Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy birthday today to…

Clarence Kolb (1874, stage, film and television character actor seen in vehicles like His Girl Friday, Caught in the Draft, Nothing But the Truth and as cranky boss George Honeywell on TV’s My Little Margie)

Fred Quimby (1886, M-G-M animation department head who took the bows, accolades and Oscars that should have gone to more deserving individuals like Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, Tex Avery, etc.)

Roy Bargy (1894, orchestra leader strongly identified with Jimmy Durante’s radio and television shows)

Brett Halliday (1904, prolific mystery author and creator of Michael Shayne; also narrated radio’s Murder by Experts)

Winton C. Hoch (1905, Academy Award-winning cinematographer whose films include Joan of Arc, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and The Quiet Man)

George Liberace (1911, older brother of famous TV pianist [“I wish my brother George were here”])

Irv Kupcinet (1912, Chicago Sun-Times columnist, TV commentator and host of Kup’s Show)

Mario Bava (1914, Italian horror movie director who specialized in “in-your-face” films like Black Sunday, Black Sabbath, Blood and Black Lace and Kill, Baby Kill)

Curt Gowdy (1919, legendary radio/television sports commentator and voice of the New York Yankees [1949-51] and Boston Red Sox [1951-66])

Ahmet Ertegun (1923, founder of Atlantic Records and “Father of Rock and Roll”)

Don Murray (1929, 81, talented lead actor in films like Bus Stop, The Bachelor Party, A Hatful of Rain, The Hoodlum Priest and Advise & Consent—but here at TDOY, we remember him as Sid Fairgate on Knots Landing)

Pat Cooper (1929, 81, actor/stand-up comedian)

Ted Cassidy (1932, pictured, actor and voice artist who bassy tones could be heard on The Adventures of Huck Finn, Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles and The Herculoids…but let’s face it, everybody remembers him as Lurch on The Addams Family)

Barry De Vorzon (1934, 76, composer/musician who wrote the themes to V, Simon & Simon and S.W.A.T…and whose Nadia’s Theme was borrowed for The Young and the Restless; also leader of the Tamerlanes [I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight])

Geoffrey Lewis (1935, 75, peerless stage, film and television character actor heavily associated with Clint Eastwood films [High Plains Drifter, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Every Which Way But Loose, Bronco Billy]; father of actress Juliette)

France Nuyen (1939, 71, TDOY character actress fave who I just glimpsed the other day in a Gunsmoke rerun but whom I enjoyed as Dr. Paulette Kiem on St. Elsewhere; once married to actor Robert Culp)

Daniel Boone (1942, 68—not the character played by Fess Parker, the guy who sang Beautiful Sunday)

Sab Shimono (1943, 67, ubiquitous character actor seen in vehicles like Gung Ho, Blind Date, Presumed Innocent, Suture, The Shadow and Waterworld)

Lobo (aka Kent Lavoie) (1943, 67, wimp-rock 70s singer [I’d Love You to Want Me, Me and You and a Dog Named Boo])

Sherry Lansing (1944, 66, one-time actress who later became head of 20th Century-Fox in 1980 and chairwoman of Paramount in 1992)

Geraldine Chaplin (1944, 66, actress daughter of movie legend Charlie whom I liked in Nashville, Remember My Name and The Mirror Crack’d)

Gary Lewis (1945, 65, musician son of comedian Jerry who, with his group the Playboys, charted pop hits like This Diamond Ring, Everybody Loves a Clown and She’s Just My Style)

Bob Welch (1946, 64, pop music vocalist [Sentimental Lady] and one-time member of Fleetwood Mac}

Barry Van Dyke (1951, 59, son of comic actor Dick who co-starred with his pop on Diagnosis Murder and was also seen on Galactica 1980 and Airwolf II)

Alan Autry (1952, 58, television actor best known for his roles on In the Heat of the Night and Grace Under Fire; former mayor of Fresno, CA)

James Read (1953, 57, television actor [Wildfire, Charmed] who was great on Remington Steele until they fired him after the first season)

Dirk Blocker (1957, 53, television character actor [Black Sheep Squadron] and son of actor Dan of Bonanza fame)

Wesley Snipes (1962, 48, film and television actor [Wildcats, Major League, White Men Can’t Jump, Passenger 57, Jungle Fever] whose IRS troubles have become the stuff of legend)

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy birthday today to…

Holmes Herbert (1882, peerless British character actor on stage and in films like The Invisible Man, Mark of the Vampire, Captain Blood, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon and The Pearl of Death)

Roy Williams (1907, the big Mooseketeer [Mickey Mouse Club])

John Meston (1914, OTR writer god [Fort Laramie, Escape] who created [along with Norman MacDonnell] the greatest Western series in the history of radio and television: Gunsmoke!)

Dick Wilson (1916, veteran character actor of a gazillion films and television episodes—but who achieved boob tube immortality as spokesman “Mr. Whipple” in the Charmin commercials)

Victor Wong (1927, droopy-faced character actor seen in various films such as Big Trouble in Little China, The Golden Child, The Last Emperor and Tremors)

Edd Byrnes (1933, 77, pictured, actor/teen idol whose lasting television fame was cemented when he was cast as Gerald Lloyd “Kookie” Kookson III on 77 Sunset Strip)

Nick Meglin (1935, 75, longtime editor of MAD magazine)

John P. Ryan (1936, film and television character actor seen in vehicles like Cops and Robbers, Dillinger, It’s Alive, The Right Stuff, Runaway Train, Hoffa and Bound)

Jo-Ann Campbell (1938, 72, pop music vocalist whose highest-charting hit was Kooky Little Paradise in 1960…but is best remembered here at TDOY for recording [I’m the Girl] from Wolverton Mountain, an answer song to country singer Claude King’s #1 smash)

