This Day in Comedy History
August 15 - August 21
1884 - Her film credits include the screwball comedy Easy Living (1937), the hit rom-com The Philadelphia Story (1940) and The Human Comedy (1943). Vaudeville, Broadway and screen actor Mary Nash passes away in her sleep in her Los Angeles home at the age of 92.
1932 - The week their film Horse Feathers opens in theatres, The Marx Brothers take over the cover of Time.
1933 - Actress and model Lori Nelson is born Dixie Kay Nelson in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She began her career as a child performer on the radio, and was signed to a movie contract by Universal Pictures on her 17th birthday. She is best remembered for starring in the sitcom How to Marry a Millionaire.and her roles in the Ma & Pa Kettle film series.
1935 – Legendary American actor, humorist, and columnist Will Rogers dies in an Alaskan plane crash. He was born in 1879.
1936 - Pat Priest, who took over the role of Marilyn Munster on the television show The Munsters (1964–1966) after Beverley Owen left the show, is born in Bountiful, Utah.
1950 - Tess Harper is born in Mammoth Springs, Arkansas. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the dark comedy Crimes of the Heart (1986). She also had a role in Ishtar (1987), Her Alibi (1989), Daddy's Dyin': Who's Got the Will? (1990), My New Gun (1992), Kiss the Bride (2008), Hello, My Name Is Frank (2014) and Frank (2014).
1955 - Larry Mathews, who played son Ritchie in The Dick Van Dyke Show before giving up acting, is born in Burbank, CA.
1958 - In Chicago, comedian Rondell Sheridan is born. He’s best known for playing goofy dad Victor Baxter in the “psychic teen” Disney Channel sitcom That's So Raven and its spin-offs, Cory in the House and Raven's Home. He also starred in the short-lived NBC/UPN sitcom Minor Adjustments.
1960 - Mort Sahl becomes the first stand-up ever to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine.
1968 - Emmy winner as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Will and Grace (she played Grace!), Debra Messing is born in New York City.
1970 – American comedian, actor, and producer Anthony Anderson is born.
1972 - Oscar winning actor and Matt Damon BFF known for films including Jersey Girl, Chasing Amy, Shakespeare in Love, Gigli and Good Will Hunting, Ben Affleck is born in Berkeley, California.
1974 - Movie roles include The Whole Nine Yards (2000) and its sequel The Whole Ten Yards (2004), and TV credits include Eli Stone (2008–2009). Natasha Henstridge is born in Springdale, Newfoundland. But I knows you're not stunned, b’y!
1983 - Billy Barty’s Roller Fantasy - the prolific actor’s family friendly roller rink slash concert venue (where you can still roller skate) on weekend nights - hosts heavy metal band Motorhead. We’re gonna go out on a limb here and say this is probably the only time this guy ever worked with Motorhead.
1990 - She broke out as the youngest daughter in the sitcom The Bill Engvall Show (2007–2009). She won the Best Actress Academy Award for Silver Linings Playbook (2012) when she was 22, then a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the black comedy American Hustle (2013). She also won Golden Globes for those roles, as well as for the film Joy (2015). Jennifer Lawrence is born in Indian Hills, Kentucky.
1992 - With a cast including Rip Torn, Jeffery Tambor, Penny Johnson, Jeremy Piven, Janeane Garofalo, Wallace Langham, Megan Gallagher and Linda Doucett, Garry Shandling’s behind the scenes look at a late night network talk show, The Larry Sanders Show debuts on HBO.
2006 - The Weird Al Show is released on DVD by Shout! Factory.
2008 - As part of Comic Relief’s “The Return of Tony Clifton” national tour benefiting gulf coast performers affected by Hurricane Katrina, the character created and originally performed by Andy Kaufman performed with his "Katrina Kiss My Ass Orchestra" at Chicago's Chopin Theatre.
2010 - Sarah Millican headlines Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, recorded at the Empire Theatre in Sunderland.
