Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy birthday, Dave Brubeck!


This afternoon at 5 pm, The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ (ka-ching!) fetes jazz pianist/composer Dave Brubeck with a documentary premiere entitled Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way.  Executive produced by Clint Eastwood and narrated by TCM Essentials co-host Alec Baldwin, Sweet Way outlines Mr. B’s personal story and promises to be a first-rate watch; in fact, the entire TCM schedule is jam-packed with jazz-related movies today: Blues in the Night (1941), The Gene Krupa Story (1959), Young Man with a Horn (1950), The Strip (1951) and All Night Long—the 1962 hipster take on Othello that features Brubeck himself on piano.

I’ll keep this short and sweet because my expertise on Brubeck isn’t what it should be—I had originally planned to pontificate on Agnes Moorehead, to be honest—but I felt it only appropriate to give him a shout-out since he hits the 9-0 mark today.  So, take five and don’t forget the other celebrity notables who share a natal anniversary with Dave:

William S. Hart (1864-1946) – Stage and silent film actor-director-writer-producer who was one of the earliest and most popular Western stars of his time with films like Hell’s Hinges, The Return of Draw Egan, The Toll Gate and Tumbleweeds

Joyce Killmer (1886-1918) – Journalist and literary critic best known for his poem Trees

Lynn Fontanne (1887-1983) – Legendary stage actress who frequently appeared alongside her husband, Alfred Lunt; her films include Second Youth, The Man Who Found Himself, The Guardian and Stage Door Canteen

Will Hay (1888-1949) – Legendary English screen and music hall comedian whose film vehicles include Oh, Mr. Porter!, Convict 99 and My Learned Friend

Ira Gershwin (1896-1983) – Lyricist brother of composer George, with whom he collaborated on such standards as Embraceable You, I Got Rhythm and Someone to Watch Over Me

Sam Newfield (1899-1964) – Prolific B-picture director who worked at PRC guiding the sagebrush fortunes of Buster Crabbe and Al “Fuzzy” St. John; also helmed the notorious “little people” oater The Terror of Tiny Town

Agnes Moorehead (1900-1974) – Emmy Award-winning TDOY actress goddess and “the first lady of Suspense” best remembered by legions of couch potatoes as Endora on Bewitched…though that overshadows the outstanding work she did on radio and in movies

Kathryn McGuire (1903-1978) – Silent and sound film actress best remembered as Buster Keaton’s leading lady in Sherlock, Jr. and The Navigator

Elissa Landi (1904-1948) – Stage and screen actress whose vehicles include The Sign of the Cross, The Masquerader, The Count of Monte Cristo and After the Thin Man

Lyn Murray (1909-1989) – Emmy Award-winning radio, film and television composer-conductor whose work on TV shows includes The Virginian, Daniel Boone, The Time Tunnel and Dragnet

Rosalind Keith (1916-2000) – Stage and screen actress whose vehicles include The Glass Key, Poppy, Theodora Goes Wild and King of the Royal Mounted

William P. McGivern (1918-2002) – Crime novelist and screenwriter whose work was adapted into such films as The Big Heat, Rogue Cop and Odds Against Tomorrow

Graham Moffatt (1919-1965) – English second banana who appeared in many of the film comedies starring fellow birthday celebrant Will Hay

Joyce Matthews (1919-1999) – Bit part actress in film and television who’s better known for being married (not all at once, of course) to comedian Milton Berle, impresario Billy Rose and TDOY character actor fave Don Beddoe

Susanna Foster (1924-2009) – Stage and screen Deanna Durbin wannabe who appeared in a handful of feature films including The Great Victor Herbert, Phantom of the Opera, The Climax and Bowery to Broadway

Wally Cox (1924-1973) – Actor/standup comedian best known for television gigs on Mister Peepers, The Adventures of Hiram Holiday and Hollywood Squares; also supplied the voice of Underdog


Bobby Van (1928-1980) – Stage, screen and television actor-singer-dancer whose vehicles include The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, Kiss Me Kate, Lost Horizon and TV’s Showoffs

Lance Fuller (1928-2001) – Stage, screen and television character actor whose vehicles include Taza, Son of Cochise, Cattle Queen of Montana, This Island Earth, God’s Little Acre and Day of the Outlaw

Frank Springer (1929-2009) – Comic book/comic strip artist who did a good deal of work for Marvel comics but also drew such newspaper features as Rex Morgan, MD and The Incredible Hulk

King Moody (1929-2001) – Stage, screen and television actor who played Ronald McDonald in many of the fast food chain’s commercials of the 60s/70s but is beloved here at TDOY for his role as Starker on the classic sitcom Get Smart (“Shtarker, zis is KAOS…ve don’t shush here!”)