Peter Bogdanovich (1939, 71, motion picture director-actor who helmed classics like Targets, The Last Picture Show, What’s Up, Doc? and Paper Moon—and whose ubiquitous presence on DVD commentaries and in documentaries has earned him the nickname “the Dick Cavett of film directors” here at TDOY)

Paul Anka (1941, 69, singer-songwriter whose pop hits include Diana, Put Your Head on My Shoulder, Lonely Boy and You’re Having My Baby; also wrote Frank Sinatra’s My Way)

Frances de la Tour (1944, 66, British comic actress whom I fondly remember as Miss Jones on the classic Britcom Rising Damp)

Barbara Kopple (1946, 64, Academy Award-winning documentarian whose films include Harlan County, USA, American Dream and Shut Up & Sing)

Arnold Schwarzenegger (1947, 63, former bodybuilder, action film star, present Governor of Calleefornyuh and…un dickhead formidable)

William Atherton (1947, 63, formidable character actor whose roles usually require him to play wankers like in Ghostbusters, Real Genius and Die Hard/Die Hard 2 [though he does play a fairly good guy in The Day of the Locust])

Ken Olin (1954, 56, film and television actor seen in scads of series like Hill Street Blues, Falcon Crest, L.A. Doctors, Brothers & Sisters and yuppiesomething thirtysomething)

Delta Burke (1956, 54, comic actress diva best known as Suzanne Sugarbaker on the hit sitcom Designing Women and its short-lived spin-off, Women of the House)

Lisa Mordente (1958, 52, character actress and daughter of Chita Rivera whom I glimpsed in sitcoms like Viva Valdez and Doc but who later focused her talents on the stage)

Richard Linklater (1960, 50, Texas-born film director whose works include Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, Waking Life, The School of Rock and Before Sunset)

Laurence Fishburne (1961, 49, TDOY actor fave seen in vehicles like Apocalypse Now, School Daze, Class Action, Boyz N the Hood, What’s Love Got to Do With It and Othello)

Alton Brown (1962, 48, Food Network chef guru [Good Eats] beloved by my sister Kat and frequently mentioned on Elisson’s blog)

Lisa Kudrow (1963, 47, falling-down funny actress seen in films like Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, The Opposite of Sex and Happy Endings—but best known to couch potatoes as Phoebe Buffay on Friends and twin Ursula Buffay on Mad About You)

Kerry Fox (1966, 44, New Zealand actress whom I liked in An Angel at My Table, Shallow Grave and Welcome to Sarajevo)

Christine Taylor (1971. 39, film/television actress, wife of Ben Stiller and the definitive Marcia Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel)

Hilary Swank (1974, 36, Academy Award-winning actress seen in films like Boys Don’t Cry, Insomnia, The Core, Million Dollar Baby and Amelia)

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Happy birthday, Peanut!

Because I do the birthday salutes a few days in advance, I stupidly neglected to close out today’s with a shout-out to my niece Rachel, who turns nine years old today. The family and I had the tremendous good fortune to be able to spend some time with Rach and the two individuals who claim to be her parents (my sister Debbie and her husband Craige, for the uninitiated—and no, that’s not a typo…that’s the way his name is spelled) over the July 4th weekend, but that doesn’t make me any less sad that I can’t spend today’s natal anniversary celebration with her. I got her a dolphin pillow from some outfit called Pillow Pets (we saw the ad on TV as we were watching cartoons on Nickelodeon) and she called me Sunday to thank me and to tell me how soft it was. “That’s a relief,” I remarked. “I was afraid they were going to sell me one of the hard ones.” (She laughed, but I’m thinking it was out of politeness.)

Anyway, I just wanted to wish her a happy b-day and to have an excuse to post this picture of her, sister Debbie and mi madre that was snapped during the visit. Good wishes to you, Peanut—I love you very much.

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Happy birthday today to…

Maria Ouspenkaya (1876, Russian character actress and acting coach best remembered as the mysterious gypsy lady who knows her lycanthropy in The Wolf Man and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man)

Theda Bara (1885, legendary silent screen vamp [A Fool There Was, Cleopatra, Salome])

William Powell (1892, suave motion picture leading man who appeared in scores of wonderful movies including One Way Passage, My Man Godfrey, Libeled Lady, Life With Father, The Senator Was Indiscreet, Mister Roberts…and of course, The Thin Man films)

William Cameron Menzies (1896, legendary art director-production designer on Gone With the Wind but who also dabbled in directing films like Things to Come, Invaders From Mars and The Maze)

Clara Bow (1905, silent/sound film actress and “It” girl seen in films like The Plastic Age, Mantrap, Kid Boots, Ladies of the Mob, Wings, The Saturday Night Kid, Hoop-La and Call Her Savage)

Thelma Todd (1906, pictured, TDOY actress goddess who worked with great comedians in Laurel & Hardy, Wheeler & Woolsey, Joe E. Brown, the Marx Brothers, Charley Chase, ZaSu Pitts, Patsy Kelly, Harry Langdon and Buster Keaton…and whose tragic death robbed us of her talents far too early)

Jerry Hopper (1907, journeyman film/television director who helmed episodes of TV classics like Bachelor Father, Wagon Train, The Fugitive, Gilligan’s Island and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea)

Stephen McNally (1913, stage, film and television character actor who occasionally played good guys [No Way Out] but most of the time he was a real wanker in movies like Winchester ’73, Split Second and Violent Saturday)

“Professor” Irwin Corey (1914, 96, authoritative comedian who I am surprised to learn is still with us even though I never found his shtick particularly amusing)

Budd Boetticher (1916, TDOY director god who’s beloved among film buffs for his Randolph Scott westerns in the 1950s like Seven Men From Now, The Tall T, Buchanan Rides Alone and Ride Lonesome…and who taught me there are some things a man can’t ride around)

Eleanor Keaton (1918, former dancer whose marriage to legendary comedian Buster in 1940 was largely responsible for straightening out his tumultuous life)

Richard Egan (1921, bland beefcake actor seen in films like Split Second, Violent Saturday, Love Me Tender, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, These Thousand Hills and TV series like Empire, Redigo and the soap opera Capitol)

Robert Horton (1924, 86, film/television stalwart best remembered for his roles in the TV westerns Wagon Train and A Man Called Shenandoah)

Lloyd Bochner (1924, ubiquitous film/television character actor seen in scads of TV series but is probably best recognized as Cecil Colby on Dynasty)

Robert Fuller (1933, 77, television icon [Laramie, Wagon Train, Emergency!])

