Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy birthday today to…

Sam Wood (1883, motion picture director who helmed two Marx Brothers films—A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races—in addition to classics like Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Devil and Miss Jones and The Pride of the Yankees)

Graham McNamee (1888, legendary radio sports announcer and sidekick to Ed Wynn’s “Fire Chief” [“Tonight the program’s going to be different, Graham”])

Robert Barrat (1889, peerless stage, film and television character actor best-remembered here at TDOY as “Sperry” in Hope and Crosby’s Road to Utopia)

Slim Summerville (1892, tall, lanky comic second banana who started out as a Keystone Kop and later appeared in several feature films with the incomparable ZaSu Pitts)

John Gilbert (1897, legendary silent-sound film leading man who co-starred in several films opposite Greta Garbo [Flesh and the Devil, A Woman of Affairs, Queen Christina])

Thomas Gomez (1905, peerless stage, film and television character actor best-remembered here at TDOY for his roles in film noirs like Ride the Pink Horse, Key Largo, Force of Evil and The Woman on Pier 13)

Bert Granet (1910, television producer who played a large role in bringing both The Twilight Zone and The Untouchables to the boob tube)

Robert Lees (1912, blacklisted movie comedy writer who, with partner Frederic I. Rinaldo, gave birth to classics like Hold That Ghost, Crazy House, The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap…and Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein)

Joe Shuster (1914, co-creator of Superman and cousin to Saturday Night Live writer Rosie Shuster [for the Canadians in the audience])

Reg Smythe (1917, creator of Andy Capp)

Jean Kerr (1922, humor writer whose best-selling Please Don’t Eat the Daisies became a film in 1960 and a situation comedy in 1965-67, wife of film critic Walter)

Earl Hamner, Jr. (1923, 87, television writer/producer whose famous creation, The Waltons, is still despised by my father to this very day)

Fred Gwynne (1926, pictured with Al “Grandpa” Lewis, peerless character actor and television icon [Car 54, Where are You?, The Munsters])

Carlton Carpenter (1926, 84, MGM male ingénue immortalized as Debbie Reynolds’ duet partner on Aba Daba Honeymoon [from the film Two Weeks with Love])

George Clayton Johnson (1929, 81, legendary television scribe remembered for his contributions to The Twilight Zone [“A Penny For Your Thoughts,” “Kick the Can,” “A Game of Pool”])

Bruce Boa (1930, Canadian character actor best-remembered at TDOY for his roles in Full Metal Jacket [“Now answer my question or you’ll be standing tall before the Man”] and as the obnoxious American tourist in the Fawlty Towers episode “Waldorf Salad”)

Nick Adams (1931, actor [Rebel Without a Cause, Pillow Talk] and TV Rebel)

Jumpin’ Gene Simmons (1933, one-hit wonder [Haunted House])

Ivan Passer (1933, 77, Czech-born film director of Law and Disorder, Silver Bears and cult fave Cutter’s Way)

Tura Satana (1935, 75, smokin’ hot cult film actress [Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, The Astro-Zombies, The Doll Squad])

Lawrence Pressman (1939, 71, affable television actor best-remembered as Doogie Howser’s boss)

Mills Watson (1940, 70, classically-trained Shakespearian actor who achieved television fame as the inept Deputy Perkins on B.J. and the Bear and The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo [he’s also Stacy Keach’s sidekick in the Cheech & Chong classic Up in Smoke])

Ian Whitcomb (1941, 69, one-hit wonder [You Turn Me On])

Robert Pine (1941, 69, peerless film and television character actor best-remembered here at TDOY as Ponch and Jon’s boss on TV’s CHiPs)

Phil Gingrey (1942, 68, Georgia congressman and…yes, un dickhead formidable)

Ron Glass (1945. 65, peerless stage, film and television character actor best-remembered here at TDOY as the sartorially splendid Detective Harris on TV’s Barney Miller)

Sue Lyon (1946, 64, Lo-li-ta)

Arlo Guthrie (1947, 63, singer-songwriter, star of 1969 film Alice’s Restaurant and son of folk music legend Woody)

Mark Shera (1949, 61, television actor best-remembered here at TDOY as grandson Jedediah Romano “J.R.” Jones on TV’s Barnaby Jones)

Greg Kihn (1950, 60, two-hit wonder [The Breakup Song, Jeopardy])

Gina Bellman (1966, 44, smokin’ hot comedic actress seen on TV’s Leverage but holds a special place in my heart as the nymphomaniac Jane Christie in the Britcom Coupling)

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7 comments:

Linda said...

