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‘Hell on Wheels’ star sparks memories

CullenMaybe, I’ve been doing this job a little too long. Or maybe, I’ve been doing it just long enough.

I had a chance to sit down with Anson Mount to talk about his very under appreciated cable series “Hell on Wheels.” If you aren’t watching, pick up the first two seasons on DVD to get ready for the third season that starts in August.

We talked a lot about the series, his acting career and finally his early years growing up in White Bluff, Tenn., a town that is little more than a bump in the road. I’m familiar with it because I grew up only a few miles away in a town that doesn’t even qualify as a bump. I asked Mount how he was able to go from such a small town to a professional acting career.

“My parents really supported me. My father was a journalist and he did a lot of traveling,” Mount tells me.

This gives me the opening to ask him a question that I’ve wanted to ask him for years. He has the same name as the man who was the chief sports writer for Playboy magazine for years.

“That’s my father,” Mount says.

Mount was surprised to hear that 34 years ago, I was in his house in White Bluff where I did an interview with his dad. At the time, I was working as a sports writer for a small newspaper in southern Kentucky that wasn’t that many miles from his home. The interview was easy to remember because Mount’s dad grilled steaks for us to have during the talk. We chatted all afternoon, first about his days with Playboy and then about journalism.

The veteran writer was so passionate about writing and very supportive when I told him that I was only writing sports because I needed a job. My true interest was entertainment. He told me that the only thing stopping me was myself and I should try to make the switch. It took a few years, but I took his advice and have had me dream job ever since.

“That was the way my dad was. He was always outgoing and willing to help,” Mount says.

The veteran writer died in 1986 and I never got to tell him how much that short time we spent together meant to me. I got to tell his son and that felt right.

To complete this strange story, I decided to do a Google search on my phone to check the exact date of Mount’s death. After typing in “ANSON MOUNT AND PLAYBOY” the second story that popped up was my interview with him that published Oct. 1, 1979. There was my story and the photo I shot of Mount at his home.

It’s been a long time but the circle feels complete.

Responses to "‘Hell on Wheels’ star sparks memories"

Joetta Koch says:

Mr. Bentley: I have been reading your reviews & articles for years in the Fresno Bee & just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the article “Hell on Wheels Star Sparks Memories.” First of all I am a huge fan of HoW & Anson Mount. You are so very correct in you evaluation, it is so very under appreciated. Jus wanted to let you know that I have read many articles on both the show & the actor & am very proud to say that the most touching article I’ve read is from my hometown newspaper. The article was personal & from the heart, worlds apart from the usual drivel of questions that is asked of Mr. Mount. Thank you, and I will continue to read any article that has your byline.

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