Joan Gerber (1935, 75, talented voice actress heard on series such as H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville, The Bugaloos, These are the Days and Wait Till Your Father Gets Home)

Bill Forsyth (1946, 64, Scottish born film director who helmed a true masterpiece in Local Hero but who also directed That Sinking Feeling, Gregory’s Girl, Comfort and Joy and Housekeeping)

Leslie Easterbrook (1949, 61, blonde bimbette actress whom I remember mostly as Laverne & Shirley’s next door neighbor when they moved to Hollywood and the Police Academy movies)

Mike Starr (1950, 60, modern-day character actor seen in vehicles like Goodfellas, Mad Dog and Glory, The Hudsucker Proxy, Ed Wood…and that hilarious Frasier episode where he and John C. McGinley played the plumber brothers who bullied Frasier and Niles in high school)

Patti Scialfa (1953, 57, Mrs. Boss)

Geddy Lee (1953, 57, lead singer of Rush)

Ken Burns (1953. 57, award-winning documentarian whose films have spotlighted baseball, the Civil War, Huey Long, jazz, national parks, etc.)

Rodney Allen Rippy (1968, 42, cloyingly cute moppet actor who was everywhere in the 1970s, from Jack-in-the-Box commercials to The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine)

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Happy birthday, Bill Crider!

My Facebook compadre Doc Quatermass reminded me via comment this morning that I left a very important personage off today’s birthday salute list. That’s him to your left, the gentleman who, despite being dressed to the nines, is about to terminate a group of punkass kids with extreme prejudice for committing the heinous act of trespassing on his lawn.

I know I have a tendency to joke about Bill on the blog a great deal, and the fact that he’s never seriously threatened legal proceedings against me just demonstrates what a great guy he is. Author, philosopher, gator fancier, sasquatch expert and tireless chronicler of both the injustices done to celebrity bimbette Paris Hilton and the latest celebrity to snuff it, Bill was one of the very first bloggers of note to link to TDOY, and for that I am truly grateful. (Though I’m reasonably sure he regretted it not too long after.) While I’ve never had the opportunity to have a face-to-face meet-and-greet with the man, I communicate with him via e-mails and Facebook to the point where I feel like I’ve known him all my life.

So happy birthday, my Texas chum—and many, many more to come hereafter.

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Happy birthday today to…

Joe E. Brown (1892, stage, film, radio and television clown who appeared in films like Elmer the Great, Alibi Ike and Some Like It Hot; inspiration for cartoon character Peter Potamus)

Barbara La Marr (1896, silent film actress who appeared in vehicles such as The Nut, The Three Musketeers, The Prisoner of Zenda and Souls for Sale)

Rudy Vallee (1901, singer/character actor who was one of radio’s earliest big successes and later became the presence in many of Preston Sturges’ films [The Palm Beach Story, The Sin of Harold Diddlebock, Unfaithfully Yours, The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend])

Felix Mills (1901, composer and bandleader whose orchestra could be heard on various OTR programs such as Silver Theater, The Man Called X and Meet Corliss Archer)

Blanche Mehaffey (1907, silent/sound film actress who livened up many a Charley Chase comedy short [At First Sight, Just a Minute, April Fool, One of the Family])

Brenda De Banzie (1909, British character actress seen in films like Hobson’s Choice, A Kid For Two Farthings, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Entertainer and The Mark)

Ann Doran (1911, pictured with Charley Chase, TDOY actress fave seen in scads of Columbia comedy two-reelers as well as films like You Can’t Take It With You, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and Rebel Without a Cause)

George Cisar (1912, film and television acting stalwart who’s beloved here at TDOY as Sgt. Mooney on Dennis the Menace and banker Cyrus Tankersley on The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D.)

Laird Cregar (1913, delightfully sinister character actor seen to wonderful advantage in films like I Wake Up Screaming, This Gun for Hire, The Black Swan and Heaven Can Wait)

Carmen Dragon (1914, composer/bandleader heard often on radio and television; provided the music in films like Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye and Invasion of the Body Snatchers)

Andrew V. MacLaglen (1920, director son of actor Victor whose early career at the helm of TV oaters like Gunsmoke and Have Gun – Will Travel gave way to larger theatrical efforts like McLintock!, Shenandoah, Bandolero! and Chisum)

Darryl Hickman (1931, 79, older brother of Dwayne whose moppet career included film appearances in The Grapes of Wrath, Keeper of the Flame, Leave Her to Heaven, Alias Nick Beal and The Set-Up)

Charles Cyphers (1939, 71, cult movie actor seen in films like Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, The Onion Field, Escape from New York and TV series like The Betty White Show and Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher)

Phil Proctor (1940, 70, writer-actor-voice artist and founding member of the Firesign Theatre)

Peter Cullen (1941, 69, actor-voice artist who’s worked on a myriad of animated cartoon series but was a regular on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour [as announcer] in his salad days)

Frances Lee McCain (1944, 66, TDOY actress fave seen in films like Real Life, Back to the Future and Stand by Me and on TV in Apple’s Way)

Jim Davis (1945, 65, Garfield creator and bane of Jeff Overturf’s existence)

