Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy birthday, Linda and Laughing Gravy!

We don’t have any notable nonagenarians to single out in the Thrilling Days of Yesteryear birthday spotlight today—though comic actress Liz Smith comes close; she turns eighty-nine.  You may be familiar with Smith’s work as the dotty Letitia Cropley from the Britcom The Vicar of Dibley, the church council member whose gourmet concoctions like orange cake with pickle icing left a great deal to be desired (the show’s main character referred to her as “The Queen of Cordon Bleurgh”).  “Letty” was only in the show’s first series before being written out in Dibley’s Easter special; Smith herself has also had regular roles on such series as I Didn’t Know You Cared, 2point4 children and The Royle Family.

A couple of longtime TDOY friends/supporters are celebrating natal anniversaries today, beginning with Linda of Yet Another Journal fame—the go-to person on all matters Lassie, Remember WENN, The Waltons and My World and Welcome to It.  Plus, she’s the only person besides me sane enough to know that you do not put peas and carrots in fried rice, my sister-in-law be darned.  Because Linda is not a major celebrity I will refrain from posting her age…but I won’t hesitate to renege on this promise by 11:00pm EST today unless I receive (pinky finger to corner of mouth) one million dollars!  (No, I’m just kidding about that—happy birthday to a great friend, and I hope she can score some Chinese food out of the deal.)

The other TDOY compadre who’ll blow out a few candles on a cake today is Cliff “Laughing Gravy” Weimer, quotable film expert and semi-sober webmaster at one of the best sites on the Internets for classic movies and other cinema odds ‘n’ ends, In the  Gravy’s age has been carefully concealed at Facebook but because he co-starred with Edna May Oliver in those Hildegarde Withers films back in the 1930s he would have to be at least…oh…hang on a sec…that’s James Gleason I’m thinking of.  (I get the two of them confused sometimes.)  All seriousness aside, I’m proud to have Gravy as a friend and hope he’ll get his fill of vegetarian chili on this special day.  (As a matter of fact, he can have mine.)

And as for the rest of the birthdays…

Paul Wegener (1874-1948) – German-Polish motion picture actor-director best known for his Golem films; his other vehicles include The Lost Shadow, The Magician and Svengali

Reginald Le Borg (1902-1989) – Austrian-Hungarian émigré B- picture and television writer-director whose oeuvre includes Calling Dr. Death, Weird Woman, The Mummy’s Ghost, San Diego, I Love You, Fighting Fools and Hold That Baby!

Gilbert Roland (1905-1994) – Stage, screen and television actor who played The Cisco Kid in several B-westerns; his other vehicles include She Done Him Wrong, The Sea Hawk, We Were Strangers, Bullfighter and the Lady and The Bad and the Beautiful

Pare Lorentz (1905-1992) – Documentary filmmaker (and Clarksburg, WV native) whose works include The Plow That Broke the Plains, The River and The Fight for Life

Sally Eilers (1908-1978) – Stage and screen actress whose vehicles include Quick Millions, The Black Camel, State Fair, Strike Me Pink, Condemned Women and Coroner Creek

Val Guest (1911-2006) – English motion picture and television writer-director-producer whose oeuvre includes The Quatermass Xperiment, Quatermass II: Enemy from Space, The Day the Earth Caught Fire and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

Jean Marais (1913-1998) – French stage, screen and television actor whose vehicles include Beauty and the Beast, Testament of Orpheus, Donkey Skin and Stealing Beauty

Dámaso Pérez Prado (1916-1989) – Cuban bandleader- composer whose sparking of the mambo craze in the 1950s earned him the nickname “The King of the Mambo”

Marie Windsor (1919-2000) – TDOY actress fave whose vehicles include Song of the Thin Man, Force of Evil, The Narrow Margin, The Sniper, City That Never Sleeps and The Killing

Eddie Firestone (1920-2007) – Stage, screen, radio and television character actor best known as radio’s That Brewster Boy

Morrie Turner (1923-     ) – Creator of Wee Pals

Betsy Blair (1923-2009) – Stage, screen and television actress whose vehicles include Another Part of the Forest, The Snake Pit, Mystery Street, Marty and The Halliday Brand