2017 - For years Netflix's audience demanded to know: “When is country superstar Brad Paisley going to get a comedy special?” Their cries were finally answered on this date - though he cheated by getting help from ringers like Nate Bargatze, John Heffron, Sarah Tiana, Mike Winfield and Jon Reep - as Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo is released on the service.
2019 - Brazilian comic, singer and YouTuber Whindersson Nunes has his special Adulto released on Netflix.
1933 - From the films The Marriage-Go-Round (won a Golden Globe Award), Li'l Abner, The Maltese Bippy and even one named for her, but forever to be known as Batman villain Catwoman, Julie Newmar is born in Los Angeles.
1936 - Broadway, TV and film actress Anita Gillette is born Anita Luebben in Baltimore, Maryland. She’s best known for her many appearances as a celebrity guest on game shows and for starring in such sitcoms as Me and the Chimp, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The War at Home, Norman Lear's All That Glitters and Normal, Ohio. Movie credits include Moonstruck (1987), Shall We Dance (2004), Bob Roberts (1992), Boys on the Side (1995), Larger Than Life (1996), She's The One (1996), and The Guru (2002).
1945 - Actor known for his TV appearances on Seinfeld and The Politician, in the Christopher Guest films A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and in such other movies as For Your Consideration, Bob Roberts and The Grand Budapest Hotel, Bob Balaban is born in Chicago.
1946 - Lesley Ann Warren is born in New York City. Notable film roles include Choose Me (1984), Clue (1985), Burglar (1987), Life Stinks (1991), Secretary (2002), the Disney musicals The Happiest Millionaire (1967) and The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968), and of course Victor/Victoria (1982), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
1950 - Marshall Manesh is born in Mashhad, Iran. He is best known for playing Ranjit in How I Met Your Mother and recurring roles in other sitcoms, including Will & Grace, Scrubs, Andy Barker, P.I., Hot in Cleveland and Boston Legal. Movie roles include True Lies, Stealing Harvard, The Big Lebowski, Kazaam and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.
1952 - The delightful Reginald VelJohnson - who put up with Steve Urkel for nine years on Family Matters, served as Crocodile Dundee’s driver, brought comic relief in action hits Die Hard and Die Hard 2, and kept the original Ghostbusters in jail - is born in Queens, New York.
1954 - James Cameron is born in the entertainment hotbed of Kapuskasing, Northern Ontario. The filmmaker is best known for his effects-laden, big budget Hollywood super-blockbusters, but he did helm at least one comedy hit: True Lies (1994), a remake of the French spy comedy La Totale! (1991).
1956 - Bela Lugosi dies of a heart attack in his Los Angeles apartment, aged 73. Though obviously most famous for his many horror film roles, particularly for being “THE” dracula, he also starred in a number of comedy features - among them Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), Ninotchka (1939), Vampire Over London (1952), King of Jazz (1930), International House (1933), The Black Cat (1941), Ghosts on the Loose (1943), The Death Kiss (1932), Spooks Run Wild (1941), You’ll Find Out (1940), Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952), One Body Too Many (1944), and opposite The Ritz Bros. in The Gorilla (1939). FUN FACT: The rumour that Lugosi died while clutching the script for Ed Wood’s The Final Curtain is untrue.
1983 - Actor, author and filmmaker Carrie Fisher marries singer-slash-Saturday Night Live’s first host-slash-musical guest (and member of SNL’s prestigious “Five Timers Club”) Paul Simon. They would split the following July, but dated again following their divorce.
1985 - Grammy winning and Tony nominated actress Cristin Miliota is born in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. She played Tracy McConnell on the sitcom How I Met Your Mother (2013-2014), Betsy Solverson in the second season of Fargo (2015) and Hazel in the HBO Max series Made for Love (2021). On the big screen, she played Teresa Petrillo Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Sarah in Palm Springs (2020), co-starring opposite Andy Samberg,
1985 - Madonna and Sean Penn, co-stars in the soon-to-be-released and destined-to-be-panned comedy Shanghai Surprise, are married in Malibu, California, as helicopters with photographers hovered overhead, no doubt driving Penn batty. It was Madonna’s 27th birthday. She filed for divorce in early 1989.