Linda Kelsey (1946, 64, TDOY actress fave immortalized on TV as reporter Billie Newman on Lou Grant and Kate Harper on the sitcom Day by Day)

Jonathan Edwards (1946, 64, one-hit wonder [Sunshine (Go Away Today)]

Sally Struthers (1948, 62, film/television actress best known as Gloria Bunker Stivic on All in the Family and Gloria and as spokeswoman for hungry children everywhere)

Georgia Engel (1948, 62, delightfully ditzy television character actress beloved as Georgette Franklin Baxter on Mary Tyler Moore but also a sitcom fixture on The Betty White Show, Goodtime Girls, Jennifer Slept Here, Coach and Everybody Loves Raymond)

Eagle Pennell (1952, independent film director whose films like The Whole Shootin’ Match and Last Night at the Alamo chronicled Texas blue-collar eccentricity)

Rachel Sweet (1962, 48, actress-singer whose early gigs on shows like The Sweet Life and Hope & Gloria led to writing and producing sitcoms like Sports Night, Dharma & Greg and The George Lopez Show)

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy birthday, you wascawwy wabbit!

Leave it to fromage enthusiast and esteemed blogging colleague Elisson to jog my memory about leaving off one of the most important personages in show bidness off today’s birthday list—that Oscar-winning rabbit, Bugs Bunny, turns seventy today. As “the Obi-Wan Kenobi of Georgia” so rightly points out, the official Bugs cartoon A Wild Hare (1940) premiered in theaters on this date back in 1940.

To say that Bugs Bunny is my favorite cartoon character would be a mild understatement. That “varmint” taught me a healthy disrespect for authority and that being a smartass would reap the benefit of appreciative laughter. My fondest Bugs memory is watching his cartoons on television as a child because if my grandfather came into the room when they were on he would sit down beside me and join in the merriment. To me, that was the coolest thing imaginable—that an adult would take the opportunity to want to share something in “my world” when most of the time they were busy concentrating on “grownup” stuff.

I’ll cut you a slice of cake today, Bugs old pal—it’s carrot cake, which I’m guessing is your favorite.

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Happy birthday today to…

Donald Crisp (1882, Academy Award-winning British actor-director [How Green Was My Valley] whose film career spanned from silents [The Musketeers of Pig Alley] to sound [The Last Hurrah])

Kathleen Howard (1884, character actress in films like It’s a Gift, Man on the Flying Trapeze, Blossoms in the Dust and Ball of Fire)

Judith Lowry (1890, elderly character actress [Ladybug, Ladybug, Cold Turkey] who is best remembered as feisty Sally “Mother” Dexter on the 1975-77 sitcom Phyllis)

Charles Vidor (1900, motion picture director [Ladies in Retirement, The Desperadoes, Gilda, Love Me or Leave Me])

Leo Durocher (1905, colorful manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1939 to 1948, followed by stints with the New York Giants [1948-55], the Chicago Cubs [1966-72] and the Houston Astros [1972-73]; also worked as a NBC baseball commentator and played himself on various radio and television programs)

Keenan Wynn (1916, actor son of clown Ed, seen to good advantage in films like The Clock, Angels in the Outfield, Kiss Me Kate, Shack Out on 101 and many, many more)

Veola Vonn (1918, stacked blonde character actress seen in films and television [Paris Playboys, Spy Chasers] and wife of Jack Benny nemesis Frank Nelson)

David Swift (1919, film/television scribe who contributed to Disney films Pollyanna, The Parent Trap and Candleshoe; also created TV’s Mister Peepers)

Beatrice Pearson (1920, 90, ingénue actress who was glimpsed in Force of Evil and Lost Boundaries)

Barbara Eiler (1922, OTR veteran [The Life of Riley, A Day in the Life of Dennis Day] who also did a bit of film and television work, notably on The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet)

Vincent Canby (1924, New York Times film critic beginning in 1969 until his death in 2000)

Will Jordan (1927, 83, actor/stand-up comedian famous for his Ed Sullivan impression [I Wanna Hold Your Hand, The Doors, Mr. Saturday Night])

Harvey Fiqua (1929, lead Moonglow)

Jerry Van Dyke (1931, 79, younger brother of Dick who soon became a television icon by appearing in series like My Mother the Car, Accidental Family and Coach)

Don Galloway (1937, film and television actor remembered for his long-running role as Det. Sgt. Ed Brown on Ironside and as Jo Beth Williams’ husband in The Big Chill)

Dean Hargrove (1938, 72, creator-producer of such classic TV mysteries as Matlock, Father Dowling Mysteries and Jake and the Fatman}

John Pleshette (1942, 68, film and television actor best remembered as the luckless Richard Avery on the nighttime TV soap Knots Landing)

Stu Gilliam (1943, 67, character actor/voice artist in television and film [Roll Out, The Harlem Globetrotters, The Houndcats])

Bobbie Gentry (1944, 66, country-pop vocalist [Ode to Billie Joe, Fancy] and one-time duet partner of Glen Campbell)

Betty Thomas (1948, 62, television/film actress who played Sgt. Lucy Bates on Hill Street Blues and then later branched out into directing films [The Brady Bunch Movie, Private Parts, 28 Days])

Maureen McGovern (1949, 61, actress-singer who became associated with singing the theme songs to disaster flicks like The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno)

Simon Jones (1950, 60, British character actor remembered for his role as Arthur Dent in the TV adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

Roxanne Hart (1952, 58, film/television actress best remembered as Nurse Camille Shutt on TV’s Chicago Hope)

Carol Leifer (1956, 54, pictured, stand-up comedienne/writer who’s written for Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld and The Ellen Show—but whose own funny sitcom, Alright Already, never got the chance to be a hit)

John Putch (1961, 49, actor son of Jean Stapleton whom I’ll always remember as the schnook who had the hots for Valerie Bertinelli’s Barbara Cooper on One Day at a Time)

