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This Day in Comedy History

December 8 - 14

December 8

 

1888 - He was a brilliant student who served as a Royal Mounted Policeman in Canada, became a lawyer, then returned to England. But after losing $22,000 on a Monte Carlo roulette wheel, an observer offered to provide a letter "to some of my theatrical acquaintances" in London. Those contacts led to Cavanagh's role in Walter Hackett's It Pays to Advertise and Eden Phillpotts' Blue Comet in the West End. He then moved to films, making more than 100 movies before he retired in 1959 - including Two Little Drummer Boys (1928), The Virtuous Sin (1930), Maisie Was a Lady (1941), Marriage Is a Private Affair (1944), You Gotta Stay Happy (1948) and In the Money (1958). Paul Cavanagh is born in Felling, County Durham, England.

1894 - In Columbus, Ohio, American humorist and author James Thurber is born. One of the greatest humorists of his day, he is best remembered for his cartoons and short stories, which were mainly published in The New Yorker and have been collected in his numerous books. The celebrated wit’s works have frequently also been adapted into films, including The Male Animal (1942), The Battle of the Sexes (1959), and two adaptations of his most famous work, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947, 2013).

1905 - Frank Faylen is born Frank Ruf in St. Louis, Missouri. After starting out doing vaudeville and showboat shows with his family, he became a stage actor at 18 then appeared as Walt Disney's musical conductor in The Reluctant Dragon (1941), and as a stern railroad official in the Laurel and Hardy comedy A-Haunting We Will Go (1942). From there, Faylen and another Laurel and Hardy supporting player, Charlie Hall, were teamed up for their own films at Monogram Pictures. All in all, he accumulated well over 200 credits, but today he’s probably best remembered for his TV work, playing the father of the title character on the sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959-1963), grocer Herbert T. Gillis. He also played Bert Hollinger in the ABC sitcom That Girl (1966-1971).

1916 - Movie director Richard Fleischer is born in NYC. His films include the musical comedy Doctor Dolittle (1967), The Happy Time (1952) and Million Dollar Mystery (1987).

1925 - Who can be born on this day? The Candy Man can! Multi-talented American entertainer and Rat Pack member Sammy Davis Jr, widely known and loved as a vaudevillian comedian, actor, and of course a song-and-dance man, is born in New York City. “Babe.”

1929 - British comedy magician William Oliver Wallace, known by his stage name Ali Bongo - The Sheik of Araby, is born in England… Though very successful in his time, we’re guessing his act wouldn’t have been received so well today…

1933 - American comedy legend and “TV’s first black superstar”, Grammy winner Flip Wilson is born in Jersey City, New Jersey.

1941 - Abbott and Costello get their prints in the concrete in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

1943 - Patti Chandler, American actress known for her appearances in various beach/bikini party comedies (Beach Blanket Bingo, Bikini Beach, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, Ski Party, Pajama Party), is born in Culver City, California.

1943 - Mary Woronov is born in Palm Beach, Florida. Known as a “cult star” for her work with Andy Warhol and Roger Corman, her film credits include Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979) and its sequel Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever (1991), Blood Theatre (1984), Night of the Comet (1984), Chopping Mall (1986), Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989), Dick Tracy (1990), Where Sleeping Dogs Lie (1991) and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) - but she’s still best known for her breakthrough role in the cult classic dark comedy Eating Raoul (1982).

1945 - Playboy Playmate of the year turned actress whose film credits include Goodbye Charlie (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and One Spy Too Many (1966) - Donna Michelle is born in Los Angeles.

1946 - In Los Angeles, stage and screen actor John Rubinstein is born. His film credits include Getting Straight (1970) and Another Stakeout (1993). On TV, he’s best known for co-starring with Jack Warden in the comedy mystery TV series Crazy Like a Fox (1984-1986) and its spinoff movie Still Crazy Like a Fox (1987), and also played Principal Hobson in Desperate Housewives (2009-2012).

1949 - On the Town, the film adaptation of the Broadway musical, which itself was an adaption of the American ballet Fancy Free, opens in US theatres, starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller and Vera-Ellen.

1953 - Comedian Sam Kinison is born in Yakima, Washington, probably already practicing his trademark screaming.

1953 - Golden Globe and Academy Award winning actress whose comedy credits include the films Blind Date (1987), Prêt-à-Porter (1994), The Door in the Floor (2004) and Grudge Match (2013), Kim Basinger is born in Athens, GA.

