Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy birthday, “Chubby”!

Norman “Chubby” Chaney was born on this date ninety-six years ago in Balimer*, MD, and although child actors give me a rash as a rule, I’m only too willing to make an exception in his case.  From 1929 to 1931, he appeared in nineteen Our Gang two-reelers, replacing the group’s former “fat kid,” Joe Cobb.  Weighing in at 113 pounds (but standing only 3’11”), Norman made an indelible impression in such classic “Little Rascals” comedies as Moan and Groan, Inc., Teacher’s Pet and School’s Out—with his stand-out performance being in the 1931 short Love Business.

By the time of his final Our Gang outing, Fly My Kite, Chaney had grown increasingly taller and heavier—so Kite was pretty much his cinematic swan song.  His parents decided that would be the end of his movie career, and he returned to public life, excelling in his school studies.  Sadly, because Norman continued to put on weight, (eventually weighing in at 300 pounds but never getting any taller than 4’7”), he was taken in to see a physician who diagnosed Chaney’s condition as a glandular ailment.  He underwent treatment but became seriously ill as a result, and passed away on May 29, 1936 (at 110 pounds).  He would never live to see how popular the Our Gang comedies would become in later years due to their theatrical revivals and exposure on TV.

Other notables born on this date include:

Stephen Crane (1871-1900) – Author of The Red Badge of Courage

Grantland Rice (1880-1954) – Legendary sportswriter and writer-producer for various “Sports Pictorial” shorts during the 1920s thru 1940s

Edward Van Sloan (1882-1964) – Stage and screen character great best remembered for appearing in three iconic Universal horror films: Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy

Laura La Plante (1904-1996) – Stage, screen and television actress best known for her work in silent films like The Cat and the Canary

Jerry Fairbanks (1904-1995) – Motion picture producer-director who created many of Paramount’s popular short subject series (Popular Science, Unusual Occupations and Speaking of Animals)

James J. Kilpatrick (1920-2010) – Conservative newspaper columnist and grammar scold best known for his appearances on TV’s Agronsky & Co. and as Shana Alexander’s debating partner in the “Point-Counterpoint” segments on 60 Minutes

Jerry Tucker (1925-     ) – Little Rascal

Betsy Palmer (1926-     ) – Actress and game show panelist (I’ve Got a Secret) who’s unfortunately best known as the mother of serial killer Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th—a role she took only because she needed the money for a new car

Marcel Ophuls (1927-     ) – Academy Award-winning motion picture director whose works include Woody Allen fave The Sorrow and the Pity and The Memory of Justice; son of famed film director Max

Emmaline Henry (1928-1979) – TDOY actress fave immortalized as Amanda, the smokin’ hot wife of Dr. Alfred Bellows on I Dream of Jeannie…but she also played the equally sexy spouse of John Astin’s Harry Dickens on I’m Dickens…He’s Fenster

“Whispering” Bill Anderson (1937-     ) – Country music singer/songwriter great (and game show host)

Barbara Bosson (1939-     ) – Film and television actress whose landing of roles on series like Hill Street Blues, Hooperman, Cop Rock and Murder One I’m sure had nothing to do with her ex-husband Steven Bochco’s involvement

Barry Sadler (1940-1989) – One-hit wonder

Robert Foxworth (1941-     ) – Stage, screen and television actor best known for his role as Chase Gioberti on the nighttime soap Falcon Crest (and for also shacking up with Elizabeth Montgomery for two decades)

Michael Zaslow (1942-1998) – Stage, screen and television actor who gets a mention here because he played the baddest soap opera villain of them all, Roger Thorpe, on The Guiding Light (he was a real piece of work)

Marcia Wallace (1942-     ) – Television stalwart who played secretary Carol Kester Bondurant on the classic sitcom The Bob Newhart Show; also provides the voice of teacher Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons

Larry Flynt (1942-     ) – Sleazy porno merchant and founder of Hustler magazine whose landmark Supreme Court case (involving the even sleazier Jerry Falwell) is documented in the 1996 film The People vs. Larry Flynt

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan (1944-     ) – Pro wrestler

Kinky Friedman (1944-     ) – Singer/songwriter, mystery novelist and one-time Texas Gubernatorial candidate

Jim Steinman (1947-     ) – The guy to thank for producing all those Meat Loaf albums

Jeannie Berlin (1949-     ) – Actress daughter of comedienne-director Elaine May whose films include The Heartbreak Kid and Portnoy’s Complaint

Darrell Issa (1953-     ) – Republican California Congressman and un dickhead formidable

Kevin Brophy (1953-     ) – Film and television actor who starred in a series called Lucan, about a boy raised by wolves…a jokey concept that I’m always making reference to in real life

Keith Stegall (1954-     ) – Country music singer/songwriter who turned to producing when his own career was stalled

Lyle Lovett (1957-     ) – Country music singer/songwriter who’s become a cult figure due to roles in films like The Player and The Opposite of Sex

Rachel Ticotin (1958-     ) – TDOY actress fave who’s currently one of the best things about the new Law & Order: Los Angeles
Anthony Kiedis (1962-     ) – Red Hot Chili Pepper
Rick Allen (1963-     ) – Famed one-armed drummer for Def Leppard
Sophie B. Hawkins (1967-     ) – Damn…I wish I were her lover
Toni Collette (1972-     ) – TDOY actress fave whose vehicles include Muriel’s Wedding, The Sixth Sense and Changing Lanes
*aka “Baltimore
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Peggy said...

YAY!!!!!Birthday List!!!!

quizshowbob said...

When I was a kid my dad used to play the Barry Sadler Green Beret song ALL THE TIME. I can still picture the album cover.

Karl said...

I met Zaslow when he came to Savannah for a promotional appearance with the local TV station. The entire ride to the airport he only wanted to talk about local race relations. He seemed surprised that slavery had in fact been done away with in the south.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Karl...that sounds like a ride I'm sorry I missed. :-)