Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy birthday, Norman Lloyd and Bob Schiller!

The 2007 documentary Who is Norman Lloyd? is an excellent primer on today’s individual in the birthday spotlight—an actor, producer and director whose show business career spans seven decades and who turns ninety-six years old today.  Born in Jersey City, NJ, Norman began his incredible career in theatre, working alongside such greats as Eva Le Gallienne and Orson Welles.  It was while as a member of Welles and John Houseman’s Mercury Theater that Lloyd began to get parts on radio…and that led to answer the siren song of Hollywood, where Alfred Hitchcock wanted him to play the part of the bad guy in his 1942 film Saboteur.

Lloyd’s association with the Master of Suspense led to also being cast in Spellbound, and when his film roles started to dry up as a result of the blacklist Hitch made him associate producer (and sometimes director) on his Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series.  When the show expanded to an hour in 1962, Lloyd served as the series’ executive producer.  Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Norman worked extensively behind the camera but occasionally took time to satisfy the acting bug itch, notably in one of my favorite Night Gallery segments, “A Feast of Blood.”  In the 1980s, Lloyd joined the cast of St. Elsewhere as Dr. Daniel Auschlander—the show where I think I first exposed to his thespian talent.  It was only after this that I started watching his performances in such classic films as A Walk in the Sun, Reign of Terror, M, He Ran All the Way and Limelight.

Our other nonagenarian is veteran radio and comedy scribe Bob Schiller, who turns 92 having been born on this date in San Francisco in 1918.  Schiller is probably best known for his work in tandem with another Bob—his partner Bob Weiskopf, with which he worked on such TV series as Make Room for Daddy, I Love Lucy, The Ann Sothern Show (which he co-created), Pete and Gladys, The Lucy Show, The Good Guys, The Carol Burnett Show, Maude and Archie Bunker’s Place.  Schiller and Weiskopf also wrote for The Flip Wilson Show and All in the Family; both programs netted them Emmy Awards for comedy writing.  But before Bob S. teamed up with Bob W. he was employed on such radio programs as Duffy’s Tavern (Ed Gardner once dubbed him “Peck’s Bad Boy” because he used to needle Gardner), The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, The Mel Blanc Show, The Jimmy Durante Show and December Bride

It’s kind of hard to top these two amazing birthdays being celebrated today, but here’s a list of some other notable celebrities celebrating natal anniversaries:

Vlad III the Impaler (1431-1476) – Wallachian prince known for cruelly punishing his enemies (probably where the “Impaler” part comes into play) and for inspiring the character of Dracula, created by fellow birthday boy Bram Stoker

Edmund Halley (1656-1742) – English astronomer and all-around smart guy who got to name a comet after himself

Milton Bradley (1836-1911) – American board game pioneer

Bram Stoker (1847-1912) – Novelist and short story writer best known for creating…well, you’ve read that already

Marie Prevost (1898-1937) – Silent/sound film actress and Stacia of She Blogged by Night fave whose vehicles include The Marriage Circle, The Racket, The Godless Girl and The Sin of Madelon Claudet

Eugene Forde (1898-1986) – Silent and sound motion picture director who helmed many of the movies in the Charlie Chan series: Charlie Chan in London, Charlie Chan on Broadway, etc.

Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949) – Author of Gone With the Wind

Scotty Wiseman (1908-1981) – Duet partner of Myrtle Eleanor “Lulu Belle” Cooper; Lulu Belle and Scotty were among the most popular country music duos of the 1930s/1940s and appeared in films like Hi, Neighbor and Sing, Neighbor, Sing

Robert Strauss (1913-1975) – Stage, screen and television character actor best known for his portrayal as Sgt. Stanislaus “Animal” Kuzawa in the 1953 film Stalag 17 (he also played the part on stage)

June Havoc (1912-2010) – Actress sister of Gypsy Rose Lee whose vehicles include Four Jacks and a Jill, Brewster’s Millions, Gentleman’s Agreement and TV’s Willy