Dick Tufeld (1926-     ) – Film, radio and TV actor-announcer best known as the voice of the Robinson family’s robot on TV’s Lost in Space

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton (1926-1984) – R&B singer-songwriter who recorded the original Hound Dog before Elvis got hold of it; also recorded Ball and Chain before Janis Joplin

John Buscema (1927-2002) – Comic book artist renowned for his work at Marvel Comics during the 60s/70s, primarily on The Avengers and The Silver Surfer

Jean-Louis Trintignant (1930-     ) – French motion picture and television actor-director whose vehicles include …And God Created Woman, A Man and a Woman, Z, The Conformist, The Outside Man and Confidentially Yours

Rita Moreno (1931-     ) – Multi-faceted performer who is one of only a few EGOT entertainers (Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony)—her films include Singin’ in the Rain, The King and I, West Side Story, Summer and Smoke, Marlowe and The Four Seasons

Wynn Irwin (1932-     ) – Stage, screen and television character actor whose TV gigs include Lotsa Luck, Sugar Time! and Hart to Hart

Ron Carey (1935-2007) – Stage, screen and television comic actor best remembered as Officer Carl Levitt on TV’s Barney Miller

Thomas McGuane (1939-     ) – Novelist who also dabbled in writing screenplays for films such as Rancho Deluxe, 92 in the Shade (which he also directed), The Missouri Breaks and Tom Horn

Donna Mills (1940-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress best known for her role as Abby Fairgate on TV’s Knots Landing

David Gates (1940-     ) – Pop music singer-songwriter who was the front man for the group Bread

J. Frank Wilson (1941-1991) – Front man for the rock ‘n’ roll group the Cavaliers

Brenda Lee (1944-     ) – Pop/country music vocalist and the pride of Lithonia, GA (also nicknamed “Little Miss Dynamite”)

Lynda Day George (1944-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress best known for her role as Lisa Casey on TV’s Mission: Impossible

Teri Garr (1947-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress whose vehicles include The Conversation, Young Frankenstein, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Black Stallion, Tootsie and After Hours

Elizabeth Baur (1948-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress best known for her roles as Teresa O’Brien on Lancer and policewoman Fran Belding on Ironside

Susan Seidelman (1952-     ) – Motion picture and television writer-director whose oeuvre includes Smithereens, Desperately Seeking Susan, Making Mr. Right, Cookie and She-Devil

Bess Armstrong (1953-     ) – TDOY actress fave whose vehicles include The Four Seasons, High Road to China, Nothing in Common and TV’s On Our Own, All is Forgiven, Married People and My So-Called Life

Jermaine Jackson (1954-     ) – Jackson Five member who, like his brother Michael, also enjoyed a successful solo career (though not quite in the same league)

Peter Isacksen (1954-     ) – Stage, screen and television character actor who’ll always be remembered here at TDOY as the towering Seaman Pruitt on TV’s C.P.O. Sharkey

Isabella Hofmann (1958-     ) – Stage, screen and television actress whose regular TV gigs include Dear John, Homicide: Life on the Street and JAG

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Scott C. said...

Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans will of course remember Marie Windsor as the tough, but sympathetic leader of the all-girl gang of fugitives in Roger Corman's Swamp Women, opposite "Touch" Connors. She got additional chances to touch Touch a little over a decade later, when she made two appearances on Mannix.

O.G. MSTies will recall Donna Mills as the (spoiler alert) mob hitwoman in the KTMA episode Superdome. It's a good thing this film contains so much authentic (if blurry) footage of the French Quarter, because her love scenes with David Janssen (playing a man who has reached middle age without learning how to button his shirt past his sternum) and his very grizzled sideburns will make you want to drink like a fish with a drinking problem.

mndean said...

Val Guest also had an extensive screenwriting career which included most of Will Hay's comedies.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Val Guest also had an extensive screenwriting career which included most of Will Hay's comedies.

And I was remiss in not mentioning thanks for filling in the blanks, mndean.

mndean said...

Always glad to help. To throw in another Sally Eilers performance, she was very good in the James Whale-directed Remember Last Night?, a very twistedly interesting film.