Hot Springs Gets Slapped With Double-Secret Probation as ‘Otter’ From ‘Animal House’ Leads Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The entire city of Hot Springs will be on Double-Secret Probation on March 17, 2012, when Delta House Romeo Eric (Otter) Stratton defies Dean Vernon Wormer once again and leads a parade through downtown.

Tim Matheson, who played Otter in the legendary 1978 comedy “Animal House” among dozens of other notable roles, will be the celebrity grand marshal for Hot Springs’ First Ever Ninth Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“Tim will fit perfectly with our parade’s atmosphere of outrageous playfulness,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs. “I’m told he still enjoys the attention that his role as Otter brought him, even though he’s gone on to an amazing career in more serious roles on television and in the movies.”

The 98-foot World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade has grown to international acclaim as it annually draws more than 30,000 people to Hot Springs’ Bridge Street, the World’s Shortest Street in Everyday Use. The 2012 parade has been named by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of its Top 20 Events for the year.

“St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday in 2012,” Arrison said. “So we have expanded the activities to a full day of fun and frivolity. We’ll have the classic rock band .38 Special to play for the free post-parade street dance, and the organizing committee is considering ideas for other activities.”

Arrison said Oaklawn Racing & Gaming’s world-class Rebel Stakes will take place March 17, and many schools in Arkansas and surrounding states will be on spring break.

“These should combine for a huge gathering of Hot Springs residents and visitors in the city,” he said.

Matheson is currently starring in the hit show, “Hart of Dixie” on the CW Network. He plays Dr. Brick Breeland to Rachel Bilson’s Dr. Zoe Hart, who graduated top of her class from medical school and plans to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a cardio-thoracic surgeon. Breeland is less than pleased to be sharing his practice in a small Gulf Coast town with this young outsider, and his daughter, Lemon, is a Southern belle whose sweet disposition turns sour when she meets Zoe.

Matheson has had a variety of other well-known roles before and since his “Animal House” tour de force.

At the age of 13, he appeared as Roddy Miller in Robert Young’s CBS nostalgia comedy series “Window on Main Street” and provided the voice of the lead character in the cartoon program “Jonny (cq) Quest.” He was also the voice of Jace in the original animated series “Space Ghost.” In addition, he played the role of the oldest son, Mike Beardsley, in the film “Yours, Mine and Ours,” which starred Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda.

His other roles have included NBC’s “The Virginian” western series; “Night Gallery,” and “Bonanza.”

Also, the 1973 film Magnum Force,” and TV classic “My Three Sons” and “Leave It to Beaver.”

In the fall of 1976, Matheson appeared with Kurt Russell in the 15-episode NBC series “The Quest.”

His breakout 1978 role opposite John Belushi in “Animal House” was followed in 1979 opposite Belushi again in Steven Spielberg’s “1941.”

Other Matheson starring roles include: “Up the Creek”; the comedy “Fletch”; “To Be or Not to Be” starring Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft; “Tucker’s Witch.”

He had a recurring role as Vice President John Hoynes on “The West Wing,” for which he earned two Primetime Emmy award nominations for Best Guest Star in a Drama Series.

Matheson, along with business partner Dan Grodnik, bought National Lampoon magazine (which was responsible for “Animal House”) in 1989 when the magazine was facing financial decline. They were unable to reverse the magazine’s fortunes, however, and sold it in 1991.

He went on to act in more than 100 film and television projects.

In addition to playing Sheriff Matthew Donner in the short-lived “Wolf Lake,” he has directed episodes of “Third Watch,” “Ed,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Cold Case,” “Without a Trace,” “The West Wing,” “Burn Notice,” “Psych,” “White Collar,” and “Criminal Minds.”

In 2009, Matheson directed the pilot episode of “Covert Affairs,” a series on the USA Network, and directed the pilot for FOX television series “The Good Guys” in Dallas.

For more information about the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade call Steve Arrison at 501-321-2027.