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This Day in Comedy History

April 15 - April 21

April 15

 

1898 - Actress and radio personality best known for her 24 years starring as Molly on the hit radio series Fibber McGee and Molly, Marian Jordan is born in Peoria, Illinois.

1917 - Actor and voice artist known for multiple Disney productions, The Danny Thomas Show and The Patsy, Hans Conried is born in Baltimore, Maryland.

1933 - Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery is born in Hollywood, California.

1957 - He's also Innovative, Inspired and Influential, but Life Magazine decides to go with "Inventive" in describing Ernie Kovacs on their cover.

1958 - Canadian actress Wendel Meldrum, from The Wonder Years, Less Than Kind, and famed “Low Talker” from Seinfeld’s Puffy Shirt episode, is born in Rome, Italy (or possibly Edmonton, Alberta).

1959 - Comedian, vlogger, podcaster and actor best known for his role as various generations of Tannen bullies (Biff, Griff and Buford aka “Mad Dog”) in the Back to the Future trilogy, and for playing Coach Ben Fredricks in the series Freaks and Geeks, Tom Wilson is born in Philadelphia. And just to be clear, we’re talking about Thomas F. Wilson, not the Tom Wilson (1880-1965) who appeared in supporting roles in countless silent film comedies, okay?

1982 - Seth Rogen, known for starring in such films as Knocked Up, Superbad, Neighbors, and 40 Year-Old Virgin, is born in Vancouver, BC... possibly with a bong in each hand.

1988 - British actor Kenneth Williams, best known for appearing in 26 of the 31 films in the Carry On series, dies of an overdose of barbiturates at the age of 62.

1993 - Unhappy at the level of writing on the new Itchy and Scratchy cartoons, Bart and Lisa try their own hands at it and submit the scripts using Grandpa Simpson’s name. The result? Abe wins an award for “Little Barbershop of Horrors” - but is horrified to see clips of what his name has been put on. The Simpsons episode The Front airs on Fox.

2000 - Promoting a new TV Movie about the trio, The Three Stooges take up three TV Guide covers.

2004 - After three series, the 16th and final episode of Black Books airs. In Party, Manny and Fran drag Bernard to a party, but secrets are revealed in its drunken aftermath which leads to bitterness… even more bitterness than usual.

2009 - Live from the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon, Kathy Griffin’s special She’ll Cut a Bitch is broadcast on Bravo. 

2010 - After three seasons, the final episode of The Sarah Silverman Program airs on Comedy Central.

2012 - With many elements drawn from her own life, Lena Dunham’s comedy/drama series Girls premieres on HBO. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4tY-2PTFPg

2015 - Nashville’s East Room comedy club broke the world record for longest continuous stand-up comedy show (multiple comedians) of 80 hours, which had been held by Hollywood’s Laugh Factory since 2010.

April 16

 

1787 - Believed to be the first American comedy play ever presented, The Contrast makes its debut in New York City.

1889 - One of the biggest superstars of the silent - or any other - film era, Charlie Chaplin is born in Walworth, London, England.

1918 – Hugely influential as the co-creator, head writer and one of the stars of The Goons, writer and comedian Spike Milligan KBE is born in Ahmednagar, India.

1927 - Frequent co-star with her husband Ernie Kovacs, comic and actress Edie Adams is born in Kingston, Pennsylvania.

1932 - Centred around the duo trying to carry a piano up a flight of stairs, Laurel and Hardy’s The Music Box is released by MBM. The Hal Roach production would go on to win the first ever Academy Award presented for Best Live Action Short (Comedy).

1950 - Best known as Sgt. Eugene Tackleberry in the Police Academy film series, David Graf is born in Zanesville, Ohio. 

1952 - “Good news, everyone!” Professor Farnsworth himself - talented American voice actor Billy West (Futurama, Ren & Stimpy) - was born on this day in 1952.

1954 - Ellen Barkin, was born on this day. While she found comedic fame in movies like Diner, Ocean’s Thirteen, and Switch, her film debut came in Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke, in the  uncredited role of “Woman Playing Guitar”.  

1965 - English comedian Sydney Chaplin, half brother and manager of Charlie Chaplin, passed away - on Charlie’s 76th birthday, and one month after his own 80th.