Don King (1931-     ) – Flamboyant boxing promoter and TV personality

Kenneth Copeland (1936-     ) – Author and televangelist whose ministry once underwent an investigation by Congress at the behest of Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley, demonstrating that there really is no honor among thieves

David Ossman (1936-     ) – Multi-faceted comedic performer who’s one quarter of the Firesign Theatre

Patrick Bachau (1938-     ) – Belgian stage, screen and television character actor whose vehicles include Entre Nous, Choose Me, The Rapture, Clear and Present Danger, The Cell and TV’s The Pretender

Helen Cornelius (1941-     ) – Female country music vocalist best known for a series of hit duets in the 70s/80s with male vocalist Jim Ed Brown


Richard Speck (1941-1991) – Serial killer and sicko

James Naughton (1945-     ) – Stage, screen and television actor best known for his TV gigs on Planet of the Apes, Making the Grade, Trauma Center, Raising Miranda and The Cosby Mysteries

JoBeth Williams (1948-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress whose vehicles include Kramer vs. Kramer, Poltergeist, The Big Chill, American Dreamer, Switch, Wyatt Earp and TV’s The Client

Doug Marlette (1949-2007) – Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for The Charlotte Observer and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who also created the comic strip Kudzu

Linda Creed (1949-1986) – Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter who with Thom Bell produced many of the soul music hits by the Stylistics and the Spinners


Kin and Wil Shriner (1953-     ) – Twin brothers whose father was comedian-humorist-game show host Herb Shriner; Kin is best known for his roles on such soap operas as Texas, As the World Turns and General Hospital…Wil is an actor/talk-show host who now does a good deal of directing television episodes

Thomas Hulce (1953-     ) – Tony Award-winning stage director/actor whose feature film work includes Animal House, Those Lips, Those Eyes, Amadeus, Dominick and Eugene, Parenthood and Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (the voice of Quasimodo)

Gina Hecht (1953-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress whose TV gigs include Hizzoner, Mork & Mindy, Everything’s Relative, Life Goes On and The District

Miles Chapin (1954-     ) – Stage, screen and television actor whose vehicles include Hair, French Postcards, The Funhouse, Buddy Buddy, Get Crazy and The People vs. Larry Flynt

Steven Wright (1955-     ) – Academy Award-winning deadpan actor-standup comedian and writer whose vehicles include Desperately Seeking Susan, Men of Respect, Reservoir Dogs, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Natural Born Killers and TV’s Mad About You

Tish Hinojosa (1955-     ) – Female vocalist/folksinger

Bill Lloyd (1955-     ) – Country music singer-guitarist best known for his collaborations with country artist Radney Foster


Peter Buck (1956-     ) – Rock music guitarist and co-founder of Athens, GA-based R.E.M.

Nick Park (1958-     ) – Academy Award-winning British animation filmmaker who created Wallace & Gromit and Creature Comforts

Janine Turner (1962-     ) – Smokin’ hot stage, screen and television actress/Restasis shill best remembered by couch potatoes as independent pilot Maggie O’Connell on TV’s Northern Exposure

Sparky Marcus (1967-     ) – Moppet actor who was everywhere on TV screens in the 70s (The Nancy Walker Show, Grandpa Goes to Washington, The Bad News Bears) but whose television immortality resides in his role as kid televangelist Jimmy Joe Jeeter on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman


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3 comments:

quizshowbob said...

I remember sparky Marcus from "Freaky Friday" with Jodie Foster.

Agnes Moorehead can't possibly still be alive.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Agnes Moorehead can't possibly still be alive.

Why not? She's a witch, isn't she?

No, that was my screw-up (gotta hire a proofreader around here one of these days); she's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead. Thanks for keeping me honest.

Scott said...

Sam Newfield was one of the most prolific directors of MST3K-worthy films; I think only Bert I. Gordon, with seven episodes, had his work riffed more frequently on the show. Newfield, the brother of PRC head Sigmund Neufeld (when their names appear on the same title card during I Accuse My Parents, Tom Servo quips, "They were in separate lines at Ellis Island), directed the Season 1 ep The Mad Monster, the Season 2 classic Lost Continent, and the Season 5 shows Radar Secret Service and the aforementioned I Accuse My Parents.

Fans will remember Bobby Van ("you were about to underrate an above-average song & dance man" -- Frank Conniff) from the Cinematic Titanic show, Doomsday Machine.

MST3K aficionados will certainly recall King Moody as the bellowing flying saucer captain ("When we get back to our planet, the High Court may well sentence you to TORTURE!") from Teenagers From Outer Space, and may also remember Lance Fuller as Brak, the sullen big-headed alien in This Island Earth, and as some smirky John Agar-wannabe in The She-Creature.