1955 - The dark “Ealing Comedy” crime film The Ladykillers, starring Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner, and Katie Johnson as potential murder victim old Mrs. Wilberforce, is released. For his screenplay, William Rose won the BAFTA Award for Best British Screenplay and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, although he claimed to have simply dreamt the entire film and merely had to remember the details when he woke up.

1960 - The hit Broadway family fantasy musical comedy Peter Pan starring Mary Martin, which had already twice been produced as hugely successful live TV specials in 1955 and 1956, is once again produced as a live TV special - but this time it is recorded in colour for future re-broadcasts.

1961 - Australian comedian and host of the satirical game show Good News Week, Mikey Robins is born in Newcastle, Australia.

1964 - Teri Hatcher is born in Palo Alto, CA. Comedy fans will know her best for playing Susan Mayer on the hit television series Desperate Housewives (2004–2012), for which she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

1969 - Actor Steve Van Wormer is born in Flint, Michigan. His movie credits include Jingle All the Way (1996), Meet the Deedles (1998), Idle Hands (1999) and Bubble Boy (2001).

1973 - Mary Tyler Moore and friends relax on the cover of TV Guide.

1976 - The Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor buddy flick (with co-stars Jill Clayburgh and Ned Beatty) Silver Streak opens in theatres.

1978 - Based on the famous 1950 robbery in Boston, and with a cast including Peter Falk, Peter Boyle, Paul Sorvino, Gena Rowlands, Warren Oates and Allen Garfield, heist comedy The Brink's Job is released.

1980 - After having seen the comic strip The Academia Waltz in the University of Texas student newspaper, editors from The Washington Post recruit its cartoonist/illustrator Berkeley Breathed to create a nationally syndicated strip. The result is the Pulitzer prize winning Bloom County which debuted on this date.

1980 - The Bravo network premieres on cable television in the United States. Along with the reality shows they’re best known for, they’ve aired such straight-up comedy series as Significant Others (2004), Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce (2014-2018), Odd Mom Out (2015-2017) and Imposters (2017-2018).

1982 - Although it wasn’t technically the first (the James Caan/Alan Arkin flick Freebie and the Bean came out in 1974), it’s the hit film that would kickstart the “buddy cop” sub-genre of movies. Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte star in 48 Hrs., coming out on this day.

1983 - Actor Slim Pickens (real name Louis Burton Lindley Jr.), who performed in such classic comedies as Dr. Strangelove, Blazing Saddles and The Apple Dumpling Gang, dies following surgery at age 64 in Modesto, CA.

1984 - Ringo Starr is a guest on Saturday Night Live.

1988 - Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen premieres, in West Germany. The film stars John Neville, Eric Idle, Sarah Polley, Oliver Reed and Uma Thurman, and features Robin Williams.

1989 - Dean Martin joins other stars in Sammy Davis Jr's 60th anniversary celebration, which aired a few weeks before Davis died from throat cancer.

1990 - SNL’s prestigious “Five Timers Club” is mentioned for the first time, as new five-time host Tom Hanks brags about getting his membership card. Members Steve Martin, Elliott Gould, and Paul Simon welcome him into the richly-appointed club.

1991 - Hook, starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts, premieres in Hollywood, CA.

1992 - It’s the beginning of the end! NBC announces that one of the greatest sitcoms ever, Cheers, will go off the air in May, 1993.

1993 - Her acting credits include Because of Winn-Dixie (2005), The Way, Way Back (2013), and starring as Carrie Bradshaw on CW's Sex and the City prequel series The Carrie Diaries (2013–2014). Anna Sophia Robb is born in Denver, Colorado.

2005 - Soviet actor Georgiy Zhzhonov passes away at age 90. The Nika award winner, who survived 18 years of imprisonment under Joseph Stalin, appeared in the comedies Crown Prince of the Republic (1934) and Beware of the Car (1966).

2007 - Chachi of Happy Days fame and longtime bachelor Scott Baio weds longtime girlfriend Renee Sloan at a luxury high-rise in Los Angeles.

2008 - Polish-American actor and comedian who can be seen in the films Broadcast News (1987), Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Last Action Hero (1993) and Miracle on 34th Street (1994), Robert Prosky dies five days before his 78th birthday in hospital in Washington, DC, after heart surgery.

