This Day in Comedy History
June 15 - June 21
1949 - Best known for his character Ernest P. Worrell which was developed for commercials and went on to eight feature films and a TV series, actor and comic Jim Varney is born in Lexington, Kentucky.
1949 - Actor Simon Callow is born in Streatham, London, England. He made his stage debut in the satire The Three Estates at the Assembly Rooms Theatre in Edinburgh in 1973, and has had a prolific theatre, film and television career ever since. Movie credits include Shakespeare in Love, Golden Years, Postcards from the Edge, Soft Top Hard Shoulder, Bedrooms and Hallways, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Bob the Butler, Thunderpants and Four Weddings and a Funeral, for which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor BAFTA. He also starred in the 1980s Channel 4 sitcom Chance in a Million.
1954 - Comedian and actor James Belushi, younger brother of John, is born in Chicago, Illinois. He is best known for starring in the sitcom According to Jim (2001–2009) and as a cast member on Saturday Night Live (1983–1985). Movie credits include Trading Places (1983), About Last Night (1986), K-9 (1989) and K-911 (1999), Mr. Destiny (1990), Curly Sue (1991), Jingle All the Way (1996), Joe Somebody (2001) and Underdog (2007).
1955 - Polly Draper, best known as one of the stars of Thirtysomething (1987–91), is born in Gary, Indiana. She also created The Naked Brothers Band, a Nickelodeon TV series and movie starring her sons.
1963 - Initially a child actress with appearances on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Swiss Family Robinson and The Facts Of Life, she would go on to win four Emmys and three Golden Globes for starring in Mad About You, and a Best Actress Oscar for As Good As It Gets (with another Best Supporting Actress nod for her role in The Sessions), Helen Hunt is born in Culver City, California.
1970 - Best known for playing alongside Kevin James, first on The King Of Queens, and later on Kevin Can Wait, actress Leah Remini is born in New York City. Movie roles include Old School (2003), the mystery comedy Handsome (2017), and the romantic comedy Second Act (2018).
1973 - Known starring in How I Met Your Mother and Doogie Howser, M.D, he also has dozens of credits in films, including the Harold & Kumar series and A Million Ways to Die in the West, and on the Broadway stage. Actor, comic and perennial awards show host Neil Patrick Harris is born in Albuquerque , New Mexico.
1979 - The pilot episode of McGurk: A Dog's Life premieres on ABC. The final pilot created by the legendary Norman Lear, and directed by Peter Bonerz of The Bob Newhart Show fame, it’s about a bunch of dogs (actors in animal costumes) who discuss the controversial issues their human families are concerned with, All in the Family style… it would not be picked up.
1980 - Christopher Castile is born in Orange County, California. As a child actor, he starred in the movies Beethoven and Beethoven's 2nd and the sitcom Step by Step. His voice could also be heard in Focus on the Family's Adventures in Odyssey and Hey Arnold! When Step by Step was canceled, he retired from acting, got his degree and became a teacher, which we think is pretty darn nifty.
1988 - The lives of a wisened veteran catcher, a wild rookie pitcher and a baseball groupie with a purpose, intersect in the Carolina leagues. One of the best sports movies ever, the Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon film Bull Durham is released.
2008 - Winners at the 6th Annual TV Land Awards included Jonathan Winters, Mike Myers, Garry Marshall, The Office, Roseanne and Golden Girls. Presenters included Robin Williams, Steve Carell, Teri Hatcher, Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Asner, William Shatner, Dick Van Dyke, Jack Klugman, Cindy Williams, Penny Marshall and Henry Winkler
2009 - Artie Lange made a controversial appearance on the first episode of the sports talk show Joe Buck Live, exchanging insults with host Joe Buck that HBO’s executive said "bordered on bad taste" with a "mean-spirited" tone.
2014 - Legendary radio DJ Casey Kasem, the distinctive voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo, passes away in Gig Harbor, Washington… on the same day, Burmese comedian turned filmmaker Kutho passed away, aged 61.
1955 - Best known for her portrayal of Jackie Harris on the sitcom Roseanne (one that would net her three Emmy Awards as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, actress Laurie Metcalf is born in Carbondale, Illinois.
1965 - With a cast including Stuart Whitman, Sarah Miles, Red Skelton, Terry-Thomas, Benny Hill, Robert Morley, Gerte Frobe and more, the film whose full title is Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines; Or, How I Flew From London To Paris In 25 Hours 11 Minutes has its North American opening.