1995 - In The Larry Sanders Show’s season four episode Jeannie’s Visit, Larry’s ex-wife causes problems when she comes back to visit the show. The episode marks Megan Gallagher’s final appearance as Larry’s wife/ex-wife.
2011 - Upset that Howard Stern hung up on him when he called in to his radio show, and claiming he never got paid for his own show on Sirius XM, Andy Dick appears on the Greg Fitzsimmons Show and goes on an anti-semitic rant against Howard Stern.
1893 - Mae West is born in King’s County, New York. She was an actress, screenwriter, singer, comic, and the most well known sex symbol of her generation. Her films also made millions for Paramount Studios at the height of the depression - which led to one of the buildings on their lot being named in her honour.
1979 - Award winning actress best known for her work with Lucille Ball, first as Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy, then again as Vivian Bagley on The Lucy Show, Vivian Vance loses her battle to breast cancer at age 70.
1992 - Comedian/actor/director Woody Allen admitted being romantically involved with Soon-Yi Previn, the 21-year-old adopted daughter of Allen’s longtime partner Mia Farrow. Allen and Previn would marry in 1997.
2001 - A screwball yarn about six teams racing to collect 2 million dollars, Rat Race opens in wide release. Its ensemble cast includes John Cleese, Kathy Najimi, Whoopi Goldberg, Rowan Atkinson, Jon Lovitz, Cuba Gooding, Jr, Amy Smart, Seth Green and Dave Thomas.
2008 - Bob Saget is roasted on Comedy Central. Roasters include Norm Macdonald, Cloris Leachman, Gilbert Gottfried, Jon Lovitz, Jeffery Ross, Susie Essman, Jeff Garlin and Greg Giraldo, with host John Stamos.
1896 - English actor Alan Mowbray is born in London. Mowbray was prolific, but is best remembered for starring as the title character in the supernatural 1930s comedies Topper (1937) and Topper Takes a Trip (1938).
1936 - In Santa Monica, CA, actor/director Robert Redford is born. Comedies on his resume include The Sting (1973), Sneakers (1992), Pete's Dragon (2016), The Old Man & the Gun (2018), The Hot Rock (1972), A Walk in the Woods (2015), She’s the One (1996) and Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park (1967).
1943 - Actor/comedian Martin Mull is born in Chicago, Illinois. Mull first became known for his role on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and its spin-off Fernwood 2 Night/America 2-Night, later achieving greater fame by playing Leon Carp on the hit sitcom Roseanne, Willard Kraft on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, “master of disguise” private dick Gene Parmesan on Arrested Development, and Russell the wise-cracking, drug-using pharmacist on Two and a Half Men. On the big screen he’s probably best known for playing Colonel Mustard in Clue (1985).
1952 - One of the most popular female stand-up comics of the 1970s and 80s with more than 20 appearances on Letterman, as well as spots on Johnny Carson's, Merv Griffin's, and Mike Douglas's shows, and more recently Daily Show and Politically Incorrect guest appearances. The great Elayne Boosler is born in Brooklyn, NY.
1964 - Craig Bierko is born in Rye Brook, New York. He starred with Valerie Bertinelli and Matthew Perry in the CBS sitcom Sydney (1990), and later turned down another role that went to Perry: Chandler Bing in Friends. He also had roles in Sex and the City, Boston Legal and Unhitched.
1969 - Christian Slater is born in New York City. His breakout role was in the satire Heathers (1989). Other comedy films include 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001), Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Kuffs (1992), Jimmy Hollywood (1994), Very Bad Things (1998), Who Is Cletis Tout? (2001), Freaky Deaky (2012) and He Was a Quiet Man (2007). On TV he starred in the series Breaking In (2011-2012) and Mind Games (2012).