2008 - English animator and puppeteer Oliver Postgate dies at his nursing home in Broadstairs, near his Kent coast home, at age 83. He is best remembered for his Smallfilms collaborations with Peter Firmin, which include some of Britain's most popular children's television programmes of all time, such as Bagpuss, Pingwings, Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, Clangers and Pogles' Wood.

2010 - In a live streamed charity event benefiting a toy drive for a children’s hospital, the Hollywood Laugh Factory broke the Guinness World Record for Longest Continuous Stand-up Comedy Show (Multiple Comedians). They surpassed the previous record of 50 hours set by Comic Strip Live, and did not stop until they hit 80 hours. Dom Irrera was on stage when the old record was broken, and Deon Cole was on stage when the new record was set. Over 130 different comedians performed and Laugh Factory kept the record 

2013 - Bart Simpson makes a cameo appearance in the American Dad! season 10 episode Faking Bad.

2017 - A dark holiday comedy starring Luke Grimes, Vincent D'Onofrio, Dax Shepard, Kurtwood Smith, Michelle Mylett, Emilio Rivera, Kimberly Quinn, Jessica Alba and Tim Allen - El Camino Christmas comes out on Netflix.

2019 - Legendary puppeteer and cartoonist Carroll Spinney, most famous as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on the beloved PBS children’s series Sesame Street (1969-2018), passes away at his home in Woodstock, Connecticut, shortly before his 86th birthday.

December 9

 

1916 - Legendary actor whose acting career spanned nearly 65 years, and whose life spanned 103, Kirk Douglas is born Issur Danielovitch in the town of Amsterdam, New York. One of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s “Golden Age” of cinema, the Honorary Academy Award winner and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient had almost 100 acting credits in his career, including such comedies as The Devil's Disciple (1959), There Was a Crooked Man... (1970), The Villain (1979), Home Movies (1979), Tough Guys (1986), Greedy (1994) and It Runs in the Family (2003). His most notable Broadway role would be a starring turn in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1963), a play which he mounted himself after buying the rights to the story from author Ken Kesey. After unsuccessfully trying to produce a film version, he gave the rights to his son Michael, who produced what became only the second movie to sweep all five major Academy Awards, after It Happened One Night (1934), another comedy.

1922 - Redd Foxx was born in St. Louis, Missouri as John Elroy Sanford. His real last name would come in handy later, for use in the title of his hit sitcom Sanford and Son

1930 - Comedian, actor and filmmaker Buck Henry is born Henry Zuckerman in New York City. His career took off on TV, where he is particularly remembered for his work on The New Steve Allen Show (1961). He also co-created Get Smart (1965–1970) with Mel Brooks (winning an Emmy in the process), and hosted Saturday Night Live 10 times from 1976 to 1980, where it became a tradition for him to host the final show of each season. He was twice nominated for Academy Awards, for co-directing Heaven Can Wait (1978) with Warren Beatty and co-writing Mike Nichols' The Graduate (1967). He also co-wrote Peter Bogdanovich's What's Up, Doc? (1972).

1934 - Renowned stage and screen actress Judy Dench is born in Heworth, York, England. A seven time Oscar nominee, and Best Supporting Actress winner for her role in Shakespeare in Love (1998), her other notable films include Chocolat (2000), Mrs Henderson Presents (2005) and Philomena (2013). But she may be even better known for her work on TV, having starred in two classic British sitcoms, A Fine Romance (1981–1984) and As Time Goes By (1992–2005).

1942 - Former NFL football star Dick Butkus is born in - where else? - Chicago! When the Bears great was done cracking heads on the gridiron, he found time to act in a lot of comedies, namely The Longest Yard (1974), Cry, Onion! (1975), Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976), Gus (1976), Cracking Up (1983), Johnny Dangerously (1984), Hamburger: The Motion Picture (1986), Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) and Necessary Roughness (1991).

1953 - Intense actor John Malkovich is born in Christopher, Illinois. His film credits include Being John Malkovich (1999), Johnny English (2003), Burn After Reading (2008), Red (2010) and Velvet Buzzsaw (2019). On TV he plays Dr. Adrian Mallory in the Netflix comedy series Space Force (2020–).

1957 - Donny Osmond is born in Ogden, Utah. He’s best known as half of the duo Donny & Marie, who hosted their own highly successful variety series from 1976–1979.

1959 - In Stoneham, Massachusetts, American comedian Mario Cantone is born. He’s known for his appearances on Comedy Central’s Chappelle's Show, and also played Anthony Marentino on Sex and the City.

