Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 08/26/2019

Rod Lauren may be unique among singers with a one-hit-wonder: he also starred in a movie that was spoofed on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Rod grew up near Fresno. In high school, rather than starting out as a singer, he played the trombone. After graduating, he began singing ballads at a nearby club. His backup group was called the Buddies. Rod was signed to RCA Records in 1959 and near the end of the year his first single was released: If I Had A Girl.

Rod promoted the record mostly with television appearances, including singing his hit on the Ed Sullivan Show and Amercian Bandstand. In early 1960 the record peaked at #31. Other singles followed, but none of them reached the charts.

Rod continued singing at clubs in the California and Las Vegas areas to support himself while he worked towards an acting career. A few television appearances got him on his way.

He starred in six films in 1963 and 1964 and appeared in several more in the following years. The only notable film was The Crawling Hand, a low budget horror film that MST3K used in one of their episodes as a background for their jokes.

When his acting career followed his singing career into oblivion, Rod moved to Manilla and married a successful comedy actress in 1979.

The marriage did not have a happy ending. In 2001, his wife was attacked and killed by repeated stabbings. The man arrested for the murder eventually admitted to the killing but claimed that he had been hired by Rod. Rod returned to the US before charges could be placed. While he was arrested in the US, a judge ruled that evidence in Manilla was insufficient and blocked his extradition. It appears that the murderer also admitted to making up the story about Rod hiring him.

All of this took a toll on Rod; in 2007 he killed himself by jumping from a second-floor balcony.


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