Yeah, my dad hated The Waltons, too, but he hated Little House on the Prairie more. Which explains why I got to watch the former on the one color TV in the house, but not the latter.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Yeah, my dad hated The Waltons, too, but he hated Little House on the Prairie more. Which explains why I got to watch the former on the one color TV in the house, but not the latter.

See, I should have moved in with you--my memory may be a little flawed, but it seemed like at the time I was forced at gunpoint to watch Little House on the Prairie, a show I continue to despise to this very day.

It was hysterical to watch my father sit through an episode of The Waltons. "You people aren't poor!" he would shout at the TV set. "You own your own business! Look at the piece of land you own, ferchrissake!" Seriously, had Hammer written the show the way my father experienced the Depression most of that family would have perished after a handful of episodes due to a mass suicide pact.

Scott C. said...

Not to be un dickhead formidable, but I believe it's Earl Hamner (unless he was moonlighting as a two-fisted private dick formidable).

And I request that we also take a moment to celebrate Ron Glass's late in life, and out of the blue career resurrection on the cult sci-fi series Firefly and the subsequent movie, Serenity. He was pretty amazing in the role of Shepherd Book, and -- like the Dude's rug -- really tied the thing together.

And while I suppose a man should be remembered for his best work -- and Sam Wood was definitely associated with more classic films than many directors of his era -- I can't get past Wood's descent into anti-commie paranoia in the mid-40s, nor his founding of the red-baiting Motion Picture Association, which according to Marc Norman's book on the history of screening, What Happens Next?, did much to fatally weaken whatever moral authority Hollywood had to resist the HUAC witch hunts.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Not to be un dickhead formidable, but I believe it's Earl Hamner

You're not...and I knew that. It's just that my Microsoft Word is stupider than your average word processors. But the correction has been made, and I thank you profusely for pointing out my blunder.

And I request that we also take a moment to celebrate Ron Glass's late in life, and out of the blue career resurrection on the cult sci-fi series Firefly and the subsequent movie, Serenity

Your request has been noted--and I must plead ignorance here because although I once walked among sci-fi geeks (like Jane Goodall and her gorillas) I must reluctantly confess I've not seen either of these productions. (Heck, I had to restrain myself from including the fact that he played Felix Unger in the black reboot of TV's The Odd Couple.)

And while I suppose a man should be remembered for his best work -- and Sam Wood was definitely associated with more classic films than many directors of his era -- I can't get past Wood's descent into anti-commie paranoia in the mid-40s, nor his founding of the red-baiting Motion Picture Association

Again--don't think I didn't consider bringing this up. But I already assigned the "un dickhead formidable" to loathsome Congressman Phil Gingrey on the list, and I've been trying to behave myself by restraining from further editorial comment, limiting myself to one a day.

But thanks for the book suggestion...I've heard of What Happens Next? and when I get two nickels to rub together I'll see about tracking down a copy.

Scott C. said...

I figured you were tempted to rake Wood over the coals, but were just too gentlemanly. (Also, Satan's probably already handling that as we speak.)

And absolutely -- if anyone is deserving of the UDF crown today, it's indisputably the self-professed "Georgia Peach." (Maybe it's just me, but I always thought Gingrey's mustache made him look super gay. Now that he's shaved it off, though, he just looks repressed. Kinda sad.)

Brent McKee said...

As your resident Canadian I thought I should tell you that Joe Shuster is Rosie Shuster's First Cousin Once Removed. Rosie's father was Frank Shuster of the Canadian comedy team of Wayne & Shuster (they were, among other things, the act with the most appearances on the "Ed Sullivan Show"). His father and Joe's father were brothers.

Oh, and Lawrence Pressman didn't play Doogie Howser's pop, he played his boss at the hospital. Doogie's dad was played by James Sikking, best known for playing Lt. Howard Hunter on "Hill Street Blues."

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

As your resident Canadian

I love this. Don't think I'm not going to pick this up and run with it.

I thought I should tell you that Joe Shuster is Rosie Shuster's First Cousin Once Removed.

Oh, and Lawrence Pressman didn't play Doogie Howser's pop, he played his boss at the hospital. Doogie's dad was played by James Sikking, best known for playing Lt. Howard Hunter on "Hill Street Blues."


I have made both corrections, your residentness...and thanks for keeping me honest. I blame the Shuster thing on the notoriously reliable IMDb (*cough*) and the Howser deal on the fact that I have never seen an episode of that show (though when you jogged my memory about Sikking, I said: "Son of a gun, he's right!")