This Day in Comedy History
August 8 - August 14
1927 - Carl Switzer, better known as Alfalfa from the Our Gang comedies is born in Paris, Illinois. He would later have small roles in It’s a Wonderful Life and Pat and Mike.
1930 - Actress Nita Talbot is born in New York City, as Anita Sokol. She would be nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her recurring role as Russian spy Marya on Hogan’s Heroes.
1937 - Actor Dustin Hoffman may be best known for drama but also appeared in such comedy classics as The Graduate, Wag the Dog and Tootsie, and such not-quite-classics as Ishtar, Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers. In a combination of genres he also portrayed comedy icon Lenny Bruce in the dramatic biography Lenny.
1949 - Golden Globe and Academy Award winning songwriter and actor Keith Carradine is born in San Mateo, CA. He played Tom Frank in Robert Altman's Nashville, and Lou Solverson in the first season of Fargo.
1953 - Actor Donny Most, best known for playing Ralph Malph on Happy Days, is born in Brooklyn, New York.
1960 - Decca Records in Britain destroys 25,000 copies of the song “Tell Laura I Love Her” by Ray Peterson, saying the teenage “death tragedy” was “too tasteless and vulgar for the English sensibility.” 20 years later, Billy Connolly would parody the song on his album “The Pick of Billy Connolly”.
1977 - Actress Lindsay Sloane, who played Valerie in Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1997–99) and Emily in the new version of The Odd Couple (2015–17), is born in Long Island, New York. She has also starred in films such as Bring It On (2000), Over Her Dead Body (2008), She's Out of My League (2010), The Other Guys (2010), Horrible Bosses (2011), and its sequel Horrible Bosses 2 (2014).
1978 - TV actress Countess Vaughn (The Parkers, Moesha) is born.
1980 - Actor Michael Urie of Ugly Betty fame is born.
1981 - Ron Burgundy’s boss in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and part of the ensemble cast of Think Like a Man, actress Meagan Good is born in Panorama City, Los Angeles, California.
1986 - She played Marisol "Flaca" Gonzales on Netflix’s series Orange Is the New Black, and Rhea in NBC’s Good Girls. Jackie Cruz is born in Queens, New York.
1996 - The singer known as “The Velvet Fog,” Mel Torme, is hospitalized after a stroke that left his left side weakened and affected his speech. Comedy fans will know him best for his many appearances (usually as himself) on the hit 1980s sitcom Night Court.
2001 - Stewie unleashes his inner William Shatner with an homage to the actor’s freaky performance of Rocket Man on the Family Guy episode And The Wiener Is…, airing on this date.
2001 - Actors Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are divorced after 11 years of marriage.
2001 - Beatrice “Bebe” Wood, known for her roles in the sitcoms The New Normal and The Real O'Neals, is born in Kansas City, Missouri.
2001 - Popular Whose Line Is It Anyway? (US) cast member Wayne Brady gets his own variety show on ABC, The Wayne Brady Show. When the show fails to catch on, it is retooled into a very successful daytime show, which relaunches the following September and lasts until 2004, winning five Emmy Awards.
2003 - Based on the successful sci-fi/action/comedy movie franchise, the not-so-successful TV series Tremors comes to an end on the Syfy Network, after one season of 13 episodes.
2017 - Singer Glen Campbell, who hosted the CBS variety series The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (1969-1972), dies in Nashville, Tennessee after battling Alzheimer’s disease, at the age of 81.
2017 - The third season of Hulu’s Difficult People premieres, created by Julie Klausner and co-starring her with fellow comedian Billy Eichner. It would also end up being the show’s final season, as Hulu would announce its cancellation in November.
2021 - Canadian stand-up comic Andrew Albert passes away in his sleep at his brother’s home in Gatineau, Quebec, after suffering a heart attack. Born in Fort Kent, Maine, Albert was raised in Edmundston, New Brunswick. While attending the University of Windsor, he began going to see his professor’s stand-up comedy performances at a local club and decided to become a stand-up himself. Based in Montreal, then Calgary, Albert was 46 years old.