1976 - Hot talk show stand-up Kelly Monteith gets his own summer replacement as The Kelly Monteith Show debuts on CBS. Guests include Chico and the man star Freddie Prinze, Nellie Bellflower, and the voice of Fred Flintstone Henry Corden.
1980 - The Blues Brothers premieres in, fittingly, Chicago! John Belushi had promised that the film wouldn’t have a big glitzy showbiz opening, so they screened it for crew members and local politicians who had helped get it made in the Norridge section of town (wide release in US, June 20).
1998 - In a CBS television special, the American Film Institute announce their “100 Years… 100 Movies” picks, of the 100 best American films up to that point. Their highest rated comedy is The Graduate, at #7. Other comedies to make the list include Singin’ in the Rain (10), Some Like It Hot (14), Dr. Strangelove (26), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (29), Annie Hall (31), It Happened One Night (35), The Philadelphia Story (51), MASH (56), Network (66), An American in Paris (68), Forrest Gump (71), The Gold Rush (74), City Lights (76), American Graffiti (77), Modern Times (81), Fargo (84), Duck Soup (85), The Apartment (93), Bringing Up Baby (97) and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (99).
1951 – Saturday Night Live’s Joe Piscopo is born. The comedian, radio personality and actor has appeared in such films as Johnny Dangerously (1984), Wise Guys (1986), Dead Heat (1988) and Sidekicks (1992).
1958 - Along with his brother Peter, he’s the writer/director/producer of many big comedy films - among them There’s Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber, Shallow Hal, Kingpin, Stuck On You and Me, Myself & Irene. Bobby Farrelly is born in Cumberland, Rhode Island.
1960 - Oscar-nominated actor Thomas Haden Church is born in Woodland, California. He is best known for starring in two 1990s sitcoms: as Lowell the dimwitted airport handyman in Wings, and in Ned & Stacey (as Ned, not Stacey). Church then became known for his film work, including his acclaimed performance in Sideways.
1963 - Show host (Talk Soup, Later With Greg Kinnear), comic actor (Little Miss Sunshine, Stuck On You, Dear God, Baby Mama, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), and oscar winner (As Good As It Gets), Greg Kinnear is born in Logansport, Indiana.
1976 - With appearances by Burt Reynolds, Bernadette Peters, Paul Newman, James Caan, Liza Minnelli, Sid Caesar, Marty Feldman, Anne Bancroft, Dom DeLuise, Henny Youngman and more, but the only spoken word in the entire film coming from famed mime Marcel Marceau, the Mel Brooks film Silent Movie opens in theatres.
2008 - In a CBS TV special, the American Film Institute announce their all-time “10 Top 10” lists - the top ten films in ten different movie genres. Their Top 10 picks in the Romantic Comedy category are: City Lights (1931), Annie Hall (1977), It Happened One Night (1934), Roman Holiday (1953), The Philadelphia Story (1940), When Harry Met Sally (1989), Adam's Rib (1949), Moonstruck (1987), Harold and Maude (1971) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993).
1952 - A two-time Emmy winner for her work on the sitcom Taxi, also known for the films The Princess Bride and Annie Hall, the series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and onstage in Wicked, actress Carol Kane is born in Cleveland, Ohio.
1952 - Comedian and actress Miriam Flynn is born in Cleveland, Ohio. She is best known as Cousin Catherine in National Lampoon's Vacation, for voicing Grandma Longneck in The Land Before Time franchise, and for playing Sister Helen on the Fox/WB sitcom Grounded for Life.
1973 - In advance of the opening show of a three-night run at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre, dates that will bring to an end the 49-day Monty Python’s First Farewell Tour of Britain and Canada, the Python’s take to the street for some promo, followed by an interview with local newscaster Norm Grohmann.
1980 - The John Belushi/Dan Aykroyd comedy classic The Blues Brothers opens in wide release. Carrie Fisher, Charles Napier and John Candy also appear in the movie, as well as a number of legendary musicians - among them Cab Calloway, James Brown, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.
1985 - “Weird Al” Yankovic’s third studio album Dare To be Stupid is released. While best known for its hit Madonna parody Like A Surgeon, it also includes favourites Yoda, I Want A New Duck and Girls Just Want To Have Lunch.
2004 - The classic tale of the big guy against a little guy, except the little guy is actually really tall, and the big guy is pretty small. Long story short, the Vince Vaughn/Ben Stiller film Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story opens in theatres.
2007 - British comedian Bernard Manning dies of kidney failure, aged 76. 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.
2008 - The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts names George Carlin its 2008 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor honoree. He passed away four days later, and was given it posthumously in November.
2012 - The second Critic’s Choice Television Awards are held at The Beverly Hilton where Best Comedy Series goes to Community, Louis CK wins for Best Actor in a Comedy Series, Best Actress is a tie between Zooey Deschanel and Amy Poehler, Supporting Actor and Actress go to Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen of Modern Family, and Paul Rudd wins Best Guest Performer for his appearance on Parks And Recreation.
2015 - At 100 years of age Jack Rollins passed away. Rollins broke into the entertainment industry as a talent manager for comedians and musicians before moving into film production, where he is best known for his collaborations with Woody Allen (Annie Hall, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Irrational Man).
2015 - Comedian Philip Austin dies, aged 74, at his home on Fox Island in Washington state. Austin was best known as a member of The Firesign Theatre, a surreal comedy troupe who were popular, regular guests on Los Angeles radio show Radio Free Oz from 1966-1973.
1954 - Gravelly-voiced two-time Golden Globe winner, who is also an Academy Award and two-time Tony nominee, Kathleen Turner is born in Springfield, Missouri. Turner is known for many roles, most notably The Man with Two Brains (1983), Romancing the Stone (1984), Prizzi's Honor (1985), The Accidental Tourist (1988), The War of the Roses (1989), Serial Mom (1994), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Undercover Blues (1993), Baby Geniuses (1999), and Beautiful (2000). On TV she’s known for playing Chandler Bing’s draq queen father on NBC’s hit sitcom Friends, and as sex-crazed talent agent Sue Collini in Showtime's Californication. If that’s not enough comedy for you, she also voiced the sexy Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).
1966 - Vaudevillian, pioneering radio show host, Emmy and Peabody Award winner for his early television work, and known for films including The Absent Minded Professor, Cinderfella, The Patsy, Mary Poppins, Son Of Flubber and The Gnome-Mobile, actor Ed Wynn passes away aged 79.
1967 - Actress Mia Sara is born Mia Sarapochiello in Brooklyn Heights, New York City. She is best known for starring as Sloane Peterson opposite Matthew Broderick in John Hughes’ comedy classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986).
1972 - Jean Dujardin is born in Paris, France. He began his career as a stand-up comedian in Paris before acting in comedic television programmes and films. He starred in the cult TV series Un gars, une fille, then in successful French movies such as Brice de Nice, 99 Francs and OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies and its sequel OSS 117: Lost in Rio. He is probably best known to English speakers for his Best Actor Oscar winning performance in the acclaimed 2011 (mostly) silent film The Artist, which also won him the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival. Other movie credits include Martin Scorsese's black comedy The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and George Clooney's The Monuments Men (2014).
1972 - Robin Tunney is born in Chicago, Illinois. She made her film debut in Pauly Shore’s Encino Man and followed that up with the cult comedy Empire Records (1995). Other notable film appearances include Cherish (2002) and The In-Laws (2003).
1973 - Before it toured, before it went to Broadway and before it became a classic cult film, the original production of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show debuts in the tiny Theatre Upstairs at London’s Royal Court. O’Brien would eventually play the role of Riff Raff in the movie - but Tim Curry was already its star.
1986 - French stage comedian and film actor Coluche (real name Michel Colucci) dies in a high speed motorcycle accident at the age of 41. His death would prompt the unveiling of two statues and the renaming of several schools, theatres, and park spaces after the comic.
1998 - In Santa Clarita, California, Atticus Shaffer is born. The actor is best known for playing Brick Heck on the ABC sitcom The Middle (2009–2018), and for voicing Edgar in Tim Burton’s Disney film Frankenweenie (2012).
2008 - The play Superior Donuts opens at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre. Featuring such actors as Michael McKean (who plays the rundown donut shop’s owner Arthur), the show runs until August 24 and later spawns a TV series of the same name on CBS.
2012 - Welsh stage actor and cast member of Marty Feldman’s sketch show It’s Marty before moving to films like The Return Of The Pink Panther, Digby, The Biggest Dog In The World, Under A Cherry Moon, and the Beatles films A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, and Magical Mystery Tour, Victor Spinetti dies from prostate cancer at 82.
2014 - British comic Rik Mayall’s funeral took place in St. George's Church in Dittisham, Devon. Attendees included Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Peter Richardson, Young Ones co-stars Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer, Alexei Sayle, and Young Ones co-writer Ben Elton.
1931 - Olympia Dukakis is born in Lowell, Massachusetts. The veteran actress performed in more than 130 stage productions, 60 films and 50 television series, and is probably best remembered for her Best Support Actress Academy Award and Golden Globe winning performance in Moonstruck (1987).
1931 - Actor James Tolkan is born in Calumet, Michigan. He is best known for playing strict Hill Valley High School assistant principal Mr. Strickland in the Back to the Future trilogy. He also appeared in Woody Allen’s Love and Death (1975).
1947 - Actress and model Candy Clark is born in Norman, Oklahoma. She is best known for playing Debbie Dunham in American Graffiti (1973), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
1952 - John Goodman is born in Affton, Missouri, outside of St. Louis. He is best known for starring as Dan Conner in ABC’s hit series Roseanne and its follow-up The Conners, winning a Golden Globe for Best Actor in 1993. He also frequently collaborates with the Coen brothers on such films as Raising Arizona (1987), Barton Fink (1991), The Big Lebowski (1998), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), and has appeared in such other films as King Ralph (1991), The Flintstones (1994), Blues Brothers 2000 (1998), Evan Almighty (2007), The Artist (2011) and The Monuments Men (2014). He also often plays voice roles, in such films as Disney's The Emperor's New Groove (2000) franchise, Pixar's Monsters, Inc. franchise (2001–2020) and Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie (2007). Other notable TV credits include Community, Amazon’s Alpha House, HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones and frequent host and special guest (“Da Bears!”) on Saturday Night Live. Also, just FYI - we love the man!
1971 - Actor Josh Lucas is born in Little Rock, Arkansas. Film credits include Sweet Home Alabama (2002), Life as We Know It (2010), Red Dog (2011) and The Mend (2014). He also co-starred in the NBC series The Mysteries of Laura (2014–2016).
1981 - Alisan Porter is born in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her breakout role came in 1991, when she played the lead in the film Curly Sue opposite Jim Belushi. Other movie roles include Parenthood and I Love You to Death.
1986 - Dreama Walker is born in Tampa, Florida. She is best known for starring in the series Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. Movie roles include Sex and the City, Wherever You Are, The Invention of Lying, The Pill, The Kitchen, Chlorine, Don’t Worry Baby and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
1989 - Actor from the films Kick-Ass and its sequel Kick-Ass 2, Neighbors and its sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, but who will always be better known for playing McLovin in Superbad, Christopher Mintz-Plasse is born in Woodland Hills, California.
1991 - Bill Hicks performs in front of “the worst audience I’ve ever faced” at The Funny Bone in Pittsburgh. A recording of the show would be released posthumously as Flying Saucer Tour Vol. 1, with the track listing supporting the comic’s opinion (“Are You Guys Drug Dealers?”, “Vs. The Audience 1”, “Vs. The Audience 2”, “Vs. The Audience 3”).
1921 - A leading Hollywood sex symbol of the 1940’s and 50’s known for the comedies Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (with Marilyn Monroe) and its sequel Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, The Paleface and Son Of Paleface (with Bob Hope) and Double Dynamite (with Groucho Marx and Frank Sinatra), Jane Ruseel is born in Bemidji, Minnesota.
1969 - The sex comedy musical revue Oh! Calcutta! is produced for the first time, Off-Broadway at the Eden Theatre. The show would raise the curtain 1,314 times there and at The Belasco Theatre before closing, but would have a 3,000+ performance run in London’s West End and more impressively the 1976 revival at the Edison Theatre on Broadway would run for 5,959 performances, briefly making it Broadway’s longest running show ever.
2001 - Popular utility actor in film and TV before landing the role that would win him 4 Emmy Awards and make him famous. Best known as Archie Bunker on All In The Family, Carroll O’Connor dies of a heart attack at the age of 76.
2010 - Beloved Canadian comedian and TV writer Irwin Barker (This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Rick Mercer Report), known as “The Professor” for his intelligent writing, passes away of leiomyosarcoma aged 58.
2015 - Described by its publisher as a “decidedly unhelpful, candid, hilarious ‘how-to’ guide”, Colleen Ballinger’s (with her brother Chris) parody of the self help genre Self Help by Miranda Sings is released by Gallery Books.