Norman MacDonnell (1916-1979) – OTR and television writer-producer who co-created the dean of radio and TV westerns, Gunsmoke; also produced the TV oaters The Road West and The Virginian

Esther Rolle (1920-1998) – Stage, screen and television actress best known for her role as Florida Evans on TV’s Maude and its spin-off, Good Times

Gene Saks (1921-     ) – Stage, screen and television director (and actor) best known for his association with playwright Paul Simon, having helmed movie adaptation of such Simon works as Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple

Walter Mirisch (1921-     ) – Motion picture producer who, in tandem with his brothers Marvin and Harold, established the successful Mirisch Company…which produced movie hits like Some Like it Hot, The Magnificent Seven and The Pink Panther

Christiaan Bernard (1922-2001) – South African surgeon who performed the first heart transplant operation in 1967

Ric Hardman (1924-2009) – Film and television scribe who wrote a substantial number of episodes of the TV oater Lawman…but also penned episodes of Laredo and the 1966 western The Rare Breed

Joe Flynn (1924-1974) – Peerless character actor who only had to open his mouth and I’d start laughing—co-starred in a trillion Walt Disney Studios films but achieved television immortality as Captain Wallace B. “Old Leadbottom” Binghamton on the TV sitcom classic McHale’s Navy

Patti Page (1927-     ) – Country/pop vocalist who was inquiring as to the price of that canine in the pet shop display

Ken Dodd (1927-     ) – Legendary British comedian from film and television who is distinguished by two protruding “buck teeth”

Bobby Bowden (1929-     ) – Legendary Florida State University football coach who also coached the West Virginia Mountaineers from 1971-75, which is good for a mention here

Morley Safer (1931-     ) – Emmy Award-winning CBS journalist whose career accomplishments are his thoughtful, introspective pieces produced for the network’s news show 60 Minutes

Ben Bova (1932-     ) – Science fiction novelist

Stephanie Audran (1932-     ) – French actress best known for her titular role in the sumptuous foodie film Babette’s Feast

Alain Delon (1935-     ) – French actor whose vehicles include Rocco and His Brothers, Purple Noon and Borsalino

Virna Lisi (1936-     ) – Italian film goddess seen in such film comedies as How to Murder Your Wife and Not with My Wife, You Don’t!

Nerys Hughes (1941-     ) – British film and television actress best known for her role as Sandra Hutchinson in the classic Britcom The Liver Birds

Bonnie Bramlett (1944-     ) – Singer-actress who performed with husband Delaney as part of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends; had recurring role on the TV sitcom Roseanne

Minnie Riperton (1947-1979) – R&B/pop music vocalist whose mega-hit Lovin’ You was allegedly composed as a lullaby for her daughter, one-time SNL regular Maya Rudolph

Wayne LaPierre (1948-     ) – Author and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association…just being around firearms gives this guy a stiffie

Bonnie Raitt (1949-     ) – Rock ‘n’ roll vocalist

Mary Hart (1950-     ) – Host of TV’s Entertainment Tonight whose voice has been known to cause seizures in both real and fictional people

Alfre Woodard (1952-     ) – TDOY actress goddess best remembered here as Dr. Roxanne Turner on TV’s St. Elsewhere but whose film work includes Cross Creek, Miss Firecracker, Passion Fish and Primal Fear

Christie Hefner (1952-    ) – Daughter of Playboy founder/magnate Hugh who followed in her old man’s footsteps and ran his company as CEO from 1988 to 2009

Rickie Lee Jones (1954-     ) – Singer/songwriter whose music encompasses many styles (rock, R&B, jazz, etc.)

Richard Curtis (1956-     ) – British writer-producer-director whose TV shows include the Black Adder series and The Vicar of Dibley; has also written such films as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’ Diary

Leif Garrett (1961-     ) – Former moppet actor-singer and teen idol who’s gotten into a bit of trouble since he’s grown up; my best friend the Duchess thought he was all that and a bag of chips, something I never could fathom (his sister, Dawn Lyn, grew up to be pretty hot though)

Gordon Ramsay (1966-     ) – Scottish chef and host of TV’s Hell’s Kitchen who might not be in such deep financial straits if he weren’t such un dickhead formidable

Courtney Thorne-Smith (1967-    ) – Film and television actress whom I liked in such movies as Lucas and Summer School and TV’s Day by Day but later went on to do series I wouldn’t watch if you paid me: Melrose Place, Ally McBeal, According to Jim, etc.

