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Andy Warhol impersonator tricked UM 40 years ago

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40 years ago

Officials at the University of Montana have learned this week that the Andy Warhol who gave a lecture at UM last Oct. 3 was not the real Andy Warhol. It turns out that an actor named Allen Midgett made appearances at UM, the University of Utah, University of Oregon and Linfield College in Oregon impersonating the pop culture icon. An official at the University of Utah who knew the real Warhol was suspicious of the man who appeared at the Salt Lake City school in October and began investigating. Finally, the booking agent who arranged the speaking tour out West acknowledged that it was an imposter who had appeared as Warhol at the four schools. According to the booking agent, Warhol had hired Midgett to make appearances as Warhol. The booking agency has fired the staffer who accompanied the "fake" Warhol and was in on the hoax.

University of Montana Student Services director Ray Chapman said, "We have spoken to the owner of the booking agency and have received assurance that we will receive a full refund on our contract with them. Chapman said that it was unlikely UM would do business with Warhol's booking agency again.

Programming officials say that with this age of telecommunications and instant communications it would be nearly impossible for someone to pull off a hoax involving a well-known personality. Also, the financial liability that a booking agency would incur would make it not worth the risk.

Several Missoula-area grade schools have reported having problems with stray dogs coming onto the playgrounds. Mild weather in recent weeks has contributed to the problem. Cold Springs principal Hal Dale reports that his school has had problems with several dogs in recent days.

"We have had a group of dogs that come around every morning. At first the dogs and the children got along well, but we had problems recently," Dale says. No school officials report any students being bitten by dogs but several have been snapped at.

Along with dogs threatening students, there have been incidents where students have teased dogs. Principal John Alonzo reported that he had to take BB guns from a couple of boys who were planning to shoot at some of the dogs. Bonner Superintendent Leo Musburger told the Missoulian that they had to call the Missoula County Sheriff's Department to help remove a couple of vicious dogs from his playground. Musburger says, "A child is going to be injured before long unless people do a better job of keeping track of their dogs."

Over the last 40 years, stronger animal control laws and enforcement of those laws has led to fewer problems with animals on school grounds. Also, most schools strongly discourage students from touching or otherwise interacting with animals. Concerns about injuries to students have led school administrators to contact law enforcement more readily when dogs are a problem. As for students bringing BB guns or pellet guns to school in 2008, that is grounds for immediate suspension or expulsion.

Tuesday morning, Montana Gov. Tim Babcock announced that he will seek a second full term as governor in l968. Babcock has been the state's chief executive since the death in January l962 of Gov. Donald Nutter. Babcock's announcement creates a contest for the Republican nomination between Babcock and Lt. Gov. Ted James of Great Falls. The two Republicans were not an ideal team when they won the GOP nomination and then were elected in November of that year. Babcock and James have frequently clashed over policy matters, especially appointments made by James while acting governor in Babcock's absence. James appointed a political ally from Great Falls, Ernest Steele, to the Railroad Commission in l965 without consulting Babcock. James, in announcing his candidacy two weeks ago, hit at Babcock on the issue of a state sales tax and indicated that the sales tax issue would be a major topic in the primary.

Babcock and James had several spirited exchanges at joint appearances. The Missoulian editorial page editor Sam Reynolds commented that, "James and Babcock spent more time on the same stage as opponents than they had running together in l964." Babcock scored a narrow win in the primary but lost the general election. Neither James nor Babcock would seek political office after the l968 campaign. Babcock would return to business interests in the Billings area while James would spend more than a decade on the Montana State Board of Regents helping reform higher education in Montana.

Chris Walterskirchen is the Missoulian's community and sports historian. Reach him at 523-5245 or in writing at P.O. Box 8029, Missoula, MT 59807.

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