1962 - Felicity Huffman is born in Bedford, New York. She starred as Dana Whitaker in Aaron Sorkin’s comedy-drama Sports Night (1998-2000), won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role of Lynette Scavo in ABC’s hit comedy-drama Desperate Housewives (2004–2012), and won a Golden Globe and earned an Oscar nod for starring in Transamerica (2005).

1969 - In Manhattan, NYC, Allison Smith is born. She starred on Broadway in the title role Annie and played Jennie Lowell in the sitcom Kate & Allie (1984-1989).

1978 - Actor Jesse Metcalfe is born in Carmel Valley Village, CA, and he’s best known for playing Johns... He played John Rowland on Desperate Housewives, and the title role in John Tucker Must Die.

1980 - Actor/comedian Simon Helberg is born in Los Angeles. He is best known for playing Howard Wolowitz in the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory (2007–2019). His film credits include Florence Foster Jenkins (2016), for which he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, Old School (2003), Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007) and A Serious Man (2009).

1987 - In Westminster, London, England, Joshua Sasse is born. He starred as the titular Sir Galavant in ABC's musical comedy series Galavant.

1991 - In Los Angeles, Beau Bridges is born. The winner of three Emmys, two Golden Globes and a Grammy has starred in such comedies as The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), Sidekicks (1992), The Hotel New Hampshire (1984), Supervised (2019) and Elsewhere (2019).

1967 - Kaye Ballard and Eve Arden of The Mothers-In-Law are featured on the cover of TV Guide.

1978 - SNL actors John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd record a version of “Soul Man” and release it under the name The Blues Brothers.

1988 - Leslie Nielsen receives a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

1998 - After six series on Channel 4 in Britain, Drop the Dead Donkey comes to an end with its finale episode, fittingly entitled The Final Chapter.

2009 - After showing up to The Howard Stern Show drunk and high on painkillers, which affected his performance, Artie Lange is sent home. He then voluntarily checks in to a rehab facility on Long Island.

2010 - Howard Stern announces the signing of a new five-year contract with Sirius XM.

2013 - WTF with Marc Maron marks its 10 millionth download.

2013 - The European premiere of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is held at the Savoy Cinema in Dublin, Ireland. Adam McKay, produced by Judd Apatow, written by McKay and Will Ferrell, and stars Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, and Christina Applegate.

2016 - T.J. Miller is arrested and jailed in Los Angeles after allegedly assaulting an Uber driver following an argument over Donald Trump. Miller was on the anti-Trump side, just FYI. He would reach a settlement with the driver three months later.

December 10

 

1914 - Big band singer turned comic actress Dorothy Lamour is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is best remembered as the foil to Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in their “Road To….” series of films. 

1941 - Experimental theatre director, actor and writer Ken Campbell, a “grand old man of the fringe” who may best be remembered for his production of the 22-hour long play The Warp, is born in Ilford, East London, England.

1941 - In Dublin, Fionnula Flanagan, one of Ireland’s greatest actors, is born. The Emmy and two time Tony winner’s many comedy film credits include Sinful Davey (1969), Money for Nothing (1993), Waking Ned Devine (1998), Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002), Man About Dog (2004), Yes Man (2008), The Invention of Lying (2009) and Supervized (2019), as well as Transamerica (2005) and The Guard (2011), both of which earned her IFTA Awards.

1941 - Actor Tommy Kirk is born in Louisville, Kentucky. He’s best known for his appearances in several live action Walt Disney movies, including The Shaggy Dog and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, as well as several “Beach Party” films in the 1960s.

1946 - Doug Kenney, co-founder and editor of National Lampoon Magazine, co-writer and producer of Animal House and Caddyshack is born in West Palm Beach, Florida.

1952 - In Pekin, Illinois, Susan Dey is born. The Golden Globe winner played Laurie Partridge on the sitcom The Partridge Family (1970-1974).

1960 - Legendary Irish actor and filmmaker Kenneth Branagh is born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The three time BAFTA and two time Emmy winner, who has been nominated five times at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes, is perhaps best known for his adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays, including the comedies Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Love's Labour's Lost (2000) and As You Like It (2006). His other acting credits include Celebrity (1998), Wild Wild West (1999), The Road to El Dorado (2000) and The Boat That Rocked (2009).

1965 - Comedian Greg Giraldo is born in The Bronx, NYC.

