Brigadier General Kendall J. Fielder
Burroughs Photo ~ Fielder Sketch ~ Burroughs Painting by son John Coleman Burroughs
Escape On Venus released by ERB Inc. in 1946 with the dedication: "To Brigadier General Kendall J. Fielder"
Tarzan and "The Foreign Legion" released by ERB, Inc. in 1947: Contains a Col. Fielder / Witch Doctor Reference
Brigadier General Kendall “Wooch” Jordan Fielder (August 1, 1893 – April 13, 1981) was known by his friends as "Wooch" a nickname given him by sport-writers when he was a star football player at Georgie Tech. General Fielder was an influential World War II veteran, who settled in Hawaii, and testified before Congress in favor of statehood. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, then Lieutenant Colonel Fielder was the U.S. Army G-2 Chief of Intelligence and Security. He received many decorations for his service to the Hawaiian homefront and his stellar record with the US Army.
Fielder was a wartime friend and bridge partner of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the two socialized at many parties and other events. It was at one of these parties on November 17, 1942 that Fielder wrote in ERB's autograph book: "Best Aloha to my good friend Ed Burroughs ~ Kendall J. Fielder - Col. GSC - G-2" (See ERBzine 2778). Burroughs mentioned him many times in his letters home as can be seen in my Lost Words of ERB section. According to one of these 1944 letters Fielder was an accomplished parlor magician and a member in good standing of the Society of American Magicians.
The two men exchanged many letters during and after the war. I had correspondence with Fielder's grandson-in-law back in 2007 who had letters from the General. He even had a poem that ERB had written for Fielder and according to these letters Fielder had recommended Burroughs for the BMTC and also asked ERB to write the "Laugh It Off" columnns. Later he apparently helped with arrangements to get Burroughs back to California.
"Best Aloha to my good friend Ed Burroughs"
~ Kendall J. Fielder - Col. GSC - G-2
Besides dedicating Escape On Venus to Fielder, ERB poked fun at his wartime friend in Tarzan and "The Foreign Legion" by picturing him dressed up as a witch doctor.
" I had a friend in Honolulu when I was stationed at Hickam, who was as good as any professional I have ever seen. Paint Colonel Kendall J. Fielder black, dress him up in a breechclout and a feather headdress, give him some odds and ends of bones and pieces of wood and a zebra's tale, and turn him loose in Africa; and he'd have all the other witch doctors green with envy.
"And what he could do with cards! I used to play bridge against him, and he always won. Of course his game was on the level, but he had two strikes on you before you started--just like Tarzan's witch doctors had on their victims. You just autosuggested yourself to defeat. It was humiliating, too," added Jerry, "because I am a very much better bridge player than he." (Chapter 25)
After the war General Fielder served as technical adviser for the film From Here to Eternity and actor Bill Edwards played Colonel Fielder in the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!
Author Max Allan Collins even worked ERB's friend into his 2001 book: Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Pearl Harbor Mysteries. As the story opens, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Hully are enjoying their time together on Oahu. Ed agrees to arrange a meeting between a sultry Amerasian singer, Pearl Harada, and Army Intelligence Chief Col. Kendall Fielder. Pearl needs to persuade Col. Fielder that she loves his son and wants his blessing so they can marry. The next morning, a scream awakens Ed, who runs outside to find Pearl's corpse on the beach. Unable to resist investigating her death, Ed begins making inquiries. He wonders if one of Pearl's string of ex-lovers had killed her . . . or perhaps Bill's outraged dad, Col. Fielding, had murdered her . . . or perhaps someone had silenced her because she knew too much on the following day? The killing is written off as the tragic result of a lovers’ quarrel, but Burroughs suspects that the alluring half-Japanese singer was executed by espionage agents. It’s December 6, 1941. War with Japan is looming, and Burroughs has reason to suspect an attack on Oahu is imminent. Was the songstress silenced to prevent her from “singing” about certain sinister plans? As Burroughs and his son Hully search for clues and track down suspects, all signs point to the next day—Sunday—as the perfect time for a Japanese invasion. But the thought of such devastation raining down on paradise seems almost unbelievable….
. . . Chatting with Collins where he was Guest of Honour at the 2005 Dum-Dum I was impressed by the excellent job that Collins had done of researching ERB's life and affairs, even using his famous "O.B." moniker ("Old Burroughs") throughout the story. Burroughs comes to life as a credible and interesting human being.
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