1969 - Comedy film credits include Keeping the Faith, Everyone Says I Love You, Thanks for Sharing, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Sausage Party, Isle of Dogs and Birdman. Edward Norton is born in Boston, Massachusetts.
1970 - Malcolm-Jamal Warner, best known for playing eldest son Theodore Huxtable on the hit NBC sitcom The Cosby Show, is born in Jersey City, New Jersey. He also starred in the sitcoms Malcolm & Eddie and Reed Between the Lines.
1975 - Comedian and actor Kaitlin Olson is born in Portland, Oregon. She started with the LA improv troupe The Groundlings and appeared in such films as Leap Year (2010), The Heat (2013), Vacation (2015), Finding Dory (2016), and Arizona (2018). But she is best known for her TV work, starring in the FX series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Fox series The Mick, and the Quibi series Flipped, for which she was nominated for an Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series Emmy.
1978 - Comedian and actor Andy Samberg is born in Berkeley, CA. A member of The Lonely Island, he was a cast member on Saturday Night Live (2005–2012), where he was best known for his group’s SNL Digital Shorts. He won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy in 2013 for starring in the police sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Film credits include Hot Rod (2007), I Love You, Man (2009), That's My Boy (2012), Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012), Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016), and Palm Springs (2020). Samberg has had lead voice roles in Space Chimps (2008), the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs franchise (2009–2013), the Hotel Transylvania film series (2012–2021), and Storks (2016).
1992 - A day after admitting that he was romantically involved with his longtime partner Mia Farrow’s adopted 21 year old daughter Soon-Yi Previn, Woody Allen holds a news conference in New York to deny allegations that he molested the children he had adopted with Farrow.
1940 - Jill St. John is born in Los Angeles. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role opposite Frank Sinatra in Come Blow Your Horn (1963). Other credits include: Who's Minding the Store? (1963) with Jerry Lewis, Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1963) with Dean Martin, Honeymoon Hotel (1964) with Robert Morse and Nancy Kwan, and the spy spoof The Liquidator (1965) with Rod Taylor
1956 - Principal Ed Gibb in 8 Simple Rules, Walter in Baby Bob, one of the three actors to portray Dale "The Whale" Biederbeck on Monk, and the star of his own sitcom Busting Loose - Tony Award nominated actor Adam Arkin, son of Alan, is born in Brooklyn, New York.
1957 - Actor Martin Donovan is born in Reseda, California. He’s best known for his collaborations with director Hal Hartley, in films such as Trust (1990), Surviving Desire (1991), Amateur (1994), and Flirt (1995). On the small screen, Donovan played Peter Scottson on Showtime's series Weeds.
1963 - Happy Birthday, Uncle Jesse! John Stamos, Jesse Katsopolis on the hit sitcom Full House and its followup series Fuller House, is born in Cypress, California. We hope The Rippers got you something nice!
1965 - Kyra Sedgwick is born in New York City. A Golden Globe nominee for her performance in Something to Talk About (1995), her other film roles include Cameron Crowe's Singles (1992), Heart and Souls (1993), What's Cooking (2000), Secondhand Lions (2003), and The Game Plan (2007). Sedgwick also played Madeline Wuntch on the sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
1969 - Ottawa-raised Canadian-American actor Matthew Perry is born in Williamstown, Massachusetts. He’s best known for playing Chandler Bing in the hit sitcom Friends, but also starred in the sitcoms Go On, Mr. Sunshine and the new version of The Odd Couple as well as Aaron Sorkin’s comedy-drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Movie credits include Fools Rush In (1997), Almost Heroes (1998), The Whole Nine Yards (2000) and its sequel The Whole Ten Yards (2004), and 17 Again (2009)
1982 - Erika Christensen, whose films include The Banger Sisters (2002), The Perfect Score (2004), Flightplan (2005) and How to Rob a Bank (2007), is born in Seattle, Washington. She also starred in NBC’s comedy-drama Parenthood (2010-2015).
