Sergio Aragones is a famous cartoonist known mostly for his contributions to Mad Magazine. The Spanish-born artist lives in the US, residing in the beautiful town of Ojai in Southern California. He is haunted by the notion that he “killed Marty Feldman.” Of course, this is not the case, nor are the rumors that Marty died of shellfish poisoning or any other such nonsense. Marty came from a long line of men who suffered from dodgy heart conditions, exacerbated by abusing their bodies with booze and heavy smoking of cigarettes. Marty’s father died relatively young and Marty himself was convinced he would not live past the age of fifty. Sadly, he was right.
Marty and Sergio crossed paths in Mexico where Marty was shooting the film Yellowbeard. Sergio found himself in the same location as Marty but on a separate movie set. Sergio was dressed as a policeman, in character for a small film acting role. He heard that huge stars were nearby shooting a pirate film. When he heard who was in the film he only wanted to meet one — Marty.
Marty had taken to strolling around the area and meeting people. He was almost finished with his principal photography and was a couple days away from returning to his lovely wife and their home in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles. Marty had been suffering from a damaged coccyx bone. He had injured himself many times over his life but it really took a toll after he shot the film Silent Movie. He had several horrible falls. Marty had been complaining of a lower back pain for a couple of years. He passed a medical exam that was performed prior to him leaving for England to do pre-production for the film.
Marty in London – August 29, 1982
Marty was in great spirits and was excited to catch up with his pals Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Peter Cook, Spike Milligan and Eric Idle. The movie didn’t have a great script but the idea of shooting in a warm location after a short trip to England seemed like a great idea to Marty. Everybody who knew him said he was in great form and looked healthy. He was coming out of a rough period creatively. His movie In God We Trust was mostly ignored due to the studio freaking out about the “anti-religious content” of the film and burying it promotion-wise. Marty was neither anti-religious nor was he trying to change anyone’s mind about their beliefs. He found the subject matter of Evangelicalism hysterical and worthy of parody. The offer to join a cast of friends on a silly film was a choice he made to escape his confines.
Marty had a blast on set and, despite the artistic challenge, he was in his element. As previously chronicled, he was connecting with David Bowie about a project they had spoken about working together on. He had also made a nice friendship with the great actor James Mason. They met years earlier at an awards show in Los Angeles and enjoyed each other’s company. Mason had purchased Buster Keaton’s expansive estate and had restored it to its splendor and Marty liked to visit. He even brought Buster’s widow to the house at her request, and she loved meeting James and his family.
Here now is Sergio’s famed cartoon about “his account of meeting Marty” on location in Mexico, the day before he died of a heart attack.
One last note on Marty’s health. Marty had an appointment with a great doctor in Los Angeles that was scheduled for December 5, 1982. He never made it. Lauretta was informed by the doctor who reviewed Marty’s files that he had severely blocked arteries and if he had suffered the heart attack in Los Angeles he would have survived bypass surgery. Graham Chapman told Lauretta a harrowing story about Marty’s last moments. Graham was called to Marty’s bedside in his hotel room. Graham had been a doctor before entering a career in show business. Graham said that an ambulance was called but took almost forty-five minutes to arrive. Mexico City is renowned for its terrible traffic problems. The hotel where they were all staying had no emergency equipment. Graham sat with Marty holding his hand and promising him that he would tell Lauretta how much he loved her. Graham understandably never got over this.
Here now Sergio’s account:
Check out his website at SergioAragones.com