This Day in Comedy History
1934 - Cynthia Harris is born in New York City. She’s best known for playing Paul Reiser’s mother in the sitcom Mad About You.
1942 - He appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 140 times - second only to Bob Hope - and was his youngest ever guest host, at age 26. Comedian David Steinberg is born in Winnipeg, Canada.
1944 - Lanky, deep-voiced actor Sam Elliott of film (The Hero, Grandma, Thank You for Smoking, The Big Lebowski, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Up in the Air) and TV (Netflix’s The Ranch) fame is born in Sacramento, CA.
1957 - Melanie Griffith (Something Wild, Working Girl, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Born Yesterday, Milk Money, Nobody’s Fool, Now and Then, Two Much, Crazy in Alabama, Cecil B. Demented, The Disaster Artist) is born in Manhattan, New York.
1958 - She played perhaps the world’s least lucky neighbour and wife. Amanda Bearse, who portrayed Marcy Rhoades-D'Arcy on the Fox sitcom Married... with Children (1987-1997), is born in Winter Park, Florida. She is notable as being one of the first sitcom stars to publicly come out as lesbian. On the big screen, she starred in the horror comedy Fright Night (1985).
1969 - Sharon Tate (12+1, The Wrecking Crew, Don’t Make Waves, The Fearless Vampire Killers) and four other people are found brutally murdered in Tate and Roman Polanski’s Los Angeles home. Cult leader Charles Manson and his “Manson Family” followers were later convicted of the horrific crime.
1970 - Actor/comedian Thomas Lennon is born in Oak Park, Illinois. He starred in several series, including MTV's The State, Comedy Central’s Reno 911!, and as Felix Unger in CBS’s reboot of The Odd Couple. With his writing partner, comedian Robert Ben Garant, Lennon has also written several successful comedy movies, such as the Night at the Museum films, The Pacifier, Balls of Fury, and Baywatch.
1985 - Her career began on Broadway in the musical comedy High Society and her movie career began in the musical comedy Camp. Since then her career has exploded, with starring roles in Up in the Air (for which she earned an Oscar nomination), the Pitch Perfect and Trolls movie series, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 50/50, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, A Simple Favor and Noelle. Anna Kendrick is born in Portland, Maine.
1990 - Drop the Dead Donkey premieres on Channel 4. The sitcom would win Best New TV Comedy at the 1990 British Comedy Awards, and in 1994 the BAFTA for Best TV Comedy.
1991 - The BBC Radio Four series On the Hour makes its debut. It's also the public’s introduction to Steve Coogan’s character Alan Partridge, as the sports reporter.
1996 - The movie Jack is released, starring Robin Williams as the titular (and literal) man-child.
1997 - After its initial run on Broadway and two months in London, the revival production of Damn Yankees comes to an end at West End’s Adelphi Theatre. Jerry Lewis reprised his role as Applegate (his first Broadway role) and April Nixon played Lola.
1998 - What does a stand-up do with all the bits that have been honed and crafted over the years and made you a famous comedian? In the case of Jerry Seinfeld you find a very public way to retire the old act in one fell swoop. The HBO special I’m Telling You for the Last Time is broadcast live from New York’s Broadhurst Theatre.
2008 - Stand-up and actor known for The Original Kings of Comedy, Ocean’s Eleven, Bad Santa, Mr. 3000 and a legendary set on Def Comedy Jam, Bernie Mac passes away at the young age of 50.
2019 - The third and final season of GLOW, starring Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin and Marc Maron, is released on Netflix. Though a fourth and final season was greenlit, after production began the plug was pulled due to the COVID lockdown.
This Day in Comedy History
1932 - The Marx Brothers film Horse Feathers has its premiere in New York City.
1948 - It’s the O.G. prank show! Allen Funt’s Candid Camera premieres in the US on ABC TV under the title Candid Microphone, which was also the name of Funt’s ABC Radio show, which had premiered the previous year.