1967 - The original comic film retelling of the Faust legend, Peter Cook plays the Devil (who also runs a nightclub in Swinging London), Dudley Moore plays his mark, a short order cook who wishes he had the courage to ask out waitress Margaret Spencer, and so trades his soul for wishes. Also on hand are characters for each of the seven deadly sins (including Barry Humphries as Envy and, most especially, Raquel Welch as Lust), as the film Bedazzled opens on North American screens.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsyqpUP1knQ

1977 - Emmanuelle Chriqui (Sloan on Entourage) born in Montreal.

1977 - The Nobel Committee awarded two Peace Prizes, to the initiators of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement and to Amnesty International. Also nominated? Jerry Lewis, for his efforts to raise money for muscular dystrophy research.

1982 - The movie The Toy hits theatres, starring Richard Pryor as a reporter who lets himself be “purchased” to be used as a plaything by a rich man, Jackie Gleason’s, bratty son.

1985 - Raven-Symoné is born Raven-Symoné Pearman in Atlanta. She began her career as a child actress, playing Olivia on The Cosby Show (1989–1992) and Nicole on Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (1993–1997), before starring as the titular Raven Baxter on Disney Channel’s supernatural teen sitcom That's So Raven (2003–2007), which she would reprise in Raven’s Home (2017-). Her film credits include Dr. Dolittle (1998) and its sequel Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), The Princess Diaries 2 (2004), and College Road Trip (2008).

1993 - Wayne’s World 2 opens in theatres. Sha, right!

1995 - Rapper Buff Love (Darren Robinson) of pioneering hip-hop group The Fat Boys, in the middle of recording a track for the group’s comeback album, dies of a heart attack in his home studio during a bout with respiratory flu in Rosedale, Queens, NYC. He reportedly weighed at least 450 pounds, and was only 28 years old. The group became known for their sense of humour after doing a campaign for Swatch watches, which led to starring in their own films, Krush Groove (1985) and Disorderlies (1987).

2005 - Nine days after his 65th birthday, Richard Pryor, who had suffered from multiple sclerosis for years, suffered a third heart attack and died in Los Angeles. His widow said that "at the end, there was a smile on his face," and years later spread his ashes in Hana, Hawaii.

2005 - Robin Williams, distraught after learning of his friend Richard Pryor’s death, showed up drunk at a Toronto on the Danforth concert. While waving and swaying and being barely able to speak, Williams leapt up and fronted the band, holding the stage well into the night.

2011 - Louis C.K. releases his special Live at the Beacon, cutting out any middle-men and selling it directly from his website. For just $5 fans could download the special directly, something that hadn’t been done before.

December 11

 

1928 - English puppet maker Peter Firmin is born in Harwich, Essex, England. He is best remembered for his Smallfilms collaborations with Oliver Postgate, most notably Bagpuss, which is considered by many to be the greatest animated children’s show ever produced in Britain.

1931 - Rita Moreno is born in Humacao, Puerto Rico. The legendary stage and screen actress, whose career has spanned 70 years and counting, has a resume a mile long, so we’ll do our best to sum it up: Her film roles include Singin' in the Rain (1952), Popi (1969), Carnal Knowledge (1971), The Four Seasons (1981), I Like It Like That (1994) and Slums of Beverly Hills (1998). TV audiences will recognize her face from The Electric Company (1971-1977) and her voice as the titular villain in Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? (1994-1999). She won a Tony Award for playing Googie Gomez in the original Broadway production of The Ritz (1975). Not only is she an EGOT winner, she’s also one of the few actors to win the “Triple Crown of Acting” - a competitive Oscar, Emmy and Tony win - making her, along with Helen Hayes, one of only two performers to have achieved that feat. She’s also been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor as well as a Kennedy Center Honor for her contribution to American culture through performing arts. Is everyone out of their seats and clapping for this lady yet?

1940 - Donna Mills is born Donna Jean Miller in Chicago. She’s best known as a soap actress, but kicked off her career with a role in Woody Allen’s first professionally produced play on Broadway, the farce Don't Drink the Water (1966).

1944 - Comic actress with more than 140 credits in a career spanning over four decades, including Tootsie, Young Frankenstein, Mr. Mom, After Hours, The Player, Prêt-à-Porter and The Sting II, Teri Garr is born in Lakewood, Ohio.

1953 - Actor Bess Armstrong is born in Baltimore, MD. Her film credits include The Four Seasons (1981), Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again (1982), Nothing in Common (1986), That Darn Cat (1997) and Pecker (1998). She also co-starred in the CBS sitcom On Our Own (1977-1978).