1983 - Following a limited release in July, Mr. Mom is given a wide release by 20th Century Fox. The film about a laid off auto engineer (Michael Keaton) turned reluctant stay-at-home dad would become a big enough hit that it would earn screenwriter John Hughes a $30 million, three picture deal with Universal - with those three movies turning out to be Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science. Mr. Mom’s co-stars include Teri Garr, Jeffrey Tambor, Ann Jillian, Christopher Lloyd and Martin Mull.
1969 - Actor and stand-up comedian Billy Gardell is born in Swissvale, Pennsylvania. He starred in two sitcoms, as Mike in Mike & Molly and Bob in Bob Hearts Abishola. He also had recurring roles on Yes, Dear, Sullivan & Son and My Name Is Earl.
1974 - Two-time Golden Globe award winning actress from Catch Me If You Can, Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby, American Hustle, Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, Junebug and The Muppets, Amy Adams is born in Vicenza, Italy.
2012 - One of the first female comedians to become a “household name,” the legendary Phyllis Diller passes away at the age of 95 in her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California. Her ashes were scattered at sea.
2017 - Jerry Lewis passes away in his Las Vegas home at the age of 91, of cardiac disease and peripheral artery disease. Lewis left his estate to his second wife and their daughter, intentionally excluding his sons from his first marriage.
2020 - In Soshanguve, South Africa, comedian and Pretoria News multi-media reporter James Mahlokwane - better known by his stage name Chomi Ya Jeso - is the victim of a home invasion after burglars break in, tie him and his girlfriend up, then beat and rob him of almost everything he owned, including the steaks they had just made for dinner. He was forced to move after the ordeal because of the trauma they had suffered.
1945 - Oscar nominated actress Patty McCormack is born Patricia Ellen Russo in Brooklyn, New York. She may be best known for playing Jeffrey Tambor's wife Anne in ABC’s Three’s Company spinoff sitcom The Ropers.
1956 - Canadian-American actress Kim Cattrall is born in Liverpool, England. She is best known for starring as Samantha in HBO’s TV and movie franchise Sex and the City. She also starred in the series Sensitive Skin and Producing Parker. Notable film credits include Porky’s (1981), Police Academy (1984), City Limits (1985), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Mannequin (1987), Tribute (1980), Turk 182 (1985), Baby Geniuses (1999), The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), Meet Monica Velour (2010) and Ice Princess (2005).
1962 - Cleo King is born in St. Louis, Missouri. She’s best known for playing grandmother Rosetta "Nana" McMillan in the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly, even though her grandson was played by Reno Wilson, who was just seven years her junior.
1967 - Carrie-Anne Moss is born in Burnaby, British Columbia. Outside of kicking serious agent ass in the Matrix sci-fi/action film franchise, she’s done some comedy, notably Chocolat (2000), Fido (2006), and Snow Cake (2006), for which she won the Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.
1975 - Alicia Witt is born in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her breakout role was playing Cybill Shepherd's daughter in the sitcom Cybill. She also played Zelda in Orange Is the New Black. Film credits include Two Weeks Notice (2002), The Upside of Anger (2005) and Last Holiday (2006).
2002 - The BBC publishes the results of their nationwide “British Heroes” poll. Making the Top 100 list are comedians Charlie Chaplin and Eric Morecambe (of the legendary comedy team Morecambe & Wise). Plus Shakespeare, who wrote a comedy or two.
2017 - The day after his death at age 91, multiple hotel marquees on the Las Vegas Strip honored Jerry Lewis with a coordinated video display of images of his career as a Las Vegas performer and resident. He had done many shows as a casino headliner over the decades since 1949 as Martin & Lewis and as a solo act.
This Day in Comedy History
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