There’s a important life lesson buried on the second page of an unnecessarily paginated, two-week-old State Journal-Register profile of an area recluse: If you some day rise to a level of even moderate fame, form letter responses to fan mail actually are as effective as, say, giving an actual shit.
Ray Fulk, a 71-year-old eccentric who bathed in a creek and drove a 1960s Ford, died alone last summer. Since he never married, had no children or family and didn’t count many people as friends, he had to make an odd choice when it came time to set up his last will: to whom would the bulk of his estate go when his time had come.
Brophy and Barton will each split proceeds from the estate, which “will likely amount to the high six figures after Ray’s 160 acres of farm ground are sold,” the S-JR reported. “Depending on the price paid per acre, and $10,000 an acre might not be far off, it could hit a million dollars.”
One million dollars. To two ’80s actors he never met. Yahtzee.
Barton and Brophy are acquainted with each other, having worked together in the 1981 Linda Blair vehicle “Hell Night.” But unless you’re an entertainment trivia nerd, chances are you don’t know these guys. Brophy starred as the title role in the television show Lucan, which ran for 12 episodes in 1977-78.
“Ray kept a Lucan poster on the wall of his house many years after the show went off the air,” the S-JR noted.
Barton is the more famous of the two actors, a “one-time teen idol” famous for his lead role in The Powers of Matthew Star (with Louis Gossett, Jr.!), and as Dr. Scott Grainger in the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless.
So why these two guys? Fulk’s friend and attorney, Donald Behle, explains:
Behle had acted as Ray’s attorney in an earlier civil matter, so in December 1997, Ray approached him to draw up his will, including the bequest to Brophy and Barton. I have a copy of the will. In it, Ray refers to Brophy and Barton as “my friends.”
“I found a couple of letters he had written to them,” says Behle. “They sent back responses that basically said thanks for writing and please watch me in whatever their next movie or show was.”
In the TV show “Lucan,” Brophy’s character had wolf-like powers when angered. Given his intense love of dogs, that must have appealed to Ray.
Behle says Ray felt an especially close, perhaps even telepathic, connection with Barton, probably because of one of Barton’s TV shows “The Powers of Matthew Star.” It ran for one season, 1981-82. Barton, co-starring with Louis Gossett Jr., played the title character. Among his powers, Star, an alien, was telepathic and could also move objects with his mind.
That seems very sweet. But also very sad.
Brophy and Barton were, justifiably, a bit skeptical when Behle called. Barton, though, flew to Central Illinois and the story checked out. Behle is currently trying to persuade the actors to come to Illinois for a fundraiser in their benefactor’s honor, with the proceeds going to Fulk’s beloved animal shelters.
It’s literally the least they can do.
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