Friday, January 29, 2010

Fast Eddy No. 5 Celebrates 101st

Pool Shark "Fast Eddy" Halliday celebrated his 101st birthday this week. "That's right (I was) a pool shark," Halliday told a newspaper reporter. "(And) I was pretty good. I took on all comers."

Halliday was featured on the occasion of his birthday in a recent article in the Longview (Texas) News-Journal. He has made Longview his home for the last quarter century.

To Halliday's credit, the old hustler never claims to have been THE Fast Eddy -- that is, he never claims that he was the template for the "Fast Eddy" Felson character from The Hustler & The Color of Money. Several others have made that claim or allowed it to be suggested of them.

Over the years I've come across any number of journalistic references to random Fast Eddies. I won't claim that all of these guys proclaimed they were the real Fast Eddy, although some of them did.

*There's Ronnie "Fast Eddy" Allen, the One-Pocket legend from California.

*There's Louisiana's Ed Taylor, the Bank-Pocket genius also known as the Knoxville Bear.

*There was Ed Parker from Texas.

*There's California's Ed Pelkey who died in 1983.

And of course Rudolf Wanderone made quite a career for himself claiming that he was the original Minnesota Fats. Walter Tevis, the author of The Hustler, said there's nothing to any of these claims. Speaking to columnist Ray McHugh of the Pittsburgh Press in 1983, Tevis said: "I'm weary of explaining this. Nobody believes you when you tell them you invent your own characters."

-- R.A. Dyer

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