1965 - The cast of F Troop stand at ease on the cover of TV Guide.

1966 - Actor Gary Dourdan is born in Philadelphia. He played Shazza Zulu on the Cosby Show spinoff sitcom A Different World (1987-1993). 

1967 - “Queens of Comedy” stand-up comedian and actress Mo’Nique is born in Baltimore. The Academy Award winner and Best Comedy Album Grammy Award nominee starred as Nikki in the UPN sitcom The Parkers (1999-2004).

1972 - Dale Wasserman’s film adaptation of his hit Broadway musical based on his original TV screenplay, the classic comic tragedy of a man's struggle to better both himself and the world in which he lives Man of La Mancha premieres in New York City, starring Peter O’Toole, Sophia Loren and James Coco.

1973 - Rapper turned actor Mos Def is born Dante Terrell Smith in Brooklyn, NYC. Film credits include Brown Sugar (2003), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2006), Be Kind Rewind (2008) and Next Day Air (2009).

1976 - Rhoda star Valerie Harper accentuates her eyes for the cover of TV Guide.

1978 - Comedian and Daily Show correspondent Roy Wood, Jr. is born.

1979 - He played Shawn Hunter on Boy Meets World and its sequel series Girl Meets World. Rider Strong is born in San Francisco.

1982 - After his 48 Hrs. co-star Nick Nolte became too sick to host his Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy took over. He opened the show with the phrase "Live from New York, It's the Eddie Murphy Show!", and is still the only cast member to host while still a regular.

1983 - Andy Kaufman is diagnosed with lung cancer.

1984 - Xosha Roquemore is born in Los Angeles. She’s best known for playing Tamra in the sitcom The Mindy Project.

1992 - “Heeeeeeeere’s your Presidential Honor!” Former talk show host Johnny Carson receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

1996 - Hailee Steinfeld is born in Los Angeles. The actor is best known for her roles in the Pitch Perfect film series (2015–2017), and the coming-of-age comedy-drama The Edge of Seventeen (2016), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. She also played Emily Dickinson in the Apple TV+ comedy-drama series Dickinson (2019–present).

2010 - The animated feature Yogi Bear premieres at Westwood, CA.

2014 - The Statue of Morecambe, a bronze sculpture dedicated to British comedy legend Eric Morecambe of “Morecambe & Wise” fame by the Queen in 1999, is replaced after being repaired. Vandals had cut off one of its legs.

2015 - Canadian actor Pamela Anderson is on the cover of Playboy magazine; the final Playboy issue to feature nudity.

December 12

 

1923 - Game show host Bob Barker is born in Darrington, Washington. Aside from the obvious (The Price is Right), he was a regular guest on talk and variety shows and a frequent panelist on the celebrity/comedy game shows Tattletales (with his wife Dorothy Jo) and Match Game. He also made a lot of cameo appearances, usually in sitcoms but also in films; comedy fans probably know him best for his small role as himself in Adam Sandler’s golf comedy Happy Gilmore (1996), in which the two have a lengthy fight, with the elder Barker eventually beating Gilmore up and delivering the crushing line: “The Price is WRONG, bitch!”

1947 - Actor Wings Hauser is born in Hollywood. He’s best known for his role in Tough Guys Don't Dance (1987).

1949 - Two time BAFTA winner and Golden Globe recipient for his role in Love Actually, Bill Nighy is born in Caterham, Surrey, England. His other movie credits include Pirate Radio/The Boat That Rocked, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Still Crazy, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Still Crazy, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

1952 - Former Olympic gymnast who went on to play Peter Pan for more than 30 years, Cathy Rigby is born in Long Beach, CA.

1970 - Jennifer Connelly is born in Cairo, NY. Her film credits include Career Opportunities (1991), He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), The Dilemma (2011) and Stuck in Love (2012).

1970 - Regina Hall is born in Washington, DC. She’s best known for playing Brenda Meeks in the Scary Movie comedy-horror franchise (2000–2006). Other movie credits include The Best Man (1999) and its sequel The Best Man Holiday (2013), About Last Night (2014), Vacation (2015), Girls Trip (2017), Support the Girls (2018) and Little (2019). TV credits include Ally McBeal (2001–2002), Grandfathered (2016) and Black Monday (2019–).

