Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy birthday and happy Thanksgiving, Noel Neill!

We have a lot of things to give thanks for today—but one for which I’m most grateful is that actress Noel Neill is celebrating her ninetieth natal anniversary, having been born in Minneapolis, MN on this date.  If you were a television obsessed kid like me—though to be honest, if you were anything like me I’d suggest you seek out some serious psychiatric help…for God’s sake, save yourself!—you know Ms. Neill as crusading gal reporter Lois Lane on the boob tube version of The Adventures of Superman.  She took over the role from Phyllis “Gypsy” Coates after the first twenty-six episodes but it seems only fair—Noel originated the role in the two serials Columbia cranked out based on The Man of Steel, Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950).

Neill’s early career in show biz found her often in demand as a photographic model (the legend has it that her popularity as a G.I. pinup gal was second only to Betty Grable) but her real ambition was to go into journalism (she is Lois!) like her father.  A singer-actor who was enjoying a bit of success at the time named Bing Crosby hired her to sing at a Del Mar race track nightclub and not long afterward she started popping up as an extra and in small roles in the moving pictures.  She’s in three of the Henry Aldrich vehicles (including fairly substantial roles in Henry and Dizzy and Henry Aldrich for President) and can also be spotted in such films as Here Come the Waves, Duffy’s Tavern and The Blue Dahlia.  Noel also made the rounds at such studios as Monogram (playing co-ed Betty Rogers in the “Teen Agers” comedies), Republic (she’s in the serials The Adventures of Frank and Jesse James and The James Brothers of Missouri) and Columbia, where she landed the Lois Lane gig on the strength of her association with producer Sam Katzman, who oversaw many of the aforementioned Teen Agers films.

Neill retired from show business once The Adventures of Superman called it a wrap, but emerged from retirement on occasion for cameos and bit parts in Supe-related films and television episodes (for example, she and her serial Superman Kirk Alyn play Mr. and Mrs. Lois Lane in the 1978 Christopher Reeve version).  As to why Lois Lane never seemed to put together the fact that Clark Kent was Superman sans eyeglasses she once responded: “I didn’t want to lose my job!”  Noel suffered a nasty fall in July of this year at her Tuscon, AZ home—an accident that necessitated hip surgery, something that’s never a good thing with individuals in their golden years.  So I for one hope she’s doing A-OK—if someone out there is reading this, tell Noel that we here at TDOY wish “the Girl of Steel” a happy ninetieth birthday!

Carrie Nation (1846-1911) – Temperance advocate (shudder)

Leonard S. Woolf (1880-1969) – English author/political theorist and one man who was not afraid of Virginia Woolf

Percy Marmont (1883-1977) – English stage, screen and television character actor whose vehicles include Mantrap, Secret Agent, Young and Innocent and No Orchids for Miss Blandish

Jessie Royce Landis (1896-1972) – Stage, screen and television character actress whose vehicles include It Happens Every Spring, To Catch a Thief, North by Northwest, Boys’ Night Out and Airport

W.R. Burnett (1899-1982) – Novelist and screenwriter whose cinematic contributions include The Beast of the City, High Sierra, This Gun for Hire, Background to Danger and Nobody Lives Forever

Margaret Livingston (1900-1984) – Silent and sound film actress best known as The Woman from the City in the 1927 classic Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Helen Gahagan (1900-1980) – Stage and screen actress-singer remembered for her starring role in her only film, 1935’s She, and for entering Congressional politics only to be defeated after two terms by a red-baiting Richard M. Nixon in 1950

Ted Mapes (1901-1984) – Unsung actor-stuntman who appeared in scads of B-westerns and serials throughout his career but his real bread and butter was doubling for James Stewart in many of the actor’s movies

Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999) – “The Yankee Clipper;” legendary baseball player, Mr. Coffee shill and one-time hubby of Marilyn Monroe

Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006) – Evil Chilean dictator from 1974 to 1990

Norman Tokar (1919-1979) – Motion picture and television director who helmed the likes of sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver and The Donna Reed Show before becoming a top man at Walt Disney with vehicles like Those Calloways, The Happiest Millionaire and The Apple Dumpling Gang

Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009) – Stage, screen and television actor who appeared in scores of films and TV episodes but remains best known for his role as the mysterious Mr. Roarke from TV’s Fantasy Island

Edward H. Feldman (1920-1988) – Television director-producer who worked on such shows as Angel, Gomer Pyle, USMC and The Doris Day Show but is perhaps best known as the executive producer of Hogan’s Heroes

Jeffrey Hunter (1926-1969) – Stage, screen and television actor whose vehicles include Fourteen Hours, The Searchers, The Last Hurrah, King of Kings and TV’s Temple Houston and the Star Trek episode “The Cage”

Poul Anderson (1926-2001) – Science fiction novelist

Jack Hogan (1929-     ) – Stage, screen and television actor best remembered as Kirby on the 1962-67 TV series Combat!

Kathryn Grant (1933-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress best known as the second Mrs. Bing Crosby but who also appeared in such films as Cell 2455 Death Row, The Phenix City Story, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Anatomy of a Murder

Jay Hickerson (1934-     ) - OTR author/historian, Facebook chum, founder of the Friends of Old Time Radio convention and one of the Grand Ole Men of The Hobby

Matt Clark (1936-     ) – TDOY character actor fave whose vehicles include In the Heat of the Night, Monte Walsh, Country, Class Action and Barbarians at the Gate

Percy Sledge (1940-     ) – R&B/soul music vocalist

Beverly Washburn (1943-     ) – Former moppet actress whose films include Here Comes the Groom, Old Yeller and Spider Baby

Ben Stein (1944-     ) – Pompous conservative commentator and actor whom everyone has taken to their collective bosom because of his roles in films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and hosting Ben Stein’s Money—but look, the guy used to write speeches for Nixon…do you really want someone like that high-fiving you on a regular basis?

Tracey Walter (1947-    ) – TDOY character actor fave whose vehicles include Goin’ South, Repo Man, Married to the Mob, The Silence of the Lambs and TV’s Best of the West (as Frog Rothchild, Jr.)

John Larroquette (1947-    ) – TDOY television idol whose series include Black Sheep Squadron, Night Court, The John Larroquette Show, Happy Family, McBride and Boston Legal

Jonathan Kaplan (1947-     ) – Motion picture and television director-producer whose oeuvre includes Truck Turner, White Line Fever, Over the Edge, Heart Like a Wheel, The Accused and Unlawful Entry

Dennis Doros (1957-     ) – Film historian and preservationist/Facebook compadre who co-founded Milestone Films in 1980, one of the leaders in presenting silent classics and art films to DVD

Amy Grant (1960-     ) – Singer-songwriter-harlot who, as you well know, stiffed my brother-in-law on the tip when he delivered pizza to her home one night as a driver for Domino’s

Christina Applegate (1971-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress best known as the smokin’ hot bimbette Kelly Bundy on the sitcom Married with Children

Bookmark and Share


quizshowbob said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Brent McKee said...

Happy Thanksgiving (even though you celebrate it in the wrong month down there).

And thanks for running the photo of Noel with Kirk Allyn. I've always preferred the version of Lois from the 1940s, with the long hair and big hats (it was in the comics, the cartoons and the movies) to the heavily permed version who was always wearing the pillbox hats. That version looked like someone's mother, the 1940's version looked like someone a person would date. Suffice it to say, in that photo Noel looks like a babe.

Pam said...

Let us not forget Noel's turn as a "third-year girl" in An American in Paris.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jeff Overturf said...

Happy T-Day my lost Bre'r!