"A life well-lived is a precious gift."
Walt was born in a trunk in Oklahoma City to silent film actors Lillie May and “Two-Gun” Montana (Monte) Williams who were touring with their latest film, but the birth was never listed in the official government records due to the death of the doctor before he filed the papers and later, a fire in the doctor's office which destroyed the existing records. While Walt was still a baby, his father died. Walt’s mother remarried to Jesse M. "Jim" Daugherty, who gave him his new surname, a much treasured Irish-name heritage and an authorized birth certificate. With his sense of humor, feel for fun and love of color, Walt was certainly meant to be an Irishman.
His prime love was ancient Egypt, especially anything about King Tut. Walt’s first talk on Tut was given in junior high school and his passion for the subject lasted a lifetime. Although he earned a Doctorate in Anthropology, Walt never professionally worked in the field, though he gave countless lectures to schools and various groups until just a few years ago when poor health cancelled the tradition.
He lived an active and full life. Always an active hobbyist, he was known as “Mr. Hobby” on host and friend Ron McCoy’s former KFI radio talk show, “The Night Owl Program”. Some of Walt’s hobbies included:
• Archaeology - after first talking on King Tut in junior high around 1932, he kept on reading, lecturing and keeping current for the rest of his life, working on several digs, including the search for DeMille's "Ten Commandments" sets in our nearby dunes.
• Science Fiction - charter member of LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society), founder of Westercon, chairman of the 1946 Pacificon World Science Fiction Convention, fanzine publisher, guest of honor or fan guest of honor at many conventions including the 1968 World Science Fiction Convention, recipient of the Evans-Freehafer Big Heart Award, emcee for countless conventions and events
• Tropical Fish, especially Bettas (Siamese Fighting Fish) - he was the Archivist for IBC (International Betta Congress), was awarded several Article of the Year Awards, and in 2002 was honored to receive the prestigious Gene Lucas Award in recognition of his years of service to IBC.
• Ballroom Dancing - over 600 awards, including the world championship in New York’s “Harvest Moon” competition (film of him dancing there appears in four different M*A*S*H episodes), won his first contest at age 9 and the final at age 71.
• Photography - hundreds of awards as an amateur competitor, plus professional work for several film-oriented magazines, including Forry Ackerman’s “Famous Monsters of Filmland”. (Forry and Walt were best friends for over 70 years.)
• Anecdotes, Stories and Puns - on any and every subject
• Plus Stamp Collecting, Parakeets (major prize winner with his parakeet King Tut), Aquariums, Auto Racing, Quick Draw (22/100ths of a second), Gardening, Model Building, Lapidary, Ceramics, Fishing, and Carpentry… among others… He even participated in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles in the gymnastics demonstration given there.
• Professionally, he was a production control manager for large manufacturing and aircraft companies, a private detective, a motion picture stand-in and stuntman (among others for Red Skelton, Robert Hutton, even Cary Grant), a photography instructor, a photographer for both the L.A. Libraries and the L.A. Convention Center, plus magazine and custom work, and a museum curator. He retired from the City of Los Angeles, where he held two positions, Curator of the Hollywood Museum (which was never opened to the public) and Photography Instructor at the Los Angeles Photo Center.
He was truly unique. We traveled this earthly path together for over 34 years, navigating past the rocks and potholes, which appear in all relationships, due to a soul-deep intense caring about each other. The last few years were difficult and frustrating for him, a active and vibrant man hampered by various physical limitations, but our own relationship grew stronger than ever. On Thursday, June 14, at age 90, he passed away peacefully in his sleep at home.
December 18, 1916 - June 14, 2007