The 1954 sci-fi classic 'Them!' is riddled with soon-to-be-famous TV stars… and giant ants
Where else can you see Daniel Boone, Marshal Matt Dillon and Mr. Spock face massive bugs?
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Japan had Godzilla, we had giant ants. Them! stands as the ultimate American example of the "gigantic irradiated monster" films that drew teenagers to drive-ins and double features in the 1950s. The horror flick had a huge influence on popular culture. Van Morrison even named his British Invasion band Them after the movie. It is a pretty awesome title.
The (Oscar-nominated) creature effects kept audiences on the edge of their seat munching popcorn. But we're here to applaud the unheralded genius behind Them! — the casting director.
Released in 1954, Them! showcases a swarm of future television stars. And many of them were uncredited in tiny roles. You really have to keep your eyes peeled for them.
First, let's take a look at the obvious headliners. James Arness is the closest thing to an action hero in the story, a manly FBI agent named Robert Graham. That's him in the goggles in the upper left. One year later, he would kick off his two-decade run as Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke.
Another frontier hero in an atypical role is Fess Parker, who turns up midway through the narrative as a pilot in a mental hospital. His character reported seeing the ants as a UFO and begs Arness to believe him. He wears a bathrobe and disheveled hair. It's a far cry from his rugged portrayals of American icons Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.
All the aforementioned fellows are credited. It gets more interesting when you dig into the uncredited walk-on roles.
Take Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, who receives and reads a telegram as a soldier in the communications room. The Star Trek legend was just 23 at the time in one of his earliest screen roles.
Quite early in the film, you might recognize an ambulance EMT as a quite familiar TV face. It is William Schallert, who had recurring roles as Mr. Leander Pomfritt on Dobie Gillis and father Martin Lane on The Patty Duke Show. He also turned up on The Andy Griffith Show, The Waltons and dozens of other classics.
And now we get to perhaps the most interesting uncredited role. Maybe.
You see, Dick York, a.k.a. Darrin Stephens of Bewitched, is said to have an uncredited role as "Teenager in Police Station." You can find references to this all over the internet, included on IMDb. But here's the thing. When you watch the scene — and it is a flash — the young man doesn't look exactly like York. See for yourself:
Does the dude in the middle look like York? For comparison, here is what he looked like in an educational film seven years earlier, in 1947:
Does anyone know for certain if this is York? Tell us in the comments!
And look for all of these stars when Svengoolie presents… Them!