyly and wickedly funny.
Toward the beginning of “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” there was a scene in Mario’s Magic Shop that was cut from the finished movie where Lou, as The Amazing Larry, is working on a levitating toupee trick. A little later, when I’m unraveling in my basement and yell at Lou “Is this something you can share with the rest of us, Amazing Larry?!” the movie studio told Tim Burton and I that it would have to also be cut because no one knew who Amazing Larry was. I assured them that it would stand alone as a joke—that between him being busted for whispering during a very tense scene, a middle-aged man with a rainbow mohawk, and being named Amazing Larry, the audience would laugh.
Lou was surrounded by family who loved him when he passed. A couple of days before, I was lucky enough to be able to tell him how much he meant to me and that I’d never forget him. It’s obvious and corny to say, but nevertheless true: he was amazing.
Rest In Peace, Lou