1959 - She won a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in the film Desperately Seeking Susan (1985). Other film credits include After Hours (1985) and Pulp Fiction (1994). She also starred in the ABC sitcom What About Brian? (2006-2007). Rosanna Arquette is born in New York City.
1960 - In Malaga, Spain, actor Antonio Banderas is born. He played Gregorio Cortez in the Spy Kids series of films and provided the voice of Puss in Boots in the Shrek franchise.
1977 - John Landis’ Kentucky Fried Movie premieres, on the director’s 27th birthday. The cult classic film, together with Landis’ next comedy Animal House (1978), helped usher “gross out” comedy into the mainstream, and is also notable for being the first film written by the “Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker” team (David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker), who would later have huge success with Airplane! and The Naked Gun trilogy.
1977 - The forgettable sex comedy Can I Do It Till I Need Glasses opens in theatres. Notable only for it being the film debut of Robin Williams.
1978 - As Animal House continued to catapult him from TV star to movie star, John Belushi graces the cover of Rolling Stone.
1979 - JoAnna Garcia Swisher is born in Tampa, Florida. She is known for her roles in Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000), Reba (2001–07), Privileged (2008–09), Better with You (2010–11), and Animal Practice (2012).
1990 - Lucas Till is born in Fort Hood, Texas. He acted in the movies Hannah Montana: The Movie, The Spy Next Door, Dance of the Dead and Monster Trucks.
1998 - Penn & Teller’s Sin City Spectacular is released.
2003 - The very first Comedy Central Roast airs. From the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, Denis Leary is roasted by Jim Breuer, Mario Cantone, Lenny Clarke, Dane Cook, Nick DiPaolo, Doctor Dré, Adam Ferrara, Michael J. Fox, Peter Gallagher, Don Gavin, Gina Gershon, Gilbert Gottfried as Denis' Irish Wolfhound, Ed Lover, Joe Mantegna, Conan O'Brien, Colin Quinn, Rene Russo, and Christopher Walken, with Jeff Garlin acting as Roast Master.
2005 - The lights on the Empire State Building are dimmed in memory of King Kong actress Fay Wray. The actress, who also appeared in many comedies, had died five days earlier.
2008 - Best known to comedy audiences for voicing Chef on South Park, musician and actor Isaac Hayes is found dead after suffering a stroke on his treadmill at his home in Memphis, Tennessee, ten days shy of his 66th birthday.
2008 - After only eight weeks of marriage, SNL comedian Chris Kattan and his wife, model Sunshine Deia Tutt, separate.
2010 - Created with the approval of creators Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, it’s the mockumentary of an office supply company in the city of Yehud. HaMisrad, the Israeli version of The Office debuts on Yes Comedy.
2011 - Jeremy Maguire, who played Joe Pritchett on Modern Family (2015-2020), is born.
2015 - The TV documentary I Am Chris Farley is broadcast on US television.
2018 - Demetri Martin’s second Netflix special The Overthinker is released.
2019 - Comedian Andy Dick (NewsRadio, The Ben Stiller Show) is sucker-punched as he waits for an Uber outside One Eyed Jack’s in the French quarter of New Orleans following his stand-up show there. Dick, unconscious for 15 minutes after the vicious attack, is transported to the ICU for injuries including a severe concussion. He would be kept in hospital for a few days. The suspect would be located and arrested, and claims he punched Dick because the comedian had grabbed his genitals and winked at him.
This Day in Comedy History
1925 - One of the longest surviving stars of the classic era of Hollywood, Arlene Dahl is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Among her many films are the Fred Astaire/Red Skelton classic Three Little Words, Life with Father, Kisses for My President, A Southern Yankee, The Bride Goes Wild, Watch the Birdie and Bob Hope’s Here Come the Girls.
1937 - BAFTA winner Anna Massey is born in Thakeham, Sussex, England. She’s known for such films as The Importance of Being Earnest (2002), A Little Romance (1979), Impromptu (1991), The Tall Guy (1989), Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (2005) and Around the World in 80 Days (1989).