Parker Posey (1968-     ) – TDOY actress goddess seen in such films as Dazed and Confused, The Daytrippers, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind…hell, she even made Superman Returns worth watching and that movie was a steaming pile of crud

Gretchen Mol (1972-     ) – Smokin’ hot film and television actress seen in such vehicles as Donnie Brasco, Cradle Will Rock and The Notorious Bettie Page

Bucky Covington (1977-     ) – American Idol contestant who was apparently successful enough to carve out a career as a country music vocalist (seriously—do they hand out record contracts to anyone who just shows up?)

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quizshowbob said...

Even before I pushed the button I knew that the Leif Garrett song was going to be 'I Was Made For Dancing'.

'Loving You' is in my top 10 favorite songs of all time.

Scott said...

MST3K fans will remember Joe Flynn as a particularly smart actor, because even though he has a decent-sized part in The Indestructible Man, and a pretty good death scene, his name appears nowhere in the credits.

Winifred said...

I love looking at your birthday congratulations even though I don't recognise many of them as we didn't get many of your TV programmes in the UK. Sometimes I do recognise a name and sadly realise they're no longer with us. Brings back lots of happy memories of when most telly programmes were of a much higher quality than nowadays even thought they didn't have all that fantastic technology to play with.

I learned something from you too, I never realised Gordon Ramsay was Scottish, well you wouldn't with that accent. He doesn't seem to be short of wonga though.

C. Jerry Kutner said...

Was just thinking about Norman Lloyd and his work with Welles, Hitchcock, Mann, Scorsese, et al. He directed my favorite episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, an adaptation of Ray Bradbury's "The Jar."

The reason *why* I was thinking about him is because he is a character in Richard Linklater's ME AND ORSON WELLES which I just watched last night. Terrific film all around.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Even before I pushed the button I knew that the Leif Garrett song was going to be 'I Was Made For Dancing'.

Mr. Garrett will now sing a medley of his hit.

MST3K fans will remember Joe Flynn as a particularly smart actor, because even though he has a decent-sized part in The Indestructible Man, and a pretty good death scene

Now I'm curious to see what a death scene with Joe Flynn would entail...

"McHale, why is it suddenly so dark...wha-wha-wha-what?"

He doesn't seem to be short of wonga though.

Oh, I love this -- I have a new word to play with. Did you know that "wonga" is comedian-bandleader Phil Harris' middle name? His wife, Alice Faye, often refers to him by that on some of their radio broadcasts.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

he is a character in Richard Linklater's ME AND ORSON WELLES which I just watched last night. Terrific film all around.

I have this on my "must-see" list -- so if you've given it a thumbs-up, Mr. K, I know it will be worth my while.

Brent McKee said...

Gordon Ramsay is not "un dickhead formidable." He is a professional chef with a three Michelin Star restaurant. Admittedly, from what I've been told, the difference between the two is so subtle as to be indistinguishable at the best of times. Suffice it to say that whatever the people on Hell's Kitchen go through, he went through worse with his mentor Marco Pierre White.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Gordon Ramsay is not "un dickhead formidable." He is a professional chef with a three Michelin Star restaurant.

"Ramsay is a wonderful chef, just a really second-rate human being." -- A.A. Gill, food critic

Stacia said...

Yay Marie!

On a forum I shall not name for obvious reasons, 2 people who worked with Ramsey said he is ridiculously rude a full 24 hours a day, often to cover up embarrassment at his own mistakes. Even if you dismiss out of hand anything said on the Internet (and I wouldn't necessarily blame you), I confess I don't understand how "professional chef" who has dealt with assholes in his life equates to "he is not a dickhead."