Maya Rudolph (1972, 38, film/TV actress and Not Ready for Prime Time player; daughter of singer Minnie Riperton)

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Mayberry Mondays #11: “Emmett’s 50th Birthday” (12/16/68, prod. no. 0113)

You say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too--yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you…

Yes, R.F.D. fans—this week’s installment of Mayberry Mondays will celebrate the golden natal anniversary of that town’s resident fix-it savant, Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman)…who’s so excited about marking the upcoming event that he’s actually working on fixing something in his shop as opposed to what he usually does around Mayberry: sitting on bus benches and panhandling. Millie Swanson (Arlene Golonka), the chief pastry girl at Boysinger’s Bakery, stops by Emmett’s establishment just in time to see county clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) and gas pump jockey Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) play a cutthroat game of checkers…

MILLIE: …I’ve got problems with my hair dryer…
EMMETT: What’s the trouble with it?
MILLIE: Well, it won’t dry…it just gave up...
EMMETT (as he pulls off a part from the dryer): Oh, it’s probably the switch
HOWARD: The same thing happened with mine

I think I’m going to regret seeing where this is going…

MILLIE: You’ve got a hair dryer, Howard?
HOWARD: Yeah…oh, I don’t use it for that…Mother left it when she moved to Mt. Pilot…I’ve been doing my own personal laundry, and I dry about half a dozen pairs of socks under it…
MILLIE: Oh! That’s a wonderful idea…
GOOBER: You gonna finish this game or not, Howard?
HOWARD (annoyed): In a minute…
EMMETT: Give me a couple of days on this, Millie…
MILLIE: Okay… (She waves to them all as she heads out the door) Bye!
(The men ad-lib various goodbyes “So long, Mill,” etc. Howard sits back down to where he and Goober are playing checkers…)
GOOBER (after a pause): I dry my socks in the oven
HOWARD: Hmm…well, to each his own…

It’s amazing that no eligible, single women have lassoed those two crazy bachelors and marched them down the aisle by now. But the comedy shenanigans will continue, because looking out of the window of the fix-it shop we see dedicated, up-at-the-butt-crack-of-dawn postal employee Mr. Felton (Norman Leavitt) entering the joint. He hands Emmett a fistful of mail and remarks to him, “Well, they’re startin’ to come in, Emmett…”

HOWARD: Whaddya got there, bills?
FELTON: No…birthday cards!
GOOBER: Your birthday, Emmett?
FELTON (indicating Emmett): The old man still has a lot of friends
HOWARD: It’s always nice to be remembered…
FELTON: Looks like you got three sentimentals and one humorous…and that’s about how it goes… (Looking at Howard and Goober) You get more sentimentals as the years go by…

Emmett’s received a card from Andy, who’s “still in Raleigh,” which means the former star of The Andy Griffith Show doesn’t need to worry about punching the time clock this week. When quizzed as to how old he’s going to be, Emmett replies that he’ll be fifty—prompting a series of wisecracks from his yokel friends on how he’s getting up in years. Just when you’re convinced that your sides can take no more of this gay frivolity, city council head and dirt farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) enters the picture…

HOWARD: Hey, Sam—have you heard the big news?
SAM: What?
HOWARD: Emmett’s going to be fifty on Thursday… (He gives Sam a wink)
SAM: No kiddin’? Well, congratulations…
GOOBER: You better hold off, Sam…he ain’t made it yet…
(They all laugh…)
HOWARD (slapping Emmett on the back): Yeah, you better stay off your feet, Emmett…save your strength for the big day
SAM: Come on, now…Emmett may be over the hill, but he can still do a lot of coasting
EMMETT: One thing I never worried about was my age…
HOWARD: Well, that’s the spirit, Emmett…no sense worrying about taxes, either…
(More laughter)
EMMETT: You fellas are in rare form today…

Yeah, if you close your eyes you can almost hear Robert Benchley ask Dorothy Parker for the butter at the Algonquin Round Table…Sam has to leave (I guess he’s planning on getting some work accomplished) and Goober announces he’ll go with him—then asks Howard if he wants to call the checkers game a draw. Emmett tells his departing friends he’ll see them later…whereupon Goober says somberly: “Oh, I hope so.” Howard jokingly wishes Emmett a happy sixtieth on the way out, leaving Emmett behind to fiddle with a typewriter and muttering, “Jokers…”

(At the time this episode originally aired, actor Paul Hartman was sixty-four years old. So perhaps our contingent of Mayberry wits isn’t “jokers” after all.) The proof is in the screen cap:

The lord and master of the House of Emmett arrives home from a hard day’s…well, whatever it is he does in that shop…and greets his wife Martha (Mary Lansing), who asks him how his day went. “Oh, same old sixes and sevens,” is Emmett’s reply—which reveals why everybody in town hangs out there…they got a crap game going on in the back. Mr. Clark nestles down in his easy chair and, removing the rubber band from the evening paper, puts it in the end table drawer beside him. I can’t help but wonder 1) how many rubber bands are in that drawer, because from the looks of things it’s a force of habit for him, and 2) how much real news happens in Mayberry to warrant a daily paper.

MARTHA: Emmett…
MARTHA: I was thinking it would be nice to have a birthday party for you this year…
EMMETT: Oh, no…I don’t think so…
MARTHA: Oh, why not? It’d be fun
EMMETT: Oh, why go to all that trouble?
MARTHA: It’s no trouble…I’d love to do it…

The Clarks are interrupted by the front door buzzer, and upon opening the door Martha finds Sam outside—he’s come by to borrow a power drill he’d asked Emmett about at the shop earlier.