1953 - Actor Terry Eugene Bollea is born in Augusta, Georgia. But you probably know him better as wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan, star of such films as Suburban Commando (1991), Mr. Nanny (1993), Santa with Muscles (1996), and 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998).
1967 - Joe Rogan is born in Newark, New Jersey. The comedian and actor is known for his sitcom roles (NewsRadio, Hardball) but mostly as the superstar podcast host of The Joe Rogan Experience.
1976 - Actor Will Friedle is born in Hartford, Connecticut. He is best known for playing elder brother Eric Matthews on the long-running TV sitcom Boy Meets World (1993-2000) and for his voice work in many animated shows.
1987 - Clara Peller, best known as the elderly woman in Wendy’s popular and oft quoted "Where's the beef?" commercials, dies at age 86.
1997 - Someone get the “Kuffs!” Actor Christian Slater is arrested after biting a man in the stomach and throwing a police officer against a wall during a rowdy party in Los Angeles. He would later plead no contest to the charges and serve 90 days in jail.
2002 - The final episode of the sitcom For Your Love airs, as it is canceled mid-season for the second time. The show, starring Holly Robinson Peete and James Lesure as newlyweds who join the couples counselling group led by their new neighbours, initially aired for eight episodes on NBC before it was given the axe, then was picked up by The WB where is had a much more successful four season run.
2006 - The hit Quebec crime comedy Bon Cop Bad Cop is released. It would replace Porky’s, which had reigned for a quarter century, as the all time highest grossing Canadian film in domestic box office.
2011 - Doug Stanhope guest stars as a road warrior comic nearing the end on the episode Eddie of Louis CK’s show Louie.
2014 - Battling chronic depression and a recent Parkinson’s diagnosis, the body of Robin Willams is discovered hanging from a door frame in his home in the Paradise Cay section of Tiburon, California. Ruled a suicide by police, his body contained anti-depressants, caffeine, and drugs to lessen the effects of the Parkinson’s. The dynamic stand-up and improviser, Oscar winner and star of Mork and Mindy and countless films was 63.
2014 - The latest reboot of the O.G. prank/hidden camera show, Candid Camera returns to the air on TV Land, 55 years and one day after the premiere of Allen Funt’s original TV series. His son Peter Funt returns as presenter, this time with co-host Mayim Bialik. This iteration of the show would last only one season of ten episodes.
2021 - After a prolonged series of guest hosts who were auditioning for the difficult job of replacing the beloved Alex Trebek as host of Jeopardy!, the game show’s executive producer Mike Richards was announced as his successor - but sitcom star Mayim Bialik (Blossom, The Big Bang Theory) was also announced as a second Jeopardy! host, for primetime specials and planned Jeopardy! spinoffs.
2022 - Six days after being involved in two car accidents, ending with a high speed crash into a home in Los Angeles which sparks a massive fire, Anne Heche is declared brain dead in hospital, but is kept on life support in accordance with her wishes to donate her organs to others. She is remembered for the sex comedy Spread (2009), Cedar Rapids (2011), Rampart (2011), the dark comedy Catfight (2016), and of course for co-starring with Harrison Ford in the rom-com adventure film Six Days, Seven Nights (1998). On TV, Heche also starred in Men in Trees (2006–08), Hung (2009–11) and Save Me (2013). She was 53 years old.
This Day in Comedy History
1939 - His films include Light in the Piazza (1962), Love at First Bite (1979), Zorro, The Gay Blade (1981), Doc Hollywood (1991), 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag (1997) and Hollywood Ending (2002). George Hamilton is born in Memphis, Tennessee.
1941 - Actress known for Slap Shot (1977) and Fatal Beauty (1987), Jennifer Warren is born in Greenwich Village, New York.
1950 - Jim Beaver is born in Laramie, Wyoming, and if you only know him from his role in Supernatural, yer an idjot! Comedy credits include Sister Act, Together, Cooties and Adaptation.
