Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy birthday, Michael Gough!

It wasn’t easy choosing just one person for the birthday spotlight today.  November 23rd seems to be a natal anniversary occasion for many of my show business heroes—comics like Harpo Marx and George O’Hanlon; OTR greats like Ken Christy and Natalie Masters; and idols who run the gamut from radio to TV to movies like Boris Karloff and Mister John Dehner.  But British character acting great Michael Gough turns ninety-four today—born on this date in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…and you should know by now that individuals who become or are nonagenarians get to cut in line here at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

Gough is a familiar face to those of who are fans of the Batman film franchise that started in 1989 with Tim Burton directing Michael Keaton (sorry, I always have difficulty keeping a straight face when I type that) as the Caped Crusader; Michael essayed the role of butler Alfred Pennyworth in four films and a number of commercials for OnStar in 2001.  He also worked for the director in the film Sleepy Hollow and lent his distinctive voice to the Burton productions Corpse Bride and Alice in Wonderland

His other noteworthy cinematic turns include The Man in the White Suit, The Sword and the Rose, Richard III, Horror of Dracula, The Horse’s Mouth, The Phantom of the Opera, The Go-Between, The Legend of Hell House, The Boys from Brazil, The Dresser, Top Secret!, Out of Africa, Let Him Have It and The Age of Innocence.  Doctor Who devotees might remember him as the nasty Celestial Toymaker in four 1966 installments of that series (he also appeared in the three-part “Arc of Infinity”); Avengers aficionados will never forget him as the wheelchair-bound Dr. Clement Armstrong in the classic outing “The Cybernauts.”  (I’m not sure if he ever turned up on Mystery Science Theater 3000…but of course, that’s why Clevenger’s on the payroll.)

The happiest of natal anniversaries to a superlative stage, screen and television actor…and best wishes go out to these folks as well:

Franklin Pierce (1804-1869) – 14th President of the United States

William H. Bonney aka “Billy the Kid” (1859-1881) – Bad guy bank robber who also went by the alias Henry McCarty and Henry Antrim

Basil Dickey (1880-1958) – Motion picture screenwriter whose forte was B-westerns and serials; among his contributions to cliffhangers are Flash Gordon, The Spider’s Web, The Green Hornet, Riders of Death Valley and The Purple Monster Strikes

Boris Karloff (1887-1969) – TDOY actor god who’s getting a film showcase on TCM today…so if anybody’s looking for me, that’s where I’ll be

Harpo Marx (1888-1964) – Mute Marx brother who played the harp and chased women like no other before or since

Nana Bryant (1888-1955) – Stage, screen and television character actress whose vehicles include Theodora Goes Wild, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, One Foot in Heaven and The Reluctant Dragon

Ken Christy (1894-1962) – OTR, film and television character great best remembered as Chief Gates on radio’s The Great Gildersleeve; his movies include The Big Shot, The Werewolf and Fury at Showdown

Rudolph C. Flothow (1895-1971) – Motion picture and television producer who cranked out a lot of Columbia’s serials and series films (including 1943’s Batman); also produced TV’s Ramar of the Jungle and The New Adventures of Charlie Chan

Stephen Roberts (1895-1936) – Summersville, WV native who directed a number of silent films and talkies including The Story of Temple Drake, One Sunday Afternoon, Star of Midnight and The Ex-Mrs. Bradford

Ruth Etting (1897-1978) – Radio, stage and screen actress-singer whose movies include Roman Scandals, Gift of Gab and Hips, Hips, Hooray!; she’s the subject of the 1955 biopic Love Me or Leave Me

Leon Fromkess (1901-1977) – B-movie producer who became vice-president of Poverty Row studio PRC and later served as executive producer on Samuel Fuller’s Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss; also worked in television producing shows like Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans and Fury

Victor Jory (1902-1982) – Stage, screen and television character great known for his starring roles in the cliffhanger serials The Green Archer and The Shadow; later starred in the TV series Manhunt

Robert L. Welch (1910-1964) – Motion picture and television producer who worked on many of Bob Hope’s comedies including The Paleface, Fancy Pants, The Lemon Drop Kid and Son of Paleface

George O’Hanlon (1912-1989) – Comic actor immortalized on-screen as the star of Warner Brothers’ Joe McDoakes one-reel comedies from 1942 to 1956; also provided the voice of George Jetson on the animated series The Jetsons

Maurice Zolotow (1913-1991) – Show business biographer who wrote books on the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Billy Wilder, John Wayne, Tallulah Bankhead, Milton Berle…and many others

Natalie Masters (1915-1986) – Film, radio and television actress best remembered by OTR buffs as female private eye Candy Matson

Ellen Drew (1915-2003) – Stage, screen and television ingénue whose vehicles include Sing You Sinners, If I Were King, Buck Benny Rides Again, Christmas in July and Stars in My Crown

John Dehner (1915-1992) – TDOY character actor god whom I first encountered on TV’s The Doris Day Show before being introduced to the rich legacy of radio acting he did—including star turns on Frontier Gentleman and Have Gun – Will Travel and many character parts on the radio version of Gunsmoke

Julie Stevens (1916-1984) – Film, television and radio actress best known as Lorelei Kilbourne on the TV version of radio’s Big Town

John Newland (1917-2000) – Film and television actor-director-writer-producer who cemented his boob tube immortality as the host of Alcoa Presents from 1959 to 1961…a series better known as One Step Beyond

Paul Richards (1924-1974) – Stage, screen and television character actor whose vehicles include Tall Man Riding, The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and TV’s Breaking Point; he also played the first man to gun down Matt Dillon on the premiere episode of TV’s Gunsmoke