SAM: Hey, I’m not interrupting your dinner, am I?
MARTHA: Oh, no…we were just planning a birthday party for Emmett…
SAM: Oh…
EMMETT: We were not…we decided not to have it…
MARTHA: Oh, Emmett—now you know you’d have a good time…wouldn’t he, Sam…?
SAM: Well, yeah…I suppose…mm-hmm…
EMMETT: Why would I have a good time? Give me one good reason…
SAM: Well, uh…I’m not sure…uh…
MARTHA: You know as well as I do he’d have a good time…
SAM: Well, yeah…mm-hmm…
EMMETT: Why would you say a thing like that? I’d only be staying up to all hours and have to drag myself to work the next day…
SAM: Look…if I could just get the drill…
EMMETT (poking Sam in the chest with his finger): The trouble is that birthday parties are just for kids
MARTHA (to Emmett): I’m beginning to think the trouble is with you…all you want to do is read your paper…it’s the same thing, every day…you come in here, you give me a peck and then you flop in your chair…you’re acting like an old man!

Martha, old girl…he’s sixty-four years old. That’s what sixty-four-year-old men do. Sam is clearly uncomfortable about being in the middle of this argument…and he definitely doesn’t want to be around when the discussion turns to why Martha no longer gets any nocturnal visits from the little Emmett...if you know what I mean, and I think you do. So upon getting the power drill he beats a hasty retreat from Chez Clark. “The truth is: a man’s only as old as he acts, right?” asserts Emmett, as Sam hauls ass and elbows toward his parked car.

Goober and Howard pull up in Goober’s pickup truck out at Jones Farm as Sam works on his gate with Emmett’s power drill. “Wait till you see what we got,” Howard tells Sam excitedly. The two men unload a rocking chair that they purchased at a junk shop from the back of the pickup, and Goober announces that they’re going to give it to Emmett as a gag gift. But Sam isn’t so sure that’s a good idea, and he dissuades these two idiots from carrying out their prank (he’s like that—he never wants to go cow tipping, either). “At seventy, you’re braggin’ about it,” Sam explains, “but at fifty, I guess you’re still fooling yourself…”

“Maybe he’s got a point, huh?” Howard asks Goober. “Maybe we just…better forget about the rocker.” “I never realized there was such a generation gap between me and Emmett,” responds Goober forlornly.

Downtown, Emmett has to sidestep an automobile that narrowly misses hitting him and as such, dashing the hopes of the audience to see this truly annoying individual cut down in the prime of life. A man on a motorcycle then pulls up to Emmett, asking for directions to Siler City. Emmett points the way, and the grateful man gives many thanks by saying, “Thanks, Gramps! Hang in there!” “Smart aleck!” Emmett calls out after him—and if he weren’t on a downtown street in Mayberry, he would probably have told the guy to stay off his lawn*.

What happens next is one of the most heart-breaking things I’ve ever witnessed on an episode of Mayberry R.F.D.—let alone The Andy Griffith Show. Emmett steps on a set of scales and drops a coin in the slot, expecting to get both his weight and fortune. But the card that pops out is completely blank—leaving Emmett to remark: “No future at all.” (My God, that is pathetic.) Faced with the prospect that the sand in the hourglass that is his life is slowly running out, Emmett takes his familiar seated position on the bus depot bench, whereupon Sam wanders by and sits down beside him…

SAM: Beautiful day…
EMMETT: Yeah…I suppose so…time sure flies…it seems like just yesterday that there was a bean field right where that ol’ drugstore is…

Well, considering the character of Emmett wasn’t introduced to Mayberry until the last season of Andy Griffith, it isn’t really as long ago as he pretends it to be…

SAM: Aw, Emmett…everything changes…and the thing to do is accept it, and move right along with it…
EMMETT: Yeah, I know that…well…see ya later, Sam…

And with that, Emmett rises from the bench…and walks into the path of an arriving bus. No, I’m just kidding (we could never be that lucky)—he heads back to the fix-it shop, and after a scene dissolve discover him diligently working on Millie’s hair dryer. But he’s distracted by the clock on the wall, and he turns to the instrument muttering: “Tick tock tick tock…won’t you ever stop?” (Ask not for whom the bell tolls, my friend…it tolls for thee.) Millie enters the shop to inquire on the health of her dryer, and Emmett tells her it will take a minute if she wants to wait. So Mill sits down to eat her lunch and fingers through the magazines Emmett has lying around on a nearby table. “The comic books are Goober’s,” he informs our bakery babe. “Don’t work the puzzles or dog-ear the pages; he gets mad.”

Millie takes solace in a movie magazine, which has a feature on her favorite actor: Cary Grant. She bubbles with delight at that Bristol boy: “He can carry me off into the sunset anytime.”

MILLIE: Isn’t he something!
EMMETT: Mmm…well…
MILLIE: I just love his tan…it makes him look so young
EMMETT: Yeah, I guess so…he’s a good actor…
MILLIE: Oh, yeah…oh, he’s so funny sometimes…did you remember him in that picture, where he was in that walking race… (Giddy as a schoolgirl) Oh, heel…toe…heel…toe…heel…toe…

The movie Millie is referring to is, of course, Walk Don’t Run (1966)—Grant’s final feature film and, though I know I’m in the minority on this, a fine example of an actor going out on a high note. Millie’s happiness dissipates upon turning the page of the magazine, however, because there are pictures of Grant kissing Sophia Loren, Doris Day and Audrey Hepburn. Emmett philosophically muses that Grant should “make hay while the sun shines” because he’s not getting any younger—and that’s when Millie informs him that Cary is in his sixties. Emmett stops to ponder this. “He’s at least ten years older than I am.” This puts a noticeable spring in the fix-it man’s step—knowing that he’s younger than Cary Grant.

(For the record, Hartman was less than two months younger—Grant was born on January 18, 1904 and Hartman on the first of March. But if I may paraphrase a noted gentleman who spent a Christmas vacation wheelchair-bound—Cary Grant could eat a box of candy every day of his life and live to be 102…and when he’d been dead three days, he’d still look better than Paul Hartman.)

Emmett is a changed man. Sam and Howard are parked on Emmett’s official bus bench discussing their friend (“The trouble with Emmett is, when he’s up, he’s up…and when he’s down, he’s down” according to Howard) when Emmett jogs by, happy as a lark. They follow him to the fix-it shop and, peering into the front window, see Emmett tanning himself under a sun lamp…

SAM: Uh, Emmett…are you all right?
EMMETT: Well, of course I’m all right…just gettin’ a little suntan…just because I’m reachin’ the prime of life doesn’t mean I can’t take care of myself… (He starts to hum a song)
HOWARD: Gee, I’m sure glad you’re feeling so chipper, Emmett…
EMMETT: Well, why shouldn’t I be? I’m not even sixty yet…

I guess denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. At the bakery, Sam pumps Millie for information on why Emmett is acting so trippy—so Millie tells him about the conversation she had with Emmett regarding Cary Grant. Sam immediately gets it—and wonders to himself why he didn’t think of coming up with the Grant comparison in the first place (“Never underestimate the power of a woman”). But Millie is still a little confused, and asks him to explain it to her as he heads out the front door. “I think you just gave the world another Cary Grant,” he tells her cheerfully and he gives her a little peck on the nose.

And speaking of pecks, Emmett arrives at his domicile and announces he’s home—but instead of the perfunctory greeting to Martha, he takes her in his arms and “dips” her, asking how her day went. “Well, it’s certainly picking up,” is her stunned response. She hands him his paper, but he waves it away—bubbling with enthusiasm, Emmett beseeches Martha to continue with the preparations for his birthday party. “Well, just don’t stand there, woman—get on the phone! Call everybody!” Martha gets on the horn with Sara, and as Emmett sits down to peruse the paper he takes the rubber band and playfully shoots Martha in the ass. (Fortunately for us, the camera is ready to move on to other things before we’re subjected to the sight of Emmett really getting frisky.)

There is a dissolve, and we see several couples milling and dancing about in the Clark’s living room—Goober sheepishly makes his way over to the punch bowl, where Martha pours him a jigger of punch. “Boy, Martha, you really went all out—just like one of them Park Avenue parties,” he says goofily. (Well, with one exception, Goob—if it were Park Avenue, you would not be invited.) The door buzzer rings, and Martha goes over to answer it—it’s Sam and Millie, which means the party can really get started.

Martha informs Emmett that Sam and Millie have arrived, and he makes his way through the crowd, dressed and looking like Hugh Hefner on a really bad day. “Hello, Sam boy,” he says enthusiastically, and he kisses Millie’s hand. Howard and Goober observe this from across the room, and Goober tells Howard: “Cary Grant…” “Oh…” is all that Howard is able to say.

“Boy, he sure is kicking up his heels tonight,” observes Howard of Emmett as he dances a jig with his date alongside Sam and Millie. In a series of scenes, we witness Emmett engaged in party activities that make him look…well, like a fifty-year-old doofus...

Yeah, beating Howard at arm-wrestling…there’s a strenuous activity. “He’s really knocking himself out,” observes Sam to Martha—who informs Sam: “He hasn’t behaved this way since the senior prom.” Emmett, having vanquished a man who couldn’t punch his way through Cool Whip, announces to those assembled: “Everybody out in the yard for the sack race!”

The morning after, Sam takes a leisurely stroll downtown…and passing by the fix-it shop, notices that Emmett hasn’t opened up yet. I don’t know why this would be of any great concern to our hero, when you consider how much time Emmett spends on that bus depot bench…but nevertheless, a concerned Sam tools on over to the Clark’s residence to inquire about Emmett’s absence from his establishment…

SAM: Hey, that was some party last night…
MARTHA: Thank you…yes, it was…
SAM (chuckling): I, uh…I just stopped by the fix-it shop and it was closed…I wondered if everything was all right…
MARTHA: Oh, yes…Emmett’s still asleep…
SAM: Oh…
MARTHA (pointing towards the couch): Right over there…

“When the last guest left, he said ‘Well, that’s it’…and it sure was,” Martha muses out loud. (I’ll bet that sort of thing never happened to Cary Grant.) Since it’s obvious that Emmett’s no longer able to run with the big dogs anymore, he and Sam must have the eventual philosophical back-and-forth on the subject of age:

EMMETT: That Cary Grant must have a thousand stunt men
SAM: Hey…you gotta expect a few aches and pains after a night like that…that was a great party, Emmett—everybody’s talking about it…
EMMETT: Laughin’ about it, you mean…I acted like an old fool…
SAM: No…no…
EMMETT: Yeah, tryin’ to be the life of the party…runnin’ around…no fooling an old fool…
SAM (after a pause): Well…yeah, there is, Emmett…a man who’s fifty and can’t make up his mind whether he’s seventy or seventeen…
SAM: Emmett…we all…reach milestones in our lives…and we all worry about them…at twenty, you worry about gettin’ a job…at thirty you worry about supportin’ a family…at forty you worry about losing your job…and at fifty…well, I guess you just worry about bein’ a little older…but it’s…just another step in life…
EMMETT: I suppose…
SAM: I think the thing to do is just accept your life and stop worrying about it…
SAM: Just…be what you are, Emmett…fifty…it’s a good age…

Okay, those of you who signed up for Sam’s motivational course…your refund is in the mail. In this episode’s wrap-up, Sam is gassing up at Goober’s and he happens to notice that his pal is trying to unload the rocking chair Goob and Howard originally purchased for Emmett’s birthday. Goober offers to sell it to Sam for half a sawbuck…and even comes down to four dollars, mentioning that he could put it on the front porch at the Jones Ranch. But Sam insists he’s not ready for a rocking chair, despite Howard’s observation that in seven more years he (Sam) will be forty. As Sam climbs into the cab of his pickup, he can’t help but stare at his visage in the truck’s side mirror…and contemplate that very soon he’ll be acting as ridiculous as Emmett at age forty. (Note: Ken Berry was actually thirty-five at the time this episode was first telecast.)

Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor must have said something to piss Martha Clark off, because she wasn’t invited to Emmett’s celebration…and as such, does not appear in this episode. So Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s patented Bee-o-Meter™ holds at five Aunt Bee appearances so far on Mayberry R.F.D. In real life, Mary Lansing was not only an actress but an architectural designer, designing her own home in Studio City, California. I did not learn until recently that Lansing was at one time married to actor Frank Nelson, who lives on in both radio and television immortality as Jack Benny’s nemesis—Lansing made a few appearances on the Benny program, and was also heard on such radio shows as The Lux Radio Theatre, The Whistler, The Life of Riley and Gunsmoke. Lansing’s television legacy is pretty much her work on R.F.D.—the IMDb credits her with nine appearances on this series (in addition to fifteen on The Andy Griffith Show…though she only played Martha in three Griffith episodes). Other television shows that welcomed her as a guest star include The Real McCoys, Pete and Gladys, The Patty Duke Show, Gomer Pyle, USMC and Bewitched. Next week: Millie may be going out there as a lowly sales clerk in a bakery—but she’s coming back a star!

*Obligatory Bill Crider joke.

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Happy birthday today to…

Joseph Sweeney (1882, elderly film and television character actor seen in vehicles such as The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, The Fastest Gun Alive and 12 Angry Men)

Lars Hanson (1886, Swedish actor who acted in many silent film classics including The Scarlet Letter, Flesh and the Devil, The Divine Woman and The Wind)

Aldous Huxley (1894, English novelist who wrote the anti-Utopian Brave New World and whose mescaline experiments were chronicled in The Doors of Perception)

Gracie Allen (1895, immortal comedienne/actress who teamed with husband George Burns to form one of the best comedy duos in vaudeville, radio, movies and television)

Charles Butterworth (1896, befuddled character actor seen in films like Love Me Tonight, Penthouse, Baby Face Harrington, We Went to College and The Boys From Syracuse; the vocal inspiration for cereal pitchman Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch)

Hal Yates (1899, writer-director-producer who helmed many of Leon Errol and Edgar Kennedy’s classic comedy two-reelers at R-K-O; later directed most of the episodes of the TV sitcom My Little Margie)

Nat Levine (1899, independent film producer who founded Mascot Studios in 1927)

Leigh Jason (1904, motion picture writer-director who helmed the likes of The Mad Miss Manton, Three Girls About Town, Lady for a Night, Nine Girls and Dangerous Blondes)

Vivian Vance (1909, film and television character actress revered today as sidekick to television icon Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show)

Fred S. Fox (1915, television comedy scribe [The Joey Bishop Show, Mona McCluskey The Andy Griffith Show, The Mothers-in-Law])

Lorna Gray [aka Adrian Booth] (1917, 93, pictured, actress whose start in Columbia two-reelers alongside the Three Stooges led to her signature role as one of the greatest villainesses in serialdom: Vultura in Perils of Nyoka)

Jean Shepherd (1921, beloved author-humorist-radio personality whose childhood experiences were documented in the 1983 film classic A Christmas Story)

Jason Robards (1922, Academy Award-winning actor and TDOY fave [The Night They Raided Minsky’s, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, All the President’s Men, Melvin and Howard])

Blake Edwards (1922, 88, motion picture director [Operation Petticoat, Experiment in Terror, Days of Wine and Roses, A Shot in the Dark] and creator of radio’s Richard Diamond and The Lineup and TV’s Peter Gunn and Mr. Lucky)

James Best (1926, 84, TDOY actor fave who specialized in playing snot-nosed troublemakers in hundred of movie and TV westerns…but who achieved small screen immortality as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard)

Stanley Kubrick (1928, motion picture director highly praised by film geeks even though I personally thought his films went downhill after Dr. Strangelove)

Robert Colbert (1931, 79, television stalwart best remembered as Bret Maverick-wannabe Brent on Maverick and Dr. Doug Phillips in the cult classic The Time Tunnel)

Yale Summers (1933, 77, television character actor best remembered as Jack Dane on the series Daktari)

Darlene Love (1938, 72, actress-vocalist [Lethal Weapon] and one-time Crystal [He’s a Rebel])

Dobie Gray (1940, 70, R&B vocalist [The In Crowd, Drift Away, Weekend Friend])

Brenton Wood (1941, 69, R&B vocalist [The Oogum Boogum Song, Gimme Little Sign])

Bobby Hebb (1941, 69, one-hit wonder [Sunny])

Mick Jagger (1943, 67, actor and Rolling Stone)

Peter Hyams (1943, 67, motion picture director of films like Capricorn One, Outland, Running Scared and 2010)

Kiel Martin (1944, television stalwart best remembered as scumbag cop J.D. LaRue on Hill Street Blues)

Helen Mirren (1945, 65, Academy Award-winning actress seen in vehicles such as The Long Good Friday, 2010, The Mosquito Coast, Prime Suspect and The Queen)

Kevin Spacey (1959, 51, Academy Award-winning actor seen in vehicles such as Glengarry Glen Ross, The Ref, The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential, American Beauty and The Life of David Gale)

Tom McGowan (1959, 51, stage, film and television actor immortalized here at TDOY for his recurring roles on Frasier and Everybody Loves Raymond)

Sandra Bullock (1964, 46, film and television actress [Speed, A Time to Kill, Crash] whom I cannot believe I’m older than)

Jeremy Piven (1965, 45, film and television stalwart [Ellen, Cupid, Entourage] who is required by federal law to be in every film that John Cusack is also in)

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