1956 - Bruce Greenwood, known for such comedy films as Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Hollywood Homicide, and Dinner for Schmucks, is born in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, Canada.
1965 - Actor from multiple TV series Peter Krause (Parenthood, Six Feet Under, Sports Night and The Catch) is born in Alexandria, Minnesota.
1966 - At a news conference on the day The Beatles kicked off their final North American tour, John Lennon apologizes for his infamous joke at a previous presser that the band was “more popular than Jesus”... He should know better. Ringo's the funny one!
1971 - Two comedians, Michael Ian Black (Ed, The State, Viva Variety, Stella, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, Michael & Michael Have Issues, Another Period) and Yvette Nicole Brown (the new The Odd Couple, Community, Drake & Josh) are born, in the midwest cities of Chicago and East Cleveland, respectively.
1971 - Rebecca Gayheart is born in Hazard, Kentucky. She’s known for the films Nothing to Lose (1997), Jawbreaker (1999) and Harvard Man (2001), and for her recurring role in Dead Like Me.
1975 - Casey Affleck is born in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Film credits include To Die For (1995), Lonesome Jim (2006), Tower Heist (2011), ParaNorman (2012) and the Ocean's Eleven (2001), Ocean's Twelve (2004), and Ocean's Thirteen (2007) trilogy. He also co-wrote and directed the mockumentary I'm Still Here (2010).
1982 - Henry Fonda dies of heart disease in Los Angeles. Comedy movie credits include The Lady Eve, Mister Roberts and co-starring with Lucille Ball in Yours, Mine and Ours and Jimmy Stewart in The Cheyenne Social Club and On Our Merry Way.
1991 - Actor Lakeith Stanfield is born in San Bernardino, California. Though best known for playing Darius in the FX series Atlanta, he also appears in such films as Dope (2015), Sorry to Bother You (2018), Someone Great (2019), and Knives Out (2019).
1993 - She played Chris Rock’s annoying and obnoxious sister Tonya in the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris. Imani Hakim is born in Cleveland, Ohio.
2004 - The two and only Laverne & Shirley - Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams - receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with support from the likes of Henry Winkler, Jack Klugman, Ed Begley Jr. and Penny's father Garry Marshall.
This Day in Comedy History
1930 - British comedian Bernard Manning is born in Harpurhey, Manchester, England. A British TV mainstay in the 1970s on such comedy/variety series as The Comedians and The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, he was seen on television less and less as audience attitudes changed, but continued to perform at nightclubs, including his own, until shortly before his death.
1935 - Comedian and puppeteer Rod Hull is born on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, England. A popular guest on British television in the 1970s and 1980s, he rarely appeared without Emu, his mute, highly aggressive bird puppet.
1951 - The hottest comedy duo in the world, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis make the cover of Life Magazine.
1963 - Comedian Steve Higgins is born in Des Moines, Iowa. He was a writer and producer at Saturday Night Live as well as the announcer for both The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
1964 - Actress from both the TV series and film Entourage, along with Singles, Bullets Over Broadway, So I Married An Axe Murderer, Be Cool and The Tuxedo (alright, and Goodfellas), Debi Mazar is born in New York City.
1982 - Actor and comedian Joe E. Ross (The Phil Silvers Show, Car 54 Where Are You?) suffered a heart attack and died while performing on stage. His wife reportedly collected just half of Ross's fee because he had failed to finish the show.
1988 - Alf Hefs it up on the cover of TV Guide.
1992 - Peter Jackson’s Braindead premieres in New Zealand. The comedy/horror is still one of the goriest movies ever made, on a budget of $3 million, which was Jackson’s most expensive film at the time… We’re guessing he might have broken that record with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
1997 - Even though there was a pilot episode shot (which would finally air two years later), the first episode of South Park, Cartman Gets an Anal Probe, premieres on Comedy Central.
1997 - Unemployed steelworkers in Sheffield, England decide to try to make money by forming a Chippendales-styles dance group. The small film that became a huge hit The Full Monty debuts in limited release.
