Catching Up With Spaulding Smails

A Few Minutes with Actor, Realtor and All-Around Fun Guy John Barmon

 One of the nice things about being alive in the social networking era is how so many people can be connected, even if only electronically. I have had the pleasure of meeting many people throughout the world that I either share an interest with or find interesting. That is how I met John Barmon and many others who have been great to be able to communicate with.

John Barmon as Spaulding Smails in Caddyshack

Spaulding Smails gets a free drink

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of Caddyshack[1], John Barmon who portrayed the unforgettable spoiled rich brat Spaulding Smails graciously agreed to talk with me about Caddyshack and his experiences and memories from the movie that means so much to anyone who has ever golfed, got drunk and vomited into a sunroof, picked their nose or was from the generation coming of age in the early 1980s.  

There are many movies that are hijacked by a quality supporting character, but rare is it that a very small role like the John Barmon’s portrayal of the obnoxious rich kid/grandson Spaulding Smails in Caddyshack is so memorable. John has a little more than a handful of lines and scenes in the movie and they are all priceless. More often than not Spaulding’s dialogue sets up the perfect one liner from his grandfather Ted Knight (Judge Smails) or offensive real estate developer/tycoon Rodney Dangerfield (Al Czervik.) So common in the vernacular of young men raised in the 1980s are the lines “You’ll get nothing and like it,” “Ahoy (sic) polloi,” and “Now I know why tiger’s eat their young” from this comedy classic. John Barmon either said the lines or set up the killer scene and dialogue with his hilarious mannerisms.

 John explained to me that he has no real idea of how he landed this role. It is a popular tale online how John accompanied his friend to the friend’s agent’s office and a couple of weeks later the agent wanted to speak to John about the role – not his friend. I have a sneaking suspicion it was obvious to the agent after meeting John that he was Spaulding.

 The cast and crew really had no clue how big the movie would become, and in fact in 1980 the movie did well in US theaters but it really developed a cult following and ballooned in popularity in the ensuing years. John was as surprised as anyone with how popular the movie became. The movie’s popularity also has grown with the popularity of golf. We all like to imagine that making a comedy that is so nonstop funny is a hilarious and joyous experience – John assured me that this was not the case for him making Caddyshack. Long, tedious days of hot humid Florida weather were the existence for the cast and crew during the shoot. 

John Barmon - Coldwell Banker Reality

John Barmon

When asked about the ad libbing and improvisation on the set John explained that about 50 % of the movie was scripted and the other half was ad libbed and developed on the spot. An example of an ad libbed scene is at the food stand (“You’ll get nothing and like it”) and the dinner party scene at the country club (“Now I know why tigers eat their young”) was scripted. John’s favorite memories were with his fellow supporting cast members Henry Wilcoxon (Bishop Pickering) and Dan Resin (Dr. Beeper)[2] who were both great guys to hang around with and the best time of the shoot was the weekend in Boca Raton where the country club dinner scene was filmed. 

Caddyshack was John’s first and only film role – he had done some acting up to that point and never had the desire to do it again. (I say “go out on top!”) John Barmon has enjoyed a successful real estate career over the past 15 years with Coldwell Banker in the Boston area – he assures me the market is improving! John luckily was not asked to be in the horrific Caddyshack II – you would have to think even Jackie Mason thinks this is a horrible movie – and has not had any urge to reenter the acting game. It was a fun experience at the time and he years later it provides good memories, stories and laughter for John and all of us.

 As a film buff I live in constant fear of remakes (I swear if I live long enough some idiot will remake The Godfather)– I asked John how he would feel if he were to find out Caddyshack was going to be remade? John had never really given the idea a thought but quipped “who would they get to play ME!?” Indeed – who would they get to play such a memorable role that was so perfectly played by John Barmon?

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[1] Caddyshack was released in the United States on July 25, 2010.

[2] Dan Resin is well known to my generation as the Tidy Bowl Man in television commercials of the 1970s.


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14 Responses to “Catching Up With Spaulding Smails”

  1. Bill Hennessey Says:

    Finally a Saporito piece that did not raise my blood pressure! Hahaha, just kidding Mike. I enjoyed this!

  2. Larry Says:

    Fun post, Mike. Did John mention any contact with Bill Murray?

  3. John Barmon Says:

    Hi Mike, wow, I’m blown away….that is probably one of the best pieces I’ve ever seen about my part in the movie.

    I’ve done quite a few interviews over the years and quite frankly have become very apprehensive about doing them; quotes taken out of context, less than flattering opinions about my role in the now infamous off screen partying, etc. and this was very true to the interview and also a very accurate account of the filming, so I thank you for that. Well done!

    Take care, my friend and I’ll hopefully see you at the next “Frank Booth’s Car” show!

    All the best,

    John Barmon

    • sapblatt Says:

      John – thanks for commenting – and I am flattered by your opinion of the article – first time I have penned a piece like this. I made a decision to avoid all the stuff everyone has heard – I heard about the party (yeah -well, who of us were not partying like maniacs in the ’80s?) and I am not about to become Joan/Melissa Rivers or Rona Barrett and start writing gossip about which stars are nice and which ones were jerks. It was fun to talk with you and fun to write – again – thank you and I am so glad you liked it. – Mike

    • lonestarcheeseheads Says:

      Good job, Fellas!

  4. Marty Says:

    Excellent job, Mike. Makes me want to visit a Porsche sun roof ; )

  5. Angie Frissore Says:

    Well done, Mike!

  6. skyeguy Says:

    Great piece Mike. Now “How about a Fresca?…Hmmm, Hummm?”

  7. Lee Ann Calandra Says:

    Great article Mike,. I just made the nnaaaa naaaa naaaa naahhh noise miniture golfing with my stepdaughter Sunday, she looked confused.
    She will understand soon enough after viewing that American classic.

    Oh, and how can we not think of a few of our old Ipswich friends while watching Spaulding & the Porsche scene,. Too Funny!

  8. karen Says:

    Great article, Mike. I should rent that movie again…

  9. lonestarcheeseheads Says:

    My friend & I just started a blog and made a very short entry about Caddyshack’s 30th. May I post a link from our blog to yours?

    (I am unsure of blog protocol.)


  10. Caddyshack follow-up: Spaulding Smails « Brian & Ed's Blog — LonestarCheeseheads Says:

    […] Smails in the movie. Mike has given me permission to link to his entry, which is definitely worth checking out!! Thanks […]

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