Paula Raymond (1924-2003) – Stage, screen and television actress whose films include Devil’s Doorway, The Tall Target, Texas Carnival and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

Johnny Mandel (1925-     ) – Academy Award-winning composer whose film work includes I Want to Live!, The Russians are Coming The Russians are Coming, Pretty Poison, MASH and The Last Detail

Alice Lon (1926-1981) – Champagne Lady

Sybil Jason (1927-     ) – Former moppet actress seen in such films as I Found Stella Parish, The Great O’Malley and Comet Over Broadway; also tells that anecdote on TCM about the time when a starved Judy Garland was scarfing down candy canes while riding on a parade float

Robert Easton (1930-     ) – TDOY character actor fave, Quiz Kid and dialect coach who emoted in beaucoups of films, TV and radio shows…and who my father always remembers as the guy who got “kicked in the haid by a mule” in the Abbott & Costello flick Comin’ Round the Mountain

Michael Wayne (1934-2003) – Oldest son of actor John who…and I know this will come as a surprise…produced many of the Duke’s films including McLintock!, The Green Berets, Chisum and Big Jake

Robert Towne (1934-     ) – Academy Award-winning motion picture screenwriter and professional “script doctor” who wrote the screenplay for Chinatown…that’s really all you have to know but he also penned The Tomb of Ligeia, The Last Detail and The Yakuza, too

Sara Karloff (1938-     ) – The best birthday present Boris ever got, I’ll bet

Betty Everett (1939-2001) – R&B/pop singer famous for that shoop-shoop song but I like her duet with Jerry Butler better:

Susan Anspach (1942-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress whose vehicles include The Landlord, Five Easy Pieces, Play It Again, Sam, The Big Fix and TV’s The Yellow Rose and The Slap Maxwell Story

Andrew Goodman (1943-1964) – Civil rights activist who, along with James Cheney and Michael Schwerner, was killed by the Ku Klux Klan near the town of Philadelphia, MI in 1964

Sue Nicholls (1943-     ) – English stage, screen and television actress best known to Brits as Audrey Roberts on the soap Coronation Street…but here at TDOY we remember her as Joan Greengross, the secretary Reginald Perrin was always trying to bed on The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin

James Toback (1944-     ) – Motion picture writer-director whose oeuvre includes Fingers, The Pick-Up Artist, The Big Bang and Two Girls and a Guy

Joe Eszterhaus (1944-     ) – Motion picture writer-producer whose cinematic contributions include Flashdance, Jagged Edge, Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Silver

Steve Landesberg (1945-     ) – Standup comedian-actor whose television legacy remains that of cerebral police detective Arthur Dietrich on the sitcom Barney Miller

Bruce Vilanch (1948-     ) – Emmy Award-winning television scribe best known for his appearances on Hollywood Squares and for contributing yuks to the televised Oscar ceremonies

Jerry Ver Dorn (1949-     ) – Television actor who played attorney Ross Marler on the soap Guiding Light for an eternity before landing a gig on All My Children as the new Clint Buchanan

Tom Joyner (1949-     ) – Popular syndicated radio morning talk show host who I seemed to hear everywhere when I lived in Savannah…and I didn’t own a radio then

David Rappaport (1951-1990) – 3’11” stage, screen and television actor whose vehicles include Cuba, Time Bandits, The Bride and TV’s The Wizard

Bruce Hornsby (1954-     ) – Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and front man for The Range

Dominique Dunne (1959-1982) – Teenage film and television actress best remembered as oldest daughter Dana in Poltergeist whose life ended tragically as a result of being strangled by her dirtbag boyfriend

Maxwell Caufield (1959-     ) – Stage, screen and television actor whose vehicles include Grease 2, Empire Records and TV’s The Colbys, Casualty and Emmerdale Farm

John Henton (1960-     ) – Actor and standup comedian who always made me laugh as handyman Overton Wakefield Jones on TV’s Living Single

Miley Cyrus (1992-     ) – As if Achy Breaky Heart weren’t enough of a reason to hate Billy Ray Cyrus

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quizshowbob said...

I watched Gough a few weeks ago in that 'Horrors of the Black Museum' movie. I love the HypnoVista gimmick.

Thanks for the Karloff/TCM reminder.

Scott said...

Gough was never in a MST'd movie, although we did two of his films for our book: Batman and Robin (for which we hold him blameless) and the wan British Kong rip-off, Konga.

Speaking of which -- and not that I'm looking for sympathy -- I have, coincidentally, been getting more than the RDA of Rudolph C. Flothow lately, since I've been finishing up the 1943 Batman for the new book (we're planning to end each chapter with a chapter from this chapterplay, which should be meta enough for anybody).

MST3K fans will, however, remember Robert Easton as the billy goat-bearded Cheesehead hillbilly in The Giant Spider Invasion.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I have, coincidentally, been getting more than the RDA of Rudolph C. Flothow lately

Okay--I looked at this for five minutes before I finally doped out that "RDA" means "recommended daily allowance." I'm not casting aspersions on you, though -- sometimes I'm just not nearly as clever as I think I am.

since I've been finishing up the 1943 Batman for the new book (we're planning to end each chapter with a chapter from this chapterplay, which should be meta enough for anybody)

Doggone it, Scott -- now this means I'm going to have to go back and finish that stinker Jungle Queen one of these days. You just have to be the adult in the room, don'tcha?

Scott said...

now this means I'm going to have to go back and finish that stinker Jungle Queen

Well I hope so; I've never hung from a cliff so long in my life.

On the bright side, each chapter of JQ is shorter than an episode of Mayberry RFD (which gives you your RDA of PoS PDQ. QED?).