1999 - Four kids in a Kiss cover band are stoked to be seeing the band in the Motor City, but an overly religious mother finds and burns their tickets. You think that’ll stop them from seeing their favourite band? The teen comedy Detroit Rock City opens in theatres.
1999 - Showing the lengths some will go to, to get a movie made, the Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Heather Graham film Bowfinger is screened at the Locarno Film Festival and opens in the US.
2015 - Kevin Hart KILLS IT on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine!
This Day in Comedy History
1945 - Steve Martin is born in Waco, Texas, and according to a quote of his from The Jerk, his early years were tough: “It wasn’t always easy for me… I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi.”
1946 - Actor David Schramm is born in Louisville, Kentucky. He is best remembered for playing portly, cantankerous rival airline owner Roy Biggins in the TV series Wings. He also starred opposite Sandra Bullock in the short-lived 1990 sitcom Working Girl (based on the hit film), and appeared in such films as Let It Ride (1989) and A Shock to the System (1990).
1950 - Creator of the revered award-winning, single panel cartoon The Far Side, cartoonist Gary Larson is born in Tacoma, Washington.
1956 - Jaqueline “Jackée” Harry is born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She’s known for starring in the sitcoms 227 - for which she became the first African-American to win a Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Emmy - and as the mom in Sister, Sister. Film credits include Ladybugs, opposite Rodney Dangerfield, Moscow on the Hudson and Crash Course.
1959 - Oscar and Tony winner Marcia Gay Harden is born in La Jolla, CA. Her films include Used People (1992), The First Wives Club (1996), and Flubber (1997).
1961 - Susan Olsen is born in Santa Monica, CA. Olsen is best known for her role as Cindy Brady, the youngest Brady child in the sitcom The Brady Bunch (1969-1974).
1966 - We just talked about Jackee being the first and only woman of colour to win a Supporting Actress in a Comedy Emmy - now on to the first and only woman of colour to win a Best Actress Oscar - Halle Berry, whose comedy roles include Boomerang (1992), The Flintstones (1994), Bulworth (1998) and Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), is born in Cleveland, Ohio.
1972 - Lalanya Masters, who played Jimmy’s campaign manager in the sitcom Barbershop (based on the films), is born.
1973 – Paddy McGuinness, English comedian and television presenter, is born.
1974 - Christopher Gorham is born in Fresno, California. He’s best known for Ugly Betty but has also appeared in such shows as Insatiable, Popular and Out of Practice.
1983 - Jackie Burkhart on That ‘70’s Show and the voice of Meg Griffin on Family Guy, as well as from the films Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Ted, and Bad Moms, actress Mila Kunis is born in Chernivtsi, USSR - yes, you read that right, “Chernivtsi, USSR.”
1983 - Comedian and actor Lamorne Morris is born in Chicago, Illinois. He’s best known for his roles in New Girl (2011-2018) and Hulu’s Woke (2020). He has also had supporting roles in the films Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016), Game Night (2018), Jumanji: The Next Level (2019), and Yesterday (2019).
2003 - 19 musicals and three stage plays on Broadway are shut down as New York City - along with much of the US Northeast and parts of Canada - suffers a massive power outage. It was the eighth time Broadway went dark (pun intended), the second shut down in 2003 and the first time one was caused by a blackout; the previous stoppages were all due to labour strikes, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Luckily power would be restored by noon the next day, allowing productions to resume.
2004 - Marsai Martin is born in Plano, Texas. She is best known for playing Diane Johnson on the ABC sitcom Black-ish and for her role in the film Little.
2012 - Best known as dim-bulb student Arnold Horshack on the ABC sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, actor Ron Palillo dies of a heart attack at the age of 63.
2020 - Jason Sudeikis’ fish out of water series about a US college football coach who is hired to take over at the helm of AFC Richmond, a team in the Premiership of English soccer, a sport he knows nothing about. Ted Lasso debuts on Apple TV +
This Day in Comedy History
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