The 86th annual Academy Awards takes place Sunday and while Washington State University will not win any awards (although we'll keep an eye out for the flag on the red carpet) the Cougars still have a favorite when it comes to Best Actor, the incomparable John Candy.
Candy portrayed WSU engineering graduate Tom Tuttle from Tacoma in the 1985 movie Volunteers. Though the film is nearly 30 years old, Candy's portrayal of Tom Tuttle and his renditions of the WSU Fight Song only grows in popularity for Cougars with each passing year.
Twice in the film Candy sings the WSU Fight Song. During the first half of the film:
And later in this scene, after being captured by the communists.
As you can see, Candy is wearing a crimson jacket with the Cougar logo. He is seen with the jacket frequently throughout the movie.
The Fight Song also makes a brief third appearance in the film, sung by the communists as they attempt to take over a bridge in the movie's final stages. That scene is a spoof of the film "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and according to IMDb, "the Fight Song was used instead of the famous "Colonel Bogey March" from the movie."
So how was WSU graduate Tom Tuttle from Tacoma created?
In a 2012 blog entry, "Volunteers" co-writer Ken Levine explained this. His explanation was prompted because, incredibly, there really is a Tom Tuttle from Tacoma, and he wrote to Levine asking how he came up with the name.
"We honestly pulled the name out of the air. We wanted the character to be real gung ho and for contrast, hail from as far away from the east coast as possible."
Which is how the writers decided on WSU as the school Tom Tuttle hails from.
As Levine explains: "We wanted the school to be well known (they're in the Pac-10) but still a little offbeat. We checked out a few fight songs, liked WSU's the best and settled on that."
"Then we figured the character should hail from the state of Washington. Tacoma was sort of a funny sounding name and again, a city that was recognizable. We always pictured that the character was a little wired and whenever he introduced himself would say his name and where he's from…Somehow we came up with Tom Tuttle from Tacoma. We just liked the rhythm of it. If we had gone with Spokane it might have been Stan Stodell from Spokane."
For the record, the real Tom Tuttle did not attend WSU, but he did say in his correspondence with Levine that he did visit the school. You can read Levine's entire entry, dated Oct. 14, 2012, HERE
There you go Cougars. That's how fictional WSU grad Tom Tuttle from Tacoma came to be. If only he had a flag to wave in 1985.
By Jason Krump