1973 - Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail, starring Jack Nicholson, is released in cinemas. The film was written by Robert Towne, who received an Oscar nomination, as did Nicholson for Best Actor and Randy Quaid for Best Supporting Actor.

1975 - Mayim Bialik, best known for starring in two sitcoms - Blossom (1991-1995) and The Big Bang Theory (2010-2019) - is born in San Diego, CA.

1980 - Stir Crazy hits theatres, starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder as two chicken-suited men wrongfully convicted for bank robbery who decide to escape after being forced to compete in a prison rodeo

1986 - Someone tell El Guapo and The Singing Bush! The comedy western Three Amigos, starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short, is released. The film was directed by John Landis and written by Martin, Lorne Michaels and Randy Newman.

1990 - Comedian Robin Williams got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1991 - Actors Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford elope in Las Vegas. They would later divorce.

1992 - Married... With Children’s Katey Sagal brings some Christmas cheer to the cover of TV Guide.

1993 - At the British Comedy Awards, alternative comedian Julian Clary makes an infamous appearance in which he compares the set to Hampstead Heath (a famous London “cruising” area) and jokes that he fisted Norman Lamont, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer. Although the routine was met with laughter from the audience - and Lamont himself did not complain - he was criticised by newspapers, particularly the Daily Mail and The Sun, who both launched a campaign to have him banned from television. As a result, Clary’s TV appearances dried up for the next few years.

1996 - Lucas Hedges is born in Brooklyn Heights, New York. The Oscar and Golden Globe nominated actor broke out with a supporting role in Wes Anderson's comedy-drama Moonrise Kingdom (2012). Other credits include Lady Bird (2017), Arthur Newman (2012) and Mid90s (2018).

1997 - Autumn Jackson, who tried to blackmail Bill Cosby by claiming he was her father, is sentenced to two years in prison for the scheme.

1998 - Saturday Night Live features another Bill Brasky Buddies sketch, in which Alec Baldwin, John Goodman and Will Ferrell drunkenly reminisce about their superhuman friend Bill Brasky.

1999 - The 45th and final appearance of Ali G (Sacha Baron Cohen) on the satirical Channel 4 programme The 11 O’Clock Show. The segment would be replaced by a regular spot starring Ricky Gervais.

2001 - On the final show of South Park’s fifth season, the focus shifts a bit. Butters’ Very Own Episode airs on Comedy Central. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOljs52jtAg

2001 - Winona Ryder is arrested for shoplifting at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, California. She would later be found guilty of stealing $5,500 worth of designer clothes and accessories and be sentenced to probation.

2004 - Sky Katz, who plays Tess in the Disney Channel family sitcom Raven’s Home (2017-), is born.

2013 - The final print edition of the satirical newspaper The Onion hits the streets, leaving it as an online-only publication.

2020 - While visiting family in her hometown of Seattle, Tony and Olivier Award winner Ann Reinking passes away in her sleep in her hotel room. She is remembered for starring in many Broadway hits as well as such movies as Movie Movie (1978), Annie (1982), and Micki & Maude (1984).

December 13

 

1925 - Radio, theatre TV and movie star Dick Van Dyke is born in West Plains, Missouri. The comedian and song-and-dance man, whose award-winning career has spanned seven decades. He won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for starring in the original production of Bye Bye Birdie (1961). Carl Reiner then cast him as Rob Petrie on his sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966), which was a huge hit for CBS and made him a household name; he later also starred in the comedy-variety series Van Dyke and Company (1976) and The Carol Burnett Show (1977), as well as The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971–74), winning a total of five Emmy Awards. On the big screen, he has starred in such films as Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Mary Poppins (1964) and Mary Poppins Returns (2018), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), The Comic (1969), Dick Tracy (1990), Night at the Museum (2006) and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014).

1929 - EGOT winning actor Christopher Plummer is born in Toronto. The Oscar, Emmy and Tony winner is remembered for starring in such comedies as Knives Out (2019), The Return of the Pink Panther (1975), The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014), Dragnet (1987), Beginners (2010), Must Love Dogs (2005) and The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017), as well as such animated films as Up (2009), An American Tail (1986) and Rock-A-Doodle (1991).

1930 - Polish-American actor and comedian Robert Prosky is born Robert Józef Porzuczek in Philadelphia, PA. His film credits include Broadcast News (1987), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) and the remade Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street (1994).

1941 - Game show host, actor and singer John Davidson is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is best known for hosting That's Incredible!, Time Machine, and Hollywood Squares in the 1980s, and a revival of The $100,000 Pyramid in 1991, but in the late 1970s he was also one of four regular guest hosts (with Joey Bishop, McLean Stevenson and Joan Rivers) of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where he ended up filling in for Carson on the show 87 times.

1950 - Wendie Malick is born in Buffalo, NY. She’s best known for starring as Nina Van Horn in the NBC sitcom Just Shoot Me!, for which she was nominated for two Emmys and a Golden Globe. She also starred in three other sitcoms, HBO’s Dream On, TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland, and as Ronee in the final season of Frasier. Her film credits include Scrooged, The American President, Racing Stripes and Confessions of a Shopaholic.

1957 - His Coen Brothers films include Barton Fink (1991), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Fargo (1996), and The Big Lebowski (1998). His other films include: Ghost World (2001), Big Fish (2003) and The Death of Stalin (2017). His TV credits include: 30 Rock (2007–2013), Portlandia (2014–2017), Horace and Pete (2016) and Miracle Workers (2019–). Steve Buscemi is born in Brooklyn, NYC… and we love him.

1959 - In Van Nuys, CA, former child actor Johnny Whitaker is born. He played Jody Davis on the sitcom Family Affair (1966-1971).

1967 - Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Grammy winning actor, comedian and singer Jamie Foxx is born in Terrell, Texas. His career took off as a member of the cast of the sketch comedy series In Living Color (1991-1994), and then as the star of his own sitcom The Jamie Foxx Show (1996-2001).

1980 - Diana Canova proves that she’s "all growed up," appearing on the cover of TV Guide all by herself to promote her series I’m A Big Girl Now.

1981 - She played Major Dad’s youngest daughter Casey. Former child actor Chelsea Hertford is born.

1987 - The sharp newsroom romantic comedy starring Holly Hunter, William Hurt and Albert Brooks (who would all receive Academy Awards nominations), Broadcast News has its premiere at the Coronet Theater in New York.

1993 - CODCO’s Tommy Sexton dies in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

1997 - Norm Macdonald’s final time hosting Weekend Update on SNL. Despite being a fan favorite, he was a polarizing comedy anchor. Among his detractors was, quite importantly, the President of NBC, who did not find him funny.

2004 - Artie Lange released his first stand-up DVD, It's the Whiskey Talkin'.

2007 - Renowned comedian Buck Henry makes his first guest starring appearance on 30 Rock, as Dick Lemon, father to Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), in the episode LudaChristmas.

2008 - While co-anchoring Weekend Update with Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler announces that this is her final episode on SNL.

2010 - T.J. Miller does a stand-up performance on CONAN for the first time.

December 14

 

1914 – France Milčinski, one of Slovenia’s foremost 20th century satirists and entertainers, is born.

1924 - Raj Kapoor, "The Charlie Chaplin of Indian cinema” is born Shrishti Nath Kapoor in Peshawar, North-West Frontier Province, British India. Lest anyone think he only had one gear, he was also known as “The Clark Gable of the Indian cinema”.

1959 - The original Broadway cast recording of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning comedic musical Fiorello! is released by Capitol Records. It would peak at #7 on Billboard’s best selling albums chart in 1960 and remain on the charts for 89 weeks.

1968 - Diahann Carroll of the ground-breaking series Julia is featured on the cover of TV Guide.

1971 – Michaela Watkins, American actor and comedian best known for her work in TV comedies such as Saturday Night Live, Casual and Trophy Wife, is born.

1974 - The full cast of Good Times make the cover of TV Guide.

1975 - Written, directed and starring Gene Wilder, along with two of his favourites Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother arrives in theatres.

1979 - Steve Martin’s first starring role in a feature film (he also wrote the screenplay), The Jerk opens in theatres. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lduFFNqBFPs

1985 - With musical guest Sade, Tom Hanks makes his very first appearance on Saturday Night Live. Many more would follow.

1990 - Both the movies Mermaids (starring Cher, Bob Hoskins and Winona Ryder) and Look Who’s Talking Too (John Travolta and Kirstie Alley) are released to theatres.

1997 – Stubby Kaye, American comedian who was popular on vaudeville, Broadway musicals and movies, passed away.

1998 - American actor and comedian Norman Fell, best known for playing Mr. Roper in Three’s Company and its spinoff series, The Ropers, passed away.

2014 - 1970s stand-up comedian and sitcom star (Chico and the Man) Freddie Prinze received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, paid for by George Lopez.