1965 - Actor from Pretty In Pink and Two and a Half Men, Jon Cryer is born in New York City.

1965 - Comic and actor from the Bad Boys, Big Momma and House Party films among others, and the star of his own TV series Martin, Martin Lawrence is born in Frankfurt, West Germany.

1972 - Edinburgh Fringe favourite, theatre touring stand-up, and mainstay on Dara O’Briain  television projects, Irish comic Ed Byrne is born in Swords, County Dublin.

2006 - The one hour comedy/drama What About Brian debuts on ABC. 

2012 - On what would have been his 128th birthday, 662 Charlie Chaplin lookalikes gather at his former home - and current Chaplin Museum - in Switzerland to set a World Record.

2018 - Sleight-of-hand magician, comic and actor best known for starring as Judge Harry Stone on the NBC series Night Court, Harry Anderson passes away from a combination of strokes and influenza at the age of 65. He also starred as Dave Barry on the CBS sitcom Dave’s World, and had a recurring role as con man Harry “The Hat” Gittes on Cheers.

April 17

 

1896 - Best known for his frequent appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, Spanish ventriloquist and comedian Senor Wences is born Wenceslao Moreno in Salamanca, Spain.

1937 - One of the most famous characters in the entire Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies stable, Daffy Duck debuts in the episode Porky’s Duck Hunt.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7E4FkMHPFfs

1952 - Stand-up, actor and Mel Blanc successor at Warner Brothers - voicing many cartoon characters including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Pepé Le Pew, Marvin the Martian, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote and Taz - Joe Alaskey is born in Troy, New York.

1963 - Younger brother of Bill and Brian Doyle known for playing drunken good-time guy Freddie Rumson on Mad Men, starring in Bobcat Goldthwait’s God Bless America, and as one of the members of the Who’s Live Anyway tour with Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops, Joel Murray is born in Wilmette, Illinois.

1967 - Best known for her role as Maria Borges on Head of the Class, Leslie Bega is born in  Los Angeles.

1987 - Comic Dick Shawn (The Producers, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) passes away onstage during his one-man show at the Mandeville Center on the University of California at San Diego campus. Unpredictable as a performer, the crowd sensed nothing unusual when he collapsed, falling forward on the stage. People laughed and cracked jokes for five minutes until a stagehand checked him and called for medical help. After CPR was initiated, the audience was asked to leave the auditorium, but most remained, still assuming that it was all part of Shawn's act. Many began leaving—still unsure of what they had witnessed—only after paramedics arrived. He was 63.

1987 - It’s Joel and Ethan Cohen’s story of a young Southwest couple who will do whatever it takes to have a family, and keep it together. With stars Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter, and featuring John Goodman, Raising Arizona opens in wide release. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AIfVoGUs6c

1996 - Award-winning youth actress best known for her role as Bryana “Baby Girl” Thomkins on The Bernie Mac Show, Dee Dee Davis is born in Culver City, California. 

2011 - The 9th Annual TV Land Awards are hosted by Jane Lynch. Winners included The Facts of Life, Family Ties, The Cosby Show and Welcome Back, Kotter. Presenters included Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick, Paul Reiser and Ben Stiller.

2013 - Winnipeg born musical-comedy star and former “highest salaried woman” in the United States - she was 2nd to Bette Davis in 1946, tops in 1947, and then quit the business at just 26 years of age! - Deanna Durbin passes away aged 91 in Neauphle-le-Château, France. During her active years, Durbin boasted the world’s largest fan club.

2014 - While it would come back for an additional year on Yahoo! Screen, five years after its premiere on the network, the final episode of the series Community on NBC airs.

2016 - The TV Land Icon Awards are handed out; hosted by George Lopez they are to date the final TV Land Awards ceremony. Winners included Key & Peele, Norman Lear, John Stamos and Jim Parsons. Presenters included Garry Marshall, Seth MacFarlane and Rob Huebel.

2016 - A five time Emmy Award winner whose television career spanned 7 decades, though she is perhaps best remembered as Ray’s mother Marie Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond, actress Doris Roberts passes away following a stroke at the age of 90.

2020 - The Kenya Barris/Rashida Jones sitcom #blackAF, from the creator of Black-ish, is released on Netflix. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-LtbHykms0

April 18

 

April 19

 

April 20

 

April 21