Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy birthday, Roy Rogers!

The man who would ultimately be known as the “King of the Cowboys” was born 99 years ago on this date as Leonard Slye in Cincinnati, OH.  An accounting of his incredible show business career—encompassing movies, radio, TV, music, etc.—would take a lot more than what I’ve allotted on the birthday tributes, but suffice it to say that in watching some of his TV shows and films (and listening to the radio shows), I can see why Roy was a hero to many of those young enough to remember when he was riding both the cinematic and boob tube ranges.  (And he made a damned good roast beef sandwich, too.)

My first exposure to Rogers was in 1975, when he scored a Top 15 country hit in Hoppy, Gene and Me—a wonderful song that evoked fond memories of, as he says in the lyrics, “double-feature Saturdays.”  Roy recorded a tune four years earlier that charted even higher than Hoppy in Lovenworth (it reached #12) that I always thought should have been a bigger hit, and one that I would occasionally play in my country DJ days when I could locate it.

Ever since I started getting Encore Westerns on my CharredHer cable service I’ve really been getting a kick out of the Gene Autry movies they regularly show—but I wish the channel had acquired more of the Roy Rogers oaters, particularly those great Republic films from the 1940s and early 1950s directed by serial veteran William Witney—they are genuinely first rate.  Anyway, happy birthday to Roy…and the merriest of natal anniversaries to these people, too:

Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) – American labor leader, founder of the “Wobblies” and five-time Socialist Presidential candidate

Ida M. Tarbell (1857-1944) – Teacher/journalist whose expose on the Standard Oil Company gave rise to the term “muckraking”

Will H. Hays (1879-1954) – Former Warren G. Harding stooge (campaign manager and Postmaster General) who became the first president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (now known as the MPAA) and lent his name to the motion picture “code”

Ralph Moody (1886-1971) – Ubiquitous film, radio and television character actor seen (and heard) often as an old codger on the likes of Dragnet, Gunsmoke, etc.

Farciot Edouart (1894-1980) – Academy Award-winning special effects artist whose work on films include Spawn of the North, Union Pacific and So Proudly We Hail!

Charles MacArthur (1895-1956) – American playwright and screenwriter whose works include Twentieth Century and The Front Page; husband of Helen Hayes and brother of John D., whose foundation gives out the “genius” awards

Forrest Lewis (1899-1977) – Stage, screen, radio and television character actor whose impression of Peter Lorre for a character on I Love a Mystery was so spot-on Warner Bros. asked that Lewis receive an on-air credit so that people wouldn’t think it really was Lorre

Natalie Schafer (1900-1991) – Stage, screen, radio and television character actress best known to legions of couch potatoes as Eunice “Lovey” Wentworth Howell on the sitcom Gilligan’s Island

Martin Dies, Jr. (1900-1972) – Wanker Texas congressman who created the House Un-American Activities Committee, which set out in 1938 to investigate notable movie industry Commies like Shirley Temple

John Whedon (1905-1991) – Film, radio and television scriptwriter known for his contributions to such shows as The Great Gildersleeve, The Donna Reed Show and The Andy Griffith Show; grandfather of Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss

Joel McCrea (1905-1990) – TDOY actor god whose films include Foreign Correspondent, Sullivan’s Travels and Stars in My Crown

John McGiver (1913-1975) – Peerless character actor and TDOY fave seen in such films as The Manchurian Candidate and Midnight Cowboy and TV shows like Many Happy Returns, Mr. Terrific and The Jimmy Stewart Show

Vivien Leigh (1913-1967) – Academy Award-winning actress whose vehicles include Gone with the Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire and Ship of Fools

Clifford Irving (1930-     ) – Howard Hughes “biographer”

Ike Turner (1931-2007) – Singer/musician and noted wife-beater

Herb Edelman (1933-1996) – Peerless character actor and TDOY fave in such films as Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple; starred in the TV sitcom The Good Guys and also had regular roles on St. Elsewhere, The Golden Girls and Murder, She Wrote

Billy Sherrill (1936-     ) – Grammy Award-winning record producer/arranger who supervised hit records by the likes of Charlie Rich, George Jones and Tammy Wynette; also co-wrote such songs as Almost Persuaded and Stand by Your Man

Harris Yulin (1937-     ) – Stage, screen and television character actor whose vehicles include ‘Doc’, Night Moves and Ghostbusters 2—he played fellow birthday boy Martin Dies in the 1999 Tim Robbins-directed flick Cradle Will Rock

Elke Sommer (1940-     ) – German-born film and television actress whose better films include The Victors, The Prize and A Shot in the Dark

Art Garfunkel (1941-     ) – Duet partner of Paul Simon who many believe to be the better singer; also has acted in such films as Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge and Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession

Sam Shepard (1943-     ) – Stage, screen and television actor-playwright whose vehicles include Days of Heaven, Resurrection, The Right Stuff and The Pelican Brief

Jeffrey Lyons (1944-     ) – Film/television critic and Sneak Previews co-host (1982-96) after the departures of Siskel and Ebert

Gram Parsons (1946-1973) – Country-rock singer-songwriter whose tragic death made him both a musical icon and influential pioneer…and introduced us to the charms of Emmylou Harris

Peter Noone (1947-     ) – Herman’s Hermit

Armin Shimerman (1949-     ) – Film and television character actor and Ferengi

Jon Erik-Hexum (1957-1984) – Film and television beefcake actor who’s best remembered for his starring role on TV’s Voyagers!; his death in 1984 was sadly both tragic and stupid

Robert Patrick (1958-     ) – Film and television actor whose vehicles include Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Rosewood; also landed TV gigs on The X-Files and The Unit

Mo Gaffney (1958-     ) – TDOY actress fave who was once partner to Kathy Najimy; had semi-regular gigs on Mad About You, That 70’s Show, Run of the House and Absolutely Fabulous but is now a radio talk-show host

Bryan Adams (1959-     ) – Canadian rock ‘n’ roller who is often confused with Ryan Adams, who also has a birthday today

Tilda Swinton (1960-     ) – Academy Award-winning TDOY actress fave whose vehicles include Orlando, The Deep End, Michael Clayton and Burn After Reading

Tatum O’Neal (1963-     ) – Academy Award-winning moppet actress films include Paper Moon, Nickelodeon and The Bad News Bears; also married at one time to tennis brat John McEnroe

Andrea McArdle (1963-     ) – Moppet actress who was one of the first female thesps to play Little Orphan Annie in the Broadway musical Annie

Famke Janssen (1964-     ) – Smokin’ hot film and television actress-model whose vehicles include GoldenEye, Deep Rising and the X-Men movies

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Jeff Overturf said...

Happy B-Day to the great Roy. As Pete Townshend once said...all the best cowboys have chinese eyes.

quizshowbob said...

YAY Mrs. Howell!

Peggy said...

Your first exposure to Rogers was in 1975? YIKES!!! I'm not sayin' when MY first exposure to Roy was!

Winifred said...

My little brother loved Roy Rogers. He ran around all day in his cowboy hat & gun bless him. Thankfully he doesn't do it anymore.