Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy birthday today to...

Henry Louis (H.L.) Mencken (1880, “The Sage of Baltimore,” newspaperman, Baltimore Sun columnist and scathing social critic)

Maurice Chevalier (1888, French actor-vocalist who can be seen thanking heaven for little girls in such vehicles as The Love Parade, The Smiling Lieutenant, One Hour With You, Love Me Tonight, The Merry Widow, Love in the Afternoon and Gigi)

Sol M. Wurtzel (1890, motion picture producer who headed up the B-picture unit at 20th Century-Fox between 1932 and 1949 cranking out Charlie Chan movies, Mr. Moto vehicles, Laurel & Hardy films, etc.)

Billy Gilbert (1894, pictured with Shemp Howard, peerless comic actor whose finest moment onscreen is that of the befuddled Joe Pettibone in His Girl Friday; also appeared in A Night at the Opera, Destry Rides Again, The Great Dictator and more shorts/features at the Hal Roach Studio than Carter has little liver pills)

Alice Lake (1895, silent-sound screen actress who worked alongside Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle in many of his classic comedy shorts; can also be seen in Blackie’s Redemption, The Lion’s Den, I Am the Law and The Unknown Purple)

Walter B. Gibson (1897, American author and magician who, under the pen name of Maxwell Grant, wrote nearly 300 novel-length pulp fiction stories featuring the character known as…The Shadow!)

Ben Blue (1901, eccentric film, stage and television comedian seen in such vehicles as College Swing, Panama Hattie, The Russians are Coming The Russians are Coming and The Busy Body; also appeared alongside fellow birthday boy Billy Gilbert in a series of Taxi Boys shorts produced by Hal Roach during the 1930s)

Shep Fields (1910, popular bandleader of film, radio and television whose orchestra was known for its “rippling rhythm” music style)

Desmond Llewelyn (1914, British character thesp who’s a veteran of many films and television shows but is best known as “Q,” the snappish inventor of 007’s nifty gadgets in the popular James Bond films until his death in 1999)

Frank McGee (1915, NBC journalist/anchorman best known as the co-host of Today from 1971-74; also co-anchored the NBC Nightly News from 1970-71 and was newscaster on radio’s Monitor in the 1960s)

Paul Killiam (1916, silent film revivalist whose restorations of many movie classics on public television introduced me to the art of silent cinema)

Edward Binns (1916, TDOY character actor god seen in such vehicles as Without Warning!, 12 Angry Men, Compulsion, Judgment at Nuremberg, Fail-Safe, Night Moves and The Verdict; also starred in TV’s Brenner and did voiceovers for a bazillion boob tube commercials)

Irene Dailey (1920, film and television actress best remembered as Liz Matthews on the daytime drama Another World)

Hughes Rudd (1921, CBS journalist/anchorman who co-anchored the CBS Morning News from 1969-77, and then did commentary on the program until 1979)

Ella Mae Morse (1924, actress-vocalist seen in such films as Reveille with Beverly, The Sky’s the Limit, Ghost Catchers, How Doooo You Do!!! and South of Dixie)

Dickie Moore (1925, 85, former Our Ganger who was already a child actor success in such vehicles as The Star Witness, The Squaw Man, Million Dollar Legs, Blonde Venus, Gabriel Over the White House, Man’s Castle and Upper World)

Don Hayden (1926, film and television character actor who cashed quite a few paychecks playing Freddie Wilson, the loafer boyfriend of Margie Albright on the sitcom My Little Margie)

Bill McKinney (1931, 79, film and television character great who, along with Herbert “Cowboy” Coward, plays one of the most terrifying villains in movie history in Deliverance…but I personally prefer his turn as the assassin in the 1974 cult classic The Parallax View)

George Jones (1931, 79…not only the greatest country singer of all time, but the man who recorded the greatest country tearjerker of all time—and don’t let anyone tell you different)

Ian Holm (1931, 79, veteran British character thesp seen in such vehicles as Nicholas and Alexandra, Young Winston, Juggernaut, Robin and Marian, Alien, Chariots of Fire, Time Bandits, Brazil and Dance with a Stranger)

Skip Hinnant (1940, 70, film, television and stage actor who appeared in a handful of Patty Duke Show episodes but is better known for his work on PBS’ The Electric Company—particularly as Fargo North, Decoder—and as the voice of Fritz the Cat)

Linda Gray (1940, 70, film and television actress whose boob tube legacy is that of dipsomaniacal Sue Ellen Ewing on the long-running Dallas)

Maria Muldaur (1943, 67, pop music vocalist [Midnight at the Oasis])

Barry White (1944, legendary R&B great who’s our first…our last…our everything)

Bruce Mahler (1950, 60, comic actor who’s best known as the hapless Douglas Fackler in the Police Academy movies; I’ve always suspected that his previous association with Michael Richards as a Fridays cast member got him a couple of Seinfeld gigs as a comical rabbi)

Cynthia Myers (1950, 60, former Playboy Playmate whose notoriety got her cast in the 1970 cult classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls…but not much afterward)

Joe “Joey Pants” Pantoliano (1951, 59, colorful character thesp seen in such vehicles as Risky Business, The Goonies, Running Scared, Midnight Run, The Fugitive, Bound and U.S. Marshals; also did a number of TV shows including The Fanelli Boys, The Sopranos and The Handler)

Tom Fontana (1951, 59, Emmy Award-winning writer-producer who worked on such TV classics as St. Elsewhere, Homicide: Life on the Street and Oz; I think Pam’s husband went to school with this guy but I’m not 100% on that)

Peter Scolari (1955, 55, television icon [Goodtime Girls, Bosom Buddies, Newhart, Dweebs, Honey I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show])

Nina Blackwood (1955, 55, smokin’ hot MTV VJ who seems to have vanished from the planet [IMDb says she was a Sirius radio personality…which is pretty much the same thing])

Hans Zimmer (1957, 53, former Buggles member who has since eked out a career as a motion picture composer whose oeuvre includes Rain Man, Driving Miss Daisy, Thelma & Louise, A League of Their Own, True Romance, The Lion King and Crimson Tide)

Rachel Ward (1957, 53, English actress best known for her work on the TV miniseries The Thorn Birds but can also be glimpsed in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Against All Odds, After Dark, My Sweet and Wide Sargasso Sea)

Amy Yasbeck (1960. 50, film and television actress best known for her roles as Casey Chapel Davenport on the sitcom Wings and as Carol Leifer’s sister on the short-lived Alright Already; widow of John Ritter)

Darren E. Burrows (1966, 44, film and television actor best known as cinephile Ed Chigliak on TV’s Northern Exposure)

Louie C.K. (1967, 43, stand-up comedian whose TV show Louie gets major thumbs-ups from blogging colleagues Rick Brooks and Doghouse Riley; the only thing I’ve seen him on, however, is a story arc on Parks and Recreation)

Paul F. Tompkins (1968, 42, stand-up comedian who hosted VH-1’s Best Week Ever and is a frequent presence on Real Time with Bill Maher and Countdown with Keith Olbermann; also seen on DAG and Mr. Show with Bob and David)

Jennifer Nettles (1974, 36, female lead vocalist with country-pop band Sugarland)

Addendum: I didn't realize until about fifteen minutes ago that today is also the mumble-mumbleth birthday of World O'Crap founder and puppy/kitten savior S.Z. Happy birthday, my most esteemed blog mentor...and many, many more to come!

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hobbyfan said...


Best Week Ever aired on VH1, not USA, and was cancelled some months back, not long after Paul F. Tompkins took over as host.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Duly